Kiddieland: Chicago's first amusement park

Kiddieland: Chicago's first amusement park

Once upon a time Disneyland was only a dream in Walt Disney's mind. There weren't any super highways. No jets for world wide travel. Orlando was a sleepy town in the middle of a swamp. Now tell me, who would want to build a theme park in swampland?

Once upon a time the Chicagoland area had amusement parks for children. Our kids loved it and it was called KIDDIELAND. There was one such park on Devon & McCormick on Chicago's North side (the original Kiddieland was in Melrose Park) that lit up our children's eyes. Oh the wonder of it all for them! They would approach the park with the eagerness and anticipation that can only exist in the mind of a child.

Our apartment was only about one mile from the park and you guessed it. Our children would ask their Mother and me "can we please go to kiddieland" in their sweet, still undeveloped voices. We couldn't resist their request. After all what kind of cruel parents would do that?

We all walked the mile to the park. That is, my wife and I walked while my baby at the time had the luxury of a stroller while she oohed and ahhed. I carried our oldest child part of the way then she skipped along waiting with her imagination for her thrill of that day. And there it was.

The entrance with a grand sign: KIDDIELAND. The glee of childrens voices could be heard. The admission was 10 ride tickets for $1. (note: they didn't raise the prices for inflation but raised the number of tickets for each ride). There were the pony rides, the wonder of wonders carousel with the loud carnival music blaring. It was glorious. It was a time when I thought loud music was the only way to listen.


And there was the roller coaster. There were cages for the children to sit in for their protection and approximately 8 cages for the ride. And away they went, the roller coaster ride of their young lives with the joyful screaming and laughing at the same time. Th parents were over anxious for their children to finish the ride.  As soon as it was over they would run to them and say how brave they were in facing the roller coaster. The children smiled with delight!

There were two other thrill rides that stick in my memory. One was a train ride that looped around the park. It was a miniature version of a super train but only with open air seats fit for a child and small adult. It had a caboose with a whistle and a genuine engineer. The engineer wore the striped cover alls of that period along with his engineer cap. He waited for a signal to begin the ride and then he yelled "All aboard!" The trains whistle tooted and the engineer pulled the cord for extra sounds that had the children cheering.


Finally, the other ride was an miniature auto ride. The cars were built to fit a youngster and had wheels and brakes. The wheels of the car ran along tracks. They were secure so no matter how wild the children thought they were riding the car, it wouldn't jump off the track. What daredevils they were, the Evil Kneivels of their generation.

The car ride

When it was time to hike back to our home and told the children we must go, the usual reply was "just one more ride please!" That ride was the stroller that my baby rode in and I carried my oldest daughter. Ah, Kiddieland; a memory to treasure for children and adults.

Memories light the corners of my mind and I hope yours too.

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