Early Southern California Amusement Parks

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.^

 

 

 

 
(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.^

 

 

 

 
(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. 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.*^

 

* * * * *

 

The Pike

 
(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.**^^

 

 

 

 
(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.  

 

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. 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. The 'Bamboo Slide' 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 seen 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.^

 

* * * * *

 

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.^

 

 

 

 
(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.^

 

 

 
(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.  

 

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. ^##

 

 

 
(ca. 1956)^^# - 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.^

 

 

 
(ca. 1956)^^# - 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).

The attraction 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.^

 

 

 
(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.^

 

 

 
(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 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.^

 

 

 
(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

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. ^

 

 

 
(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

 
(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.  

 

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.*#*

 

 

 

 
(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.^*^

 

 

 
(1970s)* - 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 showing Universal City as developed circa 1914. The water tower at center-right would later be converted into a castle 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)^^^* - Crowds arrive, some carrying American Flags, to help celebrate the opening of Universal City on 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)++# – 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. 1970s)* - 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

With 19 roller coasters, Six Flags Magic Mountain holds the world record for most roller coasters in an amusement park. In 2013, the park had about 2.9 million visitors ranking it fifth in attendance among seasonal amusement parks in North America.^

 

 

 

 
(2007)** - Magic Mountain roller coaster.  

 

 

 

 

* * * * *

 

 

 

More Historical Early Views

 

 

Newest Additions

 

 

Early LA Buildings and City Views

 

 

History of Water and Electricity in Los Angeles

 

 

* * * * *

 

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

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

**^LMU Digital Collections

^**Oviatt Library Digital Archives

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

^*^LAistory: Chutes Park; Busch Gardens

***Los Angeles Historic - Cultural Monuments Listing

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

++#Facebook: Paul Ayers

#++Universal City: Psycho House and Bates Motel

*^#LA Times - Framework: Busch Gardens Monorail; Disneyland Opening Day; Nu-Pike; Marineland; Beverly Park

*#*EntertainmentDesigner.com: Busch Gardens

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

^#^Forum Skyssraperpage.com: Universal City

*##KLUV: cbslocal.com

#^*SCVhistory.com: Magic Mountain Construction

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

##*Pinterest - California

##^Pinterest - Knott's Berry Farm

^^#Daveland - The Blog: Disneyland

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

^^^California State Library Image Archive

**^^Scripophily.com: Long Beach Pike

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

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

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

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

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

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

^***Library of Congress

^^**Historical Society of Long Beach

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

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

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

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

^*^#Facebook.com - Bizarre Los Angeles

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

^*##Calisphere: University of California Image Archive

^*#^Studiotour.com

^#^#Disney Vintage

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

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

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

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

#**#Long Beach Heritage Museum

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

##++Hagley Digital Archives

##*^This Day in Disney History

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

^ 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; Autopia (Disnelyand); 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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