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Frontier Village Amusement Park
San Jose, CA

article by Stacy Birdsall

Frontier Village has been a popular stop at Defunct Amusement Parks. It is obvious the park is remembered by many people. Luckily we are proud to have the submission below available here.

Train Station

DO NOT COPY PHOTOS and POSTCARDS

Opened: 1961

Closed: Sept 16, 1980

Location: The park was located at 4885 Monterey Road

Type of Park: Western Style Theme Park

Remains: There are no physical remains left

Present State: The park is now called Edenvale Garden Park

Trolley Park: No

Web Site - Remembering Frontier Village

Web Site - Edenvale Gardens

History

TicketFrontier Village was built on 49 acres in South San Jose in or around 1961 before anyone ever heard of the words, Silicon Valley and the demand for prime property and location were all the rage. I do not know who the original owners were, but it was purchased in 1973 for $4 million by Rio Grande Industries Inc. (who incidentally, also owned Arrow Development Company in Mt. View, Ca, a manufacturer of roller coaster equipment). Rio purchased the park with the hopes of becoming involved with the amusement park industry, operating a profitable business that would be able to sustain a recession, and the potential to expand as the need arose. Perhaps what made Frontier Village so unique is that is was western themed and being the only amusement park in the immediate area, there was no competition. Admission was reasonable with the option of purchasing an all day pass, or Entrance individual coupon books. It was also family oriented so parents could feel safe dropping their kids off for the day. Not to mention, where else could you be transported back in time to the wild west and see a staged gunfight and ride a stagecoach! To this day, I still remember what it was like riding on the stagecoach, whether you got to sit on top next to the driver, or inside the coach itself. As a little kid, it was a real thrill.

TicketIn 1976, Rio Grande met with competition in the form of a new amusement park called Marriott’s Great America being built in nearby Santa Clara. It was a much grander scale park that boasted exciting rides and a corkscrew, upside down loops roller coaster. Frontier Village made an attempt at trying to compete with Marriott’s by adding its own coaster, the Apache Whirlwind, but it had no drops, and only sharp turns and loop-arounds. Rio probably would have preferred to build a more larger "adult" coaster, but due to the fact that the park didn’t have the extra land available and that the other rides were mostly docile, they had to work with what they did have.

With a new competitor drawing crowds away, it was no surprise that in 1978, Frontier Village lost money and Rio Grande made their first attempt at trying to sell the park when they were hit with opposition from the bordering neighborhood to expand. There were virtually no interested buyers at any price. In early 1980 Rio Grande had hoped to make a small profit by including Hanna Barbara characters, but coupled with rising land prices in the Santa Clara County it was difficult to imagine Frontier Village remaining as an amusement park in such a prime housing development environment. Rio Grande again put it back on the market in August of the same year. They had originally planned to find a buyer that would keep the amusement park operating, but the only interested parties were that of real estate developers and investors, which only confirmed their assumption.

Frontier Village had its final showdown September 16, 1980 under the ownership of Rio Grande Industries (Denver, CO). There was a public auction and everything was sold. There are no physical remains of the park today. You can view the present Edenvale Garden Park here.

 

Auction CatalogRides and attractions

  • Duster Turnpike – cars
  • Tarantula (commonly known as Octopus)
  • Stagecoach
  • Stampede
  • Antique Autos
  • Indian Jim’s Canoes
  • Ferris Wheel
  • Old 99 Railroad
  • Spirit of Kitty Hawk (flying planes that went around in a circle)
  • Lost Dutchman Mine – Dark ride
  • Sidewinder (commonly known as Tilt-a-Whirl)
  • Round-Up
  • Burro Pack Train
  • Apache Whirlwind (added in late 70’s, it was a kiddie steel coaster)
  • Arcade
  • Skee-ball
  • Rainbow Falls Fishing
  • Last Chance Casino
  • El Sito Mysterio (a gravity challenged site where bowling balls would roll upward on a downhill curve)
  • Shooting Gallery
  • Petting Zoo Island
  • Archery
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 DO NOT COPY PHOTOS and POSTCARDS

Defunct Amusement Parks wishes to thank everyone listed above for sharing their information

Thanks to Stacy for allowing Defunct Amusement Parks to use this material.

1998 Joel W Styer. All rights reserved. Updated Thursday, March 22, 2001