What Happened to Inkie?

Inkie Structure
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If you’re wondering where Inkie has gone, fear not! The steel and aluminum version of our huggable park mascot is alive and well — just having a little checkup and makeover. We want to make sure our beloved octopus is in tip top condition and remains so for decades to come.

Inkie, the giant octopus sculpture that normally graces the entranceway to Pacific Park, was installed in 1996 as part of the park’s original concept. With its huge, graceful tentacles that provide shade for guests over the oceanfront food court, Inkie quickly became a Pier landmark. Many of the park’s thrilling rides are even named after the cute creature, including Inkie’s Scrambler (a 12-car fast-paced swirling ride), Inkie’s Wave Jumper (a pier-top bouncing surf ride), and Inkie’s Air Lift, which combines the movements of a teacup ride and a hot air balloon race.

At night, the Inkie sculpture and the Pacific Park sign change colors under different lights, making them a treat for photographers. During the Christmas season, Inkie has even been known to don a Santa hat. The record-breaking red floppy hat that Inkie wore in 2012 was 18 feet tall and 26 feet in circumference, and weighed 150 pounds! It was considered the largest Santa hat in Southern California at the time, and boasted 40 feet of fabric.

Keeping Inkie in Top-Top Shape

Over the years we’ve made changes, upgrades, and improvements to Inkie and the iconic Pacific Park entrance, including the changes to its façade and the removal of the “fins” on Inkie’s tentacles.

During a routine inspection in 2022, we discovered an increase in paint spalling and surface rust, so we ordered a more thorough inspection. This type of specialist construction work was in high demand all through 2023 due to the unprecedented rainstorms that plagued the Pacific Coast.

In the winter of 2024, Inkie the octopus was painstakingly removed, tentacle by tentacle, from the pier and transferred to an offsite inspection site. Specialists are now carrying out a thorough inspection of the structure, inside and out. Once Inkie and its 8 tentacles are given the all-clear, it’ll undergo an intensive rehabilitation to replace all the joints and fasteners. We will also be removing 28 years of paint, so the steel structure can be sanded, galvanized, and repainted before returning to its beloved Santa Monica home for reconstruction.

In the meantime, you can still take great photos with Pacific Park’s iconic entryway sign. We’ve recently completed a total refresh of these famous neon letters, including painting and re-gassing the neon tubes.

Inkie the Cuddly Mascot

It was 1999 when Pacific Park introduced the cuddly version of Inkie: a lovable, huggable and memorable octopus mascot to the two-acre amusement park. Standing more than six feet tall, Inkie can be seen wearing a signature purple costume that features a big smile, giant bright eyes, large tentacles, and a colorful baseball cap with the Pacific Park logo. Even today, cuddly Inkie greets guests, event attendees and families throughout the Park and serves as Pacific Park’s ambassador to many civic, community and non-profit programs.

The Origin of Inkie’s Home: Santa Monica Pier and Pacific Park

There would be no Inkie without Pacific Park amusment park, and there would be no Pacific Park without the Santa Monia Pier! Together, they now welcome more than 10 million visitors each year.

The historic Santa Monica Pier was opened on September 9, 1909. It became an instant success and attracted thousands of visitors for its unique oceanfront views. Entrepreneur Charles Looff, who built Coney Island’s first carousel in Brooklyn, New York, recognized its potential as a momentous attraction. He soon began construction on an adjacent pier known as the “pleasure pier” (also called Newcomb Pier) for use as an amusement park. The two piers are now both considered part of Santa Monica Pier.

Upon completion, Looff’s Pier featured the monumental Hippodrome building, which housed vintage merry-go-rounds, Wurlitzer organs, the Blue Streak Racer wooden roller coaster, the Whip and Aerospace thrill rides, and a funhouse.

Looff’s Pier flourished in the 1920s but faded during the Great Depression. During the 1930s most of the pier was closed down and its attractions sold off. Even the pier’s famous La Monica Ballroom, which was the site of many first-time national radio and television broadcasts, eventually closed its doors.

Despite changes in ownership and operation, the popularity of both piers continued to deteriorate, and finally, in the early 1970s, the Santa Monica City Council ordered their demolition.

Saving the Pier, and the Dawn of Pacific Park

In response to the Council’s decision, Santa Monica residents joined together to fight for the survival of the piers. They developed a “Save Our Pier Forever” campaign, which resulted in the City creating the Pier Restoration Corporation to oversee restoration efforts. The Hippodrome building and carousel were designated a U.S. National Historic Landmark in 1975.

Improvements continued, including the building of a new concrete substructure to add strength and stability to the Pier. In 1989, the Pier Restoration Corporation decided to make the pier a year-round commercial development with amusement rides, gift shops, and nightclubs with live entertainment and restaurants — all reminiscent of its heyday in the 1920s and 1930s.

Finally, on May 26, 1996, Pacific Park opened to the public, becoming the first amusement park on the Pier since 1930. And Inkie was right there with us, overlooking the entrance.

 

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