Google Analytics 4

January 9, 2008

Marineland of the Pacific | Abandoned Places

Marineland of the Pacific was a public oceanarium and tourist attraction located on the Palos Verdes Peninsula coast in Los Angeles County, California, USA. Architect William Pereira designed the main structure. It was also known as Hanna-Barbera's Marineland during the late 1970s and early 1980s. Marineland operated from 1954 until 1987, when it was purchased by the owners of SeaWorld, San Diego. The new owners moved the popular killer whales and other animals to their San Diego facility and abruptly closed Marineland.

Marineland of the Pacific was loved by many.  It is surely missed. Share your thoughts and stories in the comments below.
When it opened in 1954, one year before Disneyland, Marineland of the Pacific was the world's largest oceanarium. Many considered it California's first major theme park. Marineland was best known for its performing Orcas or "killer whales". It was also noteworthy for its Baja Reef concept, a first-of-its-kind swim-through aquarium featuring a wide array of sea life. Visitors could enter the winding aquarium wearing a swim mask and snorkel and swim with the fishes and sharks. Marineland also contained educational and research facilities, in addition to its unique entertainment structures.

For safety reasons, all of the tanks were torn down after closing in 1987, however many of the buildings and the famous Sky Tower remained.  It is always interesting when a building or whole tourist attraction is left behind, many times, the objects in it are also left.  So many things that could be of use, like a brand new l shaped computer desk or two. Even appliances, tables, chairs, other desks and furnishings.  Sometimes its like they literally just left and never came back.

In early 2006, two small temporary sales offices replaced the abandoned gas station at the park entrance and the large concrete sign along Palos Verdes Drive South (with a tower resembling a whale's tail) was altered to feature the Terranea logo and artist's rendering of the resort. In July 2007, principal construction work on Terranea Resort commenced, starting with the demolition of the remains of Marineland.  The Resort opened in 2009.

(photo above is from 1972
California Coastline Collection)

The California Costal Records Project

The California Coastal Records Project has a great series of images that when compared together show the slow disappearance of Marineland of the Pacific.   

Looks like a photo of Marineland being built (no tower)

June 1987 - if Marineland closed in early 1987 and was torn down in early 1988, this picture most likely was taken after the park was closed to the public. There isn't a time stamp on the photo, but it is daylight and there are only 1 or 2 cars in the parking lot.

2004 (film set in parking lot)

2008 (Terranea construction)

Images of the abandoned ruins

The Marineland Restaurant

Photos above from

The Marineland Sign

A postcard of the Marineland entrance, with fiberglass models of Bubbles the pilot whale and killer whales.

 The sign post-Marineland.

Bubbles the whale in storage near Rancho Palos Verdes City Hall
An aerial shot of Bubbles and be seen on Google Maps

 Google Earth 2009
Earliest Google Earth photo is 2003
Google Earth 2010

View the live Google Map view of Bubbles near the Palos Verdes City Administration.
(The irony here is Bubbles is sitting on the ruins of Nike Missle LA-55 Launch Battery Site.  This will be showcased on its own page here at MDR.)

The city also has the three dolphins that were at the entrance.  The Point Vicente Interpretive Center hopes to one day recreate the entrance sign.


Scans of old Marineland postcards

The Lost Boys
An interesting page showing the filming locations for the Lost Boys. At the bottom of the page, the Lost Boys cave, located below Marineland.

Photos of the ruins

More photos of the ruins.  

What is there today (2008)
A large resort named TERRANEA is being built on the property and will open in 2009. (  The hotel project changed hands. It took 7 years to get the plans approved by the city and by the coastal commission. Then they didn't have a hotel sponsor. Now they have Lowe's Enterprises.  I hear that the hotel is planning to use some of the Marineland theme, like a Baja Reef bar, etc. There are plans to do the 25th reunion of the closing of Marineland at the hotel which would be in 2012.
Clearing the site - A quick update and photo from 2007 (you can see what is left of the sign on the bottom left.)

Marineland of the Pacific was loved by many.  It is surely missed. Share your thoughts and stories in the comments below.


  1. They have once again closed beach access to this place while they're constructing the Terranea Resort.

    This was a great place to hang out on the weekends.

  2. The California Coastal Records Project recently posted a photo of the Terranea under construction.

  3. Pleasure Island IN orlando fl is now closed! go and get some sad pics of that

  4. GREG MAY of Orlando, FL says: "One of the biggest disappointments in my life is that I never got to see Marineland of the Pacific! Harcourt/Brace - the parent company of Sea World - closed it. Marineland had the best publicity campaign of any theme park, actually entering into a contract with CBS Television."

  5. GREG MAY of Orlando, FL says: "One of the biggest disappointments in my life is that I never got to see Marineland of the Pacific. Harcourt/Brace - the parent company of Sea World - closed it. Marineland had the best publicity campaign of any theme park, even entering into a contract with CBS Television."

  6. I found it by searching for Marineland of the Pacific - that was one of my favorite places of all. Very interesting site you have put together. I also remember Lion Country Safari - went there twice if I remember correctly. It's sad to see things fall apart, but there will always be good memories.

    Marineland of the Pacific was such a terrific place! I went there many times as a child and loved Bubbles and

    all the animals there. I could stare into those huge fish tank windows and pretend I was under the sea. The

    last time I went to Marineland around 1985 I had a wonderful time; delighted to see Bubbles and her dolphin

    pals again, Orky and Corky, Zippy and Smiley, the sea lions and walruses, all the park's animals, and of course

    the Giant Fish tank. If I had a crystal ball I would have taken lots of pictures and shopped the gift shop for

    souvenirs, but I had no way of knowing that day would be my last visit. Marineland opened before I was born –

    I just assumed it would always be there. What a sad day that was in 1987 when Marineland closed forever. I

    still mourn the loss of that fabulous place and it's animals that gave so many people such great joy. It was

    much more than an oceanarium/ amusement park and even though it is gone now, Marineland will always live on in

    the fond memories of people who loved it.

  7. One thing I did hear was that the Oceanariums were desrtoyed pretty
    quickly because in order to keep their archtechtural integrity they
    had to have water in them. So to prevent any major probelms they
    were knocked down first. I found some pics, I think on Flickr of an
    aerial circa 1993 where there is a nice overhead shot of the ruins
    of the park that had the skytower in them, and most everything else
    was leveled besides baja reef and the Catalina room.


  8. Although I only rmember going to Marineland 2 or 3 times as a little kid, I do have an interesting story about the Baja Reef.

    About 3 or 4 years ago or so and friend and I were driving around aimlessly in the Long Beach area on a Sunday afternoon looking for something to do. We decided we would go try to find where the old Marineland use to be in Palos Verdes.

    After driving around for a while when came around a bend and there was the old skytower. We had found it! Knowing that it was well over a decade since the park had closed, we were surprised to find the tower still up. As we pulled up to where the park use to be we found the gate to the old parking lot still open. We pulled in and parked the car. The black top was all cracked and weeds grew everywhere. There were still the parking lot section signs featuring sea animals still on the old light posts. The park was fenched in and over grown with weeds and plants.

    We walked around a little bit and discovered a large hole in the fence on the backside of the park, near the cliffs. We couldn't let this chance get away so we climbed through the fence and began to wander around the abandoned marine park.

    A lot was gone from the park. There were several buildings that were falling apart that we wandered through. We could tell what they use to be. One was a kitchen to a snack bar, the other was some type oftheater. The large tanks that held the animals had been removed or were filled in with dirt. But you could tell where they were and the audience area was still there.

    After wandering around for a while we came across the old Baja Reef attraction, intact! It was so cool to come across this. We climbed down into what was the tank and walked around the old simulated rock and coral. For being neglected for well over a decade, it was in pretty good conditions.

    We drove by about a year and a half ago and it was all gone. The sky tower was taken down and the area is getting develped.

