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A woman poses for a portrait at the Los Angeles Alligator Farm in Lincoln Heights in 1949.
Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

LA’s strange and wonderful lost amusement parks, mapped

Once upon a time, Los Angeles was home to dozens of freewheeling amusement parks, including an alligator farm

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A woman poses for a portrait at the Los Angeles Alligator Farm in Lincoln Heights in 1949.
| Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Los Angeles is known for its enormous but sterile corporate amusement parks. Disneyland, Universal Studios, and even Knott’s Berry Farm are fun enough, but also uptightly engineered to minimize their owners’ exposure to lawsuits and maximize their visitors’ exposure to a whirling menagerie of brands and advertising and intellectual property.

Every once in a while, they’ll take a few years to replace old favorites with new lands to feature new brands (Harry Potter or Cars or Star Wars). But once upon a time, from the early days of the city until as late as the 1970s and ’80s, Los Angeles was home to dozens of more freewheeling amusement parks.

New attractions were added every season, and you could ride an alligator, see a macaw on rollerskates, descend into Dante’s hell, watch a Civil War sea battle reenactment, drink free beer, and even get medical care for your baby, in between riding the rollercoasters and eating cotton candy.

In the early 20th century, several amusement parks sprang up (and eventually burned down) on piers along what were then the resort towns of Venice and Ocean Park—where, unlike Los Angeles, drinking and dancing were allowed on Sundays—but the theme parks of the old days were scattered as far as Thousand Oaks, the San Bernardino Mountains, and the Palos Verdes Peninsula, and there was even a park just south of Downtown LA. Here are the lost locations of 18 of LA’s most spectacular lost amusement parks.

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1. Chutes Park

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S Main St & E Washington Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90015

There used to be a 35-acre amusement park in Historic South-Central, just south of Downtown LA. It began in 1887 as Washington Gardens, which hosted weekly variety shows, displayed various animals and a panorama of the Battle of Gettysburg, and eventually included an ostrich farm, according to the Downtown News.

Visitors arrived via a horse-drawn rail line from Downtown proper. The park’s pavilion burned down in 1887 and the park was little used again until 1899, when the Los Angeles County Improvement Co. leased the grounds and turned it into Chutes Park, with a baseball diamond for the new Los Angeles Angels and eventually the Vernon Tigers.

Beginning in late 1900, attractions began to sprout on the land: a vaudeville theater, a circus, hot air balloon rides, a miniature railroad, a rollercoaster, a giant boat waterslide, a merry-go-round, a seal pond, a monkey circus, a Temple of Mirth, and a daily reenactment of a Civil War sea battle. And still it fell on hard times.

It sold in 1910 and reopened in 1911 as Luna Park, with a new Nemo’s Trip to Slumberland attraction, which ran 600 feet along Main Street. That didn't take either, and the site sold in 1912 to a group who wanted to make it into a park for African-Americans; that plan never got off the ground. Everything was torn down by 1914.

View of the Washington Gardens Amusement Park, which opened in 1887.
Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection

2. Busch Gardens Van Nuys

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16000 Roscoe Blvd
North Hills, CA 91343

The original Busch Gardens opened in 1906 in Pasadena, on land surrounding the Busch family’s mansion, but it was actually just gardens. The first Busch Gardens theme park opened in Tampa in the 1950s; the one adjacent to Anheuser-Busch’s brewery in Van Nuys opened in 1966, with a monorail, boat rides, lagoons, thousands of rare birds, and free beer. The park was trimmed back to only its birds in 1977 and finally closed in 1979 (the birds were distributed to various zoos and other theme parks, but descendants of some are said to still fly the Valley skies).

View of an amusement park boat ride inside at Busch Gardens, located next to the Anheiser-Busch brewery in Van Nuys.
Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection

3. Japanese Village and Deer Park

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6122 Knott Ave
Buena Park, CA 90620

The problematic-sounding Japanese Village and Deer Park was opened in 1967 by a man named Allen Parkinson, who developed Sleep-Eze. The 29-acre park was inspired by a trip to Japan’s Nara Deer Park and featured exotic deer, a somersaulting bear, a tiger, a rollerskating macaw, a Japanese teahouse, a poker-playing koi fish, and “an overwhelmingly Asian staff,” according to KCET.

