Early Southern California Amusement Parks

Chutes Amusement Park

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(Early 1900s)* - View of the Washington Gardens Chutes Amusement Park. The Chutes Water Slide stands at center between a roller coaster and the Chutes Theater.
 

 

Historical Notes

Chutes Park began as a trolley park in 1887. It was a 35-acre amusement park bounded by Grand Avenue on the west, Main Street on the east, Washington Boulevard on the north and 21st Street on the south. At various times it included rides, animal exhibits, a theater and a baseball park.^*^

 

 

 

 

 
(Early 1900s)* - Closeup view of the Chutes Water Slide and Chutes Theater. Several people are seen sitting on the bench waiting for the next boat to come splashing down into the lake.
 

 

Historical Notes

The park featured such rides as a roller coaster, a chutes water slide that dropped riders in boats from a 75-foot tower into a manmade lake (as seen above), and a miniature railroad. The park's merry-go-round was electrically powered, as was the engine that pulled the boats back up from the lake to the tower.^*^

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1901)^#^ - View of a water slide splashing down into the Chutes' lake. The beautiful ornate Chutes Theater stands on the right.  

 

Historical Notes

The site also included, at various times, such exotic diversions as a seal pond, ostriches and the interestingly named House of Trouble and Cave of the Winds. By 1901, it also had a 4,000-seat theater and a baseball park that seated 10,000.^*^

 

 

 

 
(1901)* - A birdseye view looking down from the top of the Chutes water ride. Houses can be seen across the fence surrounding the park.  

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1905)^#^ – "Shooting the Chutes" - View looking down from the top of the Chutes water slide just as the boat hits the water and bounces up into the air.  Note the large crowd below.  

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1906)^^ - A man and two women stand in the foreground near a fountain situated near the edge of a pool. On the other end of the pool is the main attraction, the tall Chutes Slide with water trickling down. Next to the slide is a mechanical lift, which is used to carry thrill-seekers to the top of the slide. On the outer edges of the pool are benches where people can be seen seated or walking by. At left are the circular and winding tracks of a roller coaster. The sign at the ticket booth reads: "Tickets 10¢, children 5¢". There are several signs on the roller coaster tracks that read: "danger, don't stand up".  

 

Historical Notes

The steel-framed figure-eight roller coaster seen adjacent to Chutes Slide was built in 1903.^*^

 

 

 

 

 
(1905)^#^– Postcard view showing both the Chutes Slide and the Chutes Theatre as seen from behind  the “Electric Fountain”.  

 

Historical Notes

In 1910 the park was sold to new owners (including Frederick Ingersoll) and reopened as Luna Park. The amusement park closed in 1914.

Frederick Ingersoll was an inventor, designer, and builder who created the world's first chain of amusement parks (known collectively as "Luna Parks" regardless of their actual name) and whose manufacturing company built 277 roller coasters, fueling the popularity of trolley parks in the first third of the Twentieth Century.^*^

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1911)^#^ - Panoramic view of the Chutes Park (also known as Washington Park). It was located on the north end of Chutes Park on Washington Blvd. and Main Street. This was the first home of the Los Angeles Angels. The Chutes Park water slide is visible beyond right field.  

 

Historical Notes:

In 1900, a baseball diamond was completed on the northern end of the Chutes Park, with a team to play in the new California League. It would be the first team to be called the Los Angeles Angels. It was also home of the Vernon Tigers. Following games, a gate in the center field fence was opened and fans were allowed to enter the theme park.^

Click HERE to see more on the Chutes Baseball Park (also, known as Washington Park) in Baseball in Early L.A.

 

 

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Lincoln Park (Eastlake Park)

 
(ca. 1910)^*^# – Postcard view showing a couple in a boat on Eastlake Park (previously Lincoln Park). On back of the postcard is a marketing slogan for Los Angeles that reads "On the Road of a Thousand Wonders."  

 

Historical Notes

Lincoln Park was originally created by the City of Los Angeles in 1881, from land donated by John Strother Griffin. It was one of Los Angeles' first parks. It was originally called East Los Angeles Park. By 1901 it had become a major amusement center for the people of Los Angeles, and it was at this time that the name was changed to Eastlake Park. On May 19, 1917, the park was renamed Lincoln Park after Lincoln High School.*

 

 

 
(Early 1900s)* - A couple can be seen relaxing and enjoying a nice sunny day as their canopied boat floats across Lincoln Park (Eastlake Park) lake, its surface giving a lovely reflection of the trees in the surrounding area. Several people can be seen on shore at the other end of the lake.  

 

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Los Angeles Alligator Farm (later California Alligator Farm)

 
(ca. 1907)^#* - Postcard view showing a park employee feeding a whole chicken to an alligator at the Los Angeles Alligator Farm across from Eastlake Park.  

 

Historical Notes

The Los Angeles Alligator Farm was a major city tourist attraction from 1907 until 1953. Originally situated across from Eastlake Park (later Lincoln Park), at 3627 Mission Road. In 1953 the farm moved to Buena Park, across from Knott's Berry Farm, where it was renamed the California Alligator Farm. It closed shortly thereafter.*

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1919)^*^# – View showing a young man sitting on top of an alligator at the Los Angeles Alligator Farm near Lincoln Park (previously Eastlake Park).  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1935)^*# – A large group of alligators are seen in a pen at Alligator Farm in Los Angeles.  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1939)* – Four different signs grace the Colonial Revival architecture of the Los Angeles Alligator Farm: a rooftop sign so large it needs its own towering columns, two neon signs including one of a snapping alligator, and a temporary looking yard sign that promises over 1000 alligators.  

 

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Selig Zoo

 
(1924)* - Aerial view of the Selig Zoo. The zoo's entrance is marked by the two arches (right of center), where N. Mission Road (running from upper left to lower center) meets Selig Place (running right center to lower center). This was originally opened as a private zoo in 1885 in downtown Los Angeles.  

 

Historical Notes

In 1911 William Selig opened a zoo on the northern edge of Eastlake Park, and this became one of the main attractions; in 1914 a carousel was added, which drew 150,000 riders a year; and a short while later, an arboretum was erected on the premises that housed a large greenhouse (hothouse) with rare and exotic plants.

On May 19, 1917, the City Council responded to a petition from nearby residents and renamed it Lincoln Park, named after Lincoln High School.*

On April 21, 1976 the carousel was designated Historic Cultural Monument No. 153 by the City of Los Angeles, but was destroyed just a few months later. Click HERE to see the LA Historic Cultural Monuments List.

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1916)* - The grand entrance to the privately owned zoo, located at 3800 North Mission Road in Eastlake Park (later Lincoln Park).  

 

Historical Notes

Opened to the public on June 20, 1915, the Selig Zoo, also served as a film production studio for the Selig Polyscope Company, and briefly the Louis B. Mayer Pictures Corporation. Dramatic entrance gates featuring statues of elephants and lions were designed by Italian sculptor Carlo Romanelli, with interior structures by Arthur Burnett Benton.*

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1915)^*# - View of the front entrance to the Selig Zoo. Admission Price: 10 Cents!  

 

Historical Notes

As well as being open to the general public, Selig Zoo provided a habitat for exotic animals used in motion pictures produced by Selig Polyscope Productions. It was headquartered in the old Indian Exposition Building in Lincoln Park, off Mission Road in East Los Angeles. "Selig Place" still intersects Mission Road today. This area later became "Luna Park," a popular amusement area and zoo.^*#

Selig Polyscope became insolvent in 1918, and over the years the zoo changed names and ownership. It was known as the Selig Zoo (1915-1925), Luna Park Zoo (1925-1931), L.A. Wild Animal Farms (1931-1932), the California Zoological Gardens (1932-1936), and Zoopark (1936-1940). The zoo officially closed in 1940 and many of the animals were relocated to the Los Angeles Zoo in Griffith Park.*

 

 

 
(ca. 1915)^*# - View of a woman in a cage holding a leopord in her arms at the Selig Zoo and Wild Animal Farm.  

 

Historical Notes

The first Tarzan movie was filmed at Selig Zoo. It was the only zoo south of San Francisco. In time, it became the largest collection of wild animals in the world.^##^

 

 

 
(ca. 1924)^^** - View of the 1924 Spillman, Lincoln Park's second carousel.  

 

Historical Notes

The Lincoln Park Carousel was destroyed by arsonists in August, 1976, just four months after being designated Los Angeles Cultural-Monument No. 153 (Click HERE to see complete listing).^^**

 

 

 

 

(ca. 1924)^^** - Close-up view of the Lincoln Park's second carousel. It stood until 1976, when it when it burned down.

 

 

 

 

 

 
(1924)#^- View of the front entrance to the Selig Zoo located at Lincoln Park. An American flag flys high between the two ornate archways that act as the entry point to the zoo. Elephant statues surround the base of the flagpole.  

 

 

 

 

 
(1928)^#^ - Bus transportation to Selig Zoo. The price of admission is posted on the wall.  

 

 

 

 
(1962)* - The once grand entrance to the old privately owned zoo in Lincoln Park shows signs of decay and neglect. Zoo closed following a flood in the early 1930's.  

 

Historical Notes

The Mission Road grounds of the Selig Zoo would subsequently serve as the Lincoln Speedway and the Lincoln Amusement Park, before being redeveloped in the 1950s. The entrance gates would remain standing into the 1960s, before being dismantled and moved to an Inland Empire junkyard.*

 

 

 
(1955)*^^^ - Close-up view of the entrance gate to the old Selig Zoo showing two lion sculputers. Note the detail design on the arch.  

 

Historical Notes

When the structure was demolished, some of the concrete sculptures disappeared into storage until they resurfaced sometime in 2000. Seven lion sculptures (including these two beauties) were restored and now live in the Los Angeles Zoo. #^

 

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Mt. Lowe Railway

 
(1893)^^ - The great Cable Incline went from Rubio Pavilion (the bottom) to Echo Mountain (at the top). In this picture one of the cable cars, named "Rubio" sits at the bottom with some passengers aboard and others waiting nearby. Also on the left is the electric car which brought customers to the station from Mountain Junction.  

 

Historical Notes

At the turn of the century (1893 - 1938), a famous Pacific Electric excursion was the Mt. Lowe trip. From Los Angeles, sightseers took a Pasadena car to Altadena and Rubio Canyon. They then transferred to a cable car on the Incline Railway that went up a 62% grade to Echo Mountain. From there they would take a narrow-gauge trolley car winding its way up the rugged San Gabriel Mtns. and finally would arrive at Alpine Tavern on Mt. Lowe, a nearly 7 mile railway ride from the base of the mountain. The views were spectacular and on most days Catalina Island, over 60 miles away, could be clearly be seen.*

 

 

 
(1890s)^#^ - Profile view of Mount Lowe's Cable Incline showing its steep 62% grade.  

 

Historical Notes

The incline grade changed three times from a steep 62% grade at the base to a gentler 48% grade at the top, but the cars were designed to comfortably adjust to the differences in grade. The incline was also equipped with a safety cable which ran through an emergency braking mechanism under each car and provided an emergency stopping of the cars within 15 feet should a failure of the main cable occur.*^

 

 

 
(n.d.)* - Visitors to Echo Mountain pose on one of the Incline opera-box cable cars (called 'White Chariots') which transports them on the Mount Lowe Railway.  

 

 

 

 
(1893)^^ - Photograph of the first passengers of Professor S.C. Lowe's dramatic Mount Lowe Railway, July 4, 1893. There are a couple of dozen people in the rail car (number "9") which is headed toward the camera on the circular bridge. The trestle structure is visible below the rails. The hotel on the mountaintop is visible at left as is the rail approach to the hotel.  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1894)* - A group of sightseers travels on one of the trolley cars on the Mount Lowe Railway as it rounds the area of track known as the Circular Bridge. Passengers can look out and have a spectacular view of Echo Mountain and its building complex (to the left) and the valley floor below.
 

 

Historical Notes

Over its 45 years of existence, it is estimated that some 3 million people had ridden the railway, many coming from all parts of the country and the world. In its own inimitable way, it was a Disneyland of the day.^

 

 

Click HERE to see more in Early Views of Mt. Lowe Railway

 

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Arcadia Hotel and the 'Switchback Roller Coaster'

 
(ca. 1887)* - Exterior view of the east front of the Arcadia Hotel in Santa Monica soon after its construction. It opened in March 1887. It was located on Ocean Avenue immediately south of the bridge over the gulch that was later occupied by Roosevelt Highway.  

 

Historical Notes

In the mid-1880s, tourism in Santa Monica was booming. Roughly 2,000 to 3,000 tourists visited Santa Monica in the summer of 1887. The owner of the former Santa Monica Hotel, J. W. Scott, constructed a massive new hotel, the Arcadia Hotel, in 1887, located near the site of the original Santa Monica Hotel at the corner of Ocean Avenue between Colorado and Pico Boulevard. The luxurious Arcadia Hotel had 125-rooms and featured the latest amenities.*

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1887)*^* - View of the 'Switchback Roller Coaster' at the Arcadia Hotel. Four men are seen standing on the roller coaster's platform.  

 

Historical Notes

The pinnacle of the Arcadia Hotel was an observation tower, offering breathtaking views in every direction a dizzying 136 feet above the beach level.

A further delight for guests was a two-track gravity switchback roller coaster, which in a one minute journey, could whisk guests either to or from the hotel and back again, all for the price of a nickel.*^*

 

 

 

 
(1880s)#* - View of the Switchback Roller Coaster in motion halfway between the Arcadia Hotel and its end point on the Santa Monica bluffs.  

 

Historical Notes

The original Switchback Railway (Coney Island) was the first roller coaster designed as an amusement ride in America. It was designed by LaMarcus Adna Thompson in 1881 and constructed in 1884. It appears Thompson based his design, at least in part, on the Mauch Chunk Switchback Railway which was a coal-mining train that had started carrying passengers as a thrill ride in 1827.

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1887)#* - View showing several men and women in a roller coaster as it comes to the end of its ride across the Santa Monica bluffs. In the background is seen the Arcadia Hotel with a flag flying high from the top of its observation tower.  

 

 

Click HERE to see more Early Views of Santa Monica

 

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Venice of America

 
(1905)* - The street is filled with people strolling, and the air with banners strung from the Hunt Hotel on the left. A banner on the building to the near left declares that "St. Marks Hotel will open in early July". This was the grand opening celebration for Venice of America, July 4, 1905.  

 

Historical Notes

Venice of America was founded by tobacco millionaire Abbot Kinney in 1905 as a beach resort town, 14 miles west of Los Angeles. He and his partner Francis Ryan had bought two miles of oceanfront property south of Santa Monica in 1891. They built a resort town on the north end of the property called Ocean Park, which was soon annexed to Santa Monica. After Ryan died, Kinney and his new partners continued building south of Navy Street in the unincorporated territory. After the partnership dissolved in 1904, Kinney built on the marshy land on the south end of the property, intending to create a seaside resort like its namesake in Italy.^

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1905)* - There are wall to wall people filling Windward Avenue in Venice of America, all looking and moving toward the ocean. "VENICE" is strung above their heads over the street in large letters.  