    Just thought I'd share since you brought up the subject. It was a very cool experience - exploring an old abandoned amusement park.


  9. I worked at M. O. P. for a few years during high school and college (1974-78, I think), while it was operated by 20th Century Fox. I ran the Sky Tower (which had a tendency to get stuck at the top), was an Usher, and worked at the front gate. Great memories of great people. As an Usher I would warn folks that because of where they were sitting, they were going to get soaked by the Killer Whales. No one ever believed me.
    The long term operator of the Sky Tower was a WW2 US Army Veteran, of the Campaign to liberate the Philippines, named Jimmy. He looked like Kojak and everyone was afraid of him. He was really a great guy and missed work only when his malaria flared up.
    I have so many pleasant memories of my time working there. Sad that it is gone.

  10. I went to the park back in 1976 as part of a High School Biology project. I wrote letters and signed waivers to get permission to don my SCUBA gear and take pictures of the sealife in the BIG fish tank. After the fish feeding entertainment, I got my briefing and equipment check and in I went! Mom was taking Super-8 videos through the windows in the lower levels, Dad just hung out to watch while I had my Kodak in an Ike-Light housing. I realized later that I may have started a new trend when the park started their snorkeling venue for park visitors a couple of years later!!
    A very special, cherished memory for me indeed.

  11. We were upset with Sea World before it was cool

  12. Hello, over there, from Denmark!

    I feel it´s many years ago, when we, on our vacation, visited California and Marineland in 1980, but when a saw this site, good memories came back of our trip to the magical Marineland. I still have pictures of the killer whales etc. It´s sad, that that this fantastic amusement park is gone forever, but no one can erase our good feeling memories and they are placed in a golden box in our hearts.

  13. As a child, my family and I visited this magical park. We drove from El Paso to LA and it was well worth the hardship of driving in a 1961 Impala without air conditioning. To this day I remember walking hand in hand with my dad. We didn't have to many moments like that. But the thrill of this fun park provided some awesome memories. I wish the park was still with us.

  14. Can anyone please tell me what happened to Bubbles, the beautiful Pilot Whale which was the main attracration at MarineLand? Thanks~ Dez

    1. Sadly, she passed away this week. She was at Sea World all this time and I didn't even know. I am heartbroken on so many levels! She was as old as I am. You can read all about her in today's news.

    2. I am very sad to tell you that she passed away this week. She was at Sea World all this time and I didn't even know. You can read all about it in the papers from today. She was as old as I am. A formidable gal, and I loved her so much as a child. RIP Bubbles, my dear old friend.

    3. Sadly, she passed away this week. She was at Sea World all this time and I didn't even know. I am heartbroken on so many levels! She was as old as I am. You can read all about her in today's news.

  15. Can anyone tell me what happened to Bubbles, the beautiful Pilot Whale, which was the main attraction at Marineland? Thank you. Dezie

  16. Bubbles is at Sea World in San Diego... still performing!!

  17. We loved this Park. We lived in West Los Angeles for 22 years from 1969 and right through the 1980s we often visited Marineland. My two children had a great time there and we almost always took out of town visitors there. We were very sad when it closed.

  18. I can't remember the exact year but I believe it was in 1981 when I went to this beautiful place with my sister and two of her friends. Thank goodness I took lots of pictures and still have them. Another reason this place is special is because my brother was married in the glass church across the street from Marineland it was so beautiful to stand in the church and see Marineland across the street. I will always have wonderful memories of Marine land.

  19. Being a child of Southern California I grew up with Marineland practically in my backyard. My mom tells the story of when she was expecting me (1958) going to Marineland & Bubbles wasn't up to performing because she had swallowed an innertube. We would go often & our schools would have fieldtrips there. It was so much into the research & scientific aspect of the sealife, whereas Sea World seemed so commercial (and still does). My son's 2nd grade class went there for a fieldtrip the week before they clowed. I went along, too. Who knew that would be the last time we would see some of those beautiful animals? I read about the midnight transport in the newspaper & how the scientists & trainers came to work to locked gates. I understand not all of the animals made the transition. In 2009 I went to Sea World when my son lived in San Diego. I was brought to tears to see my beloved Bubbles performing more than 50 years later. And also Orky, the Orca that was paired up with Corky at Marineland. that brought more joy to me than any other part of the park.

