There is a surprising sadness for many south-central Kansans of a certain age – a lot of ages, actually – in seeing images of Joyland’s demolition.
True, the old amusement park at 2801 S. Hillside closed for the last time in 2006, and since had turned into a dangerous magnet for arsonists and other troublemakers. But as long at the rickety signature wooden roller coaster was somewhat intact, or the midway’s buildings identifiable, those who spent many fun hours at Joyland in their youth could harbor hope that a restoration effort might succeed and the park could reopen.
That’s all over now, along with the company picnics, KFDI Radio parties, Easter egg hunts and report-card reward promotions that used to draw families to Joyland in large, enthusiastic numbers – 200,000 visitors a year at one point.
And it could be a long time before anyone has a mind to open a new theme park in the Wichita area, especially after the Wild West World fiasco.
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Pieces of Joyland and its 22 rides have been saved, thankfully, with the merry-go-round bound for Botanica and the clown sign and other items going to the Historic Preservation Alliance of Wichita and Sedgwick County.
“A victim of time,” Roger Nelson, son of longtime owners Stan and Margaret Nelson, called Joyland in an Eagle video. It will be recalled fondly, though, as a source of joy in Wichita for more than five decades.
For the editorial board, Rhonda Holman