‘Best part of Joyland left’ destroyed by early morning fire

The Whacky Shack, a popular ride at Wichita’s abandoned amusement park Joyland, has been destroyed by a fire.

What was once an iconic building and ride at Joyland is now a pile of ash and rubble. The trees around the building also caught fire, but firefighters were able to put out the blaze before it spread beyond the Whacky Shack.

By 9 a.m., the fire was put out and the Wichita Fire Department had left the scene. At around 4 a.m. Thursday, a witness saw smoke coming from the former amusement park and called 911. Police have not said what they think caused the fire.

Joyland opened in Wichita in 1949 and continued operations until 2006. The Whacky Shack was one of the most popular attractions, featuring jump-scares, strobe lights and creepy ambiance.

For years, Joyland has been abandoned. That hasn’t kept vandals, trespassers and curious teenagers from going into the park.

“We’ve been coming here for about two years, and we’ve never been alone in the park,” said Allison Book, 20, of Derby. “There’s always people in here.”

Book and her friend Ziona Collins, 18, drove to the scene of the fire Thursday morning to take pictures after they read the news of the Whacky Shack burning down.

“We had to see for ourselves,” Collins said. “And it’s really gone.”

“It’s devastating,” Book said. “Obviously everything in there is going to fall apart, but it’s still sad. This was the best part of Joyland left.”

The two women said they think any number of things they’ve witnessed in the park could have caused the fire.

“People go in there to smoke. They go in there to paint graffiti, to play hide ’n go seek,” Book said. “It could have been anything.”

Chance Swaim: 316-269-6752, byChanceSwaim