  20. I fondly remember Marineland. I worked there summers and holidays during my last two years of High School, 1975-1976. Worked briefly in food service and later as part of the "props" balloon crew getting there at 5:00 or 6:00 in the morning ... just five of us and a guard had the place to ourselves until doors opened. I loved that walking around the empty park and past the walrus that would sort of sing as I walked by ... so neat. When we completed out task we had an hour or so to walk around and look at the animals which I usually did. The other really cool thing was at Christmas it would be cold so we would inflate the bunches of balloons on the bottom floor of the killer whale tank ... where it was warmer. Those whales were so intelligent and kind of like our pets. They would wait at the tank window nearest the door where we would enter, then hang out and watch us for the couple hours while we made the balloon props. When I walked around the tank they would follow me and seemed to really enjoy following me if I ran a few laps around the tank on the inside first floor. Little did management know that I hopped in the tank for a brief splash one morning ... lol. Then during the JAWS movie craze they had a huge frozen great white shark briefly in the back area and we took turns standing next too it sticking our head near its mouth. My best buddies (Kenny and Duncan) from High School were with me on the balloon crew and we had such fun taking big hits of helium and singing a chorus of "Ding dong the witch is dead ..." when the guard would walk by, busting up laughing becuase we sounded so funny especially when we pretend argued with each other. Before the last show at Seaside Stadium (dolphin show) each of us would crawl into a 10'X10' box with a top we could raise with rope and pully and fill these full with helium balloons to release en masse during the show finale. Found it funny that our manager would crawl into each box and light a doobie with each of us every day. I always wondered of the pullution as a thousand balloons floated off towards Catalina... show biz I guess.

    Most fun there was early in the morning if the parking lot was wet after a little rain, lining up our cars and taking turns doing 360 slides in the parking lot .. lucky none of us hopped the curb for a quick trip over the cliff.

    They also had some great concerts there one summer in Seaside Stadium. I met Buddy Rich when he walked alone through the fence behind food service from the parking lot and I stopped him thinking he was someone trying to sneak in! "Hey you stop!!!" LOL he thought it was funny but my manager freaked. Got to watch his concert and never saw anyone faster than him on drums. Also, Ray Charles gave a great concert there.

    Irwin Allen was there once after 20th Centruy Studios acquired Marineland, of Towering Inferno fame. LOL I laugh every time I think of it. I was struggling pushing a two level cart loaded with a few hundred pounds of soda syrup canasters and CO2 tanks when it got away from me and got loose heading down a slope ... right towards ol' Erwin and his entourage ... I yelled "look out!!" and he managed to avoid the pending disaster ... LOL what nasty looks they all gave me ... PRICELESS.

    Marineland was so nicely situated and so beautiful in the summer time, I spent many hours enjoying the views and watching shows and animal training. From the lower plaza you could see whales in the Cataling channel sometimes almost onshore as they seemly were scraching themselves on the rocks. Defenatly Marineland was a treasure and forever etched in the memories of many I think. Some things will never be again.

    Always wanted to bring in a fishing pole and hook up to one of those GIANT yellowtail in the Giant Fish Tank .. hehe. Well at least I got to "swim with the" killer whales ... well got out like a flying fish when one came towards me ... LOL. Marineland ... the best of memories...

