That’s Danny the Dragon. The most famous member of Happy Hollow Park & Zoo.
The playground here is awesome. It would have been my favorite when I was growing up. I definitely spent many happy hours at Happy Hollow exploring as a kid but this playground is new since the recent renovation. My kids love it. Well, they love the whole park. If I just follow them around they can spend the entire day here happily… which is what we did on our most recent visit.
They still put on daily puppet shows! With actual puppets. They even do scenery changes during the plays. I took these plays for granted growing up and I am grateful that kids today will continue to have the same opportunity to see this kind of creativity and performance as a normal thing. They can, perhaps like myself, find the time to reflect and be grateful for places and experiences like these when they are older.
Danny the Dragon is an original member of the park from 1961 and was designed and built by the same bay area guys who built most of the famous rides you will think of when you think of Disneyland, among other theme parks. If you look close you can see that Danny the Dragon does not have tracks on the ground to roll on. One of several innovations at the time, Danny the Dragon drives himself by following the invisible electro-magnetic field pulsing along a wire buried underground in the concrete. You can look up more about Arrow Development on the internet but some of their other famous rides from the first years of Disneyland include Dumbo, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, Autopia, Matterhorn, It’s a Small World, and Pirates of the Caribbean. They did many rides for other places around the country including several local attractions like Great America in Santa Clara, Children’s Fairyland in Oakland, and the Beach Boardwalk in Santa Cruz. One ride they made for Alum Rock Park in San Jose, years before Happy Hollow existed, was a merry go round. That same merry go round later moved to join Danny the Dragon at Happy Hollow Park where you can ride it today.
This beautiful bridge takes you to and from the Happy Hollow entrance over the Coyote Creek.
The renovations added lots of cool features, some subtle, many obvious, and many having to do with preservation and careful use of resources. The walk way above is an example of a pretty use of recycled materials. Something else I appreciate about this park is the incredible number of trees. It really is an impressive place for children to explore and adults to appreciate.