In 1969, the park opened an enormous aquatheater to host water shows with seals, dolphins, and Japanese bears. The park closed in 1974, then briefly reopened as a sort of hippie animal park before closing for good in 1979. Today it’s an office park.

via Jasperdo

4. Venice Amusement Pier

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Windward Ave & Ocean Front Walk
Venice, CA 90291

As part of his ambitious Venice of America development, Abbot Kinney commissioned a pleasure pier at the end of Windward Avenue. The first attempt was swept away in winter storms of 1905, but Kinney drove workers to rebuild for a July 4 opening; it opened in time with a casino and bandstand, “a Ship’s Hotel that would resemble an ocean liner permanently docked beside the pier,” a 3,500-seat auditorium, and a dance hall, according to Westland Network.

In 1909, Kinney decided to just go for the whole amusement park thing and expanded the pier with an aquarium, scenic railroad, a carousel, “a Hades attraction,” a ferris wheel, a car ride, a mill ride, an airplane ride, and more. More attractions and a 700-space parking lot were added over the years, along with an ostrich farm, an “Underground Chinatown exhibit,” a skating rink, a tunnel of love, and the Big Dipper rollercoaster.

The pier burned down in 1920 but was rebuilt and reopened with many of the same attractions in 1921. It continued to grow until 1946, when the city’s recreation and parks department refused to renew the lease.

Scenes from the Venice Amusement Pier.
USC Digital Collection

5. Midway Plaisance

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Main St & Windward Cir
Venice, CA 90291

This was Venice’s first midway, on the south side of what was then Venice Lagoon (and is now Windward Circle). It featured camel rides, a Temple of Mirth, a chicken farm, an occult show, and the Dante-inspired Darkness and Dawn descent into hell.

The Midway Plaisance had 11 buildings along the edge of a swimming lagoon.
Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection

6. Fraser's Million Dollar Pier

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3400 Barnard Way
Santa Monica, CA 90405

Abbot Kinney’s former partner Alexander Fraser opened the Million Dollar Pier in what was then called Ocean Park (now the borderlands between Venice and Santa Monica). The enormous amusement park opened in June 1911 with a revolving cafe, dance hall, Grand Canyon Science Railroad, 1,000-seat theater, crooked house, something called the Society Whirl, and The Third Degree, which “displayed a collection of paraphernalia used in secret society initiations while visitors were transported through the exhibit on moving sidewalks,” according to Westland.

There was also Infant Incubators, where premature babies could get free medical care from trained nurses. The pier burned down in September 1912. Fraser rebuilt and the pier was expanded with new attractions over the next several years as it passed to new owners. That version burned down in 1924.

The $1 million Fraser Pier at Ocean Park was a “sea of smoldering ruins” after a fire in September 1912. 
Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection

7. Ocean Park Pier

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Rose Ave & Ocean Front Walk
Venice, CA 90291

Fraser’s Million Dollar Pier was rebuilt once again in 1925 as the Ocean Park Pier (this time in fireproof concrete), opening with an Egyptian Ballroom, an aerial swing, a rollercoaster, a fun house, and more. It was expanded in 1929 with “the highest amusement chute and the only one ever built on a pier,” according to Westland, plus a ferris wheel and an Aero Glider.

Rides were added and subtracted over the years, but interest declined through the 1940s, and in 1956 CBS and the Los Angeles Turf Club turned it into the Modernist wonderland of Pacific Ocean Park.

8. Pacific Ocean Park

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Rose Ave & Ocean Front Walk
Venice, CA 90291

In 1958, Ocean Park’s amusement pier joined the space age, emerging as Pacific Ocean Park, designed by Fred Harpman, who’d designed parts of Disneyland’s Main Street and would go on to art direct Deliverance. POP included some of the old buildings and some fantastic new ones, like a starfish entryway canopy.

According to Westland, “Visitors entered the park through Neptune’s Kingdom where they descended in a submarine elevator to the oceanic corridors below,” which held, among other things, a motorized seascape diorama sponsored by Coca-Cola. Other attractions included a 150-foot model of a submarine’s atomic reactor, “leaky diving bells… pushed under water by hydraulic pistons,” an Ocean Skyway gondola that ran to the end of the pier and back, and a recreation of a New England harbor.

