Charles Phoenix's Slide of the Week: Flight to Mars, POP, Santa Monica, 1958

Charles Phoenix’s Slide of the Week: Flight to Mars, POP, Santa Monica, 1958

Flight to Mars
Flight to Mars, POP, Santa Monica, 1958

The warm glowing atmosphere of Mars is well rendered on the side of a building while a big, huge silver metallic UFO is either taking off or coming in for a landing right on top of the awning that marks the entrance to FLIGHT TO MARS. The horizon line is low and jagged. A missile painted on the wall has just launched on the right. In the middle a woman toting a balloon or a buoy bends over as a little boy points to the heavens above. Another woman has a firm but lopsided grip on a stroller. A man, well dressed by any amusement park standards in a sensible grey flannel suit and black hat looks back. Some sort of new-fangled missile with striped fins is displayed on the left.

Inside this other worldly amusement passengers are a ‘transported’ to Mars while TV screens showed the flight’s progress. MMMM…kind of reminds me of FLIGHT TO THE MOON in Tomorrowland at Disneyland!

Pacific Ocean Park, (POP, for short) is Southern California’s lost amusement park. In 1958 the historic Ocean Park Pier between Santa Monica and Venice was transformed into a spectacular nautical-themed amusement park to compete with Disneyland.

Several other of the rides were also Disneyland wannabes.

Neptune’s Kingdom was like Disneyland’s Submarine Voyage, only without the submarines. The futuristic Enchanted Forest exhibit included the latest Westinghouse appliances in a model home. Ironically, Disneyland displayed the less prestigious Kelvniator brand appliances. Ocean Highway was POP’s “Autopia”. Their Ocean Skyway took passengers not in buckets, but in glass bubbles for a terrifying ride dangling seventy-five feet out over the water.

Pacific Ocean Park lasted just nine years. After struggling to compete with its competitors, parking problems and constant weathering from the salt air, it closed In 1967.

Here’s to Pacific Ocean Park and you!

Charles Phoenix

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