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El Cerrito, California: Playland Not-At-The-Beach (Closed) Team Field Report

San Pablo Ave., cross street Jefferson. Free parking behind building. 25 minutes from San Francisco. 5 blocks from El Cerrito Del Norte BART station. AC Transit stops across the street.
Closed permanently 2018.

Playland Not at the Beach.

Playland Not-At-The-Beach

San Franciscans go ape pining for their lost amusements; this museum was a packed shrine to the leisure past at Playland-at-the-Beach. Contents auctioned Sept. 2018. Report... [10/12/2009]

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Playland Not-At-The-Beach

Fun center, museum and nostalgic shrine dedicated in part to the to beloved long defunct San Francisco amusement park, Playland-At-The-Beach formerly located near the Cliff House at S.F.'s Great Beach. There are antique penny arcades, vintage and more modern pinball machines and other games such as Skee-Ball included in the admission price.

There is an amusing circus side-show exhibit, and probably the most interesting artifact is a model three ring circus containing hundreds of items, complete with tents, animals, side-show freaks, backstage, carnies, acrobats, all handmade and hand-carved by a local father and son.

[Jim Milstead, 08/28/2009]
Playland Not At The Beach

Playland Not At The Beach is an enchanting evocation of Playland At the Beach of San Francisco, which closed in the early 1970's. Houses many restored relics of the park, amazing scale-models of Playland and an incredible hand-carved wooden circus with thousands of pieces made by one family. Also a truly menacing Laughing Sal, pinball games, arcade games, fun performances by a young magician "The Amazing Nate" and... it is also the home of the International Eartha Kitt Fan Club. There's a tiny theater where you can watch a fun, touching documentary.

They recently hosted a tribute to Bob Wilkins, former host of the old KTVU Creature Features show. This place has heart and soul.

[Alana Dill, 08/22/2008]

Elephants in the miniature circus.

Playland Not-At-The-Beach

Playland Not-At-The-Beach is a brand new museum dedicated to documenting and re-energizing the memory of the late great amusement parks of old, especially Ocean Beach's Playland At-The-Beach. While the place is located in an office building, they have tons of old pictures and displays of Playland At-The-Beach, and a volunteer who worked at the park for 16 years and fell asleep each night to the cackle of Laughing Sal.

Aside from tons of Playland Memorabilia, they have a gigantic miniature circus that fills up a room. They say that it took the artists (circus performers themselves) over 50 years to complete. The circus is based on one day at the Sells-Floto circus in Ohio in 1938. There is a miniature freak show, complete with a headless lady.

There's also a Laughing Sal, a penny fortune teller, a room filled with vintage games, and a mural. By 2006 they hope to complete a Christmas oriented room as well as a Chamber of Horrors. The museum is not officially open yet -- by appointment only.

[Walker Mettling, 11/01/2005]

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