Excelsior Amusement Park
|Owner||Fred W. Pearce|
|Operating season||Memorial Day through Labor Day|
Excelsior Amusement Park was an Amusement Park located on Lake Minnetonka in the town of Excelsior, Minnesota. The park, which operated from 1925 to 1973, was a popular destination for company picnics and day trips from the Twin Cities.
Inspired by Coney Island, the park's main attractions included a wooden roller coaster called the Cyclone, a Ferris wheel, bumper cars, boat rides, a fun house, and a carousel. The fun house had a gunny sack slide, a spinning disc that hurled people into a padded sidewall and a turning barrel that was nearly impossible to walk through. The carousel, built by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company, was in service for the entire duration of the park and is still in use at Valleyfair Amusement Park in Shakopee. A second ride, the Scrambler, was also saved from destruction. Contrary to widespread belief, the Cyclone roller coaster was not relocated to Valleyfair and renamed High Roller. The Cyclone was scrapped, and High Roller was designed especially for the new park.
Excelsior Amusement Park opened in 1925 and was run by Fred W. Pearce, an established amusement park operator and roller coaster builder. A streetcar line from Minneapolis brought guests to the park from Memorial Day through Labor Day until the line was closed in 1932.
Excelsior Amusement Park was very popular in the 1940s and 1950s. During the 1960s the park became a hangout for Excelsior teens and attracted crowds of young people from around the Twin Cities. Several incidents occurred in the late 1960s, some with racial overtones, and the trouble contributed to the park's eventual decline.
Danceland Ballroom at Excelsior Amusement Park hosted many well-known musical acts, including Lawrence Welk, Tommy Dorsey, the Beach Boys and the Rolling Stones. Legend has it that a visit by the Rolling Stones in June 1964 inspired the lyrics to the song You Can't Always Get What You Want. A chance meeting between Mick Jagger and local character "Mr. Jimmy" (Jimmy Hutmaker) gave rise to the story, which has never been verified.
Excelsior Amusement Park closed in 1973 and was demolished soon thereafter. The park's owners then purchased land in Scott County for a new venue. Valleyfair, which opened in Shakopee in 1976, now serves as the Twin Cities' primary amusement park. The former amusement park site is today the home of condominiums, Maynard's Restaurant and the Bayside Grille.
- Amusement parks of the Twin Cities slphistory.org. Retrieved: December 14, 2012.
- Cyclone roller coaster mndigital.org. Retrieved: September 6, 2014.
- Carousel mnhs.org. Retrieved: July 10, 2013.
- Marling, Karal Ann (1990). "Thrills and nostalgia: The amusement parks of Hennepin County". Hennepin History, vol. 49, no. 4, pp. 13–22.
- Scrambler mndigital.org. Retrieved: July 10, 2013.
- Historical Questions and Answers about Lake Minnetonka lakeminnetonkamag.com. Retrieved: July 10, 2013.
- Roller coasters built by Fred W. Pearce rcdb.com. Retrieved: December 14, 2012.
- Danceland and the Excelsior Amusement Park lakeminnetonka.com. Retrieved: December 14, 2012.
- Excelsior loses tie to rock and roll history kare11.com. Retrieved: December 14, 2012.
- Jimmy Hutmaker profile
- Amusement parks of the Twin Cities
- Excelsior Amusement Park at the Roller Coaster DataBase
- Excelsior Amusement Park at the Minnesota Historical Society.
- Excelsior Amusement Park at the Excelsior - Lake Minnetonka Historical Society.
Lake Minnetonka History