Kiddieland Amusement Park – Wikipedia

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Former amusement park in Melrose Park, Illinois, United States

The top of one of the carousels before the park closed.

Kiddieland Amusement Park (stylized as “KiDDieLAND“) was an amusement park located at the corner of North Avenue and First Avenue in Melrose Park, Illinois. It was home to several classic rides including the Little Dipper roller coaster, which opened in 1950. The park closed on September 27, 2009, and was demolished in 2010 to make way for a new Costco store. The sign for the amusement park was relocated to the Melrose Park Public Library, where it can be seen in the parking lot.

History[edit]

Kiddieland started out as a small venture of Arthur Fritz, a local builder and contractor, in 1929 when he purchased six ponies and offered rides to local children. He realized parents would often save a few pennies in order to provide their children entertainment during the Great Depression. Miniature gasoline-powered cars were added a few years later after Fritz learned that they were being given away to children by a Chicago newspaper as a subscription promotion. By the 1930s, Fritz was calling his collection of amusements Kiddieland; the attractions were primarily sized and geared towards younger children.

In 1940, the German Carousel, two miniature steam locomotives, the Little Auto Ride, the Roto Whip and the Ferris wheel were added. The Roto Whip and Ferris wheel would remain as rides until the park’s closing. The park saw its first major expansion in the 1950s with the addition of the Little Dipper and the merry-go-round. Fritz’s adult children also became more involved in the park at this time. The 1960s saw bumper cars replace the original pony ride, as well as the unexpected death of Fritz in 1967.[1]

The park transferred ownership in 1977, as three of Fritz’s grandchildren took over the park and its operation. The park continued its expansion over the next several decades and installed several major attractions, including a Log flume, a swinging pirate ship, a 40-foot (12 m) long water coaster, and numerous other attractions.

Closure[edit]

A dispute developed between Shirley and Glenn Rynes, who owned the land that Kiddieland occupied, and Ronald Rynes, Jr. and Cathy and Tom Norini, who owned the amusement park itself.[2] The landowners sued the park owners in 2004, claiming that the park had an improper insurance policy and that fireworks were prohibited in the lease. The case was thrown out in a Cook County court and later in an appeals court. The landowners declined to extend the lease on the land in early 2009.[2][3] In late June 2010, it was announced that Kiddieland would be demolished, nine months after the park closed to the public. A Costco store now occupies the land.[4]

Image gallery[edit]

Rides and Attractions[edit]

Ride Year opened Year closed Description
Boats 1949 2009
Tractors 1958 1988 Five gas-powered tractors could be driven between guardrails (not on tracks) by children with an optional standing platform in back for adults. Tractors were painted two green to represent John Deere, three red to represent International Harvester and one yellow to represent Allis-Chalmers. Tractors were not sold at the closing auction. The family kept one; as of 2020 Thoosie Rocco Casella owns another; some additional trucks were located at a private collector’s house when the Kiddieland firetrucks were resecued in 2022.
Dune Buggies 1971 2009
Large Ferris Wheel 1940 2009 Relocated to Nelis’ Dutch Village. It was combined with a reproduction of the de Grosmolen windmill in Hoogmade, Netherlands and renamed Harry’s Windmill Ride.[5]
Flying Saucers 1966 2009
Galleon 1986 2009 Supposedly relocated to Edaville Family Theme Park in Carver, Massachusetts. However, it has not been seen in the park.
German Carousel 1962 2009 Special ordered by Fritz for Kiddieland [6]
Kiddie Swings 2008 2009
Kiddieland Limited Steam Engines 1941 & 1949 2009 A 14 in (356 mm) gauge miniature railway with two steam locomotives. One, a 4-6-4 Hudson, was built in 1941 and the other, a 4-8-4 Northern, was built in 1949. The Hudson was sold to Hesston Steam Museum in the 1980s. The Northern stayed at Kiddieland until 2009 and was bought by Bill McEnery of Gas City. The Northern was leased by McEnery to the Hesston Steam Museum in Indiana and operated for the 2010 and 2011 seasons. The Northern was purchased outright by the Museum after McEnery filed for bankruptcy.
Kiddieland Limited Diesel Engines 1953 2009 Two diesel-powered engines built between 1950 and 1953. The diesels have disappeared from public knowledge since the park closed and it is unknown if they were sold or scrapped.
Midge-O-Racers 1954 2009 Now located at Santa’s Village AZoosment Park
Mushroom Ride 1979 2009 Relocated to Lake Winnepesaukah in Rossville, Georgia, renamed Silly Saucers.[7]
Lava Run Hand Cars 1950 1984 Relocated to Nelis’ Dutch Village in Holland, Michigan and renamed Petal Pumper Cars.
Little Autos 1939 1954 Replaced with Midge-O-Racers
Little Dipper 1950 2009 Designed by Herbert Schmeck and built by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company in 1950. The brakes are operated manually by a wooden handle in the station. The out-and-back coaster is 24 feet (7.3 m) tall and travels a course of 700 feet (210 m). It was awarded the ACE Coaster Classic award by the American Coaster Enthusiasts. The ride was relocated to Six Flags Great America after Kiddieland’s closure.[8]
Little Ferris Wheel 1951 2009 With a private collector at a barn in Northern IL.
Log Jammer 1992 2009 Being relocated to Santa’s Village AZoosment Park after sitting in storage at Wisconsin’s Little Amerricka. Will reopen as Yule Tide Plunge in 2022.
Merry-Go-Round 1949 2009 Relocated to Sonny’s Place in Somers, Connecticut in 2017. The hand carved horses are in the process of being restored by The Carousel Museum.[9]
Pipeline 1995 2009
Polyp 1967 2009 Relocated to Lake Winnie, Georgia from 2009 until 2020. Relocated to Indiana Beach Amusement and Water Park, in Monticello, Indiana. Now known as Sea Warrior.
Raceabouts 1982 2009
Scooters 1962 2009
Scrambler 1966 2009 Relocated to Gillians Wonderland Pier in Ocean City, New Jersey, but as of 2021 the ride is no longer on the pier or listed on the website. Current whereabouts are unknown.
Sky Fighters 1950 2009
Tilt-A-Whirl 1962 2009 Relocated to The FunPlex in Mount Laurel, New Jersey and renamed Fun-A-Whirl.
Tornado 2008 2009
Space Age Umbrella Ride 1966 2009 Relocated to Santa’s Village AZoosment Park and renamed Space Invasion.[10]
Volcano Play Center 1984 2009
Roto Whip 1938 2009 Relocated at Santa’s Village AZoosment Park.[10]
Dip N Drop 2009
Firetrucks 1959 1990s Rescued by Randy Carlson [11] and currently under refurbishment in California in 2022.
Elephant Ride 2009

References[edit]

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