Kiddieland Amusement Park
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Sign at the front of Kiddieland.
|Location||Melrose Park, Illinois, U.S.|
|Owner||Family owned and operated|
|Closed||September 27, 2009|
|Operating season||May – September|
Kiddieland Amusement Park 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.
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 left) and boy figure (facing right) 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 Re-visit
On April 14, 2016, the Hesston Steam Museum brought the Kiddieland steam engine back to Chicago for a day of memories. The engine re-visited its' original home (Costco) and traveled to other spots through-out Melrose Park and then ended at the Melrose Park Library. Guests were able to take pictures with the engine along with the Kiddieland sign, which was lit up as a back-drop for pictures. Guests also got the chance to toot the engines' whistle. Popcorn and cotton candy were served to evoke Kiddieland.
Kiddieland Facebook Page and Committee
In the fall of 2015, the "Kiddieland: Gone But Never Forgotten" Facebook page was published. Former guests, employees, and residents of Melrose Park have joined, now totaling over 3,000 members. The group has also established an official Kiddieland committee. The committee now works once a month to work on projects to keep the legacy of the park alive. To be a part of the Kiddieland Facebook page, you can join by clicking the link below. https://www.facebook.com/groups/Kiddieland/
List of rides and attractions
|Ride||Year opened||Year closed||Description|
|Tractors||1958||1988||5 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 green (John Deere), red (International) and yellow (Allis-Chalmers). Tractors were not sold at the closing auction. Family kept one and the whereabouts of 3 more are currently known (2 John Deere, 1 International).|
|Ferris Wheel||1940||Now located at Neli's Dutch Village. A windmill has been constructed onto the ferris wheel making it the "Harry's Windmill Ride."|
|Galleon||1986||Now located in Edaville, Massachusetts. Will be set up for the 2017 summer.|
|German Carousel||1962||Located in Georgia, currently looking for a buyer. Last seen on eBay.|
|Kiddieland Sign||1950||Now located at the Melrose Park Library.|
|Kiddieland Limited||1941||14 in (356 mm) gauge miniature railway. Had 2 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. Kiddieland also had 2 diesel locomotives which were 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. The diesel locomotives were held in storage in Homer Glen, IL. The Northern, which has now been reunited with the Hudson, was leased by McEnery to the Hesston Steam Museum in Hesston, IN and operated for 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 and it is unknown if they were sold or what their current location is; however, if the locomotives were to be located, the 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|
|Mushroom Ride||1979||2009||Now located at Lake Winnie, Georgia|
|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.|
|Polyp||1967||2009||Now located at Lake Winnie, Georgia with the Mushroom ride.|
|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.|
|Tilt-A-Whirl||1962||2009||Now located at FunPlex in Mount Laurel NJ|
|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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