Apparently this was all very expensive to keep up, let alone keep updating; attendance dropped through the early ’60s and POP finally closed in 1967. Rot and arson took as much of the pier as they could, until the early ’70s, when whatever was left was torn down.

Several rides and a view of the beach at Pacific Ocean Park. 
Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection

9. Venice Lake Park/Hoppyland

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W Washington Blvd & Dell Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90291

Venice Lake Park opened in 1950 with rides for little kids, like the Little Dipper rollercoaster, a miniature railroad, and a Zeppelin ride. The next year, William Boyd, aka movie cowboy Hopalong Cassidy, became a partner and the park was rebranded as Hoppyland, with lots of space dedicated to pony rides. Apparently Boyd appeared at the park regularly to tell kids to eat their vegetables and mind their manners. None of this was popular, and the park closed in 1954. The site is now part of Marina Del Rey.

10. The Pike

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289-335 E Seaside Way
Long Beach, CA 90802

The Pike began as seaside amusement zone in 1902 with a grand bathhouse that was eventually joined by an arcade, shops, fortune tellers, pony rides, games, a Hippodrome, and, as the decades progressed, all manner of rides and rollercoasters. Serious theme park competition emerged in the 1950s and Long Beach began redeveloping the area in the 1970s; by the time the park was demolished in 1979, it was already half ruin. Today it’s The Pike at Rainbow Harbor shopping complex, which does have a ferris wheel.

Bathers mill under umbrellas and in the surf in front of The Pike amusement park south of Ocean Boulevard in Long Beach in 1920.
Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection

11. Santa’s Village

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Santa’s Village opened in 1955 in the San Bernardino Mountains town of Skyforest, looking pretty much like you'd expect: log cabins, fake snow, giant candy canes, etc., plus a bobsled, monorail, and petting zoo. It was open year-round and was wildly popular at first, but declined in the ’90s and closed in 1998. In 2016, the property reopened as SkyPark at Santa’s Village with a custom-made train and an ice skating rink.

12. Jungleland

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2150 E Thousand Oaks Blvd
Thousand Oaks, CA 91362

Jungleland opened in 1927 as Goebel’s Lion Farm, with a handful of lions from Universal Studios’s recently closed animal division, Lady Lion Tamer Mabel Stark, and elephant rides. Parts of Tarzan were filmed at the park, among other movies.

After changing hands a few times, the park sold in 1956 to a couple of 20th Century Fox executives, who renamed it Jungleland; by then there were lions, tigers, hippos, and orangutans, and famous animals including Mr. Ed and Leo the MGM lion. After more ownership changes (one of which brought it back to the Goebel family), it closed in 1969 and hundreds of animals were sold at auction. For a while it became a skate park and today is the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza.

Mabel Stark at Jungleland in 1957. She was one of only a handful of women trainers to work with big cats.
Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection

13. Marineland of the Pacific

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100 Terranea Way
Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90275

When Marineland of the Pacific opened in 1954 on a cliff at the edge of the Palos Verdes Peninsula, it was the world's biggest oceanarium, with two huge tanks circled by exterior ramps winding up three levels (plus rooftop viewing).

Architect William Pereira, whose firm designed CBS Television City and LACMA, created the plans for the oceanarium, along with a restaurant building and inn. The park became Hanna-Barbera's Marineland in the late ’70s, then sold to SeaWorld in 1987. They shipped various animals off to their park in San Diego and closed Marineland down. Today it’s the site of the Terranea resort.

Orky, a giant killer whale leaps out of the tank as part of a daily show at Marineland at Los Angeles, Calif in 1972.
Associated Press.

14. Gay’s Lion Farm

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Valley Blvd & Peck Rd
El Monte, CA 91731

Charles and Muriel Gay opened a lion farm in Westlake back in 1919, and moved it to El Monte in 1924. They trained lions for movies, but opened the park up as a tourist attraction in 1925. Predictably, there were a handful of maulings over the years, and what we today we'd consider pretty racist jungle-themed events, but it was World War II that did in Gay’s Lion Farm—meat shortages made it too expensive to feed the lions, the animals were sold off or loaned out, and the Gays sold the property in 1949.

15. Beverly Park

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La Cienega Blvd & Beverly Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90048

Once a fairground and baseball field, Beverly Park opened in 1943, but really came into its own in 1945, when it sold to a man named David Bradley. The land itself was leased from the Beverly Oil Company, and came with a giant oil well, which Bradley disguised as a dragon.

Rides rotated, but included a Little Dipper rollercoaster and a fish-themed Bulgy the Whale ride. Bradley’s wife worked at Disney Studios and she introduced her husband to Walt Disney, who eventually pitched him his idea for Disneyland (Bradley became a consultant on the project). Strangers on a Train filmed at the park, and it was very popular with movie star parents. Beverly Park closed in 1974 and today the site is home to the behemoth Beverly Center.

16. Ponyland

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8536 Beverly Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90048

“Ranch folks” Leo and Viva Murphy opened Ponyland next door to Beverly Park in 1945 (Viva “always had a cigarette dangling out of her mouth while she led children around the pony track,” according to KCET). It wasn't much, just a riding ring and a bunch of ponies, but it benefited from its neighbor's popularity. It outlasted BP by a few years before shuttering to make way for the Beverly Center.

17. Los Angeles Alligator Farm

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3627 N Mission Rd
Los Angeles, CA 90031

The Los Angeles Alligator Farm opened in 1907 in Lincoln Heights with thousands of alligators, plus some turtles, snakes, and iguanas. Visitors could watch the alligators devour live chickens and wrestle with humans, buy alligator skin products in the gift shop, or ride a saddled alligator. The farm moved to Buena Park in 1953 before closing in 1984.

Marilyn Brown, 5, feeds a baby alligator at the Los Angeles Alligator Farm.
Bettmann Archive

18. Barnes City Zoo

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W Washington Blvd & Kensington Rd
Los Angeles, CA 90066

Al Barnes first opened his circus in the 1910s near the Venice Lagoon, but locals weren’t crazy about having a circus in town, so he moved in 1920 to a 120-acre former ranch site in what is now the western end of Culver City. Barnes City Zoo opened in 1923 to display the circus’s thousands of performing animals, including tapirs, onas, hippos, leopards, lions, gorillas, “nearly every variety of the monkey family,” and Tusko the seven-ton elephant (who once escaped on the road and “destroyed a small town in Washington”), along with some freak show attractions, according to Westland.

Barnes sold off some of his land to people who wanted to build homes and once they’d built those homes, they weren’t so crazy about the roar of lions and chattering of monkeys. After a complicated Culver City incorporation battle, Barnes moved the park to Baldwin Park in 1927. He sold the whole thing to the American Circus Corporation in 1929.

USC Digital Collections

1. Chutes Park

S Main St & E Washington Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90015
View of the Washington Gardens Amusement Park, which opened in 1887.
Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection

There used to be a 35-acre amusement park in Historic South-Central, just south of Downtown LA. It began in 1887 as Washington Gardens, which hosted weekly variety shows, displayed various animals and a panorama of the Battle of Gettysburg, and eventually included an ostrich farm, according to the Downtown News.

Visitors arrived via a horse-drawn rail line from Downtown proper. The park’s pavilion burned down in 1887 and the park was little used again until 1899, when the Los Angeles County Improvement Co. leased the grounds and turned it into Chutes Park, with a baseball diamond for the new Los Angeles Angels and eventually the Vernon Tigers.

Beginning in late 1900, attractions began to sprout on the land: a vaudeville theater, a circus, hot air balloon rides, a miniature railroad, a rollercoaster, a giant boat waterslide, a merry-go-round, a seal pond, a monkey circus, a Temple of Mirth, and a daily reenactment of a Civil War sea battle. And still it fell on hard times.

It sold in 1910 and reopened in 1911 as Luna Park, with a new Nemo’s Trip to Slumberland attraction, which ran 600 feet along Main Street. That didn't take either, and the site sold in 1912 to a group who wanted to make it into a park for African-Americans; that plan never got off the ground. Everything was torn down by 1914.

S Main St & E Washington Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90015

2. Busch Gardens Van Nuys

16000 Roscoe Blvd, North Hills, CA 91343
View of an amusement park boat ride inside at Busch Gardens, located next to the Anheiser-Busch brewery in Van Nuys.
Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection

The original Busch Gardens opened in 1906 in Pasadena, on land surrounding the Busch family’s mansion, but it was actually just gardens. The first Busch Gardens theme park opened in Tampa in the 1950s; the one adjacent to Anheuser-Busch’s brewery in Van Nuys opened in 1966, with a monorail, boat rides, lagoons, thousands of rare birds, and free beer. The park was trimmed back to only its birds in 1977 and finally closed in 1979 (the birds were distributed to various zoos and other theme parks, but descendants of some are said to still fly the Valley skies).

16000 Roscoe Blvd
North Hills, CA 91343

3. Japanese Village and Deer Park

6122 Knott Ave, Buena Park, CA 90620
via Jasperdo

The problematic-sounding Japanese Village and Deer Park was opened in 1967 by a man named Allen Parkinson, who developed Sleep-Eze. The 29-acre park was inspired by a trip to Japan’s Nara Deer Park and featured exotic deer, a somersaulting bear, a tiger, a rollerskating macaw, a Japanese teahouse, a poker-playing koi fish, and “an overwhelmingly Asian staff,” according to KCET.

In 1969, the park opened an enormous aquatheater to host water shows with seals, dolphins, and Japanese bears. The park closed in 1974, then briefly reopened as a sort of hippie animal park before closing for good in 1979. Today it’s an office park.

6122 Knott Ave
Buena Park, CA 90620

4. Venice Amusement Pier

Windward Ave & Ocean Front Walk, Venice, CA 90291
Scenes from the Venice Amusement Pier.
USC Digital Collection

As part of his ambitious Venice of America development, Abbot Kinney commissioned a pleasure pier at the end of Windward Avenue. The first attempt was swept away in winter storms of 1905, but Kinney drove workers to rebuild for a July 4 opening; it opened in time with a casino and bandstand, “a Ship’s Hotel that would resemble an ocean liner permanently docked beside the pier,” a 3,500-seat auditorium, and a dance hall, according to Westland Network.

In 1909, Kinney decided to just go for the whole amusement park thing and expanded the pier with an aquarium, scenic railroad, a carousel, “a Hades attraction,” a ferris wheel, a car ride, a mill ride, an airplane ride, and more. More attractions and a 700-space parking lot were added over the years, along with an ostrich farm, an “Underground Chinatown exhibit,” a skating rink, a tunnel of love, and the Big Dipper rollercoaster.

The pier burned down in 1920 but was rebuilt and reopened with many of the same attractions in 1921. It continued to grow until 1946, when the city’s recreation and parks department refused to renew the lease.

Windward Ave & Ocean Front Walk
Venice, CA 90291

5. Midway Plaisance

Main St & Windward Cir, Venice, CA 90291
The Midway Plaisance had 11 buildings along the edge of a swimming lagoon.
Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection

This was Venice’s first midway, on the south side of what was then Venice Lagoon (and is now Windward Circle). It featured camel rides, a Temple of Mirth, a chicken farm, an occult show, and the Dante-inspired Darkness and Dawn descent into hell.

Main St & Windward Cir
Venice, CA 90291

6. Fraser's Million Dollar Pier

3400 Barnard Way, Santa Monica, CA 90405
The $1 million Fraser Pier at Ocean Park was a “sea of smoldering ruins” after a fire in September 1912. 
Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection

Abbot Kinney’s former partner Alexander Fraser opened the Million Dollar Pier in what was then called Ocean Park (now the borderlands between Venice and Santa Monica). The enormous amusement park opened in June 1911 with a revolving cafe, dance hall, Grand Canyon Science Railroad, 1,000-seat theater, crooked house, something called the Society Whirl, and The Third Degree, which “displayed a collection of paraphernalia used in secret society initiations while visitors were transported through the exhibit on moving sidewalks,” according to Westland.

There was also Infant Incubators, where premature babies could get free medical care from trained nurses. The pier burned down in September 1912. Fraser rebuilt and the pier was expanded with new attractions over the next several years as it passed to new owners. That version burned down in 1924.

3400 Barnard Way
Santa Monica, CA 90405

7. Ocean Park Pier

Rose Ave & Ocean Front Walk, Venice, CA 90291

Fraser’s Million Dollar Pier was rebuilt once again in 1925 as the Ocean Park Pier (this time in fireproof concrete), opening with an Egyptian Ballroom, an aerial swing, a rollercoaster, a fun house, and more. It was expanded in 1929 with “the highest amusement chute and the only one ever built on a pier,” according to Westland, plus a ferris wheel and an Aero Glider.

Rides were added and subtracted over the years, but interest declined through the 1940s, and in 1956 CBS and the Los Angeles Turf Club turned it into the Modernist wonderland of Pacific Ocean Park.

Rose Ave & Ocean Front Walk
Venice, CA 90291

8. Pacific Ocean Park

Rose Ave & Ocean Front Walk, Venice, CA 90291
Several rides and a view of the beach at Pacific Ocean Park. 
Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection

In 1958, Ocean Park’s amusement pier joined the space age, emerging as Pacific Ocean Park, designed by Fred Harpman, who’d designed parts of Disneyland’s Main Street and would go on to art direct Deliverance. POP included some of the old buildings and some fantastic new ones, like a starfish entryway canopy.

According to Westland, “Visitors entered the park through Neptune’s Kingdom where they descended in a submarine elevator to the oceanic corridors below,” which held, among other things, a motorized seascape diorama sponsored by Coca-Cola. Other attractions included a 150-foot model of a submarine’s atomic reactor, “leaky diving bells… pushed under water by hydraulic pistons,” an Ocean Skyway gondola that ran to the end of the pier and back, and a recreation of a New England harbor.

Apparently this was all very expensive to keep up, let alone keep updating; attendance dropped through the early ’60s and POP finally closed in 1967. Rot and arson took as much of the pier as they could, until the early ’70s, when whatever was left was torn down.

Rose Ave & Ocean Front Walk
Venice, CA 90291

9. Venice Lake Park/Hoppyland

W Washington Blvd & Dell Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90291

Venice Lake Park opened in 1950 with rides for little kids, like the Little Dipper rollercoaster, a miniature railroad, and a Zeppelin ride. The next year, William Boyd, aka movie cowboy Hopalong Cassidy, became a partner and the park was rebranded as Hoppyland, with lots of space dedicated to pony rides. Apparently Boyd appeared at the park regularly to tell kids to eat their vegetables and mind their manners. None of this was popular, and the park closed in 1954. The site is now part of Marina Del Rey.

W Washington Blvd & Dell Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90291

10. The Pike

289-335 E Seaside Way, Long Beach, CA 90802
Bathers mill under umbrellas and in the surf in front of The Pike amusement park south of Ocean Boulevard in Long Beach in 1920.
Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection

The Pike began as seaside amusement zone in 1902 with a grand bathhouse that was eventually joined by an arcade, shops, fortune tellers, pony rides, games, a Hippodrome, and, as the decades progressed, all manner of rides and rollercoasters. Serious theme park competition emerged in the 1950s and Long Beach began redeveloping the area in the 1970s; by the time the park was demolished in 1979, it was already half ruin. Today it’s The Pike at Rainbow Harbor shopping complex, which does have a ferris wheel.

289-335 E Seaside Way
Long Beach, CA 90802

11. Santa’s Village

28708-30096 CA-18, California

Santa’s Village opened in 1955 in the San Bernardino Mountains town of Skyforest, looking pretty much like you'd expect: log cabins, fake snow, giant candy canes, etc., plus a bobsled, monorail, and petting zoo. It was open year-round and was wildly popular at first, but declined in the ’90s and closed in 1998. In 2016, the property reopened as SkyPark at Santa’s Village with a custom-made train and an ice skating rink.

12. Jungleland

2150 E Thousand Oaks Blvd, Thousand Oaks, CA 91362
Mabel Stark at Jungleland in 1957. She was one of only a handful of women trainers to work with big cats.
Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection

Jungleland opened in 1927 as Goebel’s Lion Farm, with a handful of lions from Universal Studios’s recently closed animal division, Lady Lion Tamer Mabel Stark, and elephant rides. Parts of Tarzan were filmed at the park, among other movies.

After changing hands a few times, the park sold in 1956 to a couple of 20th Century Fox executives, who renamed it Jungleland; by then there were lions, tigers, hippos, and orangutans, and famous animals including Mr. Ed and Leo the MGM lion. After more ownership changes (one of which brought it back to the Goebel family), it closed in 1969 and hundreds of animals were sold at auction. For a while it became a skate park and today is the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza.

