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July 18, 2024

Boardwalk’s ‘Main Entrance’ project moves forward

SANTA CRUZ — About 15 years ago, officials from the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk began looking at a project, dubbed “Centennial Plaza,” that would give the park a grand front entrance complete with more ticket booths, rides, attractions and more.

The goal was to finish it in time for the Boardwalk’s 100th anniversary in 2007. But, as park officials found out, it was a “little ambitious” to get it done in time for the centennial year, said the Boardwalk’s Executive Vice President Tom Canfield.

“We had so many dominoes that needed to fall first,” he said. “That really set the tone as to what we did.”

Those “dominoes” included infrastructure that needed to be upgraded and moved. Some departments moved into the new Haunted Castle building in 2010, and the parking lot toll booths were upgraded recently with a ticketing system.

In addition, the Boardwalk’s dispatch center and switchboard had to be moved, as the buildings that housed those would be demolished to make way for the plaza project.

Now, for the Boardwalk’s 110th year, the “Centennial Plaza,” now called the “Main Entrance” project, is becoming a reality.

The $14 million project, which broke ground in September, will include two new rides, more ticket windows, a new Fright Walk experience, two arenas for The Vault Lazer Maze and more. Despite a wet winter that slowed construction, park officials are eyeing a Memorial Day opening date, according to Canfield.

“The weather this year threw us behind the eight ball, but these guys are working hard, they’re working two shifts,” he said. “We’re doing what we can to make sure we get everything done.”

Workers arrange a set of parts for Shockwave, which is one of two new rides set to be constructed as part of the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk's Main Entrance project. Photo by Erik Chalhoub
Daniels Wood Land, Inc., a family-owned design and themeing company based in Paso Robles, is working on exterior design and themeing for games and attractions inside the Main Entrance. A number of local contractors including William S. Bagnall Architects, Slatter Construction and Nielsen Studios are also working on the project. Roto, an Ohio design firm, worked with Boardwalk staff to design the project. 

Sitting atop an expanded upper deck next to the Undertow roller coaster is Shockwave, a ride known as a Mega Disk’O that is manufactured by Italy-based Zamperla. The ride holds 24 people, who sit on motorcycle-style seats facing outward around a disc. As the disc spins, the riders will be rocked back and forth on a half-pipe-shaped track. 

“It’s a fantastic ride,” Canfield said. “Being able to put it up on top of the deck, it’s going to give it so much more appeal, so much more thrill, and it’s going to show so much better.”

Sitting in the center of the entrance plaza is a new version of a classic Boardwalk ride: Typhoon.

Manufactured by A.R.M., Typhoon will swing riders upside-down on two spinning arms, at a height of 60 feet. Unlike the original Typhoon, which was removed in 2009 to make way for Sea Swings, the new version will not enclose riders in a cage, and their legs will be able to swing freely. 

Fright Walk, Canfield said, will be about “75 percent new,” with more square footage and will take place underneath the Boardwalk. Among the other new additions will be Cruzin’ Crepes, a food stand featuring made-to-order crepes, a birthday party room and two midway games.

For information, visit beachboardwalk.com/new2017.


The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk recently announced the lineup for its Free Friday Night Bands on the Beach series.

Eddie Money, Blue Oyster Cult, Los Lobos and more will perform in the series, which runs from June 16 to Sept. 1.

Free Movies on the Beach will run Wednesdays from June 21 from Aug. 16.

For information, visit beachboardwalk.com.

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