The International Promenade 1958
The International Promenade was a series of stores, galleries and restaurant's architecturally styled to represent a collage of different countries including China, Mexico and Germany.
Map of P.O.P.
Pacific Ocean Park or P.O.P. was a 28 acre, nautical themed amusement park that operated at the intersection of Ocean Park Blvd. and Barnard Way, in Santa Monica, California from 1958 - 1967. The demolition of the park was not completed until 1975.
Designed by veteran art directors from Hollywoods film studios like MGM and Disney, P.O.P. was a thoroughly realized theatrical atmosphere on a scale that had not been seen before Three golden fiber glass Seahorses, created by sculptor George Freige, stood over 12 feet tall and rotated above its entrance becoming a signature image used throughout the park.
Birdseye View of P.O.P.
P.O.P. was opened to the public on July 28, 1958. This amusement pier was a redesign and remodel of the existing Ocean Park Pier in Santa Monica and the Lick Pier in Los Angeles that dated from 1900 and 1920 respectively. P.O.P. was created as a co-venture of CBS television and the Los Angeles Turf Club, owners of Santa Anita Racetrack and the Lake Arrowhead Resort.
P.O.P. Entrance - Daytime
The Starfish themed portal, designed by Art Director Fred Harpman, is the departure point where you would "Pay One Price" (a play on it's initials) for an unlimited passport for everything (except food, games and the roller coaster) while inside the park.
Water cascading down the walls and out of the ponds in the courtyard brought the effect of this entire world having lifted out of the ocean!
P.O.P. Entrance - Night
Ramps edging the blue pools took you past an iron sculpture of a swimming figure of Neptune and into his palace where the Aqualator (a form of simulator) took you to meet him below the sea!
Inside the Neptune's Kingdom show there was a large scale puppet of King Neptune and a variety of fish and other underwater wonders. This show was designed by Art Director Maurice Ayers.
Created entirely of puppets, in what is called a "Dry for Wet" format, a huge figure of King Neptune would be circled by fish and other creatures that were actually sculptures suspended by wires, rolling on overhead tracks.
As you exited the Neptunes Kingdom show you would find yourself standing among a forest of metal geometric trees where a large scale sculpture of a palace trumpeter announced your arrival!
Sea Circus Entrance
With bright colored stripes, pennants, seal tanks and announcements of shows at the Sea Circus this entry plaza was a hub of activity. P.O.P.'s guest host was the world famous clown Emmet Kelley who greeted guests in his Weary Willie pesona while Popsie, the pink elephant, might pose for a picture.
The Sea Circus was an arena show where trained whales, dolphins, seals and chimps, named Dinky and Rob Roy, would perform. In 1961 this was the site of the West Coast television program Wink's Dance Party hosted by Wink Martindale on KTLA channel 5.
Two large Diving Bells would alternate plunging guests down below the waters surface contained in the huge tank, and then bring them back to the surface like a cork!
The Fun Forest was a collection of Kiddie Rides including small power boats, the Whirlybird helicoptors, a covered wagon ride and a monorail system called The Dragon that encircled the area. A maze of bridges and balconies wrapped through a tree house for kids to climb and explore made up the back wall.
Fun Forest and Pier
Looking west from the Fun Forest you can see the full length of the pier reached by the Union 76 highway where go cart sized vehicles can be driven out over the sea to the Mystic Isles and return.
The Paratrooper was a spinning ride built to imply the gentle rise and fall of a parachute drop.
The Ocean Skyride was a system built by the Von Roll company of Switzerland that carried you in little bubble cars, out over the ocean to the end of the pier and back again without stopping.
The conclusion of the Ocean Skyride has been described as the best part of the attraction by some of its riders. Even though it had terrific views, a great deal of anxiety was apparently wrought while being dangled over the sea in these round gondolas!
Originally built as a prop for a drunken hallucination sequence in the film "Pepe" starring Cantinflas, this bottle was located to the park in 1961 and after a few alterations it served as a fast food pizza stand.
Flight to Mars
First time ride designers, brothers Robin and Carlile Stephens, created the Flight To Mars attraction. Boarding a simulator that appeared to be the passenger compartment of a flying saucer, you were taken to the planet Mars and allowed to walk around among dimensional concepts of what the local inhabitants might look like and how they may live.
The Sea Serpent was a classic wooden coaster that dated back to the 1920's. Its huge hills beside the ocean compiled the thrills that you felt as it dipped and scraped around the track.
Passing through this gateway allowed you to leave the park temporarily, after getting your hand stamped, to explore the International Promenade.
Across the entire front of the park was the International Promenade, a collection of souvenir shops and restaurants that resembled foreign destinations.
The Aragon Ballroom was located on the south side of the pier and for many years it served as the weekly home base of the Lawrence Welk Orchestra, for his Sunday night television broadcasts. Later this building would become an early rock club called the Cheetah.
Magic Carpet Ride
The Magic Carpet Ride, with a suspended vehicle sculpted to look like a woven eastern rug, was a tour through dimensional versions of fairy tales and fables.
Jack and the Beanstalk
At one point in the Magic Carpet ride, the escape of Jack from the Giant from the story. "Jack and the Beanstalk" was recreated in a larger than life scale.
POP Midway looking west
POP Midway Looking West 30" x 40" acrylic on canvas
On the left is the Safari Ride, beside a pizza stand then the Carousel. On the right, the Searam bumper cars and a cotton candy/popcorn concession.
The Sea Tubs was explored in large half barrel shaped boats that floated, a few people at a time, down dark waterways. The big octopus conquering its facade was sculpted to resemble Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Davy Jones Fun Locker
Davy Jones Fun Locker was a walk-thru attraction with a series of slides, warped mirrors and mazes that were painted in cartoonish pirate-based nautical themes.
The Flying Dutchman was a two story Haunted Pretzel style dark ride shaped like a ship. Boarding at the queue you rode in cars past rattling crates, mysterious cargo and through doors that opened out onto the Midway.
Flying Dutchman at Night
At night the park became an exotic world of dreamlike, kinetic, structures accented by the roar of the roller coaster, bells of the games, barkers and screams of the guests laughter.
Birdseye View of Fisherman's Cove
South of the Midway was the Fisherman's Cove, where a group of restaurants stood beside a few kiddie rides and petting zoo. When the park closed the ruin the Cove became the home of the Dogtown and Z-boy surfing phenomenon.
The Fisherman's Cove area had stores and served Hot Dogs on a Stick, Barbecue, Foremost Ice Cream and, according to one employee, only one fish in 3 years!
The Shell Spin was a standard tilt-a-whirl ride with seashell shaped cars and sculpted waves around its perimeter.
At the end of the Midway, beneath a carved tiki pole arch, created by artist Jim Casey, the mysteries of the South Seas were on display in a variety of attractions.
The Mahi Mahi was known as a Stratoliner ride. Three cars, holding several passengers at a time, were attached by large metal arms that, as the tower would spin, the cars would fly higher at increasing speeds.
Across what appears to be a suspension bridge stood the Banana Train Ride. Water was pumped up and over the edge of the pier to give the illusion of this show being a seperate island emerging from the surf.
Banana Train Bridge
Huge exotic parrots were living out in the trees along with a few synthetic mechanical coconut throwing monkeys, Goonie birds and South Sea natives who made up the show.
Banana Train Birdseye
The Banana Train ride carried guests through caves filled with wonderous rock formations and volcanic craters flowing with lava.
Birdseye of P.O.P. After Closure
On October 6th, 1967, Pacific Ocean Park closed due to mismanagement and change in the demographics of the day.
Banana Train Fire
Several fires ravaged the pier as it waited to be demolished taking the Aragon Ballroom in 1971 and the Banana Train Ride in 1973.
Mahi Mahi After Closure
Storms and waves caused a portion of the deck to fall away from the base of the Mahi Mahi ride leaving it on a pedestal out in the surf.
P.O.P. Entrance Fire
In 1974 another fire took its toll at the parks entrance destroying the Westinghouse exhibit.
In 1975 the last portions of Pacific Ocean Park were removed, leaving the parking lot and a shadow made of sand where the entrance had been.