Joy(land) to the World

Most Wichitans that were kids before 2000 will remember Joyland.  The smell of the electricity from the bumper cars, the popcorn, and the hot dogs. Mixed with the screaming from the Tilt-A-Whirl, the sound of the train blowing its stack, and the cranking noise as the roller coaster started its journey, along with that massive Wurltizer played by a animatronic clown.  Then there was the uneven ground, the rusty safety bars on the ferris wheel, that pinch you got on your arm from the scrambler, and that, what seemed like forever, walk to the go-karts.  These are just some of the things that jumped into my head as we looked around the Twisted Oz Motorcycle Museum in Augusta.

Their main display is a really fantastic motorcycle collection.  As Jeremy admitted for both of us.  We know nothing about motorcycles but it was really cool to check out their exhibit. Lots of one of a kind or rare Indians, Harleys, and even some unique homemade cycles.  Definitely worth checking out.

I spotted this old popcorn popper. I remember Moler’s Cameras had one. My dad was friends with Bob Moler. We would go visit him and I would always get a bag of popcorn. I’m not sure why I got so excited, I could get popcorn any time I wanted, my dad worked in a theater afterall.

This one is a 1950’s era Federal Popcorn Vending Machine. These machines had already popped corn and kept it warm with a heating bulb and heating plate. When you insert a coin, a cup slides down a chute into a holder. The popper spins and drops the popcorn into the cup.

But this Sunday afternoon trip to Augusta was to see the Joyland artifacts.  There’s not a ton of stuff, but it was totally worth the 20 minute drive to the unique museum. No doubt you have your own great memories of Joyland, and I don’t want to tamper with those joyous moments.  

Quick History of Joyland

*Opened on June 12, 1949 by the Ottaway Family

*The Ottaways sold the park to Stanley and Margaret Nelson in 1975.

*Joyland closed in 2006. 

*After years of fires and vandalism, the land was sold in November 2018 for $198,000.

The Train The park was started by Lester Ottaway and his sons to serve as the home for a 12-inch gauge steam locomotive that Herb Ottaway bought in 1933. Within a year, Mr. Ottaway had restored the train. 

It roamed the park until 1974. When it  was replaced with the first C. P. Huntington train built by what is now Chance Rides. There are several stories about the whereabouts of the locomotive serial number one.  It is believed to be in a storage space owned by the Cornejo Family.

Whacky Shack Props The Whacky Shack, a dark ride designed by Bill Tracy opened in 1974.  The Tracy ride was one of many across the country, and Bill’s last as he died in August 1974. 

We think the gorilla was part of the ride, but we could not say for sure.

NOTE: Several people questioned the date on the Whacky Shack. I was able to confirm the date with Roger Nelson, son of the park’s owners. He confirmed it was 73-74 and he included Bill Tracy’s original artwork of the ride.

Thanks so much for your help, Mr. Nelson!

Roller Coaster Chain The wooden roller coaster was built in 1949 by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company and designed by Herbert Paul Schmeck, according to ultimaterollercoaster.com it was 2,600-foot long and had a 76-foot drop and a top speed of 50 miles-per-hour. 

This was part of the chain that pulled the cars to the top of the first drop.

A windstorm in April 2015 damaged the coaster beyond repair and on July 23, 2015, what was left of the roller coaster was demolished

The Log Jam The traditional log flume ride was built by O.D. Hopkins and opened in 1985.  The ride was one of the last ones created by Stanley Nelson. 

Interesting note:  During a major flood in 1997, two of the rafts floated away.  One was found a few days later. The other raft, according to legend, was found several years later somewhere down the Arkansas River.

Porky the Paper Eater This was the item I found most unusual as I had forgotten about this guy.  Porky was a trash can.  You would put a cup in his mouth and he would suck it up.  Some type of vacuum system. 

It was always fun to feed him.  Sometimes some idiots would overstuff his mouth and there would just be a mass of cups stuck in his gullet.

Louie the Clown It was weird to see Louie, I have only seen him from the backside with his reflection in a tiny mirror.  There he was in all his glory.  You know he was not part of Wurlitzer, the Ottaway family added him when they bought the restored Wurlitzer Style #160 in 1950.

At some point in the later years Louie disappeared, no one knew what happened to the clown that made some kids happy, and creeped out others. 

On February 19, 2015, the WPD held a press conference with Louie sitting in a chair. He was found during an investigation into a former park employee.  If I remember right, Louie was the number one story on ksn.com for the year.

While we were talking to Paul, he said, “Do you want to see him move?”  Oh hell yeah!  He plugged him in and Louie started grooving to some nonexistent Merle Evans‘ circus tune.  So cool to see him come alive. If you aren’t scared of clowns, hit play on the video.

I’m not sure how long the museum will offer this collection, but it is worth a visit. http://www.twistedoz.com.

I know a lot of people thought Louie was creepy, but that Porky was the creepiest thing hanging on the wall.

I thought I would just post the rest of the pics to trigger those great memories.

10 thoughts on “Joy(land) to the World

  1. Are you sure the Wacky Shack was built in 1974? I remember riding it as a teen and I was not at Joyland after 1964 when I got married. Just asking. Also what are bumper cards that smelled? I love your writings. Thanks for all the memories.

      1. Well I think your source of information was wrong I became a mother in 1972 at the age of 21 I spent many happy times there with my brother who was in his teens and I was still in junior high I could believe early 60s but not 74. I hope someone out there can find the correct year. I’m going to do some research myself. It will be fun.

  2. I also have questions about the dates mentioned. I quit going to joyland when we moved out of town – about 1972 -= but wacky shack was there. good times 😀

  3. Last Coaster rides were at my daughter’s 8th grade school party. We could ride as much as we wanted, I got off after 8 rides. Back was hurting!

  4. Nice trip down memory lane. I worked for Stan Nelson in the park office from 1983-1985 and remember a few of these items from my visits as a child. Thanks for taking the time to share.

%d bloggers like this: