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Paradise Pier, Disney California Adventure Bringing back the oldies


The nostalgia and excitement of America's great traditional amusement parks in the first half of the twentieth century, whilst diminished, is not completely lost. In fact, it's making a return of sorts. Gary Kyriazi examines how classic amusement parks and their wooden roller coasters refuse to go down without a fight…


W


hen Disney opened California Adventure park in 2001, Paradise Pier (now renamed Pixar Pier) was, in typical


Disney detail, a respectful and honourable nod to the many amusement piers that dotted California's shoreline from the early 1900s. Its stellar attraction, the California Screamin' roller coaster (now the Incredicoaster) by Intamin, was designed to evoke the classic criss-cross white wooden structures of the roller coasters that once sat on these piers. Whilst the Incredicoaster contains a loop, which none of the California coasters ever did, its Disney-perfect visual is breathtakingly nostalgic and the most popular ride in the park.


RMC Lightning Rod, Dollywood


Save the Coasters A number of modern theme parks have areas that pay homage to America's great traditional parks - Hersheypark's Midway America, Kings Island's Coney Island, and Great America's County Fair, to name a few. And no less than two traditional Californian seaside parks have risen from the ocean, the most astonishing being the rebirth of San Diego's Belmont Park, which in 1976 was closed and demolished, leaving only the wooden structure of the 1925 Giant Dipper roller coaster. A creation of venerable coaster engineers Tom Prior, Frederick Church, and Harry Traver, it came under threat when local residents began demanding that the city demolish the paint-peeling oceanside eyesore. San Diego resident Timothy Cole, however, spearheaded the Save The Coaster Committee, pleading with San Diego to let the structure stand until they could, impossibly it seemed, find someone who would repair the ride and make it operational again.


Crystal Beach Cyclone


Coney Island Cyclone, Luna Park


“I was young (21) and un-jaded,” Cole recalls. “It


was a done deal in my mind and nobody could tell me any different.” Eventually Cole went to Dana Morgan and Ed Hutton of Morgan Manufacturing and Charles Canfield of the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, who formed the San Diego Seaside Company and spent $2 million restoring the Giant Dipper. Reopened in 1990 and complemented by 22 rides and attractions in an abbreviated version of the old Belmont Park, the Giant Dipper is now a California State Landmark. No doubt inspired by the successful rebirth of Belmont Park, the City of Santa Monica decided in 1996 to revitalise the famous Santa Monica Pier to make it “reminiscent of its heyday in the 1920s and 1930s.” Today the two-acre, 12-ride Pacific Park thrives over the ocean. Coney Island, the birthplace of the American amusement park, followed suit in 2010 when it opened Luna Park, a tribute to the


64 NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2018


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