How old were you in 1960?
If you were in grade school in the 60s and 70s on into the 90s, you wanted to go to Kiddyland. Described as a “pint-sized amusement park,” Kiddyland was built on city-owned land in 1960.
Located at the corner of Weeks Park Lane and Southwest Parkway (then called Farm to Market Road 369), Ben G. Woody contracted with the city to install a boat ride, miniