Marineland of the Pacific, which opened in 1954, for many years provided the primary tourist attraction in Rancho Palos Verdes. The attractions of Marineland included the 320-foot Skytower soaring into the blue ocean-side sky at the park's entrance, the splashy acrobatics of Orky and Corky the killer whales, Bubbles the pilot whale, and snorkeling the curved, faux-rocky recesses of Baja Reef amid rainbows of tropical fish. Marineland was only the second oceanarium in the United States when it opened to the public Aug. 28, 1954. The first was Marine Studios in Florida, which was originally built to photograph animals and simulate the ocean for motion pictures -- but soon became a major tourist attraction.
Marineland's first owner, Oceanarium Inc., owned by investment banker Henry Harris, hoped to capitalize on that popularity. On the cliffs overlooking the ocean, his team built two enormous oceanarium tanks -- both three stories tall -- a restaurant, a 12-unit motel, offices and laboratories.
Marineland under construction
On the beach below, they built a 250-foot-long pier to help bring in the animals. In the late 1950's, the pier also provided coastal boat cruises, for an additional fee, that also provided whale watching off of the coast at certain times of the year.
1954 brochure ( see pictorial history of Marineland brochures ) Note that the map above does not have any freeways, which had not yet been built!
By opening day, the $3 million oceanarium had assembled the nation's largest collection of marine life -- sea turtles, moray eels, sawfish, sea anemones -- and brought in more than 14,000 patrons.
Postcard of Marineland (note pier in background)
Marineland was very popular from its opening in 1954 until the late 1970's, but attendance started to dwindle in the 1980's,. Marineland closed in December1986 when Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, which owned Sea World in San Diego, purchased Marineland, ostensibly to continue to operate it. Their intent, however, was to purchase Marineland solely to acquire Corky and Orky, a successful breeding pair of killer whales.
My family and I were heartbroken when they closed Marineland. We purchased an annual pass when we first moved to the Peninsula in 1985, and my young children and I treated Marineland like a public park. It had great picnic areas to take the kids, and they loved it!! I still miss it greatly.
Lowe Enterprises, through a subsidiary Destination Resorts,is constructing a $250-million resort there, named Terranea, with construction started in 2006. It is expected to be completed in Summer 2009 and will include a 400-room main hotel, flanked by 50 casitas and 32 resort villas, a world class 25,000 sq. ft. spa, a 60,000 sq. ft. banquet and conference center, as well as an executive 9 hole golf course.
For more information about Palos Verdes and South Bay Real Estate and buying and selling a home on the Palos Verdes Peninsula, visit my website at http://www.maureenmegowan.com . I try to make this the best real estate web blog in the South Bay Los Angeles and the Palos Verdes Peninsula. I would love to hear your comments or suggestions.