Kiddieland Amusement Park
Sign at the front of Kiddieland.
|Location||Melrose Park, Illinois, U.S.|
|Owner||Family owned and operated|
|Closed||September 27, 2009|
|Operating season||April – October|
Kiddieland Amusement Park, was an amusement park located just west of Chicago 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 demolished in 2010 to make way for a new Costco store.
Kiddieland started out as a small venture of Arthur Fritz in 1929 when he purchased six ponies and offered rides as an escape for parents reeling from 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.
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 last until the park's closing. The park saw its first major expansion in the 1950s with the addition of the Little Dipper and the Carousel, both of which lasted until the park's closing. Bumper cars were added in the 1960s as they replaced the original pony ride.
The park transferred ownership in 1977, as Arthur Fritz's grandchildren took over the park and its operation. The park continued its expansion 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.
A dispute developed between Shirley and Glenn Rynes, who own the land that Kiddieland occupies, and Ronald Rynes, Jr. and Cathy and Tom Norini, who own the amusement park itself. 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. 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.
Kiddieland sign restoration
Portions of the Kiddieland sign are now visible on the outer north wall of the Melrose Park Library. A display featuring one panel of the girl figure (facing right) and boy figure (facing left) along with one side of the portion of the sign showing the Kiddieland name was erected during the summer of 2012. The red and white striped pole is a recreation created especially for the display. The Melrose Park Historical Society held a Restoration Ceremony in the library parking lot on September 28, 2012.
Kiddieland Steam Engine Visit
On April 14, 2016, the Kiddieland steam engine visited Melrose Park. Coming from Hesston Steam Museum, the crew took the engine back to visit its home, Kiddieland (Costco). After some other stops in Melrose Park, the train ended its route at the Melrose Park Library. Guests were invited to come to the parking lot where the sign is to take pictures with the sign and the engine. Guests had a chance to get into the train cab, toot the whistle, and have their picture taken. The event had well over 100 people. From 5:30-6:30, snow cones, popcorn, and cotton candy were served. People stayed all day sharing their memories from visiting, working there, and just living in the area and passing Kiddieland. The Kiddieland sign lit up for the day with new lights installed. The event was a success.
List of defunct rides and attractions
|Ride||Year opened||Year closed||Description|
|Ferris Wheel||1940||2009||Now located at Neil's Dutch Village. A windmill has been constructed onto the ferris wheel making it the "Harry's Windmill Ride."|
|Galleon||1986||2009||Purchased by Gilligan's Wonderland Pier. No exact location except for the New Jersey area.|
|German Carousel||1962||2009||Located in Georgia for a buyer. Last seen on eBay.|
|Kiddieland Sign||1950||2009||Now located at the Melrose Park Library. The sign still lights up.|
|Kiddieland Limited||1941||2009||14 in (356 mm) gauge miniature railway. Had 2 steam locomotives. One a 4-6-4 Hudson built in 1941, the other a 4-8-4 Northern built in 1949. The Hudson was sold to Hesston Steam Museum in the 1980s. The Northern stayed at Kiddieland until 2009. Also had 2 diesel locomotives built from 1950-53. Both remained at Kiddieland until 2009. The diesels and the Northern were purchased by Bill McEnery of Gas City in 2009. Diesel locomotives were in storage in Homer Glen, IL. The Northern, now reunited with the Hudson, was leased by McEnery to the Hesston Steam Museum in Hesston, IN and operated in the 2010 and 2011 seasons. Following the bankruptcy of Gas City and McEnery, all equipment that was sold to McEnery in 2009, including the diesels and the Northern, was put up for sale. The Northern was purchased by Hesston Steam Museum but waits to operate again as it is in need of repair. The diesels have since disappeared. It is unknown if they were sold and what their current location is but if the locomotives were located Hesston Steam Museum has said that they would like to purchase them.
|Midge-O-Racers||1954||2009||Now located at Santa's Village Azoosment Park|
|Lava Run Hand Cars||1950||1984||Now located at Nelis' Dutch Village in Holland, Michigan.|
|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.|
|Little Ferris Wheel||1951||2009|
|Log Jammer||1992||2009||Now located at Little Amerricka in Wisconsin. Waiting to be rebuilt. Hope to be put up for the summer of 2016.|
|Merry-Go-Round||1949||2009||In storage at a warehouse waiting for a potential buyer.|
|Scooters||1962||2009||Being shipped to another country. One is staying in the USA in California|
|Scrambler||1966||2009||Now located at Gilligan's Wonderland Pier with same name and same look.|
|Umbrella Rides (Space Age Ride)||1966||2009||Now located at Santa's Village AZoosment Park.|
|Volcano Play Center||1984||2009|
|Whip||1938||2009||Now located at Santa's Village AZoosment Park as the Kiddie Whip Ride.|
- Kara Spak (2009-05-20). "Kiddieland, Chicago area's oldest amusement park, to close". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2009-05-20.
- Staff (2009-05-20). "Family feud closing kids amusement park". Chicago Breaking News Center. Retrieved 2009-05-20.
- "Kiddieland coming down". Sun-Times Media, LLC. Retrieved 2010-07-26.[dead link]
- Vikki Ortiz Healy. "Kiddieland auctions off rides; carousel sells for $355K" Chicago Breaking News Center. Retrieved 2009-11-24.
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