It’s about time we talked about one of our city’s most beloved attractions that brought national attention to the great 408.
So saddle up, because we’re taking you back in time to San Jose’s long-lost amusement park — Frontier Village.
The happiest place in San Jose
Following a family trip to Disneyland in 1959, Palo Alto entrepreneur and businessman Joseph Zukin Jr. became inspired to build his own piece of magic in the great 408.
After purchasing 60 acres from a doctor who owned Hayes Mansion, he and amusement ride designer Laurie Hollings went to work to create a Western-themed park for all ages.
In October 1961, Frontier Village opened to the public — charging visitors only 25-90 cents for admission.
Cowboys, marshals, and miners, oh my
Once inside, you’d find yourself in the middle of staged gunfights between marshals + outlaws or watching Can-Can dancers from the park’s Silver Dollar Saloon waltzing around.
If you were lucky, you might have had a celebrity encounter — stars like Bing Crosby, Lorne Greene, Nat King Cole, and former vice-presidential candidate Hubert Humphrey walked through the saloon doors.
Many visitors who saw the park in its heyday claim that its success was built off of the attention to detail and accessibility — parking was always free, ticket packages were offered for every budget, and Kodak even provided free loaner cameras for park-goers who forgot them.
And the rest is history
Unfortunately, Frontier Village was short lived.
The park closed in 1980 due to the emerging Great America, and the city of San Jose’s unwillingness to fund the property’s expansion.
Today, the 19.5-acre Edenvale Garden Park sits in its place, drawing its railroad theme from the beloved Western attraction.
If you’re still reeling from its closure, we recommend joining other reminiscent fans.