2150 E Thousand Oaks Blvd
Thousand Oaks, CA 91362

13. Marineland of the Pacific

100 Terranea Way, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90275
Orky, a giant killer whale leaps out of the tank as part of a daily show at Marineland at Los Angeles, Calif in 1972.
Associated Press.

When Marineland of the Pacific opened in 1954 on a cliff at the edge of the Palos Verdes Peninsula, it was the world's biggest oceanarium, with two huge tanks circled by exterior ramps winding up three levels (plus rooftop viewing).

Architect William Pereira, whose firm designed CBS Television City and LACMA, created the plans for the oceanarium, along with a restaurant building and inn. The park became Hanna-Barbera's Marineland in the late ’70s, then sold to SeaWorld in 1987. They shipped various animals off to their park in San Diego and closed Marineland down. Today it’s the site of the Terranea resort.

100 Terranea Way
Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90275

14. Gay’s Lion Farm

Valley Blvd & Peck Rd, El Monte, CA 91731

Charles and Muriel Gay opened a lion farm in Westlake back in 1919, and moved it to El Monte in 1924. They trained lions for movies, but opened the park up as a tourist attraction in 1925. Predictably, there were a handful of maulings over the years, and what we today we'd consider pretty racist jungle-themed events, but it was World War II that did in Gay’s Lion Farm—meat shortages made it too expensive to feed the lions, the animals were sold off or loaned out, and the Gays sold the property in 1949.

Valley Blvd & Peck Rd
El Monte, CA 91731

15. Beverly Park

La Cienega Blvd & Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90048

Once a fairground and baseball field, Beverly Park opened in 1943, but really came into its own in 1945, when it sold to a man named David Bradley. The land itself was leased from the Beverly Oil Company, and came with a giant oil well, which Bradley disguised as a dragon.

Rides rotated, but included a Little Dipper rollercoaster and a fish-themed Bulgy the Whale ride. Bradley’s wife worked at Disney Studios and she introduced her husband to Walt Disney, who eventually pitched him his idea for Disneyland (Bradley became a consultant on the project). Strangers on a Train filmed at the park, and it was very popular with movie star parents. Beverly Park closed in 1974 and today the site is home to the behemoth Beverly Center.

La Cienega Blvd & Beverly Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90048

16. Ponyland

8536 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90048

“Ranch folks” Leo and Viva Murphy opened Ponyland next door to Beverly Park in 1945 (Viva “always had a cigarette dangling out of her mouth while she led children around the pony track,” according to KCET). It wasn't much, just a riding ring and a bunch of ponies, but it benefited from its neighbor's popularity. It outlasted BP by a few years before shuttering to make way for the Beverly Center.

8536 Beverly Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90048

17. Los Angeles Alligator Farm

3627 N Mission Rd, Los Angeles, CA 90031
Marilyn Brown, 5, feeds a baby alligator at the Los Angeles Alligator Farm.
Bettmann Archive

The Los Angeles Alligator Farm opened in 1907 in Lincoln Heights with thousands of alligators, plus some turtles, snakes, and iguanas. Visitors could watch the alligators devour live chickens and wrestle with humans, buy alligator skin products in the gift shop, or ride a saddled alligator. The farm moved to Buena Park in 1953 before closing in 1984.

3627 N Mission Rd
Los Angeles, CA 90031

18. Barnes City Zoo

W Washington Blvd & Kensington Rd, Los Angeles, CA 90066
USC Digital Collections

Al Barnes first opened his circus in the 1910s near the Venice Lagoon, but locals weren’t crazy about having a circus in town, so he moved in 1920 to a 120-acre former ranch site in what is now the western end of Culver City. Barnes City Zoo opened in 1923 to display the circus’s thousands of performing animals, including tapirs, onas, hippos, leopards, lions, gorillas, “nearly every variety of the monkey family,” and Tusko the seven-ton elephant (who once escaped on the road and “destroyed a small town in Washington”), along with some freak show attractions, according to Westland.

Barnes sold off some of his land to people who wanted to build homes and once they’d built those homes, they weren’t so crazy about the roar of lions and chattering of monkeys. After a complicated Culver City incorporation battle, Barnes moved the park to Baldwin Park in 1927. He sold the whole thing to the American Circus Corporation in 1929.

W Washington Blvd & Kensington Rd
Los Angeles, CA 90066