 

Historical Notes

When Venice of America opened on July 4, 1905, Kinney had dug several miles of canals to drain the marshes for his residential area, built a 1,200-foot long pleasure pier with an auditorium, ship restaurant, and dance hall, constructed a hot salt-water plunge, and built a block-long arcaded business street with Venetian architecture. Tourists, mostly arriving on the "Red Cars" of the Pacific Electric Railway from Los Angeles and Santa Monica, then rode Venice's miniature railroad and gondolas to tour the town. But the biggest attraction was Venice's mile-long gently sloping beach. Cottages and housekeeping tents were available for rent.^

 

 

 
(ca. 1905)* - View of the Lagoon at Venice. Groups of people pay for a boat or a gondola ride on the canal. The Antler Hotel can be seen in the background to the left of the bridge over the canal.  

 

Historical Notes

In 1904, Abbott Kinney completed the canals as part of a dream to transplant a bit of old Venice to California and imported Venetian gondolas with costumed gondoliers.*

 

 

 
(ca. 1905)^ - A gondolier and boat passes under one of the bridges on the canal route. At the same time a pedestrian and a bicycle rider are passing over the bridge.  

 

 

 

 
(1908)#^^ - View of several fashionably dressed men and women on one of the larger gondolas at a Venice canal.  

 

Historical Notes

The beautifully lit canals with gondoliers and arched bridges drew widespread publicity and helped sell lots in Kinney’s Venice development. However, as the automobile gained in popularity, the canals were viewed by many as outdated, and the bulk of the canals were filled in 1929 to create roads.^

 

 

 
(1906)* - Two women and a girl are riding a camel past buildings in Venice. A camel driver and two boys accompany them.  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1905)* - A photograph of an illustrated panoramic view of Venice, revealing all of the original Venetian style buildings and businesses along the Ocean Front Promenade, such as the Ship Cafe on the Pier, the Venice Bath House, and the Pavilion. Various styles of residences have also been captured in this rendering.  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1905)^^ - View showing the Venice Pier Pavilion. The large complex of the pavilion is shown at center, stretching out from the main pier at a ninety-degree angle. Two towers flank either side of the main entrance, the farthest from the foreground bearing an ornate cupola. In the right foreground, two American flags extend from tops of what appear to be small photo booths which bear signs that read "Franklin Photo Co. Makers of Novelty Photos".  

 

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1905)^^ - Panoramic view looking north at the Pier at Venice Beach showing the amusement park and beach. The Venice Pier Pavilion with its tall tower is at left. On its right is the Ship Cafe.  

 

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1905)#^#* - View showing the Venice Pier, Venice Pavilion and Ship Café  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1905)^^ - View of the Wharf and Pavilion at Venice Beach with Ship Café.  The Ship Café, a restaurant which resembles a large, lightly-colored ship, sits over the water along the side of the wharf at center. The corner of the large Pavilion building can be seen on the far left.  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1905)#^#^ – Closer view showing the Baron Long’s Ship Café at the Venice Pier.  

 

Historical Notes

It was built 1905 and fashioned after the Spanish galleon sailed by Spanish explorer Juan Cabrillo when he discovered California. It featured high-priced cuisine and booze during Prohibition for those who could afford it. Reconstructed after a 1924 fire, it was renovated several times, had a name change (to the Showboat Café), and razed in October of 1946. Baron Long owned or ran a number of Los Angeles nightclubs, including the Biltmore Bowl at the Biltmore Hotel in downtown L.A. which was, when it opened, the biggest ballroom in the world.

 

 

 
(1905)* - A big crowd is seen behind the large restaurant ship which was a replica of Juan Cabrillo's Spanish galleon. People can also be seen aboard the ship which was located in Venice at the Abbot Kinney Pier. The pier was destroyed by fire in 1920.  

 

 

 

 
(1906)^^ – Closer view showing a large number of well-dressed people walking on Abbot Kinney’s Venice of America pier alongside the Ship Café. Handwritten note on verso reads: "Ship Cafe / Venice, Cal. / 12-16-06"  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1910)^^ – View showing a crowd on Venice Amusement Pier with the Ship Café seen on the right.  

 

 

 

 

 
(1909)^^ - Postcard view of the Venice of America pier showing the large white resaurant ship, “Cabrillo”. People stroll on the pier and in the backgound is the city of Venice.  

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1905)^^ - Postcard view showing the Venice Pier by Moonlight.  

 

 

 

 

 
(1905)* - With lights blazing across the water the Ship Cafe and beside it the Venice Auditorium are clearly visible. At one time the ship was also known as Hotel Ship Cabrillo, and it was built over the water on stilts.  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1905)^^ - Photograph of a fireworks display over the lake at Venice, ca.1915. The lake is still and smooth and shown in the foreground. Above, various splashes of light can be seen cascading down from the sky or erupting from the shore. In the right distance, a small foot bridge appears to have been decorated with lights.  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1905)^^ - Several people stroll by the Dance Hall on the Amusement Pier at Venice Beach circa 1905. "Dance Hall / Venice" -- handwritten note on verso.  

 

 

 

 
(1908)^^ - Venice Pier on a crowded day with the Dance Hall seen in the background.  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1908)* - A view of the front of the Aquarium, with flags flying all around the top of the building.  

 

Historical Notes

The Venice Beach Aquarium exhibited the finest collection of marine specimens on the Pacific coast. It later became the official marine biological station for the University of Southern California.*

 

 

 
(ca. 1909)^ - Side view of the Venice Aquarium showing three men standing by the aquarium building. Note the ornate light fixture along the boardwalk.  

 

 

 

 
(1909)^^ - Exterior of the Venice Aquarium on the boardwalk at Venice Beach without the flags flying.  

 

Historical Notes

In 1920, along with the pier, the beautiful Venice Aquarium was destroyed by fire.*

 

 

 
(ca. 1908)* - The exterior of the large bath house is seen across the street from a row of much smaller buildings, including one which offers "Postal cards while you wait". The bath house (The Venice Plunge) was the largest heated salt-water pool on the west coast.  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1908)* - An overview of an empty Venice of America amusement park is taken through the plate glass window of Villa City Boating. The lagoon is in the foreground. The Miniature Railroad Ride can be seen in center of photo. This view is looking west from Windward Avenue toward the Venice Pier.  

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1909)^^ - Postcard view of a street scene showing Windward Avenue from the Lagoon, Venice. Wide steps teeming with people lead up from the Lagoon to Windward Ave.  

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1910)^^ – View showing a crowd of people stretched from left to right between two pavilions at the Venice Lagoon.  The three story building in the distance (left) is the Antler Hotel.  Next to it is a small bridge extending over a canal.  At center, the Venice Lagoon can be seen with a number of row-boats in it. What appears to be a watch tower stands in the middle of the lagoon. In the background, at center, another canal can be seen extending towards an extreme background.  

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1905)^^ – View showing the Venice Wharf and Pavilion as seen from the beach. About a dozen bathers frolic in the waves near shore. A rope is strung from shore to the wharf suspended above the water allowing swimmers to grab hold of it.  

 

 

 

 

 
(Early 1900s)* - View of Venice Pier from the beach showing people both in and out of water.  

 

Historical Notes

Attractions on the Kinney Pier became more amusement-oriented by 1909, when a Venice Scenic Railway, Aquarium, Virginia Reel, Whip, Racing Derby, and other rides and game booths were added.^

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1912)^*^# - Postcard view showing a crowded Venice Beach with roller coaster and pier in the background.  

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1910)**^ – Postcard view showing the L. A. Thompson Scenic Railway in Venice.  

 

Historical Notes

Opened in 1910, the L. A. Thompson Scenic Railway in Venice had a track that ran among artificial hills lights, and replicas of temples, foreshadowing attractions that would be built by Disney decades later.

While not actually credited for being the inventor of the roller coaster, Lamarcus Adna Thompson was the one who introduced it to the masses, entertaining people and inspiring others to build their own, creating a ride that would one day become the king of the midway and pioneering the art of the themed ride.

The L. A. Thompson Scenic Railway in Venice combined elements of his earlier creations with visuals. The first one opened in 1888 with great success, leading Thonmpson to form his own company, opened for the express purpose of building Scenic Railways around the world. Each version of his Scenic Railway was more elaborate than the previous version, containing more and more visuals. The most notable was the installation in Venice, California.***^

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1910)^^ - View showing throngs of people in front of the L. A. Thompson Scenic Railway attraction at Venice Amusement Pier.  

 

Historical Notes

The Scenic Railroad had mountainous terrain and a tunnel which depicted scenery. The ride gave couples a chance for a quick kiss and an embrace.^#*#

 

 

 
(ca. 1912)* - Spectators lined up below watch a car as it goes up the track on the Virginia Reel amusement park ride.  

 

Historical Notes

The Virginia Reel ride opened on Kinney’s Pier in 1912.^#*#

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1912)^^ - View showing the Virginia Reel at the Venice Amusement Park. A wooden track meanders down what appears to be a stone hill side. At center, a round car full of people is making its way down the track. The car is decorated with images of the Union Jack. A ramp to pull the car to the top of the track can be seen at right. In the foreground, a man is standing on a platform and facing a large crowd of onlookers.    

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1917)^^ - View showing a vacant carousel ride called the "Racing Derby" located in the amusement park on Venice Pier.  

 

Historical Notes

Carousels were generic rides, bought and sold to other operators like any business. Sometimes they were moved from one amusement pier to another. While there was little innovation in the business, wood carving became an art form and many of the area's carousels showcased a variety of menagerie animals.

Prior and Church in 1917 patented the Great American Racing Derby, a horse racing carousel. First they increased the ride's diameter to 72 feet, then grouped the horses four abreast in ten distinct races. The horses, which were set in six foot long tracks, would move back and forth as the ride rotated. The ride accelerated until it reached nearly 30 MPH, then the bell would ring and the winner of each group would receive free repeat rides.^#*#

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1920)^^ – Panoramic view showing crowds outside the Venice Beach Amusement Park, located between Seventeenth Street and Thirty-fourth Street along the ocean front. The rollercoaster is seen in the background.  

 

 

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Venice Miniature Railway

 
(ca. 1905)#** - View of the Venice Miniature Railway train crossing over a Venice Canal bridge on its way back to Windward Avenue at the Venice of America Amusement Park.  

 

Historical Notes

When Abbot Kinney was building Venice in 1905, he decided that his new resort should have an internal transportation system to shuttle visitors and residents around town. He turned to John J. Coit who operated a successful eighteen inch gauge (1/3rd scale) miniature steam railroad at Eastlake Park (now Lincoln Park) in Los Angeles. He persuaded him to oversee the construction and management of a mile and three quarter long railroad that would take passengers from the Windward Avenue business district on a loop across canal bridges and through the canalled residential district, then return via a loop up Washington Boulevard, past its Lake Avenue maintenance yard and back to the Windward station along Mildred Avenue.*#*#

 

 

 

 
(1908)^#^ - View of the Miniature Railroad Ride filled to capacity at the Venice Amusement Park.  

 

Historical Notes

The cost of a trip around Venice was five cents, although residents could buy a book of tickets for $1.00 which made the run only two cents. At that time, it cost 15 cents to ride from Los Angeles to Venice on the Los Angeles Pacific Railway. #**

 

 

 
(1910s)+#+ – View looking west down Windward Avenue towards the ocean showing the Venice Miniature Railroad.  

Historical Notes

Kinney installed the Venice Miniature Rail Road (V.M.R.R.) as both a tourist attraction and as a means to escort potential home builders and buyers to look at the subdivided parcels he was promoting. The train was very popular for its time, but it interfered with traffic.+#+

 

 
(1912)* - Postcard view of the Miniature Railway on Windward Avenue in Venice. The miniature railroad would carry passengers for trips around the Venice streets, including Windward Ave. as shown here, and around the canal area.  

 

Historical Notes

The Venice Miniature Railroad remained a popular ride and had run on weekends for twenty years. However, the train was opposed by merchants along its route on Washington Boulevard. In 1925, the city of Venice passed  an ordinance that would prohibit miniature railroads from operating on streets, thus leading to the demise of the long running Venice Miniature Railroad.*#*#

 

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The Midway Plaisance in Venice

 
(ca. 1906)* - Entrance to the Midway Plaisance Amusement Park in Venice with PE streetcar service near entry.  

 

Historical Notes

Kinney's Midway Plaisance was built on the south bank of the lagoon which later became the Venice traffic circle. It opened in January of 1906 and operated until 1908. It consisted of eleven buildings including Darkness and Dawn, which replicated a visit to hell based on Dante's inferno.**^

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1906)^^ - Panoramic view of the Midway Plaisance Amusement Park in Venice showing crowds gathered in front of "Temple of Mirth," "Darkness and Dawn" and "Chiquita”. Note the camel right at lower left.  

 

Historical Notes

The Midway Plaisance name was taken from an amusement area in the 1893 Chicago Worlds Fair. It was torn down in 1911 and replaced with the Races thru the Clouds roller coaster.**^

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1906)^^ - View of the Venice Lagoon and the Midway Plaisance, showing a crowd watching boatmen on the water. A throng of pedestrians have crowded around the bank and look expectantly at the lagoon. Amusement booths surround the area just back from the water.  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1906)* - The Midway Plaisance had many popular attractions such as the portable carousel in the striped tent seen on the far side of the water. It was Venice's first carnival with attractions coming from the Lewis and Clark Exposition and the St. Louis World's Fair.  

 

 

 

 
(1910)^^ - View showing pedestrians enjoying the sideshows along the Midway by the Venice Lagoon. An assortment of amusement venues can be seen lined-up edge to edge to the right of the image. Pedestrians at center are shown walking along at sand road, some of them enjoying camel rides. Legible signs from left to right include: "Temple of Mirth", "Darkness & Dawn", and "Chiquita".   

 

 

 

 

 
(1911)*^# –  Photo caption reads: The closed Midway Plaisance at Venice awaits the wrecking crew to make way for a roller coaster. LA Times Photo - April 1911  

 

Historical Notes

On July 1, 1911, the Los Angeles Times reported that the Giant Safety Racing Coaster was opening. It was named “Race Thru the Clouds” and was the ride sensation of the season.*^#

 

 

 
(ca. 1911)* - As viewed from the roof across the street, people are lined up and waiting to get on the Race Thru the Clouds roller coaster which stretches out behind the entrance.  

 

Historical Notes

Once roller coaster designer John Miller incorporated an extra set of under-wheels on each car to prevent them from lifting off the tracks once they reached the top of the hills and began their abrupt descents, the dips became deeper and the cars went faster. His Race Thru the Clouds, a racing roller coaster, built beside Venice's inland canalled lagoon by Prior and Church in 1911, was so popular that on opening day, with only half of its cars on line, 25,230 people rode the ride.^#*#

 

* * * * *

 

 

Ocean Park and Other Santa Monica Amusement Parks

 
(1912)* - View of the seashore at Ocean Park Beach in Santa Monica, 1912. The roller coaster seen on the pier was called Ingersol's Scenic Railroad.  

 

Historical Notes

Amusement piers became enormously popular in the first decades of the 20th century. The extensive Pacific Electric Railroad easily transported to the beaches people from across the Greater Los Angeles Area. Competing pier owners commissioned ever larger roller coaster rides. Wooden piers turned out to be readily flammable, but even destroyed piers were soon replaced. There were five piers in Santa Monica alone, with several more down the coast. The earliest part of the current Santa Monica Pier, which is now the last remaining amusement pier, was built in 1909 on what was referred to as the North Bay. The second half, an amusement park pier, was built later and the two rival piers were merged.^

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1912)^*^# – Postcard view showing a man and two young girls walking along the beach with the Ocean Park Scenic Railway Roller Coaster in the background.  