  21. Do you have any details about the shark? I am trying to get info on it. Length, weight, where it was caught. Thanks!

  22. In the middle-late 1960s I frequented the Marineland area to dive in the adjacent cove, and having an interest in several of the marine sciences, wanted badly to work at the Marineland lab. I would often visit the aquarium to watch the marine life and sometimes to apply for work. As it turned out, employment at Marineland was not in the cards; how na├»ve of me to believe that I had even the slightest chance of employment. I did once go to Marineland to watch a Hollywood stuntman attempt to break the endurance record for time underwater. Martin Landau and his wife Barbara Bain, both of the then popular television show Mission Impossible, who apparently had some association with the stuntman, were there to see him off in his attempt. The event was remarkably poorly attended. While standing next to the main tank as the stuntman entered the water, cameras rolling on the stuntman, Martin Landau approached me and said “do you think he’ll make it?” I turned to him and said “no, he’ll get too cold,” basing my comment on experience diving in the local waters. Landau said nothing, but based on his expression, I got the impression that he agreed with me. I later read that after many hours in the water, but far from the record, the stuntman’s attempt was abandoned because he was dangerously hypothermic.

  23. In Sept 1984 (I was 16 yo) my family made a once in a lifetime trip to CA. we got a package deal that included 2 days at Disney and our choice of 2 other places. As a family we picked Universal Studios and Marineland. For me Marineland was the one I was most looking forward to. I read everything I could on it and more than anything wanted to swim the Baja Reef. (sp?)
    AFter over 30 years I can still close my eyes and relive that day. The sights, sounds are etched permanently in my memory as is the feel of the sun and breeze against my skin and the briny smell of the ocean air.
    To see what had become of that beautiful place breaks my heart. I am so greatful I got to experience Marineland when I did.

    1. Funny, I was there right around your time w/ my GF at the time and we did Baja Reef and you are right, I still remember it well. (The GF, not so much!!)

  24. I heard that some of the dolphins were released into the ocean when seaworld closed. When we were kids we saw dolphins jumping and playing in the waves in southern california. Now as an adult, we still see them but not jumping and leaping like we did when we were kids. Anyone know anything about dolphin release when the park was closed?

  25. sorry, not seaworld, Marineland.

  26. I worked at marineland during Hanna Barberas ownership , Operating Engineers Union around 78-80. The first time I went with my grandfather around 1957-58 Wow I said then first time I seen Bubbles whale , one day I'd like to work here ! Was a pump mech. For a company field mech.sent me to marineland for pump repair job! While there working on pump I asked the assist foreman if by chance they were hireing ? He stated yes 1one position open but its for a plumber! I not long before finished my hitch in USAF 6YEARSI TOLD Forman that's my primary trade and That I was a a level 7 plumber in Air Force &he said and your a pump mech. also ? I said yes also a welder ! He said don't you leave until I come back with Park Maintenance Directorial his name was Keith, Duke Champion he said without even an application he said will you come to work for me I said yea OK! He said can you start tomorrow ! Good wage they bought all my work clothes,boots tools great place to work great company to work for ! Great memories !

  27. Does anyone know if we could still visit the ruins of Marineland to this day?

    1. I think it is now Trump's Golf Course---Trump Palos Verdes :(

    2. It's a golf course now. But someone is trying to get the statue of Bubbles pulled out of the city storage yard and displayed at a park.

    3. It isn't Trump's golf course, thankfully. It is the Terranea resort.

  28. I visited Marineland only once, in October of 1980. I am from the midwest, but was visiting a friend serving in the Air Force who was stationed in LA. At that time, Marineland had an exhibit where you could snorkel with various fish and sharks native to coastal Southern California. I became a certified diver the next year. It is likely I would never have done so if not for this park. I'm sure Sea World San Diego is great, but my heart belongs to Marineland.

  29. We lived in long beach and as a little girl i dreamed of 2 jobs, being a firefighter and being a what i called back then a "sea vet" i used to watch Jaques Cousteau and when my parents suprised me at age 5 to a trip to MOP i was stoked! I remember bubbles and went to see her when she was moved to SW. Walking through this park was the begining of my love for sea life. I have a 9 year old now and wish she could have seen MOP, no other aquarium can compare!

