My Facebook Thoughts

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Vanishing America

In August I went to visit an old friend that is dying. My friend is 81 years old and full of life. My friend still lives a very active life entertaining thousands everyday. Despite my friend's health she will die come September 27th.

My friend is Kiddieland. If you grew up or have kids in the Chicagoland area you probably know my friend too. Kiddieland is not huge yet it is not small. It has over 30 rides that will entertain everybody from age one to eighty-one and beyond.

You can enter the park without having to get a loan from the bank, even if you could, you don't have to pay for parking, and you can drink Pepsi products for free all day long if you want.

The park has been a time machine of sorts. The park has no "modern" rides, no fancy line queuing technology, no ride photos and no pushy staff photographers trying to sell you your picture.

And despite this lack of profit pushing ideas the park has been a joy for 81 years. Even during our current economic woes, the people still fill the park. The magic ingredient, let families have fun. The modern parks have a tendency to over stimulate their guests with lots of everything. Lots of schedules, colors, actors, characters, shows, music, shopping, restaurants and on and on.

Disney parks are often called shopping malls with rides and entertainment. That meaning, the goal for your visit is for you to buy things. In between your shopping you might like to be entertained by riding in a boat while being serenaded by robotic children singing, "It's a Small World" or by flying inside a floppy-eared elephant. We enjoy Disney. We've been to Disney Parks 7 times and have had a great time always. We admit, we have spent a lot of money there, but because we planned ahead it was something we truly enjoyed.

When you go to Kiddieland, the goal is to have fun. Period. 30 rides from small to large. Kids understand that this place is for them. Parents would basically follow their kids around to all the rides that they wanted to do. But, the really cool magic of Kiddieland was that the kids and parents could ride together. The whole family could go on a ride if they wanted to.

One thing parents dread about the major amusement parks is their kids constantly wanting to buy them some toy or drinks. Kiddieland did something remarkable. The gave you drinks for FREE! We're not just talking about water and Bubba's Soda, we're talking Pepsi products. Kids and family get refreashed for free. And there isn't a vendor every 20 feet trying to sell you a junky item that will be broken before you get home that night.

But, the magic of Kiddieland, no matter how great, is daunted by the power of greed. Kiddieland has never owed the land it sits on. One part of the family owed the land while another part owned the park. The land owners want out of the business so they have decided to sell the land and thus pulling the plug on our dear friend.

The last day the park will be open to the public will be this weekend September 27th. On October 4th at 7:45PM the last ride will be taken around the Merry-Go-Round. The park had an auction for people to buy seats on each ride as they are retired. Truly a magical ending to a magical place.

Good-bye Kiddieland, we will never forget you.


Mike said...

It's sad to see this place close but it did have a long run compared to a place like Old Chicago out in Bolingbrook that only lasted 5 years due to bad planning.
I remember going to a Kiddy-land at 95th & Crawford as a little kid. It was I'm sure much smaller than this place but for a small child it was a great place. I used to also go to Santa's Village in Dundee which closed just a couple of years ago. It also had a long run.

Anonymous said...

I miss street cars, but I got over it.

Mary Lou said...

Thank you so much for the trip down memory lane. It's been over 37 years since I left Chicago but.......Chicago has never left me!
Love from your #1 CA fan

Mark Ploch said...

Mary Lou,

Glad to send a little Chi-Town to you.

GLAD to hear all your good news too!