Carousel News & Trader--A Sun Valley-based trade mag for the mighty carousel industry--previews a book about Orange County amusement parks that pre-date Disneyland and Knott's Berry Farm. Early Amusement Parks of Orange County trades on author and former Disney/Knott's ride operator Richard Harris' lifelong fascination with theme parks and attractions and contains photographs culled from museums, private collections and the Orange County Archives.
Harris does devote plenty of ink to Disneyland, Snott's and the Balboa Fun Zone. But he also covers some places you've almost forgotten about, such as the California Alligator Farm, Lion Country Safari and the recently deceased Movieland Wax Museum. The real gold is the places you have forgotten--if you ever even knew about them--such as the Seal Beach Joy Zone, Japanese Village and Deer Park, and Old MacDonald's Farm.
Interesting facts revealed in the pages of Harris' book include:
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*Al Anderson, who opened the Balboa Fun Zone in 1936 and operated it through 1972, going into foreclosure after getting sued due to a diving accident off his platform;
*The Seal Beach Joy Zone, which was billed as the Coney Island of the West Coast when it opened in the early 1900s, seeing business decline in the Great Depression before its wooden roller coaster burned down;
*Anaheim, which had a population of 14,000 when Disneyland opened in 1955, seeing 28,000 visitors pass through the turnstiles on opening day, some holding counterfeit tickets.
Early Amusement Parks of Orange County is available through Arcadia Publishing or Amazon for $19.99.