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Magic Mountain, Memories From the 80s and 90s.

Remember Magic Mountain the theme park at Glenelg that opened in 1982? Strangely, it was never a major tourist attraction to the area but was very popular with locals who loved the rides, especially the giant water slides, said to be the largest in the southern hemisphere at the time.

Photo from the Holdfast Bay History Centre. Magic  Mountain was likened to a 'giant dog dropping'.

Photo from the Holdfast Bay History Centre. Magic Mountain was likened to a ‘giant dog dropping’.

One of the main criticisms was that it looked like a “giant dog dropping”. Regardless of how it was seen by its critics, thousands flocked there, especially during the summer school holidays to ride the slides and enjoy all its other attractions which included  the historic carousel (which has been preserved), mini golf, bumper boats, dodgem cars, sky cycles, pinball machines, rifle shooting gallery and the video arcade games.

Matt Bubner recalled how he and his friends would ‘hang out in the bay car park at the end of Anzac Highway, meet at Magic Mountain and play all the 20c arcade machines including Midway, 1942, Xevious, Pinballs. We did that for many hours in the old wave shape building down there, and get a pie and iced coffee from the caravan-type outlet in the car park. I was 17 in 1988 and we knew how to have good clean fun, without anyone worrying where we were or when we’d be home”.

John Davies reminisced “My friends and I used to spend every weekend we could afford it there. We’d catch a bus from Athelstone to the city, then the tram to Glenelg. Spend the day at Magic Mountain, and then catch a movie at the cinema, before catching the last tram and bus home.”

And Katrina Rowe wrote “I loved Magic Mountain as a teenager and used to hang around there all the time with my friends, we were too busy having fun to notice if it was “ugly” or not”!

The Holdfast Shores development plan was first signed in 1997 and included multi storied apartment blocks, a hotel and other development and in effect marked the end of Magic Mountain.

Thousands flocked there, especially during the summer school holidays to ride the slides and enjoy all its other attractions

Thousands flocked there, especially during the summer school holidays to ride the slides and enjoy all its other attractions

According to Wikipedia “there was a public-opinion survey in the lead-up to the May 2003 local government elections which, because of the popularity of Magic Mountain, caused the council to rethink its support of the new plan. Their new-found opposition to the proposed beachfront high-rise apartments focused on Magic Mountain as the one parcel of land within the project that was under their control.

The council’s campaign was ultimately unsuccessful and the development received Government approval in early 2004. Magic Mountain closed for the last time on 18 July 2004 and was demolished soon after. The new development included construction of The Beachouse, replacing Magic Mountain, which opened on 1 July 2006.

People still miss it though, even after 10 years. It was part of being a teenager in the 80s and 90s in Adelaide, represented good clean fun and offered a safe environment.

One of the great urban myths that circulated for years about Magic Mountain was that some kids were badly injured when vandals crept in one night and attached upturned razor blades with blue tack, along the slides. However the story was found not to be true.


19 Responses to Magic Mountain, Memories From the 80s and 90s.

  1. Zak Hammat October 19, 2014 at 6:38 pm #

    I never thought of it as a “giant dog dropping”, nor did I ever think it looked like such an ugly thing, I only ever went there once which was the beginning of 2004 before it’s closure, I never heard about any injuries at all which happened there and the same applies to today’s The Beachhouse

  2. Colin Penney October 20, 2014 at 8:10 am #

    Did not “Pier Street” Glenelg join the Esplanade at where our “Scenic Railway” (or ‘Big Dipper’) was constructed on the sand, before it became bankrupt and sold off, finding its way to Sydney’s Luna Park,?

  3. Colin Penney October 20, 2014 at 8:21 am #

    ” Your comment is awaiting moderation. ” I have no idea what you are dictating me to do,

  4. Penny English October 20, 2014 at 11:27 am #

    I grew up with magic mountain was there every Thursday night and weekends and most days on the summer holidays have the best memories of the sky cycle bumper boats dodgem cars put put I have been to the beach house a few times with my kids and yes maybe it’s more modern a bit more fancy definatley more expensive but magic mountain had two more slides five all together they were much longer they were packed so better atmosphere putt putt was bigger.
    Loved magic mountain and glenelg treasure the memories. Best hang out on the 80s early 90s

  5. Simon Watkins October 21, 2014 at 1:16 pm #

    Anyone remember the “Riot” that started in the park after a concert and spread to Magic Mountains carpark?

