Photos: Bitter Lake’s Playland brought amusement to Seattle from 1930 to ’60s

The amusement park on the shores of Bitter Lake lasted for three decades.

Seattle Times photo staff

Playland opened on the shores of Bitter Lake in May 1930 as an amusement park for all of Seattle to enjoy. The million-dollar amusement park was marketed as being only a 15-minute drive from home.

On May 22, 1930, The Seattle Daily Times previewed the park before the opening weekend. The purpose of the park was “the banishment of jaded nerves, nagging thoughts and worries, and to supplying instead wholesome recreation and relaxation.”

The park was open daily in the summer through September, and the first year admission was 10 cents, while children under 12 could get in for free. Free parking for 12,000 visitors was available. People could also take the streetcar to 85th and Greenwood and transfer to the Everett interurban railway, which went to the park entrance.

Attractions included The Dipper, The Giant Whirl, The Bug, The Frolic, Mystery House, Fun House, a merry-go-round, a miniature railway, Dodgem bumper cars, the Red Bug car-racing course, a dancing pavilion, The Old Mill, the Rabbit Racer, the Hoba Hoba and many more.

The Dipper was marketed as Playland’s greatest thriller. The Times article had this description of the wooden rollercoaster:

“One of the longest and fastest rides in the history of the amusement world, its long track is full of reverse curves, 60-degree banks, bumps, twists, stunts and one virtual somersault. The highest point of the Dipper heralds almost a sheer drop of 55 feet, where the cars will attain an approximate velocity of 100 miles an hour.”

On Aug. 18, 1953, three rides and several buildings were destroyed by a fire. Among the losses was Playland’s iconic Dipper rollercoaster.

By the end of the 1961 season rides were removed and the park closed permanently.

The Seattle Parks Department cleared away abandoned structures on the Playland property that same year, as result of Parks and Seattle Public…

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