Gone To Playland-Not-At-The-Beach


"Goodbye to all that, to part of our youth, and like that youth, we expected Playland to last forever. It is an odd, sad feeling to have outlived it."
--
Herb Cain

After traveling across the country and spending some time in other American cities, I am reminded how much I truly love my own hometown of San Francisco. While it isn't a really old city, it still has a rich history. Once upon a time, San Francisco used to have an amusement park. It was called
Playland At The Beach, a 10 acre property of seaside attractions opened in the 1920's and closed in 1972.

One of my favorite spots in the city is the
Musee Mechanique, an interactive museum of over 300 mechanical penny arcade machines located in Fisherman's Wharf. This collection of games was once exhibited at Playland.

Having never experienced the San Francisco amusement park, I am totally fascinated by this piece of history. After doing a little research online, I found out there is a place dedicated to the magic and history of America's bygone amusements, and it includes artifacts from
Sutro Baths and Playland. Built in 2000, Playland-Not-At-The-Beach is located in El Cerrito, just north of Berkeley.


After paying the admission, we walked through a hallway of an impressively extensive collection of old Playland photos.


At the end of the hallway, J and I watched a 12 minute short on Playland and Sutro Baths.


In their Circus World Exhibit, there is an amazing display of hand carved miniatures depicting the 1930's Sells-Floto Circus.


In "The World of Charles Dickens", very large displays of miniatures tell the stories of Dickens most popular tales. Here, Scrooge looks into Fezziwig.


Santa's Village had Christmas buildings, tiny reindeers, ice palaces, and train tracks.


In the Carousel Carnival, there are a ton of old style games, and they're all on free play. This is also where their Laughing Sal is located.


The next section with miniatures was called Dark Mystery, and this had darker themes, including a scary version of Playland.


The last miniature display was of a 1939 San Francisco.


They had an extensive pinball machine collection, including this one from 1948.


In the hallways, there are many relics from when Playland was open, including tickets for Sutro Baths.


I had a great time at this place. It had awesome miniatures, wonderful memorabilia, and unlimited pinball and arcade games. For young kids, this is an ideal spot for a birthday party. I really appreciated the way the different exhibits respected the history of Playland and other places like it. Who knew a slice of San Francisco history would be treated so well in El Cerrito?
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