  30. We had a family friend who was one of Orky's and Corky's trainers. One summer as a youngster He arranged for me to participate in one of the killer whale shows; I was allowed to climb the pole out over the tank with a fish in my teeth while one of the orcas jumped and took the fish from my mouth! Great memories ��

  31. Oh my. In the middle of writing a memory article about Palos Verdes including the peacocks, lighthouse ghost, and Marineland. Love this history. It was the first place that I ate something no longer available due to being endangered: Abalone.

  32. I have great memories of this place which is now part of LA's history. I went to Marineland twice as a child. The first time I went was with my 2nd grade class on a field trip and the following year with family. Marineland may be gone but it lives in my heart with great memories. It was my Sea World.

  33. Yes, I worked there in Food Service and in the Retail Shops....I loved working there and all the staff we worked with were like family. We'd walk around smell the fresh air on our breaks ,sneak a peak at the was awesome..this was in the early 80's...The staff would have parties a couple times a year and we all had fun! Now Im 54 years how time flies...I was barely a teenager then... AW

  34. So sad it was closed and not saved as a historical site etc

  35. I am 69 years old, born in 1949. Marineland was literally in my "backyard" until we moved away when I was in maybe 7th grade. I lived on Packet Rd. in a neighborhood that was called Abalone Cove. Behind my house were huge fields where "garbanzo beans" (chickpeas) were grown, and Marineland was a short hike across those fields. Actually, we had to go to the end of the neighborhood road closest to the bluff (Sea Cove Dr.) to exit the connecting neighborhood backyard walls. There was an abandoned house in the middle of the fields that we were sure was haunted, and all us neighborhood kids had lots of fun in. The garbanzo beans were "stickery" and not fun to walk through. We would walk south and then along a path at the top of the bluff, and came in at the back side of Marineland. For awhile we could sneak in, but then we were blocked from our trespassing! Our next door neighbor was an Engineer there. We went there so many times, as every visiting out-of-town relative wanted to go! I lost track of what was going on there when I went to Arizona for college. I was so happy to hear that Bubbles was still going strong elsewhere until a few years ago! Thank you for the wonderful I want to find all my neighborhood friends!

  36. During 1964/5 I was working as a musician on the P & O Liner SS. Orsova". I was befriended by one of the passengers, a lovely lady called Barbara Ferguson who live in or near L.A. When we docked in L.A., she took us in her car to hollywood, Graumanns theatrs etc then on to Marineland. Well. it was absolutely stunning and I am forever grateful to that lovely lady. Looking it up on the internet a few years ago I was really sorry to see that it had diappeared, but I still have great memories.

  37. I remember going to Marineland shortly after my mom and dad drove us via Rte 66 from Illinois to California to live in 1965. I believe it the month of July in 1966 when they brought me and my sister to Marineland. I remember we had polka dot dresses and hats to keep from getting sunburned. We got there early because i remember it being really chilly. There weren't very many people at the park so we were able to see quite a bit. Finally the park got really crowded. As we were exploring the park, a whale show was going on. Dad did not want to attend because it was too crowded and hot. Suddenly we heard sirens and the park began flooding. Loud speakers were ordering guests to vacate the park. We were walking in ankle deep water. We found out that the whale show had an accident. The whale was diving to get an object and hit a viewing window at the bottom of the tank. Several people were injured. I remember there was a red tint to the water and found out later that the Whale was cut. So the water was bloddy from the whale. We did not get a raincheck from the park. this was the first time that we visited an ocean theme park. I can remember it very vividly. I was only about 9 years old. I have some photos of us before we went to the park in our dresses with mom and dad. I found something about this incident years ago but I have Googled it recently and could not find anything about it. Maybe you can find something?

  38. Marineland was used as a filming location in an episode for the TV show Emergency! (season 6, episode 15, Breakdown) aired in 1977.


Lake Mead Water Level Lowers, Finds Grow

  Lake Mead Water Level Lowering, Finds Growing Lake Mead is a reservoir formed by the Hoover Dam on the Colorado River in the Southwestern ...