Thursday, February 20, 2014

Special Guest Photos - Long Beach Pike, 1980

Today's "Special Guest Photos" are pretty awesome - once again, Ken Martinez has generously shared some more photos from his personal collection. This time, we get to look at the old Long Beach Pike, circa 1980. It had just closed, but nearly everything was still in place (more or less), providing strange "Omega Man" views of this once-vibrant seaside amusement park (see some vintage photos of it HERE).

Cheese it, the cops! I'll bet it's Pete Malloy and Jim Reed from "Adam-12". Ken thinks that the dilapidated structure to our right is probably the "Laff-In-The-Dark" ride. Even with all of the stuff removed, I would have loved to walk through that old dark ride.

Ken must have been standing somewhere near that tunnel in the first picture, since you can see the "Laff-In-The-Dark" façade to our left. There are still a few lights on here and there, as well as some vehicles and what are probably mutants.

I love this one; the bullet-shaped vehicle in the upper left is from the "Roll-O-Plane" ride, while the double Ferris Wheel was known as the "Skywheel". 

I'm not sure what the structure to the right was part of; Ken thought that it might be from a merry-go-round.

It looks like a few businesses were still clinging to life, but the handwriting was definitely on the wall by this point. The peaked structure to our right is the Looff Hippodrome and Carousel building. 

This may or may not be the front of the "Laff-In-The-Dark" ride, or perhaps the Fun House, which was nearby.

There's the Roll-O-Plane again, as well as another carnival-style ride in the foreground.

And… one last look down the boulevard, with the Fun House to our right. Maybe those wavy distortion mirrors were still inside!

MANY thanks to Ken Martinez for sharing these cool photos!


Nanook said...

All the shots are of the Fun House. The Laff-In-the-Dark facade had an external ride track, in addition to the name appended to the front.

Ken - once again, thanks for the memories and the terrific images, although by then, the Pike had seen plenty of better days.

Nancy said...

great pictures. Thanks for sharing!

Love the neon in the window in picture number two. These sort of remind me of the Saltair visit made in the movie Carnival Of Souls, only only in color and without the ghost zombies!

What is in this area now?

Monkey Cage Kurt said...

Favorite photo: The one with the Ferris wheel in the distance and the shop still open. You can almost feel and smell a gentle sea breeze, wish I had some coffee.

Although it was still around when I was little, I never had the opportunity to go to the Pike. I do however, remember the subject coming up now and then among my mom and my aunts and uncles.

These really are COOL photos, a bit of a haunting tour today.

Thanks so much Ken! You always make great contributions to this blog. Someone in your family really knew how to use a camera.

Melissa said...


If you're going to fulfill every kid's dream/nightmare of exploring an abandoned amusement park, make it the mustard-flipping Pike!

I always thought it looked more like a city that happened to have some rides in it. I'm assuming the "Crazie Maize" (behind the Skywheel) was some sort of popcorn-popper ride.

(I think I've mentioned here before that Kent McCord in reruns of Adam-12 was my first TV crush. He could arrest me in a creepy abandoned amusement park any old time.)

Chuck said...

Ken, these are awesome! Thanks for sharing.

Also - if you don't mind me asking - how did you get away from the mutants?

Clyde Hughes said...

Many thanks for the great photos! In the 6th photo (the front of the "Laff-In-The-Dark" ride, there looks like a red bird cage with lights. Does anyone remember what functionality that served...did it move, etc?
Thanks again!

K. Martinez said...

Nanook - Thanks for the clarification on the Laff-in-the-Dark vs. the Fun House. I’m a big fan of images featuring decayed and/or abandoned amusement parks. There’s something fascinating to me about seeing a place that once held color and excitement become a husk of itself. You can almost hear the sounds of screams and laughter from long ago.

Nancy – I haven’t seen it in years, but I love Carnival of Souls. Of course any movie featuring an amusement park does it for me. Unfortunately, I have no idea what is there now.

Monkey Cage Kurt - I’m glad you liked these. I also missed seeing the Pike when it was open. By the time I got there this was all that was left.

