After announcing plans last summer, Long Beach resident Patricio Wolovich and his crew of creatives are quickly moving forward on El Dorado Frontier, a mini-theme park housed inside the city’s largest park.
The space inside El Dorado Park was already home to the 18-gauge train that has been carrying imaginative and curious passengers for 25 years. Previously dubbed Caboose Corner, the newly designed station is now dubbed the Ruvolo Valley Train Station.
Since his acquisition of a special lease from the City of Long Beach to take over and manage the space, which has already hosted a pumpkin patch during Halloween as well as Mr. and Mrs. Claus during the holidays while work continues on the expansion.
Wolovich took over the train operations from father-and-son team Tony and Greg Ruvolo, the pair who originally refurbished the train. The train was built in 1946, but after the duo discovered it in a yard in Colton, it took them eight years to refurbish it and lay down the track that currently exists at El Dorado Park.
Wolovich wants to take that spirit and elevate it, with his own hands.
“I’m a detail-oriented person, through and through. Tony and Greg really laid the groundwork that would have been extremely difficult to create from scratch, today,” Wolovich told the Post last year. “While I’m not building something as grandiose as Disneyland—I don’t need or want to build something like that—I do appreciate details, and I’ll even admit I spend money on those details. I understand we have to generate revenue, but I want people to be able to see things and experience things that were otherwise not here.”
Still, like Disneyland, Wolovich uses the train’s track as a boundary to his park. His team has been working almost daily since July of last year to create what he hopes to be an experiential and educational enclave that focuses on California and Long Beach history, with a bit of fantasy.
“We specialize in animatronics so we will have a giant, animatronic tree, The Golden Oak, that will specialize in telling stories to kids,” Wolovich said.
Add onto this a carousel, one of the first big features to arrive, and a mini Main Street filled with places to hang out, eat and drink, and you have yourself the El Dorado Frontier. A full grand opening date has yet to be determined, though Wolovich encourages visitors to stop by continuously as the project is a constant “work in progress” in terms of updates.
El Dorado Frontier is within the northern portion of El Dorado Park, located at 7550 E. Spring St.Brian Addison is a columnist and editor for the Long Beach Post. Reach him at [email protected] or on social media at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
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