You don’t have to be a kid to know that. Whether you’re in it for the rollercoasters, the arcade, or the absurdly large cotton candy machines, theme parks are classic memory-makers.
Don’t get us wrong, we love the chain amusement parks (and visit them often), but there’s just something about your local amusement park that inspires a certain kind of nostalgia. Maybe it’s the wooden roller coasters or the homegrown games and attractions. Whatever it is, it’s the stuff our childhoods were made of.
That’s part of the reason why we get so bummed out when theme parks close. Is there anything worse than driving by a rollercoaster that’s begging to be rebooted?
That said, some theme parks close down for a reason, and New Jersey’s Action Park is probably the best-known example of that. While the park still technically exists, its current incarnation is nothing close to the attraction of the 80s and 90s. Given that the theme park was nicknamed “Class Action Park,” we’d say that’s for the best.
Arizonans will remember Legend City, the old-west style theme park that to this day was the best chance Phoenix residents had at rollercoasters. When the park closed in 1983 due to a series of bankruptcies, it left a gap that no other park has filled. We will forever miss the Lost Dutchman Mine ride.
Then, of course, there was Peony Park in Omaha, Nebraska, a long-lasting staple in the area, open from 1919 to 1994. More than anything else, Peony Park boasted impressive square footage, including a ballroom that could host 3,000 dancers at once. Back in the day, it was a big venue for swing dancing, and some legendary rock groups came through there, like Metallica, Pearl Jam, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and The Replacements.
You can actually still see the ruins of Joyland, once the pride of Wichita, Kansas. The park closed permanently in 2006. Since then, several rides, signs, and decorations have changed hands, some under more mysterious circumstances. Louie the Clown, the park’s beloved animatronic robot that played the organ, was recently recovered, having been hidden away in a former employee’s house for years.
If you ask us, the local charm is part of what makes small-town USA theme parks so special, and you should celebrate that with a vintage T shirt inspired by your favorite defunct amusement park. Whether your old favorite was in Florida or Illinois, you can celebrate small-town parks across the United States with the perfect garment.