Kiddieland’s Last Hurrah

| August 3, 2009 | 1 Comment

horseThe classic lighted Kiddieland sign on North Avenue (across the street from Maywood Park race track) brings back a wave of memories from my childhood: Pushing the handcars under the clattering tracks of the white wooden roller coaster. Clanging the bell of a speedboat floating in real water. Shooting imaginary rayguns out the back of a Sky Fighter. If you grew up in Chicagoland, as I did, going to Kiddieland was one of the rites of youth. Now, parents are rushing to give their little ones the experience of this classic amusement park before it’s gone forever. After years of rumors, Kiddieland has officially announced it will close after this season. Here’s why you should try to get there before the park shuts its gates on September 27.

Started in 1929 by Arthur E. Fritz, Kiddieland began in the midst of the Great Depression with a simple pony ride for children. Since then, this family-operated business has grown to more than 30 tot-friendly rides and attractions, including the beautiful Merry-Go-Round and German car carousel just inside its entrance. The park has enough “thrill rides” to please the whole family, but what makes Kiddieland such a standout is its large collection of classic rides for the smallest children. Kids between the ages of 2 and 6 find a bonanza of rides made just for them. How to choose between flying saucers, race cars, dune buggies, Dumbo-esque elephants and more? The good news is, they won’t have to! Lines are generally short enough at Kiddieland that they can ride again and again. Older kids will find plenty to do, too, including bumper cars, two splash-down water rides, scrambler, tilt-a-whirl, a wooden roller coaster, and other big-kid rides.

Arcade games, cotton candy, popcorn, ice cream and other carnival favorites are all here. But the atmosphere sets Kiddieland apart from the “big” amusement parks. You won’t find the blaring pop music and glaring “carnies” of similar parks. Instead, the grounds are spotless, the employees are courteous, and the overall tone is relaxed, festive, and family-friendly. On the weekends, pop culture does make an appearance with costumed characters like SpongeBob Squarepants and Dora the Explorer. But in general, the mood is nostalgic and “old Chicago.” With the admission price being equal to buying a wristband at your local weekend carnival, Kiddieland offers a more pleasant alternative for the money.

Kiddieland’s food court offers pizza and other standard amusement park fare. You can also get your hand stamped at the entrance, drive a short distance to a local eatery, and then return to the park for more fun. Pepsi fountain drinks are free at stations throughout the park—a nice bonus on a hot day.

Whether you’re going to relive your childhood or just to check out what all the fuss is about, here are my top three tips for visiting during Kiddieland’s last season:
1. Go on a weekday if you can; the park will be less crowded.
2. Remember sunscreen and a hat; shade is scarce.
3. Ride the miniature steam or electric train first to avoid long lines and familiarize yourself with the park. Remember to wave at everyone as you go by, and scream in the tunnels!

Kiddieland is located at 8400 W. North Avenue in Melrose Park. 708-343-8000 It is open daily until August 30 and then open on weekends until September 27. For hours and admission prices, see www.kiddieland.com. Jewel-Osco stores are offering coupons for $3 off admission good through Labor Day weekend. Ask at the service desk of your local Jewel-Osco.

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Category: Featured, See & Plays

About the Author ()

Born and raised in the Chicago area, Dawn Williams Bertuca is a freelance writer and editor. She is co-founder and Girlfriend-In-Chief at http://www.GirlfriendCelebrations.com Follow Dawn on twitter at http://www.twitter.com/GirlfriendCeleb

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  1. Carla says:

    Wow I can’t believe they are closing, I was looking forward to having my son’s 2nd birthday party there next year.

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