Growing Up OC: Atlantis Play Center

I haven’t run a Growing Up OC article in quite a while, but have had some brewing in the back of my mind. Today my daughter’s summer day camp went to Atlantis Play Center, and since that was one of the places I loved as a kid, I was delighted to discover it is still around.

As a kid in the 70s, Atlantis Play Center seemed like a magical wonderland. It’s most memorable feature for me was the dragon slide. How could you not love that thing? It seemed like it went on for miles and miles, through bushes and under trees.

Danny the Dragon

Danny the Dragon

As I remember it, there were shrubs all along the sides of the slide and the “big kids” would run through and behind the bushes from the bottom back to the top. There were little “trails” from where the gardeners walked, raked and cleaned the falling leaves, and these always made me want to sneak around in the bushes. We would play games of hide and seek, or just hide and surprise our friends. When I was younger, I envied the big kids who would go play on those trails. When I became a big kid – maybe a whole year later? – I was so excited to do exactly that.

During construction

During construction

Here’s a great image of the dragon slide during construction of the park 51 years ago. That’s right, Atlantis Play Center is 51 years old! All I knew was that it seemed like we drove forever to get there (we didn’t) and that the park was gigantic (it wasn’t). However, it is no slouch in the space department, being placed on 4 acres in central Garden Grove, CA. We often went with the neighbor’s, Leslie & Karen, Robbie & Timmy, other kids I can’t remember. I do recall we once had a picnic next to the Viking Ship.

Land, ho!

Land, ho!

In this image, you can see in the background right the bushes that used to cover the dragon slide. This is the Atlantis of my childhood memory. These days, there are splash pads available for fun and play. The entrance fee is only $2 per person with kids under 2 free. I’m sure for kids today, as for kids of days gone by, it still inspires the imagination and generates hours of fun!

See the City of Garden Grove for more details on Atlantis Play Center, including directions & FAQs.

As a funny side note, when I was in high school I played basketball and our team played in a scrimmage up at Bolsa Grande High School, which is right across the street from Atlantis Play Center. I ended up catching a ride from this one girl who I idolized. She had a junker old car, and as we made the left turn from the school onto Westminster Blvd, she accidentally drove on top of the narrow center divider – driver’s side wheels on one side of it, passenger side wheels on the other! We laughed so hard we cried! After that, she talked to me at school and made me feel like she “saw” me, even though I was pretty much a basketball dork, lol. I’ll never forget that aspect of growing up OC either…great memories of fun times with old friends.


2 thoughts on “Growing Up OC: Atlantis Play Center

  1. We spent a number of days at this park. Jan Teys took us a couple of times. I remember lots of bushes around the slide and other areas of the park. I remember the first time I saw that park as a “grown up” and thought is seemed small for all the fun and adventures we acted out there. Its still a fun place to visit for kids. If that park could talk about some of the adventures that took pace there… Fun days.

  2. I loved Atlantis! Who didn’t, really? I don’t know why we didn’t go more often–had to wait until some lucky kid had a birthday party there, but it was magical when we did go. You absolutely had to drive for hours to get there and it was so enormous you might never find the dragon slide and the slide lasted for about 20 minutes of ride time. Gospel truth!

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