 

Historical Notes

In 1904, Ingersol's Scenic Railroad was the first roller coaster to be installed in the Venice / Ocean Park area.^#*#

 

 

 

 
(1912)* - Large crowds are gathered near a concert shell in Ocean park. There are more people than seats. Edges of buildings of several businesses can also be seen such as real estate and restaurants. An early model car and several horse-drawn wagons are parked in the foreground.  

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1910)^^ - Closer view of the Ocean Park bandstand showing Harry Moore's band playing in front of a crowd. Dozens of people, many holding umbrellas, are seated in chairs in front of the band, watching. Attached to the bandstand at right is a casino, and a pier juts into the water behind the bandstand building. More people can be seen seated on benches at left near the water's edge. A small shack on the edge of the pier is adorned with the words "Wharf Fish and Tackle Co. Poles for Rent".  

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1911)^^ – Postcard view showing Fraser's Million Dollar Pier, Ocean Park. Fraser's Dance hall, the roller coaster, and Starland Theater can be seen on the pier, with a boardwalk and beach in the foreground.  

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1911)* - View of the Lick's Dome Pier at Ocean Park.
 

 

Historical Notes

In 1911, Charles Lick added Lick Pier to the new Million Dollar Pier. They were both destroyed by fire in 1912 and again in 1924. The Lick Pier was rebuilt both times. The pier was finally done in by a fire in 1970, after which it was not rebuilt.*^*^

 

 

 

 
(Early 1900s)^^^ - A crowded day at the Ocean Park Pier in Santa Monica.  

 

Historical Notes

The Ocean Park Pier burned down in 1912. In its place was Fraser's Million Dollar amusement pier, which claimed to be the largest in the world at 1250 feet long and 300 feet wide. The pier housed a spacious dance hall, two carousels, the Crooked House fun house, the Grand Electric Railroad, the Starland Vaudeville Theater, Breaker's Restaurant and a Panama Canal model exhibit. It too burned within the year.^

 

 

 

 
(1912)^^ - View showing people working to extinguish the fire on the Ocean Park pier in Santa Monica, 1912. The fire is blazing in the distance at left. A group of onlookers is gathered at center as is watching as firemen drag a large hose towards the building. The dirt road at center is muddy from the water used to fight the fire. An early automobile can be seen at left, and a large horse-drawn wagon is parked near the edge of the street at left. A collection of two-story buildings lines the road.; Legible signs include, from left to right: "Brown Block", "Cafeteria", "Oxford", "Applegate's Café", and "Bay City".  

 

 

 

 
(Early 1900s)* - Looking down the right side of the pier (a few people can be seen on it, towards the beach and the bath house behind it.
 

 

 

 

 
Early 1900s)* - Crowded beach at Ocean Park in front of the Bath House.  

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1920)^^ - Exterior view of the Ocean Park Bath House in Santa Monica. The bath house is at center and is a large Moorish-style building. At the center of the building is an elaborate entry way consisting of a large domed tower surrounded by four tall spires. Smaller domed towers occupy the corners of the buildings. Awnings project from the bottom story of the building, and rows of round windows occupy the second and third stories.  

 

 

 

 

 
(Early 1900s)* - View of the indoor plunge in Santa Monica-Ocean park. Several people are swimming while spectators (in street clothes) watch from the bleachers along the side.  

 

 

 

 

 
(1916)#^^ - View of Venice Pier showing the Giant Dipper roller coaster known as "The Wicked One" and Noah's Ark.   

 

 

 

 
(1917)* - The Whip, a ride consisting of 8 coasters in the shape of blue sharks, at the pier in Santa Monica.
 

 

 

 

 
(1916)#^^ - View of Venice Pier, Giant Dipper roller coaster, Noah's Ark, and the Ship Café in the background.  

 

 

 

 
(1918)#^^ - View of a crowded Venice Pier showing the Ship Café and ferris wheel.  

 

 

 

 
(1920s)* - View showing the entrance to the Ship Café, built in 1905.  

 

Historical Notes

The Ship Cafe, part of The Ship Hotel was the place to go in Venice, California. The restaurant was built on pilings and was designed to be a replica of Juan Cabrillo's Spanish galleon. It was one of the great attractions of the original Venice Pier. High priced cuisine was served in the main dining room as well as in private salons on the second deck. The staff was uniformed like 16th century naval officers. In 1946 the city council voted to tear down the Venice Pier, including the Ship Cafe.*

 

 

 

 
(n.d.)* - A huge crowd fills the beach near the Venice Pier. A platform and stage can be seen at the base of the roller coaster. In the background is can be seen the Ship Café.
 

 

 

 

 

 
(1922)^*## – Postcard view showing some of the amusement rides at Venice Pier.  To the left is the entrance to “The Big Dipper”.  At center is “Noah’s Ark”.  To the right a large sign reads:  “Lenninger’s Salt Water Taffy”  

 

 

 

 

 
(1922)^*## – Postcard view showing the Dance Pavilion on the Venice Pier.  

 

 

 

 

 
(1922)^*## – Postcard view titled:  Concessions on the Pier.  Venice, California.  

 

 

 

 

 
(1921)* - Canal with roller coaster in view in the background.  

 

 

 

 

 
(1922)^*## – Postcard view showing the Santa Monica Pleasure Pier from Palisades Park.  Part of Ocean Park Pier can also be seen in the background.  

 

 

 

 

 
(1922)^*## – Postcard view showing Pleasure Pier in Santa Monica.  

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1922)* - View of the pier and carousel building in Santa Monica.  

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1924)* - View shows an Ocean Park, complete with wooden roller coaster, on the Santa Monica pier circa 1924.  

 

Historical Notes

In 1916, Charles I.D. Looff constructed a Moorish-Byzantine hippodrome, which housed a merry-go-round with 44 hand-crafted horses, a billiards and bowling hall, a two-track Blue Streak Racer wooden roller coaster along with The Whip and the Aeroscope thrill rides, a "What Is It?" maze, and several smaller rides. Looff's opening day, July 4, 1917, drew over 100,000 people; the biggest crowd in the city's history. In 1987, the Santa Monica Looff Hippodrome was added to the National Registry of Historic Places.*

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1925)* - Two airplanes rotating around the center tower on the Venice amusement park ride are visible. This ride, called the Flying Circus has 6 to 8 passenger cars circling the main tower 65 feet above the peer. Seen here from the sandy beach in the foreground.  

 

 

 

   
  (1920s)* - Aerial view looking north all along the coast of Venice and the whole Santa Monica Bay area. At least 6 or 7 piers can be seen extending out into the ocean. Venice Pier and amusement park can be seen in the foreground. Ocean Park Pier, with its own amusement park, is the next pier over. Beyond that, the long pier at the top of the photo, is the Santa Monica Pier. It also had an amusement park.  

 

 

 

 
(1920)*##* - Aerial view of Ocean Park Pier showing it's large roller coster. The long pier to the north (top of photo) is the Santa Monica Pier. It too had its own amusement park starting in 1916.  

 

Historical Notes

The Venice, Ocean Park and Santa Monica amusement piers were within a mile and one half of each other and they competed directly with each other for the tourist's entertainment dollars. Fourteen coasters were built there from 1904 to 1925.^#*#

 

 

 
(1918)*#^# - Walking over Santa Monica. Aerial view of a bi-plane flying over Santa Monica. A woman is standing on the wing looking down. Ocean Park Pier with its amusement park appears just below the plane and Venice Pier is seen in the distance.  

 

 

 

 
(1924)* - The Santa Monica Pier, with the La Monica Ballroom and roller coaster, captured from above.  

 

Historical Notes

The Spanish and French Renaissance style La Monica Ballroom was designed by T.H. Eslick; it opened in 1924 and was demolished in 1963.*

More than 50,000 people attended the July 23, 1924 grand opening of the La Monica Ballroom, enough to cause the first traffic jam recorded in Santa Monica history. Its 15,000 square-foot hard maple floor and exquisite “submarine garden” interior made the La Monica the hottest ticket in town.^**^

 

 

 
(1924)* - Exterior view of the La Monica Ballroom on the pier in Santa Monica.  

 

Historical Notes

The La Monica Ballroom was located at the end of the 1,600-foot long Santa Monica Pier. It was especially popular during the Big Band Era of the 1920s & 30s, up to 2,500 couples could kick up their heels in this grand ballroom located at the end of the Pier.*^*^

 

 

 
(1924)^*^* - View looking northwest toward the Santa Monica Pier. In the foreground is the "Municipal Community Service Playground No. 2. Beyond that, crowds of people are seen looking out toward the surf. In the background stands the pier with its roller coaster and the newly constructed Lamonica Ballroom, built in 1924.  

 

Historical Notes

The La Monica Ballroom's success was short-lived as the Great Depression effectively ended the dance hall days. By the mid-1930’s it became a convention center, lifeguard headquarters and, for a short interim period, the City Jail. The building stood until 1963 when it was demolished.^**^

 

 

   
  (ca. 1924)*^^^ - Woman with spy glass looking out toward the ocean. The beach is full of sunbathers with the Santa Monica Pier and Amusement Park in the distance.  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1925)* - The ocean water is filled with people swimming or playing, and the beach is likewise filled with people and umbrellas (to keep off the sun). The view is looking north towards Ocean Park.  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1926)* - A view across the strollers on the sidewalk and beach towards Lick Pier which was just over the Venice boundary line from Ocean Park.  

 

 

 

 
(1927)#* - Image of a crowd of people on the Ocean Front Walk next to the Ocean Park Pier in Santa Monica, California. There is a banner in the foreground for "Ocean Park Doc Carvers Diving Horses- Free staritng June 26" and the marquee on the Rosemary Theater at left reads "Now playing Lon Chaney & Preview Tonite" with a poster for the movie "The Unknown." Additional signs include "Dancing", "Ocean Park Pier Dome Theatre", and "Egyptian Ball Room."  

 

 

 

 
(1929)#* – View showing the Lighthouse Slide, High Boy roller coaster and Chute the chutes ride on the Ocean Park Pier at Ocean Park in Santa Monica.  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1928)* - A crowd has gathered to watch riders take the High Boy, a large wooden roller coaster at Ocean Park Pier.
 

 

Historical Notes

The High Boy (1926-1967) was a wooden out & back type roller coaster. It was renamed the Sea Serpent to fit in with the park's marine theme when Pacific Ocean Park opened in July 1958. After the park closed in 1967, it was sold at auction to Legend City in Phoenix, AZ. It was dismantled and stored for 15 years until the weather took its toll.

 

 

 
(ca. 1920s)* - The sign below the roller coaster entrance reads "This is sure some wicked ride". From the tracks winding up and around behind (with at least one full car on the track), it certainly does not look tame. This ride replaced the Big Dipper coaster on the Venice Pier in 1924.  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1928)* - The entrance and the roller coaster are seen from the Owl Drug Co. across the way. People are crowding the midway, and ice cream is for sale around the base of the coaster. This ride replaced the Big Dipper coaster on the Venice Pier in 1924. It only cost .10 cents to ride it.  

 

 

 

 
(1928)* - View showing the Miniature Car Ride at Ocean Park.  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1937)* - People riding Chute the Chutes, a water slide at the seaward end of the pier at Ocean Park.  

 

Historical Notes

The Ocean Park Pier was expanded for the final time during the summer of 1929. The length of the pier was extended 500 feet and five new buildings and attractions were added. Foremost was a $150,000 Shoot the Shoots ride; the highest amusement chute and the only one ever built on a pier. Its huge pool at the bottom contained 150,000 tons of water. Flat bottom boats made a thrilling decent down a 120 foot high 30 degree sloped water runway into a three foot deep pool.^#

 

 

 
(1938)*^# - People dressed up in their Sunday best take a ride on Ocean Park’s Chute-the-Chutes.  

 

Historical Notes

The Chute the Chutes closed permanently in the mid-1940s when an accident claimed the life of a little boy. He stood up and fell out of the boat as it slid down the ramp. Four years later Harry Cooper's Kiddy Town opened at the bottom of the ramp where the pool stood. This enclosed area had a miniature roller coaster, an airplane ride and several small kiddie car rides.^#

 

 

 
(1934)^^ – A small crowd of people gape over their heads at the "Venice Gondola" ride in which a capsule of people is swung in a vertical circle.  

 

Historical Notes

Typed note reads:  Latest Beach Thriller:  Designed  and built by John Branson, this new pleasure gondola is constructed of 20 foot steel girders with a passenger gondola made of duraliuminum [sic] scating [sic] six passengers. The gondola is attached to a cross bar on top of the girders, the gondola swinging into the air at the height of 40 foot. The passengers are strapped in with airplane belts. It travels at a speed of 55 miles per hour.

 

 

 
(ca. 1930s)* - Aerial view of the amusement park at Venice beach with city in the background.  

 

 

 

 
(1933)^^ - Aerial view of the Venice Pier showing a breakwater jutting from the water, just behind which a large roller-coaster ends the pier. The pier continues backward, with a racetrack at left, along with shops and a second roller-coaster at right.  

 

* * * * *

 

 

The Pike

 
(1905)^ - Panoramic view showing crowds of people on the Long Beach Pier and boardwalk.  

 

Historical Notes

"Pike" was the name of the wooden boardwalk connecting the Pine St. incline of the Long Beach Pier west along the shoreline to The Plunge bath house. It gradually grew in length, was widened again and again and was later poured in concrete and illuminated with strings of electric bulbs as "The Walk of a Thousand Lights", the midway anchoring the widely dispersed attractions and "The Pike" changed context from the original wooden boardwalk to the entire amusement zone.^

 

 

 
(ca. 1905)^*** – View showing the Long Beach Pier. In the foreground can be seen young bathers, some which are using a rope to maintain balance in the water.  

 

Historical Notes

Subsequently, the area became known as the Pike and was Long Beach’s entertainment center for both local residents and tourists. Visitors could rent swimming suits, change their clothes in the bath house and swim in the ocean or later in a heated, indoor, salt-water plunge. They could also ride a roller coaster or other rides, eat lunch or dinner, purchase specialty items, attend movies or vaudeville shows, dance in ballrooms or just sit and watch their fellow citizens.**^^

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1908)^*** – Panoramic view showing the Pike and Long Beach shoreline as seen from the end of the pier. The Long Beach Bath House can be seen at center-right.  

 

Historical Notes

Stretching Pine Avenue south from Ocean Avenue into the Pacific Ocean, the Long Beach Municipal Pier had an upper and lower deck to a service building on the end. Sheltered at the mouth of the Los Angeles River, the public pier served a range of purposes, primarily for trade and commerce, servicing freight and passenger shipping, but also served anglers fishing as well as pedestrian strolling. A simple wooden boardwalk was laid directly atop the sand west along the shoreline connecting the pier to the new bathhouse.^

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1905)* - Groups of people are sitting on the beach, swimming, or strolling in front of "The Plunge", the ornate bath house in Long Beach. An American flag flies over the portico on top of the columned entrance. A horse and buggy stands on the beach, left.  

