ON THE PROMENADE – Manteca Bulletin

SANTA CRUZ – I honestly thought I was going to die.

It was 26 years ago on the Santa Cruz beach boardwalk. Somehow, against my better judgment and fear, Cynthia had persuaded me to go to Chaos.

They strapped two of you into a full upper body harness in a “bucket”. The bucket flipped randomly as the ride turned up and down. The ride’s designer calls it a “three-dimensional rocking, rolling, and rotating” ride. I called it madness.

You would turn face down as Chaos spun, then spin quickly as you ascended. The only time I was more terrified was while parasailing half way down Maui when I lost my grip on the harness.

Chaos enjoyed a 13-year run at the Boardwalk before being replaced by another ride.

I can’t think of a better reason to suggest going to Santa Cruz, especially if you have a few teenagers in your clan.

The boardwalk not only offers plenty of thrill rides – 11 at last count – but also 19 family rides, 8 kiddie rides and nine other attractions, as well as food and shopping.

It’s also four things Great America and Marine World will never have – you can walk right on the beach, you don’t have to pay an admission fee, the driving lines are very reasonable even on the busiest days. busy, and during the summer you can enjoy Thursday night bands from 8:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. on the Colonnade Stage as well as free movies at 9 p.m. on the beach next to the Colonnade Stage without paying a dime for it. to assist.

The Boardwalk is the granddaddy of California’s amusement parks, having opened its doors in 1907. Its charm lies in the fact that it combines state-of-the-art thrill rides with century-old classics in a semi-carnival atmosphere while being on a beach. .

The two oldest rides alone – the Giant Dipper roller coaster and the Looff Grand Carousel – are worth the 101-mile, 2-hour, 10-minute drive from Manteca. And you don’t need to buy the all-day pass ($39.95 on weekdays and $59.95 on Saturdays and Sundays if you buy online before your day of attendance) to use one. or the other. Note that passes purchased at the Boardwalk cost an additional $10.

This is another charm of the promenade. You can buy a My Boardwalk game card for $50 and share it with others to access rides, games, entertainment, and arcades. So let’s say you’re a little older than a teenager, the thrill rides stopped thrilling you when you had your first grandchild, if you still want to enjoy the two biggest rides on the boardwalk, no doubt – the Giant Dipper and the carousel. The $50 card could be used for two people to ride the Big Dipper at $8 a pop as well as the carousel at $6 each and there’s still $22 left to spend on entertainment or rides.

Anyone can use the card and it doesn’t expire if you still have value, meaning you can use it on a return trip.

It’s a perfect way to experience some old-fashioned thrills, strolling the boardwalk enjoying the views, and enjoying the beach between the San Lorenzo River and the Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf as well as the Pacific Ocean.

Why the carousel? Not only are the 73 ornate hand-carved wooden horses on the carousel that has been operating since 1911 a sight to behold, but it is also one of the few remaining carousels in the world that offers a ring dispenser.

Riders on outside horses grab a ring from a dispenser as the carousel spins, then throw them into the Aarhus Clown’s gaping mouth. Hit the target and you will be rewarded with bells and flashing lights. Some choose not to throw away the rings but choose to keep them as keepsakes. That’s great for over 60,000 people a year or one in 13 cyclists.

Then there are the delightful sounds provided by the 342-pipe Ruth und Son organ built in 1894. It has been in use since 1911 with a full renovation in 2009. It was joined in 2007 by no rare organ – the Wurlitzer 165 Band Organ de San Francisco’s Playland-at-the-Beach amusement park is now closed.

The grand dame of the west coast roller coaster and the third oldest in the United States, the Giant Dipper built in 1924 is a classic wooden roller coaster.

It has a feel you won’t find on modern versions of the ride. I rank it along with Space Mountain and the Matterhorn at Disneyland as a classic thrill ride that has character given the wooden construction and glimpses of the parallel landscape of an amusement park when you’re not kidding the head or that you are not clinging to life.

Although I love the Big Dipper and the carousel, my favorite ride as a 66 year old is definitely the Space Race. Think of the classic bumper cars that the Boardwalk also has, but are circular. Maneuver them just right and you can get a decent “air” when you crash into someone.

Until August 4, walking hours on the boardwalk are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. After that, walks follow a weekend and holiday schedule. Although the rides are closed on weekdays, other attractions are open.

You can’t go for a walk without indulging in salt water taffy. There are also other amusement park favorites such as cotton candy, hot corn, churros, funnel cakes, and even fried Twinkies, to name a few.

Parking in Boardwalk lots is $20 on weekdays and $25 on weekends. When rides are closed it is $5 and $15 when there are limited rides as listed on the Boardwalk website calendar.

For more information visit www.beachboardwlk.com

Comments are closed.