What is the one theme park you most wish you could have visited... but now it's too late?
Since theme parks are multi-million (and sometimes, multi-billion) dollar capital investments, the companies that own them tend to perform exacting market research before opening them. That's why major theme parks stick around for decades. But a few parks don't pass the test of time and close before some of the fans who had wished to visit took advantage of that chance.
I have been fortunate to visit several parks that are now closed, including Busch Gardens Los Angeles, Marineland of the Pacific, Opryland, and Boardwalk and Baseball. (I never got to Hard Rock Park, but several Theme Park Insider readers did, during its soft opening, official opening, and after its close.) But the park I really, really, really wanted to visit as a kid closed before I could talk my parents into planning a trip — The World of Sid and Marty Krofft.
Our friend Dave Cobb shares an obsession with this Saturday morning TV-themed indoor park that stood in what is now the CNN Center in Atlanta, and he recently posted a link to a video that showed more detail from inside the park than I've seen before.
The World of Sid and Marty Krofft lasted just six months in 1976. The brothers had created some of the most wildly imaginative shows on Saturday morning television, including H.R. Pufnstuf, Sigmund and the Sea Monsters, Land of the Lost, and Electra Woman and Dyna Girl. But the park really needed a Buzz Price to do a better feasibility study than it got. Located in downtown Atlanta at a time when that was, well... not exactly a desirable tourist destination, the park did not offer enough entertainment for the price in comparison with Six Flags Over Georgia, just outside the city, or even the new Walt Disney World that was luring tourists down the road to Central Florida.
Watching the video, The World of Sid and Marty Krofft looks kind of lame compared with today's world-class indoor theme parks, including Warner Bros. World and Ferrari World. It makes me wonder what I had seen in this park and why I wanted to visit it so badly.
But then I remember that, for 1976, what The World of Sid and Marty Krofft offered was amazing, and it's no wonder why the park inspired so many Gen-Xers. A dark ride through a pinball machine? Hell yeah! To me, that The World of Sid and Marty Krofft closed after just six months, despite the power of its brand and all that national TV exposure, makes it the biggest bust in industry history.
Who knows what could have happened had the Kroffts chosen to work with another developer or built their park in a different location? It might be hard for younger readers to imagine, but in 1976 "Krofft" absolutely was a bigger name than Disney in family entertainment. Would the Kroffts own half of Hollywood now, as Disney does, had they had a Buzz Price guiding them at their moment of opportunity, as Walt Disney did? Again, who knows? But it says something about what the Kroffts accomplished that they continue to inspire thoughts like that from their fans, even today.
If you would like to visit the site of The World of Sid and Marty Krofft — CNN Center — today, its tour is part of the Atlanta CityPass, which also includes admission to the Georgia Aquarium and World of Coca-Cola.
In the comments, please tell us which now-dead theme park you most wish you could have visited.Tweet