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Wildcat Rollercoaster at the Fairyland Park. 1964.
|Location||Kansas City, Missouri, U.S.|
|Owner||The Brancato family (1923-1977)|
|Roller coasters||3 (at peak)|
Fairyland Park was an amusement park, located at 7501 Prospect Avenue, Kansas City, Missouri. The park operated from 1923 to 1977, at which time it was closed due to lack of attendance to the park and storm damage in late 1977.
Marcia Brancato Accurso's grandfather, Salvatore “Sam” Brancato, a Sicilian immigrant and blacksmith by trade, came to the United States in 1896. After settling in Kansas City, he went into the grocery business, then began buying up real estate. He opened Fairyland Park in 1923. It would be in the family until its closing in 1977. The park was segregated until 1964, when blacks were first allowed to attend the park. Admission to blacks came only after protest marches, demonstrations and arrests for blocking the entrance. Admission cost to the park was kept low (25 cents by 1971). A storm in late 1977, which by some accounts was 'a wind storm', and by others 'a tornado', caused extensive damage to the park. This, combined with the nearby park Worlds of Fun caused the venerable park to shutter for good.
During the 1950s and 1960s, Fairyland boasted 3 roller coasters, an 8 story ferris wheel, a swimming pool, bumper cars, a shooting range, and even a petting zoo at one time. Fairyland and its owners tried a number of gimmicks throughout their later days trying to compete with the newer and shinier Worlds of Fun. In 1967, knowing of the new park under construction, The Brancato family commissioned the construction of a new roller coaster, The Wildcat, in 1967. It would not be enough. The Wildcat was the park's biggest ride, and helped the park stay competitive. Other promotions included advertising saying "Where "Fun" is Still Affordable", keeping their admission at fifty cents while Worlds of Fun was charging five dollars, in addition to parking.
With attendance dwindling, the park suffered major storm damage in the winter of 1977-1978, and never re-opened. Whether or not the park really was damaged was always questioned, with some believing the park was just deciding to shut down and needing a reason. The Brancato family tried unsuccessfully to redevelop The Fairyland parcel as many things after the park closed, a swap meet and a zoo were mentioned. But in the end, the park would never again entertain guests.
After the park's closure
The park sat closed from 1978 and the ruins of it still stood as late as 1998. American Coaster Enthusiasts lobbied for years to save The Wildcat roller coaster and get it moved, keeping it on their SBNO list (Standing But Not Operating Coasters). Then, in 1989, the roller coaster, which stood at Fairyland abandoned for 11 years, was finally dismantled and moved piece by piece to Frontier City where it still operates today. A small plaque in the waiting area indicated the history of the ride. The remaining land was finally developed in the early part of the 21st century, with the sad crumpled remains of the park finally getting hauled off in 2004.
The land comprising the park, as of 2008, is still identified as 'Fairyland Park' in Google Maps. The original plot was bordered by Prospect Avenue to the west, 75th Street to the north, 77th Street to the south, and Indiana Avenue to the east. Alphapointe Association for the Blind bought a substantial portion of the property and constructed the Life Skills Campus which serves as its headquarters. The address of the headquarters is 7501 Prospect Avenue. 7.5 of the 80 acres (320,000 m2) of Fairyland Park have been purchased by the city of Kansas City, to build a new police station.
The land the park stood on was eventually bisected by Bruce R. Watkins Drive (U.S. Route 71) during the 1990s. Satchel Paige Elementary School is on Fairyland Park land east of U.S. route 71.
- Ziegler, Laura. "Years Ago, Summer Meant (Almost) Everyone Headed To Fairyland Park". kcur.org. Retrieved June 4, 2014.