 

Historical Notes

Started in 1902, The Pike ran until 1979. When the Pacific Electric line to Long Beach was built, the Long Beach Bath House and Amusement Company built this bath house on the beach near the end of the street car line.*

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1907)^ - Panoramic view showing the Long Beach Bath House and Board Walk.  

 

Historical Notes

With the opening of the Bath House, Long Beach boasted the only institution of the kind within a radius of many miles. As this and other attractions were added, people from inland began to flock to Long Beach to pass the weekends at the beach city, and many who came thus to play remained as residents.

The Long Beach Bath House and Amusement Company constructed a boardwalk 12 feet long along the beach and later a 15 foot walk replaced the smaller one until eventually the present 35 foot cement walk was constructed.**^^

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1910)^*** - View showing the Long Beach Pike. Well-dressed tourists stroll down the wooden planks of the boardwalk with the Plunge bathhouse seen in the background.  

 

Historical Notes

As it grew from a simple beach access made of planks to a midway of concessions, it included The Plunge bathhouse, Sea Side Studio souvenir photography, the Looff carousel, McGruder salt water taffy, pitch and skill games, pony rides, goat carts, fortune teller, weight guesser and a variety of dark and thrill rides, amusements and attractions large and small.

The Long Beach Pike was considered to be the West Coast's Coney Island. It featured some of the world’s most innovative rides and roller coasters.**^^

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1915)^^** - Postcard view of the Long Beach Pike. The tall structure to the right of the pier is the thrill ride called Bisby's Spiral Airship.  

 

Historical Notes

In June 1907, the first roller coaster on the Pike opened for business. A variety of other rides and amusements, including Ferris wheels and merry-go-rounds, would follow over the years as the Pike grew to include a bustling midway.**^^

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1910s)^^** - Close-up view showing Bisby's Spiral Airship at the Long Beach Pike.  

 

Historical Notes

One of the earliest suspended roller coasters was known as Bisby's Spiral Airship, built at the Long Beach Pike in the early 1900s. Riders on Bisby's Spiral Airship rode in square gondolas suspended from the track above, which were then carried via lift hill to the top of a tower. The gondolas then rolled down the track, which spiraled down the tower back to the loading platform. The attraction operated at least until the mid 1910s.^

 

 

 

 
(1918)* - Flying airplanes twirl around a pole by the entrance to the Jack Rabbit Racer roller coaster at The Pike amusement park south of Ocean Blvd. in Long Beach. The roller coaster is built on a pier and extends into the ocean.  

 

Historical Notes

In 1915, the Jackrabbit Racer roller coaster opened for business, replacing smaller coaster taken down in 1914. An amusement pier, most often called Silver Spray Pier, was built next to the coaster at the foot of Cedar Avenue.**^^

 

 

 
(ca. 1918)# - Detailed view of the north and west sides of the Pike's Jack Rabbit Racer roller coaster, as well as other attractions. Among them are the "Kandy Box Revue" and "Baby Cecil." The end of Pine Avenue Pier is prominent in the background.  

 

Historical Notes

Local urban legends suggest that Long Beach Poly High School's mascot, the jackrabbit, was named after this roller coaster. #

The Jack Rabbit Racer roller coaster stayed in operation until 1930 when it was replaced by the Cyclone Racer.*

 

 

 
(1918)* - Crowds mill down the midway in this view of The Pike amusement park south of Ocean Boulevard in Long Beach. Included in the enticements are Lipton, Jevne's, Seaside Studio, Parmonell and other various souvenir, candy, and gift shops.  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1920)* - A view of The Pike amusement park in Long Beach. The roller coaster extends down the pier; underneath it is the Long Beach bath house. The Hotel Arlington is bottom, left. Next to the hotel is the Crystal Cafeteria and next to the cafeteria is the Ambassador ballroom dancing establishment. Hoyt's Theatre abuts the Ambassador. On the horizon are several naval or Coast Guard ships.
 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1920)* - Beach umbrellas and deck chairs cover the beach in front of The Pike as swimmers crowd the surf. On the left, the pier in front of the Municipal Auditorium extends into the ocean. Behind the auditorium is Loew's State Theatre. A roller coaster ride towers over The Pike's concession stands whose tops are visible behind the sea of beach umbrellas. Behind The Pike, commercial buildings cover every inch of real estate.  

 

 

 

 
(1920s)^^ - View showing the Bamboo Slide at the Pike in Long Beach.  

 

Historical Notes

The Bamboo Slide consisted of a tall multi-level staircase leading to the top of a tower. Upon reaching the top you would slide down the circular slide on a burlap bag. The climb to the top was as much fun as the slide!

 

 

 

 
(1920s)#**# – Postcard view showing an overcrowded beach full of people and umbrellas with the Bamboo Slide in the background.  

 

 

 

 

 
(1924)* - Aerial view of The Pike, the Municipal Auditorium, right, and the pier in Long Beach. A sign, Hoyt's Vaudeville, identifies Hoyt's Theater directly behind The Pike's roller coaster. The twelve story Heartwell Building at 19 Pine Avenue, left, is under construction. The wide boulevard following the shore is Ocean Boulevard.
 

 

 

 

 

 
(1924)#* -  Panoramic view of the beach, Pike, and pier in Long Beach, taken from just south of the beach, facing northeast. The tallest structure in the background is the recently completed 12-story Heartwell Building.  

 

Historical Notes

Photo was possibly taken from the pier that jutted into the water and supported a roller coaster, at that time the Jack Rabbit Racer.

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1928)* - The Pike and Pleasure Pier, center, jut out into the ocean from the shore. The ornate bathhouse with its portico sits in the midway. Advertisements for the various attractions at The Pike are on the side of the pier underneath the roller coaster. Portions of the Virginia Hotel and its tennis courts are just beyond The Pike and breakwaters and ocean vessels are on the horizon.  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1929)* - People mill among the rides and concessions stands at The Pike amusement park south of Ocean Blvd. in Long Beach in this view looking southward. The Jack Rabbit Racer roller coaster is visible in the background, left.
 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1930)* - People mill among the concessions and rides at The Pike amusement park south of Ocean Blvd. in Long Beach. A roller skating rink and a dog show are offered amusements. People are riding the ferris wheel whose carriages are completely enclosed with mesh. A glimpse of the roller coaster is on the left.
 

 

 

 

 
(1930s)^^^ - Beachgoers swamp the coast of Long Beach. The Pike Amusement Park with its towering roller coaster is seen in the background.  

 

 

 

 
(1930)* - A view of the beach at Long Beach looking south toward the Pike. The Villa Riviera Hotel is just visible behind the roller coaster. Umbrellas cover the beach and the surf is crowded with swimmers.  

 

 

 

 

 
(1930)*^^* - A group of people look acroos the beach toward the newly constructed Cyclone Racer.  

 

Historical Notes

The Pike was most noted for the Cyclone Racer, a large wooden dual-track roller coaster, built out on pilings over the water. It was the largest and fastest coaster in the U.S. at the time.  They called it 'racer' because there were two trains on two separate tracks that raced one another from start to finish.*

 

 

 

 
(ca.1930s)*^*# – Postcard view showing the entrance to the CYCLONE RACER at the Pike Amusement Park.  

 

 

 

 
(1930)* - Close-up view of the newly built Cyclone Racer with its dual track.  

 

Historical Notes

The Cyclone Racer was built in 1930 to replace the Jack Rabbit Racer. It had a dual-track (two trains could launch side-by-side at the same time), racing wooden roller coaster, the brain child of Fred Church and built by Harry Traver.^

 

 

 
(ca. 1940)* - People enjoy a day at the beach either in the water, strolling on the sand, sitting under umbrellas or visiting The Pike in this Long Beach scene. The Cyclone Racer roller coaster is in the background.  

 

Historical Notes

To increase thrills, the Cyclone Racer was built on pilings over the ocean, several hundred feet beyond the shore. Eventually the entire pier stood over sandy beach, not water, because of the sand deposition due the slowing of water caused by the new harbor expansion and breakwater. Over 30 million riders rode on the Cyclone before it closed in 1968.^

 

 

 
(ca. 1940)* - Aerial view of a fairly deserted Pike amusement park and downtown Long Beach. The large roller coaster, the Cyclone Racer (center) is the largest attraction at the park. Numerous oil derricks are present in the background.  

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1940)* - Aerial view of fairly deserted Pike amusement park south of Ocean Blvd. in Long Beach and the surrounding streets. The Pike extends to the ocean's edge while beach flanks both sides of the amusement park.
 

 

Historical Notes

The Pike operated under several names. The amusement zone surrounding the Pike, "Silver Spray Pier", was included along with additional parking in the post World War II expansion; it was all renamed Nu-Pike via a contest winner's submission in the late 1950s, then renamed Queens Pike in the late 1960s in homage to the arrival of the Queen Mary ocean liner in Long Beach.^

 

 

 
(1958)*^# – Aerial view of the Cyclone Racer at Nu-Pike, Long Beach. The Pike was renamed Nu-Pike in the late 1950s and Queens Pike in the late 1960s.  

 

Historical Notes

In 1979 the Pike amusement zone was officially closed and demolished. By the time the lease with the city ended, The Pike had fallen into disrepair and most of the businesses had already left. The City of Long Beach then removed the remaining structures. Various plans for development of the area took form over the next twenty years. In 1999, the California Coastal Commission approved a plan for the construction of The Pike at Rainbow Harbor commercial and entertainment complex in the downtown shoreline area (not built until 2003). The name is only a nod in reference to the original amusement zone, bathing beach and boardwalk — the outdoor shopping mall bears no resemblance whatsoever to its historic predecessor.^

 

* * * * *

 

 

Pacific Ocean Park (P.O.P.)

 
(1958)* - Aerial view showing Pacific Ocean Park amusement park, which opened in 1958.  

 

Historical Notes

"POP," as it was soon nicknamed and pronounced "pee-oh-pee," was a joint venture between by CBS and Santa Anita Park. It opened on Saturday, July 28, 1958 with an attendance figure of 20,000. The next day, the park drew 37,262 which handily outperformed Disneyland's attendance figure that same day.^

 

 

 

(1958)##** - Postcard view showing the entrance to Pacific Ocean Park.

 

 

 

Historical Notes

Admission to Pacific Ocean Park was ninety cents for adults which included access to the park and certain exhibits. The term "POP" was also used as a clever acronym for "Pay One Price", though other rides and attractions were on a pay-as-you-go basis.^

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1958)* - View of the Sea Serpent Roller Coaster and a concession stand which resembles a wrapped jug. Park visitors drive miniature cars along the Union 76 Ocean Highway causeway on the edge of the park.  

 

Historical Notes

The Sea Serpent Roller Coaster was a wooden, 1926 Hi-Boy roller coaster from the original pier.^

The jug-like stand in the center of photo was called "Pepe's Pizza". It was originally a prop from the movie "Pepe" starring Cantiflas as seen in this clip: https://www.youtube.com/embed/tRiGIY7MGSY. It was also seen in an episode of "The Donna Reed Show" as Donna Reed has a cameo in the film.   

 

 

 

 
(1958)* - View of the pier and all of the amusements found at Pacific Ocean Park in Santa Monica. Photograph dated July 18, 1958.  

 

Historical Notes

Pacific Ocean Park was a twenty-eight acre, nautical-themed amusement park built on a pier at Pier Avenue in the Ocean Park.  It was intended to compete with Disneyland. "And Disneyland and POP is worth a trip to L.A." is a line from the Beach Boys' song "Amusement Parks U.S.A." from their 1965 album Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!). #^*^

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1958)* - Several rides and a view of the beach at Pacific Ocean Park.  

 

 

 

 

 

(1958)^# -

The Whirl Pool was the classic rotor ride where a centrifuge pinned riders to the spinning walls as the floor dropped beneath them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
(1961)* – View showing the Octopus Ride at Pacific Ocean Park, Santa Monica.  

 

Historical Notes

Mr. Octopus was a standard Eyerly Octopus ride with 8 tubs.^

 

 

 

 
(1961)* - People are seen waiting in line to get on the Flying Dutchman Ride.  

 

Historical Notes

Flying Dutchman was a dark ride similar in theme to Disneyland's Pirates of the Caribbean but without the animatronic figures.^

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1960s)*^*# – View showing the line in front of the "FLIGHT TO MARS" ride at Pacific Ocean Park.  

 

Historical Notes

The Flight to Mars attraction was a unique trip to the red planet that offered guests to blast off and walk around the surface of the red planet.

 

 

 

 

  (ca. 1958)** - The rocket flight to Mars was in a space theater with TV screens showing the flight's progress.
     

 

Historical Notes

Flight To Mars – Spaceship Starshine blast off “Welcome aboard Spaceway Rocket Liner Starshine. As we only use artificial gravity in space, you will experience acceleration in the first few moments of blast off…”

When the space ship reached Mars, visitors could tour a Martian home and see the Martian creatures.

 

 

 

 

 
(1960s)##** – View showing South Sea Island and the Mystery Island Banana Train Ride.  

 

Historical Notes

Cross a beautiful waterfall, then board the Mystery Island Banana Train Ride. Considered by many to Pacific Ocean Park's best ride, passengers were treated to a trip aboard a tropical banana plantation train complete with a simulated volcano and simulated earthquakes.^

 

 

 

 
(1960s)#^*^ - View showing spectators at The Sea Circus. The Ocean Sky Ride with its bubble gondolas can be seen in the background.  

 

Historical Notes

The Sea Circus was included in the basic attraction price. Performing dolphins and sea lions played to audiences of 2000 at a time. After the show, visitors could feed seals in the Seal Pool.^

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1958)^* - The Ocean Sky ride carried passengers out to the end of Mystery Island and back for a sightseeing tour only.  

 

Historical Notes

Bubble gondolas transported passengers on a half-mile ride 75 feet above the Pacific to the end of the pier and back.^#

 

 

 

 

 
(1958)* - Aerial tram skyride circling one side of the pier at Pacific Ocean Park, July 19, 1958.  

 

Historical Notes

In 1965, Santa Monica began its Ocean Park urban renewal project. Buildings in the surrounding area were demolished and streets leading to the park were closed. As a result, visitors simply couldn't reach the park and attendance plummeted to 621,000 in 1965 and 398,700 in 1966.^

 

 

 

 
(1968)* - View of a vacant Pacific Ocean Park and the "Ocean Skyway" bubble after the park went bankrupt.  

 

Historical Notes

At the end of the 1967 tourist season, the park's creditors and the City of Santa Monica filed suit to take control of the property because of back taxes and back rent owed by the park's new owner since 1965. Pacific Ocean Park closed on October 6, 1967. ^

 

 

 

 
(1972)*x* – View of the entrance to an abandoned Pacific Ocean Park 5 years after the park was officially closed.  

 

Historical Notes

The park's assets were auctioned off June 28 through June 30, 1968. The proceeds from the sale of thirty-six rides and sixteen games were used to pay off creditors. The park's dilapidated buildings and pier structure remained until several suspicious fires occurred and it was finally demolished in the winter of 1974-75.^

 

 

 

 
(1973)* - Fire rages unchecked at Pacific Ocean Park's outer pier. Hundreds of spectators lined up on the beach and watched the 50 yr. old pier go up in smoke. Photograph dated March 17, 1973.  

 

 

 

 
(1975)^^^ - Demolition of Pacific Ocean Park. The park's dilapidated buildings and pier structure remained until several suspicious fires occurred.  

