Rinella Movie Park, Fort St Rocco
Once upon a time this used to be one of the most popular attractions in Malta. An amusement park that had two themed restaurants (Jumanji, Western Saloon), a carousel, a puppet theater, a train that would take visitors around several movie sets, props on display from various movies shot in Malta as well as live shows all day long. During the festive season, there was a snow machine that would snow at the end of the Christmas show.
It seemed to have everything for everyone ‘It was a special place for entertainment, meeting with friends, eating and drinking. Can’t understand why it had to close. It catered for everyone’s needs. Be it for entertainment only or as a restaurant, family gathering, romantic evening or just a night out.’ shared one of my readers.
Yet Rinella Movie Park closed its doors in 2000. There are mixed feelings about why this theme park failed. Some say it was political, some believe that it went bankrupt. One of the ex-employees shared with me: ‘The trouble with this kind of business is that you need full staff no matter the attendance. The budgets were based on 1million tourists a year, which was a tough call back then.’ Some even say that the failed theme park had begun running at an operating loss to begin with.
It has been 20 years since Rinella Movie Park closed its doors, so let’s have an anniversary tour around the premises that once created such happy memories.
This used to be the main entrance. Once you entered there was the ticket office and you can still see the price list displayed in Maltese Lira. For a family of four (2 adults and 2 kids) the entrance fee was Lm10.
Moving forward this would be the ‘best kept facade’ of them all. Actually quite nice and refreshing from the other buildings, which were either burned down or are in ruins. As I spoke to one of the ex-employees he said: ‘this was an exhibition area, but when the second owner took over the park, he installed a large interactive game there.’
The painting inside is actually pretty cool and those tires are real! If it wasn’t for the stupid graffiti all over, it would have been a very nice artwork.
Now let’s go and explore a well hidden place. We all braved ‘the tall trees, brambles and thorns’ and entered into a magic world.
Welcome to the puppet theater! About two decades ago, this would be filled with children eagerly waiting for the next show! Thanks to all the bushes growing wildly around the entrance, not so many people bother coming though and this piece of paradise has been salvaged.
Believe it or not, but Rinella Movie Park employees painted every single leaf in here. I must say, very talented staff!
Welcome to the ‘remains’ of the iconic Titanic experience! The aim of this attraction was to make you feel like you’re on Titanic! The largest ship in the world, tall as an eleven-story building, a luxury liner that was proclaimed ‘unsinkable’.
Unfortunately that wasn’t the case. Around midnight on the night of April 14, 1912 the HMS Titanic hit an iceberg in the North Atlantic. At 2:15am the lights went out and the music stopped. Over fifteen hundred lives were lost. Some of you may have seen the movie ‘Raise the Titanic’, a feature film produced by Lord Lew Grande in 1980 was shot at the Mediterranean Film Studios (now Malta Film Studios) which is right next door to Rinella Movie Park.
This would be the deck of the Titanic. There was a very strong AC running to stimulate the freezing Arctic.
The experience would then continued to the room which was sinking and ‘shaking’. This must have been a state-of-the-art attraction back then. I still got the chills while walking though the remains of this attraction.
When I walked out of the Titanic Experience I crossed the square and walked into this room with columns. This was an exhibition showing a set from Christopher Columbus: The Discovery. Yet another movie shot here in Malta.
This is an actual film prop. It is a part of a submarine used for a movie (filmed in Malta) called U571 starring Jon Bon Jovi.
When walking though the theme park you can notice that the vegetation is slowly taking over.
I found it quite amusing to see all there artificial rocks dotted around the park. I mean Malta is one big rock and yet they still felt the need to create more artificial ones!
I don’t think any theme/amusement/movie park would not be complete without Coca-Cola. This sign is painted on the side of what used to be the ‘Western Saloon’.
This saloon had live music nearly every night. People could eat an American style burgers, ribs, steaks and consume peanuts and throw the shells on the floor. Unfortunately it seems this building was in a serious fire accident and there is nothing left, just bare walls.
You can walk though the building to the other side. There is a tiled room which certainty was a kitchen and stairs to the first floor leading to an unidentified room.
If you’re standing like me, looking at the back of the Western Saloon, on your right will be the Jumanji themed restaurant. Back in the day it served delicious pizza. There used to be a big fountain and live fish and snakes! Must have been very impressive and entertaining for the guests.
This water feature was most likely throughout the restaurant and then continued down alongside the entrance and staircase.
Let’s summarize what was Rinnella Movie Park back then and what it offered. There were props from famous movies shot in Malta, exhibitions and theater showing all the movies filmed on the island, a train that would take you around the studios when no film was on. There were also live shows, 4 restaurants in total, carousel, magician and at the same time it was a fort, which is an attraction in its own right.
Rinella Movie Park is situated at Fort St Rocco, a polygonal fort located very close to Rinella Battery. The construction of Fort Saint Rocco started around 1872/3 by the British, as part of a program to improve Malta’s fortified defense system. Therefore looking at the picture below, one could imagine a cannon being placed here.
And if you wandered how we got in (and out), this is the way. There are ‘open doors’ and huge holes in the two fences that one has to overcome to enter. There are stones for you to step on when climbing over the stone wall. It seems to me that people do come here on regular basis and we weren’t alone when we visited either.
Below you can see the world famous tanks. The black £2 million tank – 350ft across and 35ft deep – was specially built in Malta to take Lew Grade’s Titanic. The tank takes nine million gallons of water and fills in about fifteen hours.
It looks like that the tanks are now abandoned. Back in 2014 Mediterranean Film Studios Limited, the company that was managing the facility, was ordered to vacate the premises due to debt of some €1.4 million.