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Amusement Parks: The Balboa Fun Zone – a Potted History


The Balboa Fun Zone is one of Southern California’s oldest amusement parks and is located on the Balboa peninsula of Newport Beach.

The amusement park has a great history. Its origins go back to 1906 when Fred Lewis owned a piece of land from which he ran a boatyard. However, by the mid-1930s, his business was suffering so he decided to lease the land to a man named Al Anderson and the amusement park was born.

Anderson went on to purchase the land from Lewis in 1948 and together with two friends, Bob Speth and Joe Tunstall, he set about adding new attractions to the amusement park in addition to the Ferris wheel, merry go rounds and other rides.

He was forced to sell the amusement park in 1972 when he received a lawsuit following a diving accident at the amusement park. The amusement park remained in the hands of different lending institutions until it was finally bought by Jordan Wank in 1985. Within a year, Wank had bulldozed the entire amusement park and rebuilt it from scratch. Speth and Tunstall were still involved at this stage until a Japanese company, Doo & Sons, bought the amusement park from Wank. It was this company’s intention to knock down the amusement park and build condominiums on the land but they were refused permission by the city council at which point the company went into receivership. 

There was about to be a major turning point in the fortunes of the park in 1994 when the banks suggested that Speth & Tunstall buy it which they did and then ran it themselves until 2005. At this time, it was decided that the amusement park could attract more visitors if it was bought by the neighbouring Newport Harbour Nautical Museum so nowadays, in addition to the arcades, carousel and Ferris wheel, you can enjoy the museum’s attractions, including its large salt water touch tank and Big Game Fishing Simulator.

See also:
Amusement Parks: Castle Park – a Potted History 
Amusement Parks: California’s Great America – a Potted History
Amusement Parks: Legoland California – a Potted History
Amusement Parks: Sonoma Traintown – a Potted History 
Amusement Parks: Six Flags Magic Mountain – a Potted History

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