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Jun 18, 2011

Happy World Amusement Park

Happy World Amusement Park. Source: National Archives of Singapore (NAS).

Happy World was opened in 1937 by George Lee on a plot of land between Geylang and Mountbatten Roads. It was renamed Gay World in 1966. It catered especially to families with children, and fees to its attraction were kept affordable.

It was best known for sporting events and boasted the first covered stadium in Malaya. Besides boxing and wrestling matches, and sports tournaments, the stadium also occasionally held circuses.

The Gay World Amusement Park indoor stadium where the National Day Exposition 1967 dinner was held. Source: National Archives of Singapore (NAS).

Before the war, there bangsawan, operas, movies, games,sports, stunts, circuses, cabarets and shopping. As with the New World and Great World, gambling was rife at Happy World during the Japanese Occupation.

While the amusement park activities resumed the war and crowds once again flocked to Happy World in the 1950s and 1960s, the park was in decline by the 1970s. Free admission introduced in 1987 failed to woo the crowds back.

In 2000, the Land Office served notice to the remaining tenants to vacate by March 31. Eng Wah Organisation, the main tenant which also ran three cinemas at the park and managed the park, ended its lease. About 40 tenants stayed when the lease was extended to June 30.

Three tenants - Tai Thong Restaurant, New Happy Cinema and Datoh Rajah Theatre - stayed on beyond the deadline on temporary leases. The stadium was renamed Geylang Indoor Stadium and was managed by the Singapore Sports Council until the site was demolished in 2001.
The [Three 'Worlds' of Amusements] exhibition organised by the National Library Board is currently held at the Lee Kong Chian Reference Library on Level 11, National Library Building, Victoria Street, Singapore.

This exhibition is based on articles from Singapore Infopedia. For more information and sources about the three 'Worlds' and other topics related to Singapore, please visit

Singapore Infopedia is an electronic encyclopedia on Singapore, providing access to a collection of articles on Singapore's history, culture and people.

"Ian On The Red Dot - Wanderings, Musings and Happenings from Ian on Singapore" has written an interesting and informative blog "From Amusement Park To Cement Park" on Happy World here .



Blogger ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Nice pic. Used to watch the ronggeng outside the stadium where people will dance with the joget girls for 50 Cents a dance ticket.

June 18, 2011 at 3:10 PM  
Blogger Thimbuktu said...

Thanks Andy.

The "The 3 "Worlds" of Amusement" exhibition organised by the National Library Board is nostalgia to share with friends of yesterday. New World, Great World and Happy World are the amusement parks in Singapore are now only memories our senior citizens who could be stored in celluloid and photos.

I found "Ian On The Red Dot" blog about Happy World by accident while searching on Google. An awesome blog with old photos of Happy World. There's one with a British flag at the entrance of Happy World.

For those who missed the educational and heritage exhibitions, the information excerpted from the exhibitions are achived on our blogs for the benefits of everyone who did not have the time to visit these public exhibitions for educatonal purposes.

Carry on blogging, Andy. Cheers!

June 20, 2011 at 7:49 AM  
Blogger Lam Chun See said...

Of the 3 'worlds', this is the one I knew the least about. I remember watching a basketball match between NJC and another school in 1969 or 70. When I started working, I went there once to watch a kungfu competition. Really disappointing to see the fighters too tired and just slug at each other without any 'style'.

I have a friend who recalls seeing the Harlem Globe Trotters perform in Happy World in the 60's.

June 20, 2011 at 8:51 PM  
Blogger Thimbuktu said...

Thanks for adding your "memory aids" on Happy World to this blog.

The "indoor stadium" at Happy World was once a popular place for Cantonese opera fans and every show was full-house and the tickets for the best seats at S$10 or more (at 1970s money value)were sold out. The majority are Cantonese-speaking audience of course.

June 20, 2011 at 11:49 PM  

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