Thursday, July 12, 2012

Three Chicagoland Places I'm Sad I'll Never Be Able to Share with My Kids

Every time I pass by the corner of 1st and North Avenue, I shed a small tear. I will never be able to take my 2-year-old daughter to Kiddieland, the tiny land of fun that was razed to the ground to make way for a Costco parking lot. When I was a kid, summer would not have been summer without a few trips to this magical kiddie wonderland. We would start with a ride around the park on the tot-sized train, ride the Merry-Go-Round, then make our way around each and every ride in the park. The Tilt-a-Whirl was the wildest one ever, and my cousins and I tried out all sorts of placement strategies to make our car whip around faster. We killed thousands of aliens on the Flying Saucers and braved the raging seas on the mini-boats. My parents went to Kiddieland when they were little children. And I was lucky enough to enjoy several visits with my son (age 11). But Kiddieland remains only a happy summer memory.

Ebenezer Floppen Slopper's Wonderful Waterslide 
Recently, I drove past the hill, overgrown with weeds, at the corner of Roosevelt Road and Route 83. "There used to be an amazing water slide here!" I explained to my son, "and before that, it was a garbage dump. The water was brownish-yellow. It was the best!" My son looked at me as if I were nuts. But it's true: one of my best summer memories involved a trip to Ebenezer's with my cousins, followed by a trip to Venture, where my mom bought my cousin and I a pair of matching jelly shoes. Here is a video a man made as he hiked the now-defunct water slide (warning: he becomes extremely winded from the hike).

Dispensa's Kiddie Kingdom and Castle of Toys
"There was also a castle near here," I explained to my son, "filled with toys. And an amusement park." Once again, he looked at me with a puzzled expression, assuming I'd just invented it all. Dispensa's Castle of Toys in Oakbrook opened in 1977, the amusement park in 1975, just a couple of years after I was born. I clearly remember the castle, filled with the latest toys, with wooden toy soldiers guarding the entrance.

Can you think of any other Chicagoland places that you enjoyed as a kid but no longer exist?

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  1. Old Chicago, which was an amazing indoor amusement park. It wasn't open very long, maybe only a few year, but it was so cool! It had a roller coaster and faux old-timey shops and very fun rides.

    Sally's Stage, a vaudeville-themed restaurant where the servers (all women, I think) wore roller skates.

    I miss Kiddieland and my heart cries a little every time we pass it. My son is old enough at ten to have formed some great memories there and he still brings it up every time we see the Costco. "Why did they have to put a stupid Costco there?" The very sad thing is that it wasn't necessary. It was still making money. It was a family dispute people the people who owned the park and the people who owned the land.

  2. Hi Amy! So glad we had the chance to meet yesterday! Great blog! I have never been to any of these 3 locations! For some reason my family never went to Kiddieland or Santa's Village! Sorry to hear you won't have these places to take your kids! Hope to see you soon and stop by if you have the chance ;)

  3. I was at Kiddieland once. I'm sad my kids won't ever see it. It seems the small amusement parks (and even businesses) are struggling to stay open. And I fear my grandkids will be left with only the big names (which can be fun, but the world needs more diversity I think)

  4. Those are so sad. I LOVED Kiddie Kingdom. That's where I ate too much cotton candy and puked it up - I still can't eat cotton candy. Kiddieland was another great one. Do you remember Santa's Village? They're actually reopening that one actually.

  5. I grew up 5 hrs north of Chicago but we would come to Gurnee Mills and other malls in the area for our back to school shopping and mini vacation to 6 Flags. Totally commercial but it was fun.

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