Thursday, July 12, 2018

Jennifer's Ultimate Guide to Worlds of Fun Souvenir Maps

Please be aware that all images in this blog have taken time, money and effort to not only find them, but acquire them and scan them.  Please feel free to share them but if you do I ask that you please credit  Thank you.

The first time I can vividly recall seeing a souvenir map is in 1994 when I went into a conference room at the Worlds of Fun administrative building for training.  It was rather boring training, something about different labels on cleaning bottles, but on the wall, there were several framed maps including a 1976 souvenir map, which is easily identifiable by the gigantic 76’ in the corner.  Later during that same season, I recall an old collage on the wall in costumes with a tiny section of a 1980’s map, the portion of the sailer kid cartoon over the boat tank ride in Scandinavia and I vaguely remembered seeing that when I was younger.  It intrigued me… I wanted to know more but no one seemed to know anything.  

Now… more years later than I like to admit, I have a massive collection of souvenir maps, I even have five of them hanging on my walls in my house, a few are Jeff’s that I laminated back when I was in college in 2000, most are those I have been given or bought off eBay.  Souvenir maps are my great weakness, I have several from other parks, but treat the ones I have from Worlds of Fun like gold, and there is no such thing as too many (I have five 1973 maps).  

Over time I realized I am not the only crazy person out there, I might be the craziest of crazies, but still, I wasn’t alone in seeing the value in that ancient 1973 souvenir map.  But I also noticed there was some confusion, ok a lot of confusion regarding what year was what.  I never thought about creating a guide, until someone on another Facebook page called a 1984 map, a 1983 map.  And then I realized maybe I can be of some help and also share a concise look at the different varieties of souvenir maps and help people identify the different years.  I am missing about two years, (1978 and 1994) but have almost every souvenir map produced by the park which will help in identification. 

First off there are six different specific souvenir map designs.  Except for 1973 which is a completely unique design unlike any of the others every other map design was used over at least two different seasons and many of those from the 1970’s are completely original designs.


Here is 1973, I believe also used for the 1974 season as well since there really wasn’t much change between.  I call it the duck and pig map because there IS a duck and a pig on it.  No, literally I helped someone identify what map they had without seeing it based on that fact.  Fascinatingly enough the 1973 map, along with the Orient Express concept art are both artistic creations of Kansas City artist Byron Gash who is also responsible for creating the Topsy’s Popcorn logo too.  It is still a rather rare map simply due to age but I have found it is not the rarest map to pop up for sale.

In 1975 the park came out with an entirely new map.  However, before I continue, I thought for many years that the 1973 map was used up until 1976 when the much more common 1976 map was designed and began to be used.  I was somewhat founded in my beliefs as I mentioned not much changed at the park between 73 and 75.  However, about six or seven years ago when I discovered there was ANOTHER map design before 76, and that 76 wasn’t entirely original but more of a bicentennial rehash of 75 I was intrigued.  I am not entirely sure who designed 75 and 76 but it is the first map to introduce the mascot characters Sam, Grrtrude, and Dan’l who would become fixtures on the map for at least the next decade.



The 1975 and 76 maps are identified by their starry fields, oversized ride cartoon-style ride vehicles and larger than life Sam Panda at the center of it all.  In 1975 he is wearing his original yellow Chinese hat, and in 1976 he is wearing an Uncle Sam top hat, but the basic artistry is unchanged.  These are my two favorite maps, though neither of them lists an artist (which is rather annoying to me) I am a fan of the bright colors and just overall fun expressed in the artwork.  The 1976 map is the map I will always fondly remember from that day of training in 1994…



In 1977 the map design changed again and would remain the same with only minor updates for the new additions in 1978 and 1979.  While the first four years of park operation the maps were penetrating with bright primary colors, the late 1970’s maps could only be described as rather orange in tint,  and for those that remember the clothing, furniture, wallpaper, basically ANY design element from the late 1970’s… it makes sense. 

Another point that always strikes me about the 70’s maps is the cartoon boy in the upper left corner holding the WOF pennant, plus the fact that the title “Worlds of Fun in Kansas City, Mo.” at the top of the map is made to appear to be a larger pennant as well.  

There are so many aspects of the 1977-79 maps that I do love.  My favorite, of course, is the old cartoon feller by the Wobble Wheel with the bubble that says “durn thing wobbles”, of course, 1977 is also the first year to show “Yumma Yucca Messa” on the map, and probably my favorite which is actually a varying characteristic of a lot of old souvenir maps is that the front of the zinger train is made to appear with a very fierce face, like its growling at you and the station!   Some many little details to enjoy and I do mean ENJOY because unlike the 1973 and 1976 which show up at least once a year on eBay, I have only seen one 1977-1979 map ever show up there, making them, at least to me, the rarest version of the Worlds of Fun souvenir map.  

That pretty much explains why one of few maps I am missing is a 1978 map, however, I have 1977 and 1979.  The easiest way to tell the different years apart is first 1979 has “79 Great Times” imprinted in the lower left-hand corner.  Beyond that, are the major ride changes in those three years.  1977 isn’t going to show Aerodrome in the upper right-hand corner, while 78 and 79 will.  1978 is going to be missing the Zulu, Le Carrousel and Wing Ding which were all added in 1979.  Take a look at Zulu in 1979 and tell me how many politically incorrect cartoons are in that one little corner of the map… I can't help but laugh at the bird holding the target above Big Game Hunt!  That kid looks to be a good shot.





1985-1987 can be seen here:

With 1980 came a whole new design, one that lasted for almost the entire decade and is probably the easiest of all to use due to its more realistic layout of the park.  With the 1980’s design, we see the names of attractions moving to a key (Fun Finder Legend) in the lower right-hand corner instead of scattered around the map.   We see a return more to the coloration of the original 73 map, using more primary colors, instead of the bright oranges and pastels that we saw in the late 70’s varieties.  Unlike the 75 and 77 versions though we have an artist that signs his name to this map, “Martin” found in the lower right-hand corner, in a tree.  I did quite a bit of researching on this and found this is referring to local artist John Boyd Martin of Ottawa, KS, who is also responsible among other things for the original Worlds of Fun logo.  Today he is a portrait artist, responsible for several locally famous murals of Lamar Hunt, George Brett, and Buck O'Neil, as well as a muralist responsible for the NCAA Headquarters mural in Overland Park, KS, just to name a few.  Like so many blog entries I have written in the past, this one is serving as a catalyst for additional research.

So for those keeping score, we have the first generation, a 1973 map, second generation including 75 and 76, third generation including 77 through 79 and fourth generation including 1980-1987.   By 1989, Worlds of Fun made a minor yet resounding change in their souvenir maps design and switched from a local artist to a national company, Citigraph Inc. known even today for producing park maps, including dozens of different parks across the country. The most obvious way to identify a Citigraph map is the black text copyright in the lower right-hand corner, (Citigraph, Inc.) but overall the maps appear to lose the character that made the preceding two decades of maps unique, in the end, the Worlds of Fun map seemed to look just like the Astroworld or Six Flags over Texas versions.  To throw a wrench in the system, the 1989 map is still a desired after collectible, due to its Timber Wolf poster design on the flip side of the map.  Leaving Worlds of Fun fans to this day asking the eternal question… which side do you display?  

Fascinatingly enough the 95 map was the first map I ever owned, it was 99 cents, and had the blue “I bought it” Worlds of Fun tape on the back.  While the old photocopied 73 map hung on my door at home, the 95 map hung on my wall in my college dorm room, and after it was laminated was covered with “wipe board markers” cartoon characters of myself and Jeff.  So, though looking back now and realizing the homogenization of park souvenir maps was yet another sign of the times, I can’t help but love them right along with the older maps because they not only symbolize an important time in my life, but they were one of my first outright souvenir purchases from the park.




The ultimate sign of the times, of course, was the transfer of ownership of Worlds of Fun from Hunt Midwest, to Cedar Fair in June 1995.  The change was visible both in the park and in its marketing almost immediately, and this is true with the park’s souvenir maps as well.  The last generation of souvenir maps belongs to the Cedar Fair family, and that includes 1997 and 1998 versions, which by far have the most cartoon-like quality and features one of the brightest color schemes (pretty much all the grass is lime green) of all souvenir maps attributed to Worlds of Fun over the years.  Of course being a Cedar Fair period map it carries the same design-appearance that the Cedar Point map does, (as does all the other Cedar Fair parks of the time), meaning every coaster, or coaster-like ride appears stretched to an extreme.  Zinger, in its last map appearance in 1997 appears to have a massively steep drop, as does Voyager.  Mamba when it was introduced in 1998 quite literally lords over the entire map, of course, that is probably not far off from reality as it does appear visible to this day from anywhere in the park!



One last comment before I wrap all this up.  If one notices the 1997 map is celebrating the park’s 25th anniversary.  If you count it out though, the park was only 24 years old in 1997, in 1997 the park was still following traditional Hunt Midwest anniversaries which celebrated on the season number rather than age (because there is no year zero, but there is a season one).  This would change six years later when the park celebrated the 30th anniversary (sort of), AND this means Mamba will celebrate is 25th birthday the same year that Worlds of Fun turns 50 years old, even though Mamba didn’t exist for the park’s 25th anniversary… Fascinating for anyone who like me just loves numbers.

Some may ask why I didn’t discuss the odd 1996 map with the triple tower Detonator (because it was designed that way!) or the 1988 map, the simple answer is that there was no actual souvenir map designed, that I am aware of, for those years.  Souvenir maps were unique, in that they weren’t handed to you when you entered the park, you had to buy them, they were… a souvenir.  It’s sad that in the twenty years that have followed the park has since discontinued souvenir map production, along with pretty much every other park out there too.  Why?  It costs too much, no one wants paper anything, they have lost their usefulness, all of the above?  In the race for… who knows what, we seemingly have not just lost the character in parks, but the character in what we bring home from the parks.  All I have left to hang on my wall is old maps… but everyone still has walls, certainly, there is still a need to find something to hang on them.

 Extra Credit! Not a Souvenir Map but one of the most fascinating maps ever produced due to the three tower Detonator. The 1996 Map Guide

1 comment:

Matt8 said...

This is such great work. I'm so glad you (and people like you) exist to make this history out on the internet forever, so it can never be lost to time. You are doing quite the service to Worlds of Fun and its fans!