Welcome to Theme Park Insider! Join the community or log in
Theme Park Insider
Facebook Twitter Google Plus Email Newsletter

Goodbye, Kiddieland. Chicagoland icon closes after 80 years

By Anthony Murphy
Published: May 21, 2009 at 7:16 AM
Kiddieland, a small amusement park in Melrose Park of the Chicagoland area is closing after this summer after being open after 80 years. The oldest of the current Illinois parks, they are the next victims of the current recession. While not as big as Six Flags, Disney, or Universal, it was much more affordable than the big ones! I know that we do not cover Kiddieland on Themeparkinsider.com, but I wanted to publish this sad news to a theme park from the past before Disney, before Universal, before Six Flags. You can find out more about this hidden gem of Chicagoland from the Chicago Sun-Times, and the amusement park's website.

Readers' Opinions

From Robert Niles on May 21, 2009 at 7:21 AM
Thanks for catching this, Anthony. Got any personal memories of the park you wish to share?
From Jason Jackson on May 21, 2009 at 7:50 AM
What's sad is that the park is not closing as a result of the economic conditions (at least not directly), but due to an old family feud.
From Anthony Murphy on May 21, 2009 at 9:05 AM
To tell you the truth, I have not been there in years, but I do have some fond memories of the train ride, bumper cars, swining ship, and the ferris wheel. There actually used to be two of them (the other one was a mile from my house, but closed before I was born). The other issue was it was not that close to me and really appeals to younger children though adults could go on it too! Probably one of the biggest nails in the coffin was SFGA got into the kid friendly construction while it used to be all roller coasters. The sad thing about it closing is the train ride would make Walt Disney Proud and its sizeable bumper cars.

And yes, besides the economy, the big reason this place is closing is the feuding family in which half own the land and the other half own the park. They haven't spoken in two years.


If there is any brightside to this, its still open and there is talks that Santa's Village coming back somewhere in the Chicagoland area.

Its just sad that Kiddieland is going after 80 years. It really was one of those old time Coney Island type amusement park.

From 98.228.243.98 on May 21, 2009 at 12:51 PM
I use to go there with my family every summer when I was little. I haven't been there in at least 7 or 8 years because I'm older and so are my cousins. my cousin alix and I would run to the front of little dipper line to get the front seat and we would ride over and over again. I also remember my moms and aunts shooting water at us on our way down from the log ride.
From Jeff M on May 21, 2009 at 6:31 PM
Wow, holy ......... I remember being taken to this park as a kid with family and riding the kid train ride. You mounted a mini-train and rotated a wheel to move you along. Kind of like a spinning arm motion, etc.... Had a blast as a kid!!!! Now I'm reading my child-hood memories are going away??? Say it isn't so???? Ouch... I'm still trying to recover from this un-expected hit to the head!!!

Dizzy as I'm typing, a part of my original theme/amusement park experiences is now fading.... Does getting old have to hurt sooooooooo much??????

From 64.186.64.78 on May 21, 2009 at 7:48 PM
This is a wonderful neighborhood park and it is a shame that it is closing. I went as a kid 30 plus years and the place was run down and cold- later fall. It didn't matter as I rode the train, pum cars, polyp, paratrooper, bumper cars etc. It was a blast for a kid. I went back with my kids four years ago with my kids and the park was really cleaned up and in good shape and even more fun with my kids. Parks like kiddieland just bleed with character and history and nothing will be able to replace it.
From 121.97.230.191 on May 24, 2009 at 9:53 PM
How sad.. Did you know that Kiddieland started out as a small venture of Arthur Fritz in 1929 when he purchased six ponies and offered rides as an escape for parents reeling from the Great Depression. Miniature gasoline-powered cars were added a few years later after Fritz learned that they were being given away to children by the newspaper as a subscription promotion. Did you know thart in 1940, the "German Carousel", two Miniature Steam Locomotives, the "Little Auto Ride", the "Roto Whip" and the "Ferris Wheel" were added. The Roto Whip and the Ferris Wheel are still operated at the park. The park saw its first major expansion in the 1950s with the addition of the Little Dipper and the Carousel, of which both still exist today. Bumper cars were added in the 1960s as they replaced the original pony ride. The park transferred ownership in 1977, as Arthur Fritz's grandchildren took over the park and its operation. The park continued its expansion and installed several major attractions, including a Log flume, a swinging pirate ship, a 40-foot (12 m) long water coaster, and numerous other attractions. But now it is closing because it was sued the park owners in 2004, claiming that the park had an improper insurance policy and that fireworks were prohibited in the lease. They have not renewed their lease; the park will close, and equipment sold off. Unfortunately, it seems no quick loan will be able to save Kiddieland.

This article has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.

More Theme Park News

Previous article: Restaurant Review: Epcot's Le Cellier Steakhouse

May 2009 Archive