Melissa - Talk about fulfilling every kid’s dream/nightmare, walking through this place was a bit creepy. Wish I had seen it during its glory days though.

Chuck – I’m glad you like these. Luckily, I was able to get out of there before sunset.

Clyde Hughes - You’re welcome. I always thought perhaps a mechanical gorilla was in the cage, but I’m just guessing. I’ve been looking, but haven’t been able to get any confirmation online.

Nanook said...

@ Clyde Hughes/The Major-

At one time, at least, the cage at the entrance to the Fun House housed a monkey band. But, of course.

Melissa said...

Is that the mechanical monkey in a cage that yells "GET YOUR TICKETS HERE! GET YOUR TICKETS HERE!" in The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies?

I love this whole number where Fred Astaire, George Burns, and Gracie Allen dance through a carnival fun house in Damsel in Distress, but one of the best bits starts around the 6:20 mark, where they dance in the distorting fun house mirrors.

K. Martinez said...

Thanks, Melissa. Never heard of "The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies?" So far it seems to have a generous amount of Pike footage and looks fun in an "Ed Wood" sort of way.

Nanook said...

@ Melissa-

Thanks for reminding me of Damsel in Distress. It's been sooooo long since I've seen that little gem.

And as for the monkeys acting as "barkers", I don't know. But, lookie here when the Fun House was either the Spooks or Voodo Hut ride..

Melissa said...


Thanks for the picture! Pretty sure they're not the same monkeys I'm remembering from the movie, so they must have been someplace else in the park. (18:28 in this video.)

Nanook said...

@ Melissa-

Yeah, it's probably another "helper" monkey elsewhere at the Pike. Is there no end to all these monkeys-??

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, I will take your word for it! But… in the last photo, it looks like the Fun House is to the right, while the other façade that we see so often is to our left. ???

Nancy, Carnival of Souls is a great low-budget movie!!

Monkey Cage Kurt, my grandparents took us to so many SoCal amusements when I was a kid, but never to the Pike, and never to POP. I feel so deprived!

Melissa, don't you think the Crazie Maize is a mirror maze?

Clyde Hughes, I'll have to defer to my more-informed readers regarding the bird cage.

K. Martinez, thanks for sharing these awesome photos!

Nanook, you mean a mechanical monkey band? WOW.

Melissa, I've never seen "Damsel in Distress", it's cool to see Gracie Allen singing.

K. Martinez, you haven't lived until you've seen TISCWSLABM-UZ!!!!

Nanook, thanks for the link to that picture.

Melissa, I was so shocked to see the YouTube video of Cash Flagg's magnum opus… the last time I saw it, it was on a black and white TV. I was amazed that it was in color.

Nanook, where can I get a helper monkey?

Melissa said...

It's not in MUCH color.

Anonymous said...

Ken, thank you very much for the splendid pictures. They are eerie and memory-provoking simultaneously.

I can't say for certain if I have been to this park or not, but based on this, I am pretty sure I did.

For carnival scene movies, add "The Man with the Golden Gun for the gunfight in the house of mirrors, and "The Third Man" for the chase and fight in the empty Vienna boardwalk and carousel. That film also has an "earworm" soundtrack theme that was a very big hit, covered by many many bands over the years.

Thank you again, very much.


SundayNight said...

Ken, these are fantastic. Yes, nightmare city for sure. But so interesting.

Monkey Cage Kurt said...

I got snookered into watching Carnival of Souls (THE ENTIRE THING!!!) sometime in December last year. I’m blaming this blog. You guys were referencing it in one of the really old posts, kept going on about how creepy it was. Hardly creepy, guys.

BTW: It’s on YouTube.

Anonymous said...

Hi please note the ride that you are calling the Laff in the dark is not correct. Laff in the dark was a stand alone attraction that was south of the Sky Wheel. The attraction you show in your photographs was originally a pretzel ride. Later it turned into a walk thru attraction. The front facade had mechanical monkeys all over the front as well as inside the cage. They were playing musical instruments. The ride was called Ghouls originally but it changed names several times.