Monday, March 30, 2009

Please Keep Your Hands and Feet Inside At All Times for this My Town Monday Post

Over the years many Amarillo businesses have used a variant of this slogan "Best selection between Dallas and Denver." Best selection, biggest showroom, lowest prices, you name it some one has used it in their ads.

I've always got a chuckle from this tactic because it's the geographical equivalent of saying you are the sanest person in the asylum. It's all about comparison and the towns between Amarillo and Denver ain't exactly metropolises. Wichita Falls barely cracks a hundred thousand, as does Pueblo, Colorado. Sure at 380,000 Colorado Springs is twice Amarillo's size but since it's only a tad over hour from Denver it is understandable that it would lose out on certain things to it's northern neighbor.

Once such place that has used this slogan off and on is Wonderland Park here in Amarillo. Wonderland is an amusement park. It has been a few years since I've noticed them using the betwixt Dallas and Denver claim to fame, so maybe they have slipped to being the second biggest. No one ever claims to be the second biggest. A gander at Wikipedia tells me Wonderland is the 3rd largest amusement park in Texas, but again, it goes agin a Texan's grain to admit to only being the third largest.

Regardless of it's rank in size, Wonderland has been an Amarillo mainstay for better than fifty years. It shares space inside Thompsan Park with the zoo, a disc gold course, a swimming pool, a 36 hole golf course, a couple of lakes, and ample playground and picnic space. I've always heard that Thompson park is built above the original city landfill, but my research turns up no proof of that.

Wonderland opened with three kids rides and was first dubbed Kiddie Land. But as it expanded to add attraction for all ages the owner Paul Roads borrowed from Lewis Carroll and changed the name to Wonderland. I have visited Wonderland all of my ,life but as of yet I have not spotted Alice, The Mad Hatter or The Cheshire Cat.

These days I venture to the park a few times a year to take my boys. The park opens next weekend and soon I will trudge out for my boys school night. I believe every elementary in Amarillo has a designated school night. a tradition that dates back to at least to the late seventies when I myself was a grade school boy.

I have fond memories of hanging out with my friends on coll spring nights, avoiding the teachers we didn't like, seeking out those we deemed cool, and riding the Himalayan or Hammer until we puked. Sadly the Hammer is but a forgotten memory as it was long ago taken down.

Wonderland has the required bumper cars, pirate ship, and log ride you find at most amusement parks. It has a few roller coasters, including the double looped Texas Tornado, which inexplicably costs extra.

I am of the belief that a hand stamp admission should enable park goers to ride every ride, and the fact that it does not is my biggest grip about Wonderland. The Texas Tornado is a decent enough coaster, though a bit jarring to the neck at the big turn, nevertheless it's excitement level is not worth the extra three bucks you have to pay every time you ride it.

The Fantastic Journey is another ride that costs extra. I have heard it explained that this haunted house is extra to discourage teenage couples from riding it multiple times and making out in the dark exterior, a supposed nod toward the park's family friendly environment.

Now I fear for the very future of Wonderland Park. No not because of the sour economy. No not because of a boycott at the non included rides. I fear for Wonderland because of their new ride -- a roller coaster to be called the Hornet.

The Hornet is new to Wonderland and Amarillo, but interestingly enough this coaster has a checkered past.

Originally dubbed The Nightmare, the coaster called Boblo Island Amusement Park in Bois Blanc Island, Ontario, Canada home. That park, which opened in 1898, closed down in 1993 to clear room for a marina and resort community.

From Canada The Nightmare/ Hornet made it's way to Six Flags AstroWorld in Houston, Texas where it underwent a name change and became an enclosed roller coaster called the Mayan Mindbender. But guess what? AstroWorld closed down in October 2005. One coaster/ two long standing parks suddenly closed and torn down.

If The Hornet brings the same fate to Amarillo's Wonderland Park it may come to be known as a jinxed roller coaster. Either way I will ride it sometime this summer and report back my observations. That is, I will ride it of the powers that be do not designate it too special for a stock hand stamp.

Links to other posts that collective form the thrill ride known as ... My Town Monday

Mary gives way to a guest blogger's memories of Olmsted Falls, Ohio.
Camera in hand, Lana Gramlich flits about her Abita Springs, Louisiana yard.
Jenn Jilks welcomes old friends back to Muskoka, Ontario, Canada
Debra says goodbye to one of Village of Peninsula, Ohio's pillars.
Lyzzydee has a CLOSE encounter in Edingburgh, Scotland.
Patti Abbott lets The walking Man take us for a stroll through Detroit, Michigan.
Chris takes it to the bank in Hong Kong, China.
Linda McLaughlin glides gracefully through a post about a Los Angeles, California champion.
Barbara Martin ferries out a splash of history from Toronto, Canada.
Barrie Summy hauls in a whopper of a post from the depths of San Diego, California.
Cloudia's curative powers gives us a look at a Honolulu, Hawaii.
Gary Dobbs joins the MTM gang with a look at Gilfach Goch, Wales, England.
Take a walk through the park with New York City, New York's, Terrie Farley Moran
J Winter explores the Cincinnati, Ohio subway system, sort of.
PreTzel reveals the ugly side of humanity from the Iowa.


Cloudia said...

3rd largest in Texas must be pretty BIG! Nice post, Travis.

My MTM post is up monday midnight.

Aloha, Friend!

Teresa said...

Love the pictures, Travis. It looks like the amusement park at the Seattle Center used to when I was growing up. Best place in the world for kids!!!

dizzblnd said...

I agree, charging extra for a ride at a place you have already paid to enter is just dumb! The fact that said ride is not worth the price is aggravating. I hope that coaster does not bring along it's fate to Wonderland; despite the extra cost, I am sre it is a fun place to be

Lana Gramlich said...

" goes agin a Texan's grain to admit to only being the third largest." *ROFL!*
Surely 3rd time's the charm, when it comes to the roller coaster. SURELY!
(Glad you got the painting OK. Please do enjoy it in good health & happy home for many decades yet to come. :)

Jenn Jilks said...

MTM is up! Despite the dreary rain, it is nice to look forward to Mondays! Great idea, Travis.
P.S. I named my pirate, on Watery Wed., Cap't George Travis, in your (partly) honour!

debra said...

My post is up, Travis. I will return to read here :-)

Reb said...

Of course, you could look at it and think "at least it only closed down parks - it didn't kill anyone" Good post ;)

Sadly, I am not posting MTM this week.

debra said...

It really doesn't make sense, it seems to me, to charge extra for some rides. I'd like it if amusement parks charged a lower rate for parents who are dragged along with their kids and who don't do rides.
Our #2 daughter says that she was born into the wrong family since she's the only one who loves amusement parks.

lyzzydee said...

I love Roller coasters, I love the thrill and the stomach dropping experience !! My post will be up at midnight!

pattinase (abbott) said...

We have to drive to Ohio for this. I'll have one up at 10.

Charles Gramlich said...

OOOOH, I'm seeing a story. The roller coaster that killed theme parks!

Linda McLaughlin said...

Wonderland sounds like a great place for kids of all ages, but $3 extra for a roller coaster is a lot, since these parks perform a walletectomy on you before they let you in the gate. Hope the new ride doesn't jinx the place.

My MTM post on figure skating in LA will go up overnight.

Sepiru Chris said...

My MTM on Hong Kong, history, and global finance is up here!

Terrie Farley Moran said...

Hi Travis,

My MTM post will be up on Women of Mystery Monday morning at about 10 AM EST.

I hope that silly roller coaster doesn't cost you an amusement park.

I've lost at least two and that's no fun!


Barbara Martin said...

My MTM post will be up at midnight.

Neat post on a fun park with great photos.

Mary said...

Great post. Hope the new ride isn't a jinx. I have to wonder who thinks up these marketing ideas? Probably the same type of folks who think up certain medical procedures without trying them out on themselves first.

I wouldn't pay extra for a ride either.

Sepiru Chris said...

Hi Travis,

The Heroine in my family is a amusement park fiend.

She doesn't actually want to ride the rides, though. She just likes the noise and the lights.

Guess why we live in Asia?


Barrie said...

That roller coaster used to be in Ontario? Wow. And I never rode it. I wonder if Barbara Martin did?? post if up. And you'll love it. ;)

the walking man said...

above photo Copyright Justin Harris

I remember The Nightmare when it was on Bob-Lo. Bob-Lo island was a day trip taken by two large Stern Wheelers, The Columbia and The St. Clair from Detroit. Roughly a 90 minute ride on the Detroit River.

Sadly The boats are in "Detroit condition" these days.

I think every school kid in Detroit went there as a last blast of the school year at one time or another.

Bina said...

I'm agreement. I don't think I would pay extra to ride a ride at an amusepark that I paid money to get in to. But I do love me a good roller coaster ride, so I may make an exception.

Really? 3rd largest in Texas? That is pretty cool.

Being Beth said...

I haven't heard of Kiddieland for decades. There was one in Albuquerque when I was a kid, and my grandmother used to reward me with an afternoon of fun at Kiddieland for being a good little girl at the dentist. I think it's gone now, or at least it's now incorporated into Cliff's Amusement Park, as it is located in the same place and still has an area called Kiddieland.

Thanks for the memories.

Clare2e said...

The sun is shining here today, and you're giving me that Playland feeling. I've promised the nieces a trip this summer.

When you mentioned the coaster's bad luck, I heard in my head the evil tiki music from the Brady Buch Hawaiian episodes. Shouldn't you and your boys meddle and figure out the secret of the haunted roller coaster, a la Scooby Doo? I suspect a miserly old man in disguise. Report back after school night.

Deborah Elliott-Upton said...

I've always grinned at the 3rd largest in Texas because it's such a small-town thing, but what fun to go there!

Steve Hamilton said...

I got my 1st job at Wonderland Park when I was 14. Never had a more fun job. Paul Rhodes always wore light blue coveralls and I watched for him every night to walk by the ride I ran and give me the nod to shut it down.

Vodka Mom said...

Travis-I always LOVE coming over here.

one of these days, when I have my act together, I will join you all.

preTzel said...

I love amusement parks. I hate "whirly" rides because they make me puke. :) The amusement park in our area charges $30+ for adults and $20+ for kids between 3 and 12. It's expensive so we don't go often but once you pay you pay for all the rides. Seems silly any other way.

My post is up.

Ello said...

It sounds great for kids but man I can't stand amusement parks anymore. Too many screaming kids and I can't do rides anymore since my motion sickness got worse. I know I am a loser.

Bubblewench said...

That is very cool! Hope that the Hornet finds a new home and the curse is lifted!

Anonymous said...

My husband used to work at wonderland in Amarillo. He said the extra cost is because the two rides (fantastic and tornado) are not owed by the guy who owns the place. So to keep profits separate from the other rides tickets are sold for those rides.

nice blog btw. I was looking to learn more about Amarillo. This is an excellent place of info.

Travis Erwin said...

Anonymous -- I'd be glad to answer anything I can about Amarillo. Thanks for commenting.