Recalling Amusement Parks from the '50s and '60s

Remember P.O.P. and Marineland?

What kid didn’t relish going to an amusement park when they were growing up? A fun-filled afternoon with Goofy, Daffy, Minnie and Mickey was a sure recipe for excitement and adventure.  

In Studio City, a quick fix could be had at Kiddy Land on Ventura Boulevard, with its pedestrian rides for tiny tots. But as we grew older, other places demanded our attention.  Here are some of my favorites.


I think I was about four or five when I first visited Disneyland, which opened to tremendous fanfare in 1955. Although I was too young to go on many of the rides back then, I was permitted to go on the teacups. That was a big mistake. I got sick on that ride when my two sisters kept churning that wheel in the middle to make the cup spin like a top.  So much for that hot dog I had for lunch.

There was also that flying saucer ride that was a futuristic version of the bumper cars. The single-seater spacecraft would glide along on a pocket of air. All you had to do was lean to change directions.



My pals on Facebook and I have recently been exchanging memories about Pacific Ocean Park, a cool amusement park on Pier Ave. in Ocean Park which opened in 1958.  Remember those oval gondolas that were suspended on wires over the ocean? It was so scary to look below and wonder if the sharks’d eat you if the ride broke down.

How about that ride where the bottom fell out, and your body turned into cement while the cylinder spun around? Daredevils would try to contort into a variety of positions, before the adventure ended and you slid back down to the floor below.



This precursor to Sea World opened in 1954, and braced the Palos Verdes Peninsula. Remember Bubbles the Whale and the other marine exhibits? Sadly, Marineland ceased operation in 1987 when Sea World purchased this oceanarium. The property was abandoned for a number of years until the Terranea Resort was erected in 2009.


Knott’s Berry Farm: 

I still remember panning for gold at Ghost Town, and that crooked shack where the broom would stand up straight. The jams and jellies were delightful.


Special thanks: http://www.westland.net/venicehistory/mapsdocs/poppier-map.htm This is a great link sent to me courtesy of Andy Steiner. Very interactive.....great vintage photos.


What were your favorite amusement parks and what rides do you remember?

Michele November 20, 2012 at 02:54 PM
This has nothing to do with amusement parks, but i remember going on trips with my mom and having fun just looking at rocks and indian things. Taking kids on vacations like that is just hard to do anymore because if it is not electronic they are not interested. my brother and I used to love to look for rocks in creeks on our trips and then mom would buy us a indian drum athat we would hit forever and try to make it rain with rain dances. ah those were the days
teresa mcgrath November 20, 2012 at 03:04 PM
great mary....favs were kiddieland, since it was so close....it had the ferris wheel, and the big slides nearby..... the burlap bags were loads of fun sliding down from so high ....p.o.p. was affordable compared to disneyland, and was only a half hour away in venice/ocean park...the skyride was treacherous as we were dangling over the pacific ocean...the diving bell gave you a rush at age 8 -10, as it suddenly swooshed below the water....disneyland was 2 or so hrs away, and mary and i once cut in line for the matterhorn while offering up a diverson....feel bad about that...tom sawyer's island was a fun way to explore and hike...back then you had A thru E tickets, with the matterhorn costing an E ticket...the flying saucers were so visionary, and loads of fun....mom and her friends would go to the tiki room, while we would work on rides like the autopia and later, the haunted house....dumbo, and the teacups didn't have long lines, so that worked out rather well...fine memories mary
Barbara Krause November 20, 2012 at 04:11 PM
For those of you from the Chicago area...who can forget the now defunct Riverview? It would never pass today even the lowest standards of existence what with the unsavory qualities of a Freak Show, luridness--and the constant rumors of getting polio there from all things disgusting. Of course we all loved it.
Andy Steiner November 20, 2012 at 04:34 PM
Mary McGrath November 20, 2012 at 04:38 PM
Love all the recollections Teresa! We went to Disneyland a few years ago, and then to California Adventure and rode all the slow rides...perfect for those who can't deal with that high adrenaline octane anymore!
Mary McGrath November 20, 2012 at 04:40 PM
We used to go to Magic Mountain all the time in the '90s. Loved all the roller coasters, except those with a corkscrew in them, or those that went upside down.
Mary McGrath November 20, 2012 at 04:44 PM
Andy, thanks also for this great interactive map of P.O.P. showing us photos of all the rides-Love all the memories.... http://www.westland.net/venicehistory/mapsdocs/poppier-map.htm
Mary McGrath November 20, 2012 at 04:48 PM
Andy, you're a plethora of factoids....thanks!
Mary McGrath November 20, 2012 at 04:48 PM
Video is so similar to Kiddieland in Studio City...
Yvonne Woodard November 20, 2012 at 04:57 PM
I remember Palisades Amusement Park in New Jersey & FunTown in Atlanta, Georgia.
Sarah Barrett November 20, 2012 at 05:32 PM
I had no idea there was a kiddie land in Studio City. I grew up on the other side of the hill and we had kiddie land and pony land when I was a kid. I loved the fish ride that went around like a merry go round, but bounced up and down too. Then it was demolished to make room for the Beverly Center. Sad!!
teresa mcgrath November 20, 2012 at 10:03 PM
i think newport beach or close to it had a huge roller coaster called the cyclone racer...anybody remember that? andy, that kiddkieland video is excellent....
Andy Steiner November 21, 2012 at 05:33 AM
That was the Long Beach Pike.
calchick82 November 23, 2012 at 09:16 PM
Don't believe it was really an amusement park(although there were elephant rides), but I'll throw in Jungleland in Thousand Oaks. Then there was Busch Gardens in Van Nuys with the boat ride & the monorail(think that's what it was)& the free beer(my dad used to like that!). Also went to Universal Studios a lot although the tram was really the only ride they had back in the day. Went to Knott's too & remember when it was just really known for the ghost town, and you could get in for free(although I'll double-check with my parents about that)
teresa mcgrath November 23, 2012 at 09:23 PM
thx andy, right long beach pike....


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