Back Heritage » Saigon » Relive Your Memories of Saigon Water Park via These Photos by One of Its Makers

Relive Your Memories of Saigon Water Park via These Photos by One of Its Makers

Although water parks involve a combination of two of the most tedious human experiences, standing in lines and prolonged direct sun exposure, the now-demolished Saigon Water Park was an icon of 2000s Saigon that remains a crucial cornerstone of many city dwellers' memories.

Marcel Lennartz, who was 26 in 1997 when he was the electrical supervising engineer for the Saigon Water Park, posted on his Facebook page 172 photos taken during the construction of the park and its early days of operation. The set of film photos quickly became an online sensation, receiving an outpouring affection from netizens with a personal connection to the slain attraction.

Sang (left), the generator expert, Lennartz (right) and his pet lizard (on his hand).

The construction of the water park was a collaboration between Investco, Australian Waterslides & Leisure (AWL), and HBP. Lennartz, who hails from the Netherlands, had previously been in Vietnam and, after a short stint home, was "determined to return," Saigoneer learned via a Facebook conversation.

The slides under construction.

Luckily, he got an offer from a Singapore-based electrical construction company for an assignment in Vietnam. He was unaware that the project he would be working on was going to be the Saigon Water Park.

Setting the foundation

"Our company gave me a lot of books with info about water parks and I was wondering, 'what is this for?''' One day, he was driven out to a piece of land in Thu Duc District and was introduced to what would become his "office" for the next couple of months. Construction of the water park began in April of 1997 and was completed by December of that year. 

Balloons on opening day.

Working on the project was exciting, if at times challenging for Lennartz and the crew. Language was a barrier, but the team communicated through what he described as "body talk." Along with conversations via charades, another entertaining, but not unusual, for Vietnam, occurrence that Lennartz shared was having a large cable drum delivered precariously on the back of a motorcycle across a narrow bridge. In a bit of unintentional physical comedy, Lennartz once leaned against a newly installed and not fully reinforced wall in the main office building and, in his words, "the rest is history." Mud was another concern on site, as the day the main generator was delivered the truck and crane drivers had issues driving through the sludge.

Placing cables in conduits throughout the park

His series of photos showcase the hard work and good times involved in the creation of the park, as well as a balloon-festooned opening day on December 12, 1997. Digging trenches, pushing a giant wheel of orange cable, and the "fitness time" that was carrying 180 meters of cable that had to be drawn all across and through conduits display the great effort that went into the park. The merriment includes lots of posing for pictures, which sometimes feature a pet lizard, sharing meals, a friendly arm wrestle, and enjoying testing out the slides before the park opened to visitors.

Testing out the slides before the park's opening

In 2006, the park was closed suddenly to "suspend operations to replace degraded equipment," according to a Tuoi Tre report. However, the park never reopened, and the space was cleared for real estate ventures. 


A view of the slides

Some of the crew posing for a photo

Pre-opening fun

Relaxing in an inner tube during the work day

A peaceful scene

Queues of school kids at the park on its opening day.

At Saigon Water Park's wave pool.

Opening-day excitement.

Related Articles

in Vietnam

On the Tourist Trail Across Vietnam in 1996

In 1996, it had been one year since Vietnam officially joined ASEAN, the first legitimate volume of Doraemon was released, and some of us at Saigoneer were actually alive.

in Saigon

Portrait of a Jubilant Saigon on the Precipice of Tết in 1992

Tết in 1992 was an especially fortuitous time to be a foreign arrival to Saigon. 

in Saigon

Hidden in the Heart of D5, an Architectural Vestige of 1970s Vietnam-Korea History

For years now, the verdant pine green pavilion in the heart of Hòa Bình Park in District 5 has been a familiar landmark for denizens of Chợ Lớn.

in Saigon

How Nhà Thờ Tân Định, Saigon's Iconic Pink Church, Came to Be

You just have to mention the “pink church” and everyone knows which one you mean. But few are aware that the building in question — Tân Định Church — is one of Saigon’s oldest and most important Roman...

in Vietnam

The Vintage Charm of 1995 Vietnam on Kodachrome Film Slides

While editing a retrospective of my recent work from Vietnam in the summer of 2019, I discovered 50 yellow boxes of Kodachrome slides in my basement that were shot in 1995. The images were from my fir...

Brian Letwin

in Heritage

Tàu Cánh Ngầm: The Curious Case of Saigon’s Lost Soviet Hydrofoils

Not long ago, hulking “creatures” glided atop the waters between Saigon and Vũng Tàu. Like the dinosaurs that came before them, they slowly disappeared, until all that was left were their skeletons.

Partner Content