It has the biggest and most scariest roller coaster in the world! I can remember my cousin, Tom Hale and I going to Hoppyland and riding the gigantic wooden roller coaster (the 35 foot high Philadelphia Toboggan Company Junior roller coaster called the Little Dipper)... many many times!
Hoppyland Yep, there was an amusement park called Hoppyland after William Boyd (Hoppalong Cassidy)! The kiddy park featured a 35 foot high Philadelphia Toboggan Company Junior roller coaster called the Little Dipper, John Kissane's two train, mile long miniature railroad that circled the park, several pony tracks, a lagoon boat ride in motor-driven boats, Zeppelin and Whirlwind aerial rides, a Tilt-a-whirl, Octopus and Scooter rides. In 1951, this was the biggest and scariest things Paul had ever seen! We only lived about 4 miles from Hoppyland then. Sue wasn't born yet!
Hoppyland devoted a large share of space to live pony rides. Thirty horses and ponies were available on three tracks.
There was a ring for small children that was controlled by sweeps, a track where bigger kids could ride free running mounts, and a quarter mile pony cart ride around the park's goat mountain.
The park, unfortunately, wasn't very popular and only lasted until 1954 and was deserted for many years until stores and homes covered theproperty.
Hoppy To The Rescue! - After the Venice Amusement Pier closed in 1946, there was hope that they would rebuild elsewhere in Venice. Plans were announced in May 1947 for a $2.5 million park to be built on a 70 acre tract at Dell Avenue and Washington Street. This Ocean View Amusement Park would include the 30 acre Lake Los Angeles (location of the present Marina del Rey harbor) to be developed as an aquatic sports center. The park would have an elaborate midway, roller coaster, merry-go-round, children's rides, bowling alley and skating rink. A shortage of building materials prevented them from immediately starting construction.
The kiddy park featured a 35 foot high Philadelphia Toboggan Company Junior roller coaster called the Little Dipper, John Kissane's two train, mile long miniature railroad that circled the park, several pony tracks, a lagoon boat ride in motor-driven boats, Zeppelin and Whirlwind aerial rides, a Tilt-a-whirl, Octopus and Skooter rides. The lake featured a water skiing show with a legless skier. Free evening dancing centered around the large turn-of-the-century merry-go-round on the main midway, The Venice Wrangler's furnished western style music.
In 1951, William Boyd, better known as Hoppalong Cassidy, was brought in as a business partner. The new and improved 80 acre park opened as Hoppyland on May 26, 1951 and included picnic grounds, baseball diamonds, horseshoe pitching lanes, and a lake for swimming and boating in addition to nearly twenty thrill rides. There was a special kiddy land area featuring a miniature merry-go-round, Ferris wheel, sleigh ride, airplane, pony cart and auto rides. Velare's Double Ferris Wheel, previously on the Ocean Park Pier, was added to the adult lineup.
What California theme park opened its doors to hoards of screaming, happy children on May 27, 1951? If you said Disneyland, you're . . .wrong! It was actually Hoppyland, a theme park devoted to all things Hopalong Cassidy. Located in Venice, just 25 miles west of Anaheim - where Disneyland would stand a few years later - Hoppyland boasted nearly 100 acres of rides and attractions. Opening day at Hoppyland brought big stars such as Susan Hayward, Pat O'Brian, Richard Widmark - and, of course, William Boyd - Hopalong Cassidy himself.
By 1951, the gallant champion of justice was already well-known from the pulp tales of C.E. Mulford that emerged in the early 1900's, from Boyd's films of the 30's and 40's, and the television and radio shows of 1950. Thus, the introduction of a theme park seemed like the logical progression of things. And though short-lived, it was a hit - from a lagoon for boating to a track for pony rides to miniature auto races, Hoppyland personified family togetherness and enjoyment - and is now considered by many as America's first theme park. Kids could ride on a giant ferris wheel, take a spin on the tilt-a-whirl, try out the flying scooters, or, for the daring, ride on the Little Dipper - a 35-foot Philadelphia Toboggan Company Junior Roller Coaster. Hoppyland> closed in 1954, and the memorabilia that remains today from the park's short run is very scarce indeed. For more on Hopalong Cassidy, check out the excellent Joe Caro's Hopalong Cassidy Price Guide. See this week's Off the Presses for more!