Beat through the traffic heading north, and one will eventually make it to what Jakarta used to call its gem: Taman Impian Jaya Ancol. Inside, Jakarta’s very own and famed theme park has stood on the grounds since 1985, adopting the name Dunia Fantasi (World of Fantasy), instilling a sense of wonder of a world where fun permeates to no end. And it stands ‘til this very day, although it does test all sorts patience.
Dunia Fantasi, or familiarly called Dufan, was once every young Jakartan’s dream, either as our parent’s best surprise in our childhood years or the year-end field trip rewarded to students by the school. Three decades later, the same statuesque mascots, the long-faced monkeys Dufan and his female partner Dufi, greet visitors at the entry – time-worn and outdated in design, smiling ear-to-ear in a fashion that could only be considered cute back then.
From the fading colours of the buildings and rides, the tunes played throughout the park, to the obsolete public phones in some forgotten corners, all point to how its golden days are far behind. Making your way through the park will inevitably remind you of how much you’ve actually forgotten about the place, the good and the bad alike.
As time-worn as it is, however, it never stopped Dufan from receiving a steady stream of visitors each day. Dufan will, of course, be brimming with families and their young kids, school children on a field trip, adults on their company outings, and young adults who have likely skipped classes (or work) to be there. They are surprisingly easy to notice – their group-matching attire is the straight giveaway.
When it comes to experiencing the fun of the park, the crowd blends into one amidst the cries and laughter from the attractions. From family friendly to stomach-churning, there’s something for everyone. Like its popular rides, Kora-Kora, the giant boat swing, gives you the kind of gushing nausea that leaves (most) people wanting for more, though maybe not right away. What’s a theme park without a roller coaster? Dufan’s own Halilintar may be pale in comparison to other roller coaster ride around the region but it still attracts people lining up for their turn at the loops and turns of the ride.
It’s easy to dismiss Dufan when you’ve experienced more impressive theme park overseas. In a way, Dufan also offers a sort of an escape from the usual malls and coffee shops. People watching is undoubtedly a satisfactory activity in Dufan. Plus, you’ll be surprised to hear a variety of regional dialects spoken within the compound. It’s afterall, the country’s biggest and oldest functioning amusement park.
The antiquated look of the park can strike a string of nostalgia. But bear in mind, this excursion will test all sorts of patience: the combination of the crowd, the annoying line-cutters, the long queue, and the heat will get you at some point of the day. Add Dufan’s unchanged original theme song playing over and over in the background and you’ll wonder how do the staffs manage to do it day after day. But if there’s one consolation out of this absurdity is that, perhaps, in this fast-changing time that we live in, some thing’s never change.
Dunia Fantasi – Taman Impian Jaya Ancol
Jalan Lodan Timur No.7
t: +62 21 29222222