 

Historical Notes

The final demolition took place in the winter of 1974-75. Most everything was removed but people's fond memories.

Other than a few underwater pilings and signs warning of them, nothing remains of Pacific Ocean Park today. A few miles north, the original Santa Monica Pier features a newer amusement park, similarly called Pacific Park.*^

 

* * * * *

 

 

 

Beverly Park (aka Kiddieland and Ponyland)

 
(1947)^## - Postcard view showing a Merry-Go-Round at Beverly Park, also known as Kiddieland.  

 

Historical Notes

In 1946, Dave Bradley opened Beverly Park and Playland at Beverly and La Cienega. It had a Tilt-a-Whirl, bumper cars, a roller coaster, merry-go-round, pony rides, blue hippo, you name it. And gourmet food, according to their ads. #^#

Walt Disney spent more and more time at the park, spending hours discussing rides with Bradley, asking children what they liked most about their favorite rides. In 1950, Disney showed Bradley his plans for a theme-park he was to call "Disneyland." For the next few years, Bradley did double duty, running his park and working as a consultant for Disney. He went to Europe to photograph rides for Disney, convinced him to build Main Street at 7/8th scale, built Disneyland's first carousel, and introduced the idea of "themed photo ops." He stayed good friends with Disney, even after he returned full time to Beverly Park in 1955.*#

 

 

 

 
(1970)#*#* - A typical Saturday at Beverly Park. Fathers watch as kids run in excitement near the ticket booth with Ferris wheel in he background.  

 

Historical Notes

Among the crowd you might have spotted Lana Turner, Norm Crosby or Dan Duryea with their children. The man who set the park in motion, David Bradley, called it the "park of the stars." Directors set up their cameras here for movies such as "Sylvia," starring Carroll Baker and George Maharis (1964), and "Three on a Couch" with Jerry Lewis and Lanet Leigh (1966).*^#

 

 

 
(ca. 1970s)#*#* - Spending the afternoon at Beverly Park with one's grandparents was always a special time.  

 

Historical Notes

Kiddieland was a whimsical amusement park located on less than an acre on the corner of La Cienega and Beverly Boulevard, at the present home of the Beverly Center Mall.  Originally, the land parcel was part of an oil field, which was leased for development.

From 1945-1974, children growing up in Los Angeles had their own mini-fair year round. There were usually about twelve kid-sized rides, as well as animals, hot dogs and cotton candy. Parents and Grandparents sat on benches watching their children ride the merry-go-round, and birthday parties were celebrated at picnic tables.*#

 

 

 
(n.d.)#*#* – View showing the area reserved for Birthday Parties at Beverly Park/Kiddieland.  

 

Historical Notes

Beverly Park was a perfect place to have a Birthday Party. It had a picinic area set aside for such occasions. But most important, it had enough fun rides to keep the kids busy for hours. They could even top off the day with pony rides at Ponyland, which was located just west of Kiddieland on Beverly Blvd.

 

 

 
(ca. 1947)#*#* - A man and two boys with sailor hats stand in front of the Pony Rides at Beverly Park Poneyland, adjacent to Kiddieland.  

 

Historical Notes

Next door to Kiddieland, there was another mom and pop operation which offered a different kind of fantasy to youngsters. This was Ponyland, which opened at 8536 Beverly Blvd.*#

 

 

 
(Early 1970s)#*#* - Looking northwest showing the three tracks (L to R: slow, medium, and fast) at Beverly Ponyland with ponys in the background ready to be mounted.  

 

Historical Notes

The Pony Rides (nearly identical to those offered at the Griffith Park pony rides today) were open on the weekends, offered fast, medium and slow horses that would do two laps around a track of sorts (white wooden fences separated the concentric circles of track . . . innermost for slow, middle for medium, and the outside track for the fast horses).  They gave you a short whip or crop for fast. #*#

 

 

 
(Early 1970s)^##* - A young boy riding a pony in the inside track (possibly his first pony ride).  

 

Historical Notes

Beverly Ponyland was located west of the Beverly Park, same side of the street, sharing a parking lot between the two sites (seen above). It was around where the Hard Rock Café is today. #*#

 

 

 
(1972)^## – Close-up view showing Beverly Park and Ferris wheel, with Locksmith on left.  

 

Historical Notes

Beverly Park closed in 1974, 28 years after it opened, because oil drilling at the site was increasing. Dave Bradley moved his business to Long Beach and continued to make amusement park rides for international customers, as well as places like Knotts Berry Farm, Opryland, the Six Flags parks, and even the Pike. #^#

 

 

 
(1970)^## – Bird's-eye view showing Beverly Park at the corner of La Cienega and Beverly boulevards looking West. The Beverly Center is in this location now. Rexall is now a CVS. Smokey Joes cafe on the bottom right had just suffered a fire. Note the enclosed oil well at upper-left. The western portion of the Beverly Center contains a cluster of oil wells in a drilling enclosure that is active to this date.  

 

Historical Notes

In 1978, a $50 million project to plop an 8-story mall on "one of the few remaining quaint sites in urban Los Angeles" was announced. And so we have the Beverly Center, which, given what we do there, could still be called Playland.#^#

 

 

 

 
(2014)^^^# – Google street view showing the southwest corner of Beverly and La Cienega where Beverly Park once stood.  

 

 

 

 

 

 
(1970)^## - Southwest corner of Beverly and La Cienega.   (2014)^^^# - Southwest corner of Beverly and La Cienega.

 

* * * * *

 

 

 

Disneyland

 
(1955)^*^^ - Walt Disney supervising "Sleeping Beauty's Castle" under construction in early 1955. Image courtesy of Ape Pen Publishing - Photo by Mell Kilpatrick  

 

Historical Notes

The concept for Disneyland began when Walt Disney was visiting Griffith Park in Los Angeles with his daughters Diane and Sharon. While watching them ride the merry-go-round, he came up with the idea of a place where adults and their children could go and have fun together. His dream lay dormant for many years. Disney also may have been influenced by his father's memories of the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893 in Chicago (his father worked at the Exposition). The Midway Plaisance there included a set of attractions representing various countries from around the world and others representing various periods of man; it also included many rides including the first Ferris wheel, a "sky" ride, a passenger train that circled the perimeter, and a Wild West Show. Another likely influence was Benton Harbor, Michigan's nationally famous House of David's Eden Springs Park. Disney visited the park and ultimately bought one of the older miniature trains originally used there; the colony had the largest miniature railway setup in the world at the time.^

 

 

 

 
(1954)*^*# – Disneyland Main Street under construction.  

 

Historical Notes

In 1952, the proposed project had been called Disneylandia but Disney followed ABC Television advice and changed it to Disneyland two years later, when excavation of the Disneyland park site began. Construction began on July 16, 1954 and cost $17 million to complete. The park was opened one year and one day later (July 17, 1955). US Route 101 (later Interstate 5) was under construction at the same time just to the north of the site; in preparation for the traffic Disneyland was expected to bring, two more lanes were added to the freeway before the park was finished.^

 

 

 

 
(1954)^.^ - View showing the Disneyland front gates under construction.  

 

 

 

 
(1955)^.^ – Aerial view look down Main Street showing Disneyland taking form.   

 

 

 

 
(1955)*^# - Disneyland on opening day, July 17, 1955. View is looking north, with Harbor Boulevard on the upper right and the Santa Anna Freeway running across the top. Visitors show up early on the 1st Day.  

 

 

 

 
(1955)^**^ - The line to purchase Disneyland tickets on the park's opening day.  

 

Historical Notes

Disneyland opened its gates at 2:30PM on Sunday July 17, 1955. The park opened as invitation only on this day, given to studio workers, construction workers, the press and officials of company sponsors. (The park opened to the general public the following day - July 18.) Because tickets to the grand opening were counterfeited, a surprising 28,000-plus attended.

The Official Opening Day was July 18th. General Admission was $1.00 (75 cents for juniors, 50 cents for children). Cost of individual attraction tickets range from 10 cents to 35 cents. ##*^

 

 

 
(1955)*^*# - View showing Disneyland Opening Day parade down Main Street. Life Magazaine - July, 1955  

 

Historical Notes

Actor Fess Parker, famously known in 1955 as TV's Davy Crockett, led the opening-day parade dressed as the famous frontiersman and riding a horse.

The Mouseketeers were first introduced to the public during the live broadcast of the Disneyland opening day festivities. All 24 members were featured in the inaugural Main Street parade and were showcased with their very own musical production number.

The grand opening was televised as a “live” 90-minute broadcast on ABC television. The festivities were hosted by TV personalities Art Linkletter, Bob Cummings and pre-presidential Ronald Reagan and, of course, Walt Disney. Covered by 24 cameras (3 was the norm), the show was TV’s most elaborate live broadcast to date viewed by an estimated 90 million viewers. ##*^

 

 

 
(1955)^^ - Opening day at Disneyland - July 17, 1955. Walt Disney is there to see his dream come to life.  

 

Historical Notes

The Disneyland Railroad (DLRR), originally the Santa Fe & Disneyland Railroad, is a narrow gauge railroad.  It was inaugurated on the park's live television preview on July 17, 1955. This live steam railway was constructed for $240,000; the two original locomotives cost $40,000 each. Riders use it as transportation to other areas of the park or simply for the experience of the "Grand Circle Tour". The Main Street railroad station is situated at the entrance of Disneyland.^

 

 

 

 
(1955)++# – View showing the entrance to Disneyland, Anaheim, the year it opened with early model car parked in front.  

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1956)* - View of Disneyland's Town Square, facing City Hall. This is part of "Main St., U.S.A." Two horse-drawn carriages are seen on the street.  

 

Historical Notes

Main Street, U.S.A. is designed to resemble the center of a turn-of-the-century (c. 1910) American town. According to Harper Goff, who worked on Main Street, U.S.A. with Walt, he showed Walt some photos of his childhood home of Fort Collins, Colorado. Walt liked the look, and so many of the features of the town were incorporated into Main Street, U.S.A.^

 

 

 
(1956)* - Aerial view of Disneyland amusement park and surrounding neighborhoods in Anaheim; view is looking east. Several orange orchards are visible beyond the park, but the area in the forefront is still undeveloped.  

 

Historical Notes

During the first half of the 20th century, before Disneyland opened its doors to the public, Anaheim was a massive rural community inhabited by orange groves, and the landowners who farmed them.^

 

 

 
(1955)*^*# – Closer view of Disneyland showing an orange grove next to the park.  

 

 

 

 
(1957)* - The past catches up with the present at Disneyland as the 1900 freight train pulls abreast of the Tomorrowland Viewliner.  

 

Historical Notes

Between 1957 and 1958, the Viewliner, "The fastest miniature train in the world," ran alongside the Disneyland Railroad for just over a year, and therefore has the distinction of being the shortest-lived ride in the park's history.^

 

 

 
(1955)*# - Aerial view of Disneyland surrounded by orange groves and also by a train.  

 

Historical Notes

The Disneyland Railroad was inspired by Walt Disney's love for trains, while tinkering in the barn of his live steam backyard Carolwood Pacific Railroad. Since the first spark of the idea of the park which would later evolve into Disneyland, each design concept held one thing in common "..and it will be surrounded by a train." — Walt Disney^

 

 

 
(1956)^*^^ - An aerial view of Disneyland in 1956. The entire route of the Disneyland Railroad is clearly visible as it encircles the park. Image courtesy of Ape Pen Publishing - Photo by Mell Kilpatrick  

 

Historical Notes

Some 160-acres of citrus trees had been cleared and 15 houses moved to make room for the park. The area was in semi-rural Orange County.^

 

 

 
(1956)* - View showing a group of Valley Times newspaper boys riding the Rainbow Caverns Mine Train through the new Living Desert. Writing below the train reads, "Just like Death Valley - the Guys in Boxcar 1".  

 

Historical Notes

The Rainbow Caverns Mine Train Ride opened in 1956. It was a 2 ft. 6 in. narrow gauge mine train that ran through the new Living Desert.  After the scenery was redone in 1960, it was upgraded and became Mine Train Through Nature's Wonderland.

In 1977, the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad attraction replaced this sedate train ride with a roller coaster version. The only attraction that remained from the scenic vistas was the mighty waterfall tumbling from Cascade Peak into the Rivers of America, visible only from various boat rides around the Rivers. Only one of the four Locomotives and two cars from the original ride remained on a stretch of track where Cascade peak once stood, as a staged wreck scene. The train, however, was removed in early 2010.^

 

 

 

 

(ca. 1955)*#^ - A family enjoying the first generation Autopia ride at Disneyland. These were gas powered go-karts that went about 6 mph. Fun for the kids; but not enough speed for a teenager or adult. More fun to bump the person in front of you if they stopped or slowed.

 

 

 

 

 

Historical Notes

The Disneyland Autopia is one of the few current attractions that opened with the park on July 17, 1955. When it opened, it represented the future of what would become America's multilane limited-access highways, which were still being developed. President Eisenhower had yet to sign the Interstate Highway legislation at the time Disneyland opened.

Before the park opened, the cars were tested without the bumpers, and were almost completely destroyed by the test drivers. Bumpers were fitted around the vehicle, but there were still problems with collisions, as a guide rail had yet to be implemented on the ride. Eventually the vehicles were fitted with spring-loaded bumpers to discourage collisions.^

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1955)*^*# – View showing a boat full of passengers on the Storybook Land Canal Boat Ride with the Casey Jr. Circus Train above and behind it.  

 

Historical Notes

Storybook Land Canal Boats is a leisurely-paced outdoor boat ride through a winding canal featuring settings from Disney animated films recreated in miniature. This was one of the original attractions when the park opened in 1955, although the miniature buildings and landscaping were not added until the following year.

The Casey Jr. Circus Train was based on the train of the same name from the 1941 film Dumbo, it gives passengers a tour of many miniature versions of classic Disney animated film scenes. This tour is similar to the one given on the slower paced Storybook Land Canal Boats, but does not incorporate narration. The attraction was opened two weeks later than Disneyland due to testing.

The Skyway would pass over part of the Casey Jr. Circus Train track.^

 

 

 
(ca. 1955)#*^ - View of Fantasyland as it appeared in the 1950s, with Tea Cups at lower-left and King Arthur's Carrousel at center.  

 

Historical Notes

Fantasyland is the area of Disneyland of which Walt Disney said, "What youngster has not dreamed of flying with Peter Pan over moonlit London, or tumbling into Alice's nonsensical Wonderland? In Fantasyland, these classic stories of everyone's youth have become realities for youngsters – of all ages – to participate in."

Fantasyland was originally styled in a medieval European fairground fashion, but its 1983 refurbishment turned it into a Bavarian village.^

 

 

 
(1955)^x^ – LIFE Magazine photo showing the Mad Tea Party ride on the opening day of Disneyland, July 17, 1955.  

 

Historical Notes

Originally located behind Sleeping Beauty's Castle, this attraction originally had no brakes, or clutches to control the speed of the spinning cups! After complaints of wooziness and nausea, the cups were finally modified in 1983 making them more difficult to spin out of control. ^##

 

 

 
(1968)^## – Close-up view of the Mad Tea Party Ride in Fantasyland.  The ride was inspired by the Unbirthday Party scene in Walt Disney's Alice In Wonderland.  

 

 

 

 
(1950s)^^# - View looking over the roofline of Fantasyland with the Skyway seen in the distance.  

 

Historical Notes

The Skyway at Disneyland opened on June 23, 1956. It was built by Von Roll, Ltd. based in Bern, Switzerland. It was the first Von Roll Type 101 aerial ropeway in the USA. Walt Disney Imagineering bought the ride from Switzerland.^

 

 

 
(1950s)^^# - Zooming in, you can see the Skyway Buckets, the masts of the Chicken of the Sea Pirate Ship restaurant, and the mountains in the distance.  

 

 

 

 
(1956)^^^* - Walt Disney and Dr. Walter Schmid, Swiss consul-general in Los Angeles, are the first passengers in Disneyland's newest attraction, the Skyway. June, 1956.  

 

Historical Notes

Walt Disney Imagineering bought the Skyway ride from Switzerland. It was a 1947 Vonroll sidechair model.^

 

 

 
(1963)*^*# - View showing Skyway Buckets running right through the Matterhorn with bobsled making a sharp turn out of the mountain.  

 

Historical Notes

In 1959, a major renovation added The Submarine Voyage, the Disneyland Monorail, the Matterhorn (now a Fantasyland Attraction), and the Motor Boat Cruise, but when the Matterhorn was planned it was designed to be built right in the path of the Skyway, so without a single closure of the Skyway, the Matterhorn was built around the Skyway.^

 

 

 
(1967)*^*# - View of the Disney Skyway over Fantasyland.  Dumbo the Flying Elephant Ride is at lower right.  

 

Historical Notes

Dumbo the Flying Elephant opened at Disneyland in October 1955, three months after the park opened.

One elephant from the ride is in the collection of the National Museum of American History, donated in 2005, on the occasion of Disneyland's 50th anniversary.^

 

 

 
(1960s)*^*# – View from the Disney Skyway looking down toward The Submarine Voyage and The Disney Monorail.  

 

Historical Notes

The Submarine Voyage, which featured ride vehicles designed to look like Navy nuclear submarines, opened on June 14, 1959 (one of the first rides to require an E ticket).^

 

 

 
(ca 1960s)*^*# – Ground view showing the Submarine Voyage, Disney Monorail, and Disney Skyway.  

 

Historical Notes

The Submarine Voyage closed on September 9, 1998, at that time, it was reported that the attraction would reopen with a new theme by 2003, but that did not come to pass. The attraction ultimately reopened in June 2007 themed to Disney Pixar's Finding Nemo, and now operates as Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage.^

 

 

 
(1960s)*^*# - View showing the Disneyland ALWEG Monnorail over the entrance to the Submarine Voyage Ride.  

 

Historical Notes

The Disneyland Monorail System (originally, the Disneyland ALWEG Monorail) opened on June 14, 1959, as a sightseeing attraction in Tomorrowland. The Mark I trains (Red and Blue) consisted of three cars each. In 1961 it became a true transportation system when Tomorrowland station was lengthened to accommodate the debut of the four-car Mark II and the additional new Yellow train, the track was extended 2½ miles outside the park and a second platform was constructed - the Disneyland Hotel station. In 1968 Mark III Monorail Green joined the fleet and both platforms were lengthened for the arrival of the more streamlined and efficient five car Mark III monorail train conversions.^

 

 

 

 
(1966)*^*# - View showing the Disneyland ALWEG Monnorail as it approaches the Disneyland Hotel.  

 

Historical Notes

The Disneyland Hotel opened on October 5, 1955 as a motor inn owned and operated by Jack Wrather under an agreement with Walt Disney, the hotel was the first to officially bear the Disney name. Under Wrather's ownership, the hotel underwent several expansions and renovations over the years before being acquired by Disney in 1988.

Guests traveled between the hotel and the Disneyland Park main entrance via a tram. The Disneyland Monorail was extended from its original 1959 configuration and a station opened at the hotel in 1961.^

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1964)*^*# – Classic view showing the Monorail, Skyway, and Matterhorn.  

 

 

 

 

 
(1958)*^*# – View showing the Matterhorn under construction. The Matterhorn mountain and sleds opened on June 14, 1959.  

 

Historical Notes

The Matterhorn both in style and name grew from Walt Disney's extended vacation in Switzerland while filming Third Man on the Mountain. In a moment of inspiration, impressed by the beauty of the real Matterhorn, Walt grabbed a postcard of the mountain from a souvenir stand and sent it back to Imagineer (architect) Vic Greene with the message, “Vic. Build This. Walt.” This resulted in the merger of the toboggan ride concept with the thoughts of a bobsled coaster ride that would run around and through the structure.^

 

 

 
(2012)^ – View of the Matterhorn mountain after its 2012 refurbishment.  

 

 

 

Before and After

 
(1958)*^*# - Disneyland's Matterhorn Mountain.   (2012)^ - Disneyand's Matterhorn Mountain.

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1967)*^*# - View showing the People Mover with the Rocket Jets Ride and Matterhorn in the background.  

 

Historical Notes

The People Mover (1967–1995) was a scenic, slow-moving ride high-above Tomorrowland that was intended to demonstrate how people could be shuttled around a central urban area without rushing to board individual trains or drive individual cars. It consisted of many dozens of small open-air cars seating up to eight riders, all running continuously on a track above and through the various attractions in Tomorrowland. After the ride was closed, the track sat vacant for two-and-a-half years until the opening of the ill-fated Rocket Rods.^

 

 

 
(1967)*^# - PeopleMover opens at Disneyland.  The People Mover is run through a remodeled Tomorrowland during press preview of the new Disneyland attraction.  

 

Historical Notes

The Walt Disney World version of the People Mover is still active in the Magic Kingdom under the name of Tomorrowland Transit Authority.^

 

 

 
(ca. 1967)*^*# – View showing the Rocket Jet Ride with the entrance to the People Mover directly below it.  

 

 

 

 
(1967)^#^# - Close-up view of the Rocket Jets Ride and the People Mover located in Tomorrowland.  

 

Historical Notes

The rocket-spinner ride (originally called Astro Jets) was located between Submarine Voyage and Flight to the Moon. It has undergone the following name and location changes: 1964–1966, Tomorrowland Jets; 1967–1997, Rocket Jets: A new version of the same ride, in a new location above the People Mover loading platform. The ride's mechanical components are now part of the Observatron, a sculpture on the same site that plays music and spins at regular intervals.^

 

 

 
(ca. 1967)*^*# – View showing the Rocket Jet Ride with the entrance to the People Mover directly below it.  

 

Historical Notes

The ride's present incarnation is known as Astro Orbitor, located at the entrance to Tomorrowland from Main Street, and debuted in 1998.^

 

 

 
(1962)* - The Flying Saucers operated from 1961 to 1966. The space occupied by the ride became the Tomorrowland Stage when New Tomorrowland opened in 1967.  

 

Historical Notes

Guests rode in single-rider cars on a cushion of air that were steered by shifting body weight. The air cushion was supplied from below through holes in the floor that opened when the cars passed over. The ride's site later became the site of the Tomorrowland Stage, and is now the site of Magic Eye Theater. Luigi's Flying Tires at Disney California Adventure is a modern-day version of the Flying Saucers.^

 

 

 
(1960s)^.^ - Sleeping Beauty Castle; Home of the Future... with the People Mover in the foreground.  

 

 

 

 
(1957)^v^ – View showing the Monsanto House of the Future in Tomorrowland with Sleeping Beauty Castle seen in the background.  

 

Historical Notes

The Monsanto House of the Future (also known as the Home of the Future) opened at Disneyland’s Tomorrowland in 1957. Sponsored by Monsanto, the design and engineering of the house was done jointly by Monsanto, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Walt Disney Imagineering.

The attraction offered a tour of a home of the future, set in the year 1986, and featured household appliances such as microwave ovens, which eventually became commonplace. The house saw over 435,000 visitors within the first six weeks of opening, and ultimately saw over 20 million visitors before being closed in 1967.^

 

 

 
(ca. 1957)^## - View showing a woman standing by the floor-to-ceiling window inside the Monsanto House of the Future located in Tomorrowland.  

 

Historical Notes

The house closed in 1967. The building was so sturdy that when demolition crews failed to demolish the house using wrecking balls, torches, chainsaws and jackhammers, the building was ultimately demolished by using choker chains to crush it into smaller parts. The reinforced polyester structure was so strong that the half-inch steel bolts used to mount it to its foundation broke before the structure itself did.

The reinforced concrete foundation was never removed, and remains in its original location, now the Pixie Hollow, where it has been painted green and is used as a planter.^

 

 

 
(1962)^ - Aerial photo of Disneyland taken in June, 1962. Tom Sawyer Island can be seen in the lower right.  

 

Historical Notes

From the late 1950s to 1968 Los Angeles Airways provided regularly scheduled helicopter passenger service between Disneyland and Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and other cities in the area. The helicopters initially operated from Anaheim/Disneyland Heliport, located behind Tomorrowland. Service later moved, in 1960, to a new heliport north of the Disneyland Hotel. Arriving guests were transported to the Disneyland Hotel via tram. The service ended after two fatal crashes in 1968.^

 

 

 
(1964)+# - Disneyland prices for admission, tour, rides, and parking in 1964.  

 

Historical Notes

From Disneyland's opening day until 1982, the price of the attractions was in addition to the price of park admission. Guests paid a small admission fee to get into the park, but admission to most of the rides and attractions required guests to purchase tickets, either individually or in a book.^

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1977)^ - Disneyland ticket book circa 1975–1977. The tickets were printed as "coupons".  

 

Historical Notes

From Disneyland's opening day until 1982, the price of the attractions was in addition to the price of park admission. Guests paid a small admission fee to get into the park, but admission to most of the rides and attractions required guests to purchase tickets, either individually or in a book.

The ticket book consisted of several coupons, initially labeled "A" through "C". "A" coupons allowed admission to the smaller rides and attractions such as the vehicles on Main Street, whereas "C" coupons were used for the most common attractions like the Peter Pan ride, or the Tea Cups. As more thrilling rides were introduced, such as the Monorail or the Matterhorn bobsled, "D" and then eventually "E" coupons were introduced. Coupons could be combined to equal the equivalent of another ticket (e.g. two "A" tickets equal one "B" ticket).^

 

 

 

 
(1956)*^*# - DISNEYLAND TICKETS  

 

Historical Notes

From the thrill ride experience at Disneyland, the colloquial expression "an E ticket ride" is used to describe any exceptionally thrilling experience.

Disneyland later featured a "Keys to the Kingdom" booklet of tickets, which consisted of 10 unvalued coupons sold for a single flat rate. These coupons could be used for any attraction regardless of its regular value.

In 1982, Disney dropped the idea for individual ride tickets to a single admission price with unlimited access to all attractions, "except shooting galleries".  The adult admission price was $12.00. ^

 

 

 

 
(1960)#^#^ – A 1958 Ford Country Sedan is parked on the side of the road leading up to the Disneyland parking lot.  A woman is seen admiring the flowers while the family sits patiently in the car.  Note the parking lot sign reads 25 cents.  Parking today is $20.  

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1960)*^*# – PARKING 25¢ - View showing the Katella Avenue entrance to Disneyland.  The Matterhorn (built in 1958) can be seen in the distance.  

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1960)*^*# - View showing the entrance to Disnelyand. Looks pretty much like it does today.....except maybe for the crowds.  

 

Historical Notes

Disneyland has a larger cumulative attendance than any other theme park in the world, with over 650 million guests since it opened.

Opening year (1955) attendance: 1 M

2013 attendance: 16.2 M ^

 

 

 
(1965)* - Photograph caption dated February 9, 1965 reads, "Disneyland's Town Square is filled with turn-of-the century atmosphere, old-fashioned vehicles and happy people. Compare this to the Disneyland of ten years ago. Soon the Opera House (center) will house 'Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln,' Walt Disney's newest 'three-dimensional experience in history' for Disneyland guests. It will be opened in mid-year as a major feature of the Park's Tencennial Celebration."  

 

Historical Notes

Walt Disney originally conceived of a show that would pay tribute to all U.S. Presidents as part of a proposed extension of Main Street, U.S.A. in the 1950s. However, the technology at the time would not permit a show on the scale Disney wanted, and the Main Street extension proposal was abandoned (the presidential tribute was later built as The Hall of Presidents at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom). Disney's Imagineers opted to focus instead on creating a tribute to Lincoln, Disney's boyhood hero.^

 

 

 
(n.d.)* - View of Sleeping Beauty's Enchanted Castle at the entrance to Fantasyland.  

 

Historical Notes

Opened July 17, 1955, the castle is the oldest of all Disney castles. Though it reaches a height of only 77 feet, it was designed to appear taller through a process known as forced perspective; design elements are larger at the foundation and smaller at the turrets.^

 

 

 
(2010)** - View of fireworks above and around Sleeping Beauty's Enchanted Castle.  

 

Historical Notes

The beautiful Sleeping Beauty Castle sits at the center of Disneyland Park.  It is based on the late-19th century Neuschwanstein Castle, with some French inspirations (especially Notre Dame de Paris and the Hospices de Beaune).^

 

* * * * *

 

 

Knott's Berry Farm

 
(1926)^*^* - Walter Knott's roadside berry stand along Western Avenue in 1926.  

 

Historical Notes

In 1923, Walter Knott opened his first roadside produce stand on Western Avenue in Orange County. The dusty highway passing through Knott’s berry farm was fast becoming the principal route between Los Angeles and the beach cities of the Orange Coast, and beach-bound motorists discovered the farmer’s humble wooden shack—located near the midpoint of their drive—as a place to momentarily escape the automobile and sample Knott’s farm-fresh berries and preserves.^*^*

 

 

 

 
(n.d.)^^* - Walter and Cordelia Knott, the power couple behind Knott’s Berry Farm, stand in front of one of their original stands. The license plate on the Model T dates to 1920, the year the couple came to Buena Park to farm berries.  

 

Historical Notes

Walter Knott and his family developed their Buena Park berry farm into a popular tourist attraction in the 1920s. Originally selling berries, homemade berry preserves and pies from a roadside stand, Knott built a restaurant, shops and stores onto the property by the 1930s. These were then augmented with minor attractions and curiosities until Knott gradually created Ghost Town, transforming them from a way-point to a Western themed destination in 1940.

The idea of an amusement park really picked up in the 1950s when Walter Knott opened a "summer-long county fair". In 1968, for the first time, an admission of 25 cents was required to get into the park. The Calico log ride was added in 1969.^

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1950)* - Visitors at Knott's Berry Farm stand near old-style businesses. At left is an antique horse-drawn wagon.  

 

Historical Notes

Little by little, Walter Knott began building a ghost town in 1940, using buildings relocated from real old west towns such as Prescott, Arizona. Painted signs of Old Trails Hotel had a humorous scrawl of the letter 'G', as if to hastily change the name to Gold Trails Hotel. It was the first of many and re-built to house a salute to the hardship endured by early settlers.^

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1950s)##* - View of the Sherff's Office and Gold Dust Goldie's Hotel. Goldie's leg can be seen hanging out of the window.  

 

Historical Notes

The Sheriff's Office hosted a crooked poker game. To interest folks and entice them to the back of the line, Gold Dust Goldie's Hotel featured a live gentleman interested in a few details about your group about to visit Sad Eye Joe back in the Town Jail – to surprise them with personal comments. Goldie's leg in fishnet stocking and high-button shoe, covered with petticoats hung out of an upstairs window of Goldie's Place would kick then return to thump the clapboarding, as if to advertise the brothel.^

 

 

 

 

(ca. 1954)^*^# - View showing three people experiencing the gravitational mysteries of the "Haunted Shack".

 

 

 

 

 

Historical Notes

The Haunted Shack was an attraction at Knott's Berry Farm from 1954, until it was demolished in 2000.

After a spiel concerning "strange goings on," and a demonstration in which two volunteers appeared to change height (in what was, in effect, an outdoor "Ames Room"), groups of guests were led on a tour of an odd shack in which the laws of physics seemed to be distorted, with chairs sticking to walls, and water seeming to flow uphill (all through the use of various perceptual illusions, combined with a surrounding hillside that completely isolated the shack from any outside frame of reference).^

 

 

 

 
(1958)* - A stagecoach to Ghost Town at Knott's Berry Farm. Visitors are riding on top, as the bearded driver holds the reins.  

 

Historical Notes

In 1949, the Butterfield Stagecoach Line left every few minutes from the Stage Depot. Well trained four-horse teams hauled historic equipment – 3 original Butterfield coaches, 1 Halloday coach, 1 Overland Southern coach and the Knott's Berry Farm coach that was built for the farm in 1954. Guests enjoyed a Stagecoach journey North to Whiskey Flat looping around the badlands filled with bad men.**#

 

 

 
(1958)* - An older-model train near the Calico Saloon at Knott's Berry Farm. Employees of the western-theme park are dressed in period costumes.  

 

Historical Notes

In 1952, Walter Knott purchased America’s last operating narrow-gauge railroad, the Denver and Rio Grande, and moved it in its entirety to Knott’s Berry Farm. The steam-powered train was christened the Ghost Town & Calico Railroad.**#

 

 

 
(2013)** - View of the same No. 41 train fifty-five years later at Knotts Berry Farm.  

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1950s)##^ - View showing a group of people enjoying a mule ride at Knott’s Berry Farm. The Calico Mine Ride is seen in the distance.  

 

Historical Notes

The Calico Mine Ride, Knott’s first major ride, opened in Ghost Town in November 1960 and was quickly recognized as one of the world’s most immersive “dark rides.” The attraction carries riders aboard ore cars through dimly lit tunnels of a working gold mine. #^^#

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1960)##^ – View showing a train taking passengers through the Calico Mine next to a scene filled with animated miners trying to strike it rich.  

 

 

 

 
(1959)^^* - View of Walter Knott and Vice President Richard Nixon at the "Pan for Gold" attraction.  

 

 

 

 
(1969)##* - Ethan and John Wayne on the log ride at Knott's Berry Farm.  

 

Historical Notes

After a year of design and fabrication the sawmill themed Log Flume opened in 1969 – under the original name of Calico Log Ride. The first official public riders were John Wayne and his son Ethan. Arguably the best log ride in the world, it features vintage logging equipment including a small steam train on display within interior pine scented woodland forest scenes detailed with taxidermy forest animals, a dark interior drop, and a twin flume split passenger loading station. A lumberjacks logrolling competition show was featured for several years on the pond between the final plunge and the station.^

 

 

 
(ca. 1976)^^* - The Old Knife Shop with the newer “Sky Jump” parachute tower in the background.  

 

Historical Notes

In 1976, Sky Tower was built to support two attractions, the Parachute Sky Jump (now closed) and the Sky Cabin. Parachute Sky Jump boarded one or two standing riders anticipating the thrill of the drop into baskets beneath a faux parachute canopy. From the top, eight arms supported the vertical cable tracks of wire rope which lifted the baskets. The Sky Cabin ringed the support pole with a single floor of seats that are enclosed behind windows. The Sky Cabin ring revolves slowly as it rises to the top and back offering a pleasantly changing vista. When built, Sky Tower was the tallest structure in Orange County (a distinction now held by nearby WindSeeker).^

 

* * * * *

 

 

Marineland of the Pacific

 

(1970s)*^*# - Poster for Hanna-Barbera's Marineland located at Rancho Palos Verdes.

 

 

 

Historical Notes

Marineland of the Pacific was a public oceanarium and tourist attraction located on the Palos Verdes Peninsula coast in Los Angeles County. Architect William Pereira designed the main structure. It was also known as Hanna-Barbera's Marineland during the late 1970s and early 1980s. ^

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1957)* - View of Marineland showing its very large oceanarium, designed by the firm Pereira & Luckman.  

 

Historical Notes

When it opened in 1954, one year before Disneyland, Marineland of the Pacific was the world's largest oceanarium. Many considered it California's first major theme park.^

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1950s)*^*# - Close-up view showing the main entrance to Marineland of the Pacific's Oceanarium.  

 

 

 

 
(n.d.)* - Performing porpoise at Marineland in Rancho Palos Verdes.  

 

 

 

 
(1957)* - Aerial view of Marineland of the Pacific, located in Rancho Palos Verdes; view is looking slightly northeast. Palos Verdes Drive is visible from middle left to upper right; a few houses can be seen farther in the distance, and the Pacific Ocean flows on the right.  

 

 

 

 
(1957)* - Aerial view of Marineland of the Pacific looking north. Palos Verdes Drive is visible running horizontally at the top.  

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1960)^*## – Postcard aerial view showing Marineland of the Pacific.  

 

 

 

 

 
(1970s)^* - Aerial view of Marineland as it appeared in the early 1970s.  

 

 

 

 
(1966)*^# - Visitors aboard the recently opened Marineland Sky Tower get a 360-degree panorama of the park and Palos Verdes.  The ride carried 60 visitors 314 feet above the park.  

 

Historical Notes

Marineland of the Pacific opened in 1954 and closed in 1987. The Sky Tower was removed in 1995.*^#

 

 

 

 

 
(1987)*^*# - MARINELAND EMPLOYEES pose for company photo on February 3, 1987. Sea World would close the park permanently just 8-days later.  

 

Historical Notes

Marineland operated from 1954 until 1987, when it was purchased by the owners of SeaWorld, San Diego. The new owners moved the popular killer whales and other animals to their San Diego facility and abruptly closed Marineland.^

 

 

* * * * *

 

Busch Gardens

 
(1960s)#^*^ - Aerial View looking northeast showing Busch Gardens with the Anheuser-Busch Brewery at upper-right.  Note the monorail tracks that circumvent the park.  

 

Historical Notes

In 1954 Anheuser-Busch opened a brewery in Van Nuys, California, followed by an updated version of Busch Gardens in 1966. By this time, the Busch Entertainment Corporation had already opened their Tampa Bay gardens in 1959, which was an admission free hospitality facility with a beer garden and bird sanctuary. In a similar fashion, Busch transformed a cabbage patch adjacent to the Van Nuys brewery into a tropical beer garden and bird sanctuary.*#*

 

 

 

 
(1963)* - Artist's conception of the Skyrail Tour, a 3,500-foot long, elevated project designed by Arrow Development Company, to be constructed at the Anheuser-Busch Inc. brewery in Van Nuys as part of a $3 million Bush Gardens development.  

 

 

 

 

 
(1960's)^** - View of what appears to be a Busch Gardens Sky Trolley being tested and fine-tuned prior to its official opening.  

 

 

 

 
(1966)*^# - View shows the Busch Monorail car moving forward at the ribbon cutting ceremony dedicating the new Busch Gardens in Van Nuys.  

 

Historical Notes

On May 16, 1966, the first pair of cars, containing Busch and other dignitaries, snapped a ribbon as it began moving, and the dedication was official. In total, there were seven pairs of cars that would carry passengers on a 3,500-foot loop around the 17-acre Anheuser-Busch facility.*^#

 

 

 

 
(1960s)*#^ - Poscard view of the Monorails at Busch Gardens in Van Nuys.  

 

Historical Notes

The Busch Gardens theme park featured a monorail that snaked around the facility and passed windows that gave passengers a look at the brewing process.^**

 

 

 

 
(1960s)#^*^ – View looking up showing two fully-loaded monorails passing each other in front of the Busch brewery building.  

 

 

 

 
(1960s)*^*# – View looking south showing the entrance to Busch Gardens off of Woodley Avenue (right), with a 1965 2-door Chevrolet Impala seen in front of sign.  

 

 

 

 
(1960s)* - View of the amusement park boat ride inside of Busch Gardens. Busch Gardens was located next to the Anheiser-Busch brewery in Van Nuys, in the San Fernando Valley.  

 

Historical Notes

Amongst the many activities provided for visitors were boat rides across a lagoon, a monorail, a log-flume ride, and a suspended trolley tour through the brewery; but perhaps the most popular attraction was the free beer. Once the park admission was paid, anyone of drinking age was allowed “two 10-ounce glasses of beer at each of the five pavilions.” *#*

 

 

 
(ca. 1970s)^^^* - Boat ride at Busch Gardens, Van Nuys. The Sky Trolley rail can be seen on the left. A beautiful waterfall is on the right.  

 

Historical Notes

In 1972 Busch Gardens would go through an expensive expansion that saw the addition of the log ride and other attractions of the like, and necessitated the construction of a pedestrian bridge and another monorail line to adjoin the original brewery property to the new section of the park.^*^

 

 

 
(1970)* - Passengers line up as they prepare to board the Busch Gardens boat ride.  

 

Historical Notes

By the mid-seventies attendance began to slow down and August Busch III decided to close the park in December of 1976.

Busch Gardens reopened on January 5, 1977 as a bird sanctuary and boasted "1500 birds of some 180 different species,". Many wandered freely and some were viewable from the boat ride. Guests began their trip with a 15-minute tour of the brewing facility, with audio narration provided by Ed McMahon. But, that didn't last long. *#*

 

 

 
(1970s)#*^* – View of the Log Ride at Busch Gardens, Van Nuys, with the Bird Sanctuary seen in the background.  

 

Historical Notes

The Van Nuys park closed permanently in 1979. Two other Busch Gardens, in Tampa, Fla., and Williamsburg, Va., are currently open. *^#

The company was liberal with its "free beer" policy, which extended to the brewery's employees. This, curiously enough, wasn't a problem until 1982, when one employee who imbibed on his break wound up hitting and killing a 16-year-old pedestrian when he drove off the lot. It took several years of discussions between the workers' unions and the brewery, but the free beer finally came to an end on May 1, 1986, and employees had to settle for two free cases a month instead of "beer breaks" they initially had in their contracts.^*^

 

* * * * *

 

Universal Studios

 
(ca. 1914)**^# – Panoramic view looking southwest showing Universal City. The water tower at center-right would later be converted into a castle tower. The Lankershim Blvd Bridge can be seen to the right of the tower. (Universal Handout Photo).  

 

Historical Notes

In 1913, the Universal Company purchased 12,000 acres of land in the San Fernando Valley near the railroad station of Lankershim and about eight miles from Los Angeles.^*#^

A year earlier, on April 30, 1912, Carl Laemmle merged the Independent Motion Picture Company with five smaller companies to form the Universal Film Manufacturing Company. After visiting his newly acquired west coast operations of Nestor Studios and Nestor Ranch, he renamed the studio "Universal Studios" and the leased Oak Crest Ranch became the first "Universal City" in the San Fernando Valley.

The first Universal/Nestor Ranch (Providencia Land and Water Development Company property Oak Crest Ranch) is presently the site of Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Hollywood Hills).

In 1915, Universal moved its operations at the Hollywood/Nestor studio and Universal/Nestor Ranch to its new Lankershim Blvd. location before the official opening of Universal City (Lankershim Blvd).^

 

 

 

 

 
(1915)^^ – Northwest panoramic view of Universal City with its whitewashed buildings.  Photo Courtesy:  Marc Wanamaker  

 

Historical Notes

The main buildings consisted of two main stages, Universal Studio Tours, and the production support facilities that were on the north side of the lot.  At this time, the studio had formerly opened on Lankershim Boulevard.

 

 

 

 

 
(1915)^^^* - View of the Universal City opening day ceremony, March 15, 1915.  

 

Historical Notes

Universal City celebrated its grand opening on March 15, 1915. Something like 20,000 members of the public responded to studio head Carl Laemmle’s invitation to visit his new studio at the north end of Cahuenga Pass that day to check out the fancy administration building, open air stages and bleachers on which, until the advent of sound filmmaking a decade later, they were welcome to come back and watch real movies getting made.**^#

 

 

 

 
(1915)**^# – View showing the beginning of Opening Day festivities just inside the front gate at Universal City.  

 

 

 

 
(1915)**^# – Crowds are seen gathered on hillside and below in autos to watch the Opening Day ceremonies of Universal City on March 15, 1915. Smoke fills the sky most likely from cannon fire or fireworks.  

 

Historical Notes

Besides showing off the facilities on opening day, Laemmle staged cowboy stunts and had engineers create a fake flood, which actually swamped a few vehicles.**^#

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1915)^*# - Postcard view of the entrance to Universal City: "Capital of the Film World" and the "City of Wonders".  

 

Historical Notes

After the gala opening, Carl Laemmle continued to let the general public visit his Movie City - "The City of Wonders."

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1916)^#^ – Postcard view showing bridge over the Los Angeles River leading to the front entrance to Universal City, “The Home of the Movies”.  

 

Historical Notes

The tower building near the front entrance is actually a water tower modified to resemble a castle tower (see earlier photo).

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1916)#^#^ - Postcard view showing Laemmle Boulevard and the Entrance to Universal City.  

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1916)*^^ - View showing the Lankershim Blvd. entrance to Universal Studios. Two security gaurds in uniform stand at watch under the large archway. A tall castle-like tower is seen on the left. Passengers sit in the back of an early model vehicle, possiblly the precursor to today's tram ride.  

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1916)^#^ - Postcard view showing tour buses at the front entrance to Universal City,  possibly the precursor to today's tram ride.  

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1916)**^# - View showing the visitors observation platform where guests could watch the filming of a movie.  

 

Historical Notes

Carl Laemmle invited members of the public to watch films being made (in exchange for a 25 cents admission fee). A chicken lunch box was also available for a nickel; the first step towards the Universal Studios theme park we know today.^*#^

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1915)^^ -  View showing the filming a western movie on the Front Lot Stage at Universal City.  A bar scene can be seen at center, and several men and women are visible in western clothing. A man and a woman are seated at a table in the foreground at right. At left, the director and cameraman can be seen, along with several other assistants. People can be seen sitting on a high balcony at left, in an area labeled "Visitor's Observatory".   

 

Historical Notes

Guests sat in outdoor bleachers and were encouraged to cheer for the heroes and boo the villains! The advent of sound meant the end of the early Universal Studio tour (as the noise the visitors made now disrupted filming) and Universal closed its gates to the general public in 1930. Three decades would pass before the studio gates would open again.^*#^

During that time, Universal developed into a powerhouse studio, producing numerous classics such as All Quiet on the Western Front, Dracula, and Frankenstein. With its success, Universal City (and other San Fernando Valley studios) influenced the residential and commercial development of nearby North Hollywood, Studio City and Toluca Lake that took off in the 1920s.

 

 

 

 
(1930)##++ – View showing a Universal Studios Lumber Convoy on Cahuenga Pass Road. Photo Date: 12/31/30  

 

Historical Notes

Greatest single truck shipment of lumber ever moved over American highways at one time parades through Los Angeles streets as 100 motor trucks and trailers, carrying almost a million board feet representing a year's supply for Universal Studios, is escorted across town from Los Angeles Harbor by a convoy of police. ##++

 

 

 

 
(1963)* – Panoramic view showing the 300-acre back lot of Universal Pictures, which includes four separate Western towns, three lakes, and sets used for films like "Psycho" and "All Quiet on the Western Front."  

 

 

 

 
(1963)^x^ - Life Magazine photo showing the back of the courthouse on the lot that would be famous as downtown Hill Valley in the Back to the Future 20 years later.   

 

 

 

 
(1963)++# – Aerial view showing the rear view of Psycho House at Universal Studios.  

 

Historical Notes

Alfred Hitchock's 1960 cinematic masterpiece Psycho, although originally distributed by Paramount, was financed by Hitchcock himself, and filmed at Universal Studios using the Revue Studios television crew from Alfred Hitchcock Presents. It was filmed on a tight budget, and accordingly, the exterior sets built for the film...the Bates Motel and home...were partly constructed from studio "stock units," including in the case of the Bates home, a tower and front wall portion borrowed from an existing house set on the backlot's Colonial Street. The Bates home, or "Psycho House" as it has come be known, was built as a two-walled exterior facade, as it would be filmed only from a vantage point within a 90 degree span. #++

The Psycho House (Bates Mansion) was one of the big draws of the Universal Tram Tour, back in 1964, and has continued to be instantly recognizable in recent years.

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1964)++# - Still from movie showing front of the Psycho House.  

 

Historical Notes

The "Psycho House" became an iconic symbol of eerieness, and has appeared in countless films (including two Psycho sequels), television shows and advertisements. The set still stands on the Universal backlot fifty years later, although modified and twice relocated over the years. The original Bates Motel set no longer exists, but a reconstructed version of the motel has accompanied the home on the backlot and as a part of the studio tour for decades. #++

 

 

 

 

 
(1964)***# – Postcard view showing the Universal Studios Tour Tram as it appeared in its first year of operations.  

 

Historical Notes

In 1961, Universal decided to once again open up the studio gates, but this time guests toured the lots by bus. The cumbersome and noisy busses, ill-suited for discreet travel through the busy lots, were swapped out for trams in 1964. This was the year the tour officially became known as the Universal Studio Tour. For only $6.50, two adults and a child could peek into the behind-the-scenes world of one of Hollywood’s most famous studios; and if they were lucky, catch sight of star.***#

 

 

 

 
(1970s)* - A tour tram moves through the back-lot western sets of Universal Studios.
 

 

Historical Notes

Shortly after Music Corporation of America took over Universal Pictures in 1962, accountants suggested a new tour in the studio commissary would increase profits. On July 15, 1964, the modern tour was established to include a series of dressing room walk-throughs, peeks at actual production, and later, staged events. This grew over the years into a full-blown theme park. The narrated tram tour (formerly "Glamor Trams") still runs through the studio's active back lot, but the staged events, stunt demonstrations and high-tech rides overshadow the motion-picture production that once lured fans to Universal Studios Hollywood.^

 

 

 

 
(1967)***# – Postcard view showing the original Wild Wild West Stunt Show at Universal Studios.  

 

Historical Notes

1967 was the year that the Universal studio tour began to transition into the theme park it has become today. With the opening of the Universal Entertainment Center came the western stunt show that would become a favorite attraction until it closed in 2002. This stunt show was a move away from an authentic behind-the-scenes tour to a production created specifically to entertain guests. Furthermore, instead of limiting the guests stay to the time it took to complete a tour, the entertainment center encouraged guests to spend an entire day at Universal City. This idea of an entertainment park, rather than just a tour, was based very much on the model of nearby Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm. Universal soon realized that in order to compete with these parks, they would have to developed their own unique attractions and rides.***#

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1976)* - View of a film set on the lot of Universal City Studios. The Glamor Tram passes by Singapore Lake, one of the several man-made lakes on Universal's 410-acre lot. In the background looms Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho" house.  

 

Historical Notes

In 1976, Universal unveiled what would become their signature attraction: the Jaws Experience. Although the tour included many of the original set pieces, what really put this experience on the map was the animatronic shark that attacks the tram. With the new Jaws Experience, Universal studios entered into serious competition with Disneyland for Southern California’s best theme park. Like Disney, Universal had a wealth of motion picture successes to tap into for new attractions. Jaws, however, wasn’t really a ride and that was an edge that Disneyland definitely held over Universal Studios. Yet, rather than try to beat Disney at its own game, Universal Studios developed their own style of attraction that kept with the back lot tour model, but with more complex staging and thrills.***#

 

 

 

 
(1979)* - Tram riders experience an encounter with JAWS in one of the Universal Studios' back-lot lagoons.  

 

Historical Notes

The Jaws event opened a year after the release of Steven Spielberg's 1975 film. It is an animatronic attraction that features the moving shark and other sets. The actual hero prop boat 'Orca' was placed in the lagoon as a center piece, but has since been removed.^

 

 

 

 
(1975)*## - Steven Spielberg plays with the robot shark on the set of Jaws.  

 

Historical Notes

The movie Jaws was directed by Steven Spielberg and based on Peter Benchley's novel of the same name. It was the highest-grossing film in history at the time, and was the most successful motion picture of all time until Star Wars.

In 2001, Jaws was selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the United States National Film Registry, being deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".^

 

 

 

 
(1986)* - An up close and personal encounter with King Kong. Opened on June 20, 1986.  

 

Historical Notes

The show began as the tour tram entered the soundstage and stopped in front of an apartment building facade where guests watched a breaking news report about Kong's rampage on television monitors located inside of the building's windows. A news chopper circling overhead was covering the story when Kong suddenly swatted at the chopper, causing it to come crashing down from above and exploding only a few feet away from the tram. As the tram rounded a corner, it drove out onto the Brooklyn Bridge, putting guests at eye-level with the giant animatronic ape. The enraged Kong shook the bridge and ripped the suspension bridge cables apart in an attempt to grab the tram. But guests managed to narrowly escape the clutches of Kong as the tram exited the soundstage just in the nick of time.

A backlot fire destroyed this attraction on June 1, 2008.^

 

 

* * * * *

 

 

Magic Mountain

 
(1970)#^* - Aerial view looking northeast showing Magic Mountain under construction. The Y-shaped structure in the foreground is the Magic Pagoda; down and to the right of it is the footing for the Sky Tower, which has not yet been erected.  

 

Historical Notes

In 1968, executives of Sea World Inc. were looking for a place in Los Angeles County to build a new theme park. Knowing that The Newhall Land and Farming Company had enough undeveloped land and that the company wanted to attract attention to its New Town of Valencia, a county planner asked company president James F. Dickason if he was interested. He was. After intense negotiations, Sea World and Newhall Land formed a $20 million partnership and began to build a 200-acre amusement park at the western edge of Valencia. Seventy acres would be used for the park itself — rides, theaters, games, food, landscaping — and the rest for parking and ancillary services. Construction began Nov. 17, 1969, and continued until opening day. #^*

 

 

 

 
(1970)#^* – View of the newly erected Magic Mountain Sky Tower overlooking the not-yet-opened park and other parts of Valencia from a height of 384 feet.  

 

Historical Notes

The Sky Tower was manufactured by Intamin AG of Wollerau, Switzerland — one of the big names in the amusement park attractions industry. #^*

 

 

 

 
(n.d.)^ - Magic Mountain as seen from the Golden State Freeway.  

 

Historical Notes

Magic Mountain opened on Memorial Day weekend on May 30, 1971. In 1979, Six Flags purchased the park and added the name Six Flags to the park's title. When the park opened, there were 500 employees and 33 attractions, many of which were designed and built by Arrow Development Co. which designed and built many of the original attractions at Disneyland. The admission price in 1971 was $5 for adults, and $3.50 for children.^

At its 1971 opening, the rides and attractions included Goldrusher, a steel coaster, the Log Jammer log flume, the Sky Tower observation tower, Grand Prix (similar to Disneyland's Autopia ride), El Bumpo (bumper boats), a Carousel, and other smaller rides. There were four transportation rides to the peak – Funicular – cable railway or funicular, later renamed Orient Express, The Metro – three monorail stations around the park; Whitewater Lake, Country Fair and Mountain stations and "Eagles Flight" – Skyride combined two stations at the peak, the long one north to Galaxy Station, and the short one west to El Dorado Station. The Showcase Theater (renamed Golden Bear Theater), was part of the original park and featured Barbra Streisand as the first of many headline performers who would appear at Magic Mountain over the years.^

 

 

 

 
(1978)^*^# - View of the Colossus Roller Coaster on its opening day.  

 

Historical Notes

Colossus was designed by Doug Bernards, president of Bernards Brothers Construction in San Fernando, and cost $7 million to construct. Magic Mountain specifically requested a wooden roller coaster for their new ride stating they wanted it to "rumble and sway." The ride would become the tallest and fastest roller coaster in the world, as well as be the first in the world to feature two drops over 100 feet. During construction, a tornado caused part of the structure to collapse. The ride opened to the public on June 29, 1978.^

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1978)*^*# – View of the Colossus at Magic Mountain, showing two roller coasters streaming down the dual parallel tracks.  

 

Historical Notes

After 36 years of providing thrill seekers with a hair raising ride, the Colossus Roller Coaster closed on Aug. 16, 2014.^

 

 

 

 

 
(ca. 2000) - Silhouette view of Magic Mountain at dusk.  

 

Historical Notes

Magic Mountain opened on Memorial Day weekend on May 30, 1971, by the Newhall Land and Farming Company. In 1979, Six Flags purchased the park and added the name Six Flags to the park's title. When the park opened, there were 500 employees and 33 attractions, many of which were designed and built by Arrow Development Co. which designed and built many of the original attractions at Disneyland. The admission price in 1971 was $5 for adults, and $3.50 for children.^

 

 

 

 
(2007)** - Magic Mountain roller coaster.  

 

 

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References and Credits

* LA Public Library Image Archive

# Long Beach Public Library Digital Archive

^^USC Digital Library

*^Pacific Ocean Park - Tripod

^*Vintage Los Angeles: Disneyland; Marineland

** flickr: Magic Mountain Rollercoaster; Disneyland Fireworks; Knott's Berry Farm Train

*# KCET--When L.A. Was Empty: Wide-Open SoCal Landscapes; Beverly Park and Ponyland

+#MSN.com: Vintage Photos of Disneyland

^# Westland.net: POP; Ocean Park Pier

#^ Flickr.com: Michael Ryerson

#* Huntington Digital Library Archive: Arcadia Roller Coaster; Arcadia Roller Coaster 2

#^^Santa Monica Public Library Image Archive

**^LMU Digital Collections

^**Oviatt Library Digital Archives

^^*LAist.com: The Knott's Berry Farm You May Not Know

*^^Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles - losangelespast.com

^*^LAistory: Chutes Park; Busch Gardens

*^*Paradise Leased: Arcadia Hotel

**#Knotts.com: Knott's Berry Farm HIstory

++#Facebook: Paul Ayers

*^#LA Times - Framework: Busch Gardens Monorail; Disneyland Opening Day; Nu-Pike; Marineland; Midway Plaisance at Venice; Beverly Park; Chute-the-Chutes

^^#Daveland - The Blog: Disneyland

^*#California State Library Image Archive

^#*Facebook.com - City of Angels: Alligator Farm

*#*EntertainmentDesigner.com: Busch Gardens

+#+Silentlocations.wordpress.com: Venice Minitiare Railroad

*#^Facebook.com: Photos of Time Travelers - Autopia; Museum of the San Fernando Valley

*##KLUV: cbslocal.com

^##Facebook.com: Vintage Los Angeles - Attractions and Amusement Parks

#**Los Angeles Westerners Corral: Venice Miniature Railway

#++Universal City: Psycho House and Bates Motel

#*^Davelandblog: Fantasyland 1950s

#^*SCVhistory.com: Magic Mountain Construction

#^#History Los Angeles County: From Playland to Beverly Center

#*#Rcbd.com: Beverly Park

##*Pinterest - California

##^Pinterest - Knott's Berry Farm

***Los Angeles Historic - Cultural Monuments Listing

^^^California State Library Image Archive

***^Theme Park Insider: L.A.Thompson, The Father of the Themed Roller Coaster

***#Entertainment Designer: The History of Universal Studios

**^^Scripophily.com: Long Beach Pike

**^#Daily News: Universal City Turns 100 Years Old

^^**Historical Society of Long Beach

^^^*San Fernando Valley Relics: Busch Gardens; Disneyland Skyway

^^^#Google Street View: Beverly and La Cienega

^^**Flickr.com - Floyd B. Bariscale Photostream: Lincoln Park Carousel

^*^^Ape Pen Publishing: Vintage Disney - Courtesy of Carlene Thie

*^^^UCLA Digital Collection

*^^*Facebook.com - City of Angels: Cyclone Racer

^***Library of Congress

^**^Pinterest - Los Angeles: Disneyland Opening Day

*^*^Santa Monica Beach Stories

*^*#Facebook.com: Classic Hollywood-Los Angeles-SFV

^*^*LA Magazine: When Knott’s Berry Farm Was Actually a Farm; Beverly Park Ponyland

^*^#Facebook.com - Bizarre Los Angeles

^*#^Studiotour.com

^*##Calisphere: University of California Image Archive

*##*AkamaIdivers.com: Pacific Ocean Pier

*##^HistoryLosAngeles.blogspot.com: From Playland to Beverly Center

^##*Buzznet.com: Beverly Park Pony Ride

^##^LincolnHeightsLa.com: Selig Zoo

*#*#Venice Miniature Railroad - Jeffrey Stanton

*#^#Flickr.com: Walking Over Santa Monica

^#*#Venice History: Roller Coasters and Carousels; Venice Timeline

^#^#Disney Vintage

#*^*Facebook.com: San Fernando Valley Historical Society

#*#*Facebook.com: Beverly Park - L.A.'s Kiddieland

#^#^Facebook.com: Garden of Allah Novels

#^#*Denver Public Library Image Archive

#^*^Facebook.com: West San Fernando Valley Then And Now

#**#Long Beach Heritage Museum

#^^#Knott's Berry Farm: Calico Mine Ride

##**Pinterest: Pacific Ocean Park

##++Hagley Digital Archives

##*^This Day in Disney History

##^*Pinterest.com: Los Angeles, California

^#^Forum.Skyscraperpage.com: Mt. Lowe Railway Profile; Venice Miniature RR; Chutes Theater; Chutes Park; Selig Zoo; Universal City; Chutes Water Slide; Chutes Postcard

^ Wikipedia: Venice; The Pike; Pacific Ocean Park; Busch Gardens; Marineland; Knott's Berry Farm; Universal Studios; Magic Mountain; Anaheim; Disneyland; Main Street, U.S.A. (Disney); Skyway (Disney); Sleeping Beauty Castle (Disney); Disney Railroad; Frederick Ingersoll; Chutes Park; Mt. Lowe Railway; Selig Polyscope Company; Autopia (Disnelyand); History of Santa Monica; Los Angeles Alligator Farm; Venice Canal HIstoric District; Jaws (film); Haunted Shack; Rainbow Caverns Mine Train; Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln; Matterhorn; Disneyland Hotel; Monsanto House of the Future

 

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