OB’s Wonderland Park
Lost History of Wonderland Park:
Although Belmont Park has been open for almost a century at this point, it isn’t San Diego’s first amusement park. Nope, San Diego’s first amusement park was actually located in Ocean Beach and was named Wonderland Park. The 9.5 acre park opened its doors to the public in 1913 and sat between Voltaire & Abbott St. right along the ocean.
Wonderland Park was one of the most exciting things the city had seen at that point. It boasted the biggest roller coast on the west coast, a zoo, roller skating rink, waterslide, saltwater pool, carnival games and more! The park really helped put O.B. on the map at the time. Shortly after Wonderland was built, Spalding Park would be constructed in Sunset Cliffs which would also draw a lot of attention.
More than 20,000 people came out for the opening day. The Point Loma Railroad co. ran streetcars every 20 minutes from downtown which was a 40 minute ride to OB. There was a ton of promise with the park at the beginning.
There were 32 attractions total and all were operated by the park itself. Its main attraction was the Blue Streak racing coaster which consisted of two trains that raced each other on parallel tracks. There was even a restaurant that was built on the pier which could serve 550 customers.
The zoo was rather impressive for its time with 28 different enclosures. There were bears, wolves, mountain lions, a hyena, lions and 56 varieties of monkeys. The monkeys were interactive with the crowd and a huge hit with the people, especially the children.
There was a ballroom called the Waldorf Ballroom. It was a very strict “no hankey pankey of any sort” type of place with plenty of chaperones. Wonderland was advertised as morally clean, safe & wholesome and any violators risked being removed from the park.
By 1915, the park was already near its end. Although Belmont Park would open a decade later, they weren’t responsible for putting Wonderland Park out of business. Instead it was the fresh and exciting Panama California Exposition at Balboa Park that shifted people’s interest. Balboa Park was also responsible for shutting Mission Cliffs Garden down.
Despite such careful planning of the park, the owners failed to consider that competitors could pull the rug from under their feet. Wonderland only lasted a 2 seasons. The opening day for the Panana-California Exposition was January 1, 1915 and by March 1915 Wonderland was sold at an auction.
The final nail in the coffin would be a giant flood that flooded the rides, creating major malfunctions. The rides were eventually dismantled and shipped to the Santa Monica Pier. The animals were sold to the Panama-California Exposition and later to the San Diego Zoo. The rest of the park was destroyed by storms and eventually demolished.
I’m curious if any parts of the original park still remain. If anyone knows, please shoot me a message!
Very nice, I really enjoyed all the old pictures and stories, being a native San Diegan from OB and El Cajon.