Alhoa Park / Waikiki Park – Honolulu, Hawaii
(1922 – 1932?)
Written By Jeffrey Stanton
Aloha Park was built in 1922 in Honolulu adjacent to Fort DeRussy, an American army base by the Aloha Amusement Company, a group of local investors that included Alfred Cast;e, James D. Dole, George P. Cooke and W.H. McInery. They drained the swampy 5 acre Hobron and invested $250,000 to build and equip the park with modern rides. They hired Los Angeles resident W.A. Cory to manage the park and gave him a stake in the new company.
While Honolulu only had a permanent population of 90,000, mostly Japanese but a smattering of people from all nationalities, it had a transient population of 30,000 soldiers, sailors, and tourists. And its mild climate was perfect for year around operation. Although its proximity to the army base was helpful, the five-acre site required extensive filling and dredging to make it into an amusement resort. Two acres were set aside as sunken gardens and grass lawns.
Technical director Mark Hanna was in charge of the park’s construction, which used Japanese labor. The park’s entrance was designed after the Palace of Fine Arts arcade at the 1915 San Francisco Exposition. The park’s rides included the Big Dipper roller coaster designed by Prior and Church of Venice, California, a Noah’s Ark fun house, a 70 foot high Traver Seaplane, a ten-car Dodgem, a carousel built by Arthur Looff, and a miniature railroad. The dance hall had a floor 120 x 150 feet, with a 20 foot lanai, where refreshments were served, and contained boxes for private parties. Music was provided by the Hawaiian brass band, that played at the band pavilion where a big musical revue was staged nightly. Electric lights at light brightly lit up the grounds and rides. Free daily entertainment was provided.
The park drew big business during the month after it opened on September 14, 1922. An estimated 10,000 thrill-seekers paid the ten cent admission charge at the opening. They swarmed the midway and stood in long lines to try the rides. Many tried their luck at the Penny Arcade where 100 machines bekoned at a penny apiece. Others crowded into the ballroom where they danced the Charleston on the its new maple floor, while over head a gaint revolving crystal globe sent out sparkes that resembled "a thousand fireflies flittering on th ceiling." Oscar V. Babock performed his thrilling bicycle loop-the-loop during the park's opening weeks.
The reidents, however,opposed the park and called it an "atrocious ballyhoo bazaar" in contrast to the developer's description as "another laurel to the wreath of Honolulu's progressiveness." During the early years of the Depression, the rides began to shut down and the price of hot dogs increased from a nickel to a dime. There was no money for repairs, so when the roller coaster was declared unsafe, it too closed. The park's closing date is unknown, but it is sometime in the early 1930s. It was certainly there when the Sanborn fire insurance map was drawn in 1927 and its name changed.
Additional information and photos are requested.