SAN DIEGO (NEWS 8) — As many know, San Diego has its fair share of attractions for locals and tourists alike. In addition to beautiful weather and picturesque beaches, America’s Finest City is home to places like the world-famous San Diego Zoo, Legoland California, and the Giant Dipper Roller Coaster in Belmont Park.
These News 8 throwback clips explore these spots – and more - through the years.
From the cost of feeding the zoo animals in 1978 to the grand opening of the first Legoland outside Europe in 1999, grab your ticket and let’s take a roller coaster ride through the past 40+ years of San Diego attractions.
Twenty years ago this week, on March 20, 1999, Legoland California opened its gates for the first time in the Carlsbad area of North County San Diego. Kids and parents turned out in droves to check out the brand-new theme park and News 8's Kathy Chin spoke to Lego fans big and small about their favorite parts.
The world-famous San Diego Zoo was preparing for some special arrivals in the spring on 1981 and News 8 was there to find out more. Reporter Ann Shaw spoke with zoo officials about the impending addition of seven koalas from Australia. The zoo had spent $36,000 expanding facilities for the new koalas so they would feel right at home.
In the summer of 1998, News 8's Kathy Chin reported from Belmont Park in San Diego where 22 thrill-seekers were aboard the Giant Dipper Roller Coaster competing for $50,000. The contest by radio station 100.7 had evolved over the years and this iteration included having the riders stay on the roller coaster overnight with no pillows or blankets.
News 8's Dave Cohen reported from the San Diego Zoo in the fall of 1978 with facts and figures related to the costs of running the world-famous attraction. Dave was astounded to learn that $325,000 a year went to feeding the animals at the zoo while another $275,000 each year was spent on food for the animals at the San Diego Wild Animal Park (now known as the San Diego Zoo Safari Park). 40 years later, News 8 reached out to the zoo for updated numbers, which have gone up just a bit. Their estimates for animal food expenses in 2019 were $1.5 million at the San Diego Zoo and $2.2 million for the San Diego Zoo Safari Park!
In the spring of 2006, News 8 got a preview of the latest happenings at SeaWorld San Diego. Reporter Heather Lucas shared info on new features coming to the park including an orca show called "Believe." The park celebrated its 55th anniversary on March 21, 2019.