Pre-Beverly Center amusement park detailed in new book


With the holiday shopping season in full swing it's easy to picture crowds of people swarming the Beverly Center. But before the mall's eight stories of shops and restaurants opened in 1982, people were swarming the area for a much different reason.

"There used to be a small, little amusement park called Beverly Park," said author Jay Jennings. "It was very popular. All the movie stars and celebrities would all take their kids there because it was close to the studio."

Jennings is the author of the book "Beverly Park: L.A.'s Kiddieland, 1943-74." It's an amusement park that pre-dates Disneyland and may have actually provided Walt Disney a little inspiration.

"Walt Disney, when he was coming up with Disneyland, he would come here to Beverly Park in the mid-'40s with his two daughters and he would watch the kids on the rides and see their reactions," said Jennings.

And Beverly Park was no stranger to Hollywood. Jennings say a long list of movies and TV shows were filmed there, including the TV sitcom "Bewitched." But the little girl who played "Tabitha" says nope -- it never happened.

"We didn't film at Beverly Park, we filmed at another amusement park, so I think I've kind of dispelled that myth," said Erin Murphy, the actress who played "Tabitha."

Murphy says she still has fond memories of Beverly Park, a place she would often visit after her day shooting "Bewitched" would end.

"After shooting days, grownups would go out for a drink, I'd go out for a pony ride," said Murphy.

But Beverly Park's days of entertaining kids would end just short of 30 years in 1974. The city tore down the rides, and up went the Beverly Center.

"The '50 and '60s and '70s were much more innocent," said Jennings. "For no more than $3 or $4, a family could spend the day, have hot dogs, popcorn, cotton candy, and just have a fun time."

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