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2222 N. Alamo
San Antonio, TX 78205
1940 - 1980
Location of Park (close view)
Location of Park (far view)
In 1985 I made my first trip to San Antonio, TX
to visit my Dad. At the time I didnít care anything about roller coasters or
amusement parks. I was 11 years old. Now 13 years later I love roller coasters.
I want to visit every amusement park possible and am interested in history of
the old parks.
that summer of 1985 while riding around San Antonio with my Dad I saw a sign in
front of a field of overgrown weeds and grass that said "Playland
Park". I didnít think anything of it at that time. Now, several years
later as Iíve become more involved in roller coasters Iíve realized,
"Hey, that abandoned park I saw in San Antonio as a kid is where The
Phoenix came from!" Unfortunately Iíve been unable to find anything about
The Rocket or Playland Park on the Internet. Since The Phoenix is such a popular
coaster Iíve decided to do a little research to find out some history of The
Rocket and the park it came from.
Go here for some memories of visitors to this site
List of Attractions known at this
10 Adult Rides, 6 Kids Rides
Fun House (The Dipsy Doodle)
3 Refreshment Stands
List of Rides Known at
-- (1947-1980) Built in 1947. At its opening it was hailed as "the largest
roller coaster in the world." The first hill measured 78 feet and there was
some 3200 feet of track. Playland Park closed in 1980 leaving The Rocket
In 1985 Knoebels from Elysburg,
PA undertook the huge project of dismantling the ride and moving it to
Pennsylvania. Knoebels staff began taking the ride apart in January 1985. The
dismantling proceeded smoothly through February and March. Just three months
later, on June 12th, the renamed Rocketís (The Phoenix) orange train made the
first successful trip around the reborn coaster. It opened to the public on June
15th to rave reviews and has been consistently ranked as a top ten coaster ever
here for pictures of The Rocket on this site.
for pictures of The Rocket on Paul Young's Site
This 1917 C.W. Parker carousel turned in San Antonio's Playland Park from 1940
until the park's closing in 1980. From 1981 to 1985 it operated at Bellís
Amusement Park in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In 1988 the carousel was auctioned off in
pieces. The San Antonio Carousel Foundation is currently in the process of
buying and restoring all the original pieces. Space has been allocated in
Hemisfair Park for the historic ride to operate once it is restored
The Zoomer --
Sort of a Tilt-A-Whirl on an inclined plane
The Ghost Train
Calypso -- (19??-1968)
A scrambler on an incline, which was more intense than a regular scrambler. Was
moved to Hemisfair in 1968 and then sold.
Octopus -- (temporary)
Tilt-A-Whirl -- (temporary)
Bubble Bounce -- (temporary)
The Hammer --
A calypso (temporary)
Express -- A Himalaya ride
The miniature golf course had an around the world
theme with a Dutch windmill, a Big Ben and a steel Eiffel Tower as
obstacles. The Eiffel Tower can be seen today in the turnaround of the
handcars at the Kiddie Park at Mulberry, just down Broadway from Playland's
Fun House --
The Fun House(aka
Dipsey Doodle,) was an exceptional attraction. It was not the kind of funhouse
like at so many European parks where once you enter it's like a large, well lit
gymnasium floor where there are a variety of attractions to freely chose from:
human roulette wheel, slides, cakewalk, revolving barrel, et al.
No, this fun
house was the kind with an entrance and exit and all of its features were
constructed of cinder blocks, so the pitch black hallways you felt yourself
through had no cracks of light, nothing but black.
entered, you felt your way through a switchback of black hallways, until you
come to a very dimly lit room surrounded by doors. You would try door after
door, until you found the one that opened into a hall surrounded by a
revolving barrel lit up by blacklight. The walkway did not revolve, but it
sure felt like it did( like the barrel in SFOT's original Cave ride.)
blackness, you did several more turns, then daylight! You exited the facade
momentarily so spectators could watch compressed air blast from the floor
and scare the hell out of you and blow up girls dresses back when they wore
dresses at amusement parks. Also out front you crossed a section of floor
that would collapse as you crossed it.
inside to blackness. Some of the hallway walls had rows of foot long rubber
"fingers" sticking out from the walls at ankle level, making it feel like
your ankles were being grabbed if you walked close to the wall. Somewhere in
this part was a moving floor(back and forth) in the dark.
turned a time or two, then was a big elevated section of moving floors you
had to climb over with the help of handrails, and you could jump up and down
on the top middle section. There was light in this hallway because right
after the "bridge" you turned left and entered the well lit mirror maze. It
was a large maze, with the front open to the front of the building so
spectators outside the attraction could again watch people, this time going
through the maze. Once you found the exit to the maze, you are back in
blackness. Halfway down the next passage you step on a sensor, and a lit up
blacklight monster scene lights up and makes noise right next to you.
At the end of
the hallway at the turn was a turntable maybe two feet wide you could stand
on and rotate.
turn or two, you entered the anti gravity room. Actually the entire room was
the walkway went across, back , and across the room again. Then another dark
hallway and you entered the room of crazy mirrors. For the first time in the
attraction, you actually got to chose the order of fun house mirrors you
looked at, and the amount of time you spent looking at them. Some made you
look tall and skinny, others short and fat, or a little of both.
you exited the front of the building again to spectator scrutiny, but the
path went back and forth several times, with compressed air blowers at all
the turns(operated by an attendant, who was trying to surprise you,) and
also had side by side pairs of boards going forward and backward opposite
each other, cakewalk style.Then the path went behind a waist high walled off
corner that had a floor that felt like it was being pounded on from
underneath. There was one more set of air jets, and you exited onto the
midway through the turnstile.
There was a
"laughing Sally" to the left of the facade so that her insane laughing was
always audible when you weren't inside.
Manager: Jack Johnson
They always put on a big July
fourth fireworks extraveganza with a lot of on the ground spinning sparkling
displays along with the aerials.
The park was rarely crowded except
on pay one price days, which happened several times a year in conjunction with
local spermarkets, etc.
Here are some other pictures of
the park area:
Thanks to the following
people who responded for my request on rrc:
Some information came
from the following web sites:
San Antonio Carousel Foundation
Thanks to the following
people who responded to my e-mails:
Kelly Irvin, Public Relations Manager, San Antonio Parks and Recreation Dept
Nancy Dean, City of San Antonio
Thanks to the following
people who provided information by phone:
Exclusive Broker, San Antonio (real estate agent)
information on this page has come from several different sources and is correct
to the best of my knowledge. If you find any mistakes or have more
information, please contact me!