ROTTERDAM - The party should have lasted another two months, but with the closure of the large Festival Hall on the Müllerpier, Rivoli'90 Park and the festivities surrounding the 650th anniversary of Rotterdam's city rights seem doomed. The port amusement park should have been the highlight of the anniversary year of "650 years of Rotterdam", but eventually became the example of all the problems surrounding the festivities.

The Müllerpier has made a desolate impression more than once in recent weeks. Every now and then someone walked over the fair. But on average there were no more than 750 people a day to the port amusement park. Not nearly enough to cover costs.

According to John Northage, from owner Leisure Tec of the Festival Hall, economically it was no longer justified to be the largest party tent in the world, with an surface area of 5500 square meter, leave it in Rotterdam even longer. “We are now investigating other options for using the hall”, Northage informed Het Vrije Volk. The tent may be sold or rented out.

The closure, two months ahead of schedule, comes as a surprise to the organization. However, the closure of the Festival Hall does not mean that Rivoli has also come to an end. According to fair operator Ivo Janvier, the fairground attractions will remain on the Müllerpier until the planned closing date, 23 oktober.

Abandoned Funfair. Foto: Pixabay

Skyrocketing expectations

At the end of last year, the municipality of Rotterdam presented a whole series of festivities, in the context of "Rotterdam 650 jaar’. With the pop festival Carthage, garden amusement park Rivoli (a corruption of Tivoli) and even a monument in the river, many Rotterdammers made the heart beat faster.

But soon the first problems arose. At the end of January the pop festival Carthage 90 was already canceled. The organization was unable to finance the festival (14 miljoen gulden) to get around. Big stars, like the Rolling Stones, could therefore not be captured.

Also for the monument in the river, fourteen copper plates at the North Island, was too little money. Then only Rivoli remained.

In March, the construction of a fair that would last for six months started. The Festival Hall was also added, a place for performances by international crowd pullers. There was also the Olympia loop, the world's largest traveling rollercoaster, a giant wheel of forty meters high and a large exhibition space of the PTT.


In the early days it still went well. Long lines lined the entrance. That was a good thing, because to cover all costs, one and a half million people had to visit.

In the first weekend, during the Easter holiday, got there 55.000 people to the Müllerpier. But then it went downhill.

Customers complained about the high prices. There had to be 7,50 guilders are paid for a ride with the Olympioop. Add to that the entrance to the festival site and you have an important reason why people stayed away.

When the entrance was canceled, it was suddenly busy. Long lines stood in front of the site. But that revival was also short-lived.


After that, big mud throwing started. The fairground operators were criticized for the fact that the attractions were too expensive, they were subsequently angry with the decoration and layout of the Festival Hall. The municipality would also do too little to advertise. Rotterdammers did not feel like spending a large amount on the site several times and outside of Rotterdam nobody had heard of Rivoli, was the reproach.

Angry fairground operators decided to block the entrance to Rivoli with their trailers, to get the church moving. At the end of June, the College of Mayor and Aldermen again pulled up 975.000 guilders for the ailing harbor amusement park. The city council reluctantly agreed, because claims from operators would cost the municipality a multiple of that amount.

Foto: Pixabay

The role of Mayor Peper was remarkable. As mayor of Rotterdam, he was chairman of the College of Mayor and Aldermen and also chairman of the Rotterdam Foundation 1990, the organization of the holiday year.

Despite the promise of the amount of money, the first attractions were already removed. The Olympia loop had already left, just like the Ecocenter, an exhibition about money.

And it will be about that in the coming months. The operators are still white hot with anger. The golden mountains that were promised, soon turned out to be based on quicksand. Getting started elsewhere is another possibility, but then there is a breach of contract. The question is also how much higher the bill will be for the municipality of Rotterdam.

Hoe ging het verder?

The fair would continue until the end of October? The first operators had already left within a few days. And a few weeks later, Rivoli was completely empty, leaving everyone furious.

The municipality of Rotterdam eventually bought out angry operators for about half a million guilders. As a result, several lawsuits could be prevented.

A large investigation was conducted into the failure of Rotterdam-650. Professor Zijderveld of Erasmus University was appointed to do this. That was a friend of Mayor Peper, was then said, yet Zijderveld wrote a hard report.

The failure of Rotterdam-650 was mainly due to the "administrative ignorance" and the "habits" of Mayor Peper, it was concluded. Top official Kees Bode was also hit hard.

According to Zijderveld, Peper was often too confident. If he liked someone, then he was also convinced that it was someone who could deliver quality. That was not always the case.

The role of top civil servant Bode was also not good. All the holes that Peper dropped, he filled in at his own discretion. Zijderveld called him an "unguided projectile".

But Zijderveld concludes: “Nobody was accountable as the person with ultimate responsibility and in the end everyone got in the way of everyone.” Pepper knew it would be a product of despair, but that was still less loss of face than no party at all around Rotterdam's birthday.

Especially the fact that the council also agreed to give another one million guilders for extra advertising, while everyone knew that Rivoli was one big disaster, was "incomprehensible" to Zijderveld.

From The Free People: “Zijderveld takes serious account of the enormous errors surrounding Rotterdam 1990 were the result of an overall malfunction of the municipal top and a poor administrative culture in Rotterdam. ”

Peper misjudged people and was also out for a long time, due to illness. According to Zijderveld, the double role of the mayor was also not useful.

Bram Peper, Photographer: Chess Lien Vollebregt, National Archives / Anefo

The disaster year had virtually no political consequences for Peper. The city council allowed him to remain seated, despite the harsh words of Zijderveld.

Pepper in the Free People: "The report reads well, it is well written, but B and W have not been able to find new things in it. The news value is not that great, unless one is interested in corpses.”

"That doesn't take away, that I take my full responsibility. Zijderveld strongly encourages the criticism, in particular, he places responsibility for the failures on me, I have not done well - and I am fully responsible for that. I am completely clear about that.”

(Mayor Bram Peper, Het Vrije Volk, 09-02-1991)

“I don't like to shatter responsibilities. I recognize that I am in the Rotterdam foundation 1990 and if the mayor should have intervened earlier. But I also did some other things during that time. In the crowd of a mayor's activity, this has been one. Nou, it went wrong here. ”


Het Vrije Volk – 05-03-1990 – Construction of Rivoli'90 has started on the Müllerpier

Het Vrije Volk – 30-03-1990 – telematics

Het Vrije Volk – 17-04-1990 – Rivoli'90 turns out to be a bull's eye

Het Vrije Volk – 18-04-1990 – Visitors Rivoli 90: rather good wrong parking

Het Vrije Volk – 03-05-1990 – Rotterdam-650 starts faltering

Het Vrije Volk – 12-05-1990 – Fiasco threatens for port amusement park

Het Vrije Volk – 28-05-1990 – Rivoli'90 attracts a large audience

Het Vrije Volk – 18-06-1990 – Operators flatten Rivoli

Het Vrije Volk – 21-06-1990 – Patience with Rivoli runs out

Het Vrije Volk – 26-06-1990 – Need tons to save Rivoli

Het Vrije Volk – 27-06-1990 – College wants to save Rivoli by nearly a million

Het Vrije Volk – 29-06-1990 – Lunapark Rivoli with almost a million saved for the time being

Het Vrije Volk – 21-07-1990 – Econocenter yet another failure in a row

Het Vrije Volk – 04-08-1990 – Festival Hall opens in Rivoli 12 August closed

Het Vrije Volk – 06-08-1990 – "Janvier empties Rivoli’

Het Vrije Volk – 09-08-1990: Extra sling municipality by end of Rivoli'90

Het Vrije Volk – 02-02-1991 – Rotterdam buys operators Rivoli

Het Vrije Volk – 08-02-1991 – "Rivoli fiasco due to enormous mistakes’

Het Vrije Volk – 09-02-1991- Pepper may remain from large parties