Alexander: Who’s ready for a whirlwind tour of the tiny parks of Northern California??
There’s so much personality and charm tucked away in these little spots; some of them we hadn’t even heard of before we planned this trip, but we’re so glad we took the time to visit each one!
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Park #1 is Happy Hollow Park & Zoo in San Jose!
I visited Happy Hollow in 2014 and it was overrun with children. This time it was a lot calmer.
Pacific Fruit Express is as charming as ever. Gotta love the custom paint job and individual lap bar!
The park is very polished and beautiful! The mature trees make for an amazing setting.
There’s small rides, picnic areas, and of course, animals!
Park #2 is Pixieland in Concord!
Pixieland is a very cozy little operation. Looks like it’s been a neighborhood staple for a long time!
The major thrill ride here is this double-helix Dragon Wagon!
There’s also this very cute old teacup ride.
The rabbit (who appears to be a cross between the March Hare and the Mad Hatter…?) is unenthused.
This park actually has quite a few impressive little character artworks.
Look at these kooks. Everyone’s partying at the candy bar, it seems.
Like, seriously. This whole park is just some artists unending canvas: just look at these horses!
Pixieland is so quaint that their coin-operated “rides” (a la grocery stores and shopping malls) are actually a listed attraction. $.25 diversions include the Batmobile and possibly the world’s smallest Ferris Wheel.
The normal-sized Antique Cars ride seems gargantuan at the petite park.
Even the park map is a hand-painted cuteness. Things definitely don’t change often around here, otherwise they’d have to keep repainting the map!
Park #3: Oakland Zoo’s Adventure Landing!
The Oakland Zoo is a much larger operation than the San Jose Zoo; fortunately you can visit Adventure Landing without paying for the zoo itself.
Instead of Antique Cars, Adventure Landing has a safari!
Another plane ride…another Dragon Wagon! Check!
And, of course, a miniature train. I don’t know what it is about California and miniature trains, but they’re everywhere! I bet Walt Disney had something to do with it…
Oh look! More trains! Sonoma Train Town is a little park #4!
Traintown is probably “the biggest little amusement park” in NorCal (not to be confused with “the biggest little city”, nearby Reino, NV).
I really love this place. I came once in the 90s, and then again in 2014. There really is plenty to do despite the park’s small stature.
Right next door is a major landscaping and garden store. Can you tell?
Traintown’s been a staple since the 60s, but that doesn’t mean things stay the same in the little Sonoma park! Since my last visit, their Chance Yo-Yo has been replaced by a new set of Larson Flyers.
Also their Dragon Wagon coaster (now located at Fiesta Village in SoCal) has been replaced with a rather impressive Miler family coaster.
AND IT HAS LITTLE TRAIN CARS, YOU GUYS!
Let’s go for a ride, shall we?
I’ve got my favorite conductor with me.
The grounds here are just remarkably beautiful.
But first, a trip thought the forest.
Midway through your train ride, you stop in an actual little town (get it? “Traintown”). The town’s citizens are all animals.
Goats, alpacas, chickens, and the like call the town home.
Seems like a nice place to make a living.
With my stationmaster in tow, it’s time to hit our next park!
Park #5 on our tour is one of two Scandia Family Fun Centers with a roller coaster, the other being our beloved Scandia Ontario.
Interestingly both Scandia coasters are major, 1-of-a-kind Miler creations.
Ontario’s Scandia Screamer was a custom build for the park; Sacramento’s Great Dane Coaster is a truly wild Wild Mouse coaster that previously operated at Casino Pier in Seaside Heights, NJ.
The award for most pain-in-the-ass park goes to Funderland (also in Sacramento)
Located inside of the city’s central park, the popular 6th park of our visit lacks an actual parking lot, leaving would-be parkgoers to try their luck at street parking somewhere in the general vicinity.
Twenty minutes later we finally found parking.
We literally spent more time trying to park than we did inside of Funderland. The things we do for credits!
Geez, these plane rides are everywhere too. This little excursion is just turning into a mish-mash of Red Baron rides, miniature trains, Scramblers, and Wisdom or Miler kiddie coasters.
Perhaps the most hidden and out-of-the-way park in NorCal is Fun Town, located at Micke Grove in Lodi.
The teeny-tiny San Joaquin county park #7 has a lot of what we’ve already seen so far at the kiddie parks of NorCal, but their Tilt-A-Whirl is actually one of the only such rides in the region.
The kiddie coaster has been here since 1972, but the station (which is actually a trailer bed) still has tires on it!
FunTown is cute, but also in dire need of some TLC in places.
Antique Car bits…miniature train bits…and what’s left of a mini golf course, among other things.
Park #8 is Kiwanis Kiddieland. It was a short visit, however; we were denied the Go-Gator credit!
Parks #9 and #10 bring is to Fresno!
The recently re-opned Rotary Storyland and Playland looks great and is full of potential!
Everything here is classic, but with a fresh coat of paint, it all looks brand new again!
Amazing to see an actual thrill ride at one of these tiny parks! (let’s also take a moment to appreciate the tiny Ferris Wheel on the right)
Showing us around their two local parks are fellow ACEr Darin, his brother David, and David’s twin daughters Anabelle and Emmaree. The girls are definitely coaster enthusiasts-in-training.
Our final park! It’s Blackbeard’s Family Entertainment Center.
Blackbeard’s is a small park / Family Fun Center, but there’s definitely potential for it to grow into a regional park.
The park’s coaster was the girls’ first coaster and Darin’s 300th! (the event took place earlier this year, but there was no media fanfare, so we staged ourselves a little photoshoot)
The coaster here requires children in order to ride; thank goodness for Anabelle and Emmaree!
The girls really made out today! they each got to ride twice; once with David and Darin, and once with me and Sean!
The mini golf course is honestly lovely. Lots of amazing foliage!
And that’s a wrap! Sean and I have now visited every amusement park in the state of California! Woohoo!
Check out the first 3 parts of the NorCal Tour:
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