    • ben tucker October 21, 2014 at 7:35 pm #

      the riot was at the “real life” concert in colley reserve, i was a teenage local hanging out there and the police locked us into magic mountain to keep us safe. never been another big concert at the bay since!

    • Paul Stanley September 8, 2023 at 1:25 am #

      The original Magic Mountain was awesome!
      As far as water slides, it was probably the best in the country. I’ve tried a few & non come close to Magic Mountains ‘awesomeness’, even Wild Wadi in Dubai was not as awesomely FAST as the old Magic Mountain. The whole establishment was just fun fun FUN. Gotta say it’s replacement is just lame. I went on the new slides with my son and it was dull & boring. Never bothered going back there. Glenelg should of left it as it was.

  6. Lynne Boothey October 22, 2014 at 4:34 am #

    I thought that Magic Mountain was the most ugly structure out. It was supposed to look like a sand dune – replacing what would have been there originally. The bits of vegetation they stuck on the sides was a disgrace and made it look plastic. It replaced some of my favourite rides. When necessary, after school, I’d catch the tram to my dentist at Glenelg, meet my mom and then as a treat she would take me to play the penny slots, ride on the dodgems and bucking horses – well before Magic Mountain.

  7. Michael Wallace November 3, 2014 at 2:43 pm #

    My first ever job was when I was in year 10 at school in 1983. Best job I’ve ever had…dogem cars, bumper boats and skycycles. Used to catch a bus and tram each way, all for $5 per hour. Great memories

  8. Peter H December 14, 2014 at 3:46 am #

    Who cared what it looked like from a distance, as a kid it was just fun to go there with your friends. The Beachouse just isn’t the same.

  9. Anthony L January 5, 2015 at 9:12 pm #

    i spent many a summer at the mountain, and can confirm the issues with the razor blades were not a rumour. I was there when one of the first people were hurt and it put myself and many of my friends off the slide. The advertiser reported on the incident, so it should be possible to get proof. Ahh the was still a buzz..

  10. David Sarkies January 7, 2016 at 8:15 pm #

    Great post. I remember Magic Mountain, and the razor blade story, but only ever got to go there a couple of times (usually for the dodgem boat and mini golf). I tried out the new ‘Beach House’ but I have to admit that it is not the same. I linked this post from my website.

  11. paul s February 29, 2016 at 10:31 pm #

    Hi I actually worked as a steel fixer on the building of magic mountain back in the 80s. i remember walking the steel girders with no safety harnesses etc and covering the frame with stainless steel mesh ready to be sprayed with a concrete looking material that hardened into the finished shape that people saw . The view was great from the top whilst we had lunch and in summer the atmosphere at the bay was great.. Funny though i was reading an article in today advertiser about the spaceship building in Melbourne st back in the 70s.and it brought back memories of working at my parents car wash on the corner opposite the old lion hotel does anybody remember this as it was the first automatic car wash in Adelaide i think . I have some old black and white photos of it . what memories i have of working there on a Saturday to earn some extra cash.

  12. JTM June 23, 2016 at 2:59 pm #

    loved that place. My ol man was the tchnician there from 84 to 85/6. I used to hang out there most w/ends & after school. Why not, got the lot for free lol. Wow memories & I can confirm on the razor blades on the water slides.

    • Paul June 18, 2019 at 6:47 pm #

      What was his name. Trying to jog my memory as I worked there in 85/86. I suspect it was your dad that gave me a “promotion” in 85

  13. Katy Goddard August 24, 2019 at 1:17 am #

    Does anyone remember the ride that spins you around almost like the scrambler but it was inside and it looked like you were inside an aquarium? All ocean themed. It had this dope song that I can hear right now but I don’t remember what it’s called. Like a slow motion techno song.

  14. nic September 1, 2020 at 12:35 am #

    Hey, I’ve been trying to track this phot down and its been cool learning about it, but does anyone know about the exact year this photo was taken?


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