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Two versions of fantasy land

THE ALTERNATIVES

April 07, 2005|Leslie Gornstein

Two theme parks from the past -- one that closed nearly two decades ago and one that never broke ground -- are getting fresh rides in a pair of Southern California exhibitions.

The Pasadena Museum of History has assembled a virtual trip through the 30 jaw-dropping acres that once made up Busch Gardens, a major postwar attraction for families looking for a wholesome place to take the kids. Part pleasure garden, part children's fairyland and part zoo, this elaborate Van Nuys arboretum opened in 1905. The movie industry couldn't stay away, using this Southern California Eden to shoot films like "Gone With the Wind" and "The Adventures of Robin Hood." The park, built by beer magnate Adolphus Busch, closed in 1979.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Saturday April 09, 2005 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 56 words Type of Material: Correction
Busch Gardens -- An article about theme parks in Thursday's Calendar Weekend section gave incorrect information about an exhibition at the Pasadena Museum of History. The Busch Gardens depicted in the show are not the Van Nuys gardens that closed in 1979 but the original Busch Gardens in Pasadena that closed to the public in 1937.

Meanwhile, young parents of the 1960s might remember plans for another wonderland. At the dawn of that decade, entrepreneur Nat Winecoff announced something called Bible Storyland -- sort of a trip through the testaments that, as Winecoff trumpeted in a press release, would "become a must for tourists from all over the world." Winecoff's $15-million park would send visitors through King Solomon's Mines and other biblical landmarks, often on camelback.

That promised land never emerged. The conceptual art also disappeared for decades before collector Harvey Jordan unearthed it. Now it's on display at the Noho Ceramics Gallery in North Hollywood. Jordan assembled the paintings, along with sketches for other never-realized rides of the 1950s and '60s, into an exhibition dubbed "Dream Parks: Artwork From the Amusement Park Collection." (Don't miss the drawings of would-be attractions from other theme parks, including a Corn Ride and an equally wacky Sombrero Ride.)

"What's so interesting to me about all of this is that it was lost," Jordan said.

Leslie Gornstein

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* "An Enchanted Park: Celebrating the Centennial of Busch Gardens," Pasadena Museum of History, 470 W. Walnut St., Pasadena. $5. Noon-5 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays; ends June 26. (626) 577-1660.

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* "Dream Parks: Artwork From the Amusement Park Collection," Noho Ceramics Gallery (at Color Me Mine), 5140 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood. Free. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Mondays, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, noon-5 p.m. Sundays; ends April 24. (818) 752-2850.

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