Thursday, February 26, 2009

When the World was Young

Welcome back to Worlds of Fun great history moments brought to you by Jennifer Lovesee-Mast and photo credits to Brandon Stanley. I apologize for it taking so long to getting this update posted, as more research was involved in figuring out what was actually happening in some of the photos we will be looking at!

First though lets go back to where we left off, Worlds of Fun opening day May 26th 1973.

Part of opening ceremonies included a caravan of Safari and Le Taxi Tour cars being driven by Worlds of Fun Dignitaries. Here we have the late Lamar Hunt, his wife Norma Hunt (Norma's Funnel Cakes).

In the background of the 2nd photo you can briefly see the Cotton Blossom.



These next three are all but impossible to determine date, but I think they are still remarkable, for the details. The first of course we have Lamar Hunt again, but what is so unique (besides the fact that he lived after partaking of Worlds of Fun food!), is what we are looking at. This is Vittle Griddle, otherwise know as past work place of our current park GM. We know this by the Henrietta's smoke stack in the background, and Americana light posts. What I like to think about is how long those chairs lasted before they were replaced with the plastic tables that we have now. I personally don't think very long. I can just see the Worlds of Fun food ambassador saying "sir please put that chair down now!"


My favorite people in the "world" Worlds of Fun landscaping. This is the Orient section and today we would be looking at the Bamboozler, in this photo though we see its predecessor the Oriental Octopus. I am thinking this has to be near opening, as these brick planters are missing their Bradford Pears, which have been there as long as I can remember.


Another "wow" moment for me, Casbah Games and Moroccan Merchant. The trees were removed within the last ten years. Many center island trees have been removed during this time period, as the trees grew either to big, or were removed to allow for "easier flow of traffic". Personally I would have rather liked to have kept these. I am sure the free throw game people would have liked that too!

Here we have Jack Steadman, president of Mid American Enterprises holding the tethers of a Hot Air Balloon. This one actually took me a while to figure out the back story (after all no one takes a photo without a good reason). I found the story quite interesting. From a story first published on June 19, 1973 in the Kansas City Star, Lamar Hunt had big plans for Kansas City, he wanted Kansas City to become to balloon capital of the world, and his first step on getting there (besides making the logo for his park a balloon...) was to sponsor the 1st annual Balloon Race, which was held on July 21st and July 22nd, 1973. Turns out it appears to have been the ONLY Balloon race.


And the new attraction for 1974? The Forum Amphitheater! Here we are looking at construction of Worlds of Fun's first addition.


As we celebrated the country's 200th birthday Worlds of Fun added the Screamroller roller coaster to the Americana section of the park. It was the 5th Arrow Dynamics corkscrew in the country, and was so popular it brought out 9,000 guests on its opening day, April 10th, 1976.


Moving ahead to the next big thing, was the BIG thing, The Orient Express. Here we have Lamar Hunt making an announcement in front of the Orient Express track on site. We have truly and sadly come full circle from this photo to today. Truly though Orient Express was the big thing as the 1980 season officially attracted 1.421 million visitors. One of, if not the largest crowd in Worlds of Fun's history.


We should all recognize this place, its Patriot Landing! Today it is atleast. Back in 1982 it was the new River City, and this ride, the new River City Rampage. Today we know it as the Fjord Fjlarlene.



You are forewarned, sentimental moment ahead. I always say the moment my Worlds of Fun infatuation began when I was a kid riding the Ski Hi at night and I saw the park ablaze with lights. I didn't get a photo of that memory, (in fact I have no photos of any time I went to Worlds of Fun as a kid), but this photo is as good a stand in as I think I will ever find. It was truly breathtaking to see the park lit up for the sky. It was advertised at the time as "Worlds of Fun at Night", who knew a bunch of light bulbs would be so cool?

In the photo itself we see what is now Pizza Pier in the foreground, and in the background from left to right is the Screamroller, New Funtier Arcade, and Whirligig (now the Bamboozler) and finally the string of lights on the far right are the lights hanging from the Henrietta. I don't have an exact date this photo was taken but it would have had to have been between 1980 and 1985 as Whirligig was moved back to the Orient when Omegatron was added in 1986.

Of all the photos I have dated this next one has been the hardest. For two reasons. Number one the Barnstormer is there (about 3/4 of the way up about 2/3 of the way over), but Oriental Octopus has been removed, and it seems to be set up for a show area. My best guesstimate is that this would be June/July 1983. (If anyone has a better guess I am willing to hear it!). Barnstormer was grounded and removed in June 1983, and I believe it was later that year that Octopus was moved up to replace it, and became known as Tailspinner. A carnival troupe replaced Octopus for a few short years before Bamboozler was moved back down to this same spot. Hence the set up for a show.

On a side note I love the fact that you can see a park tram in this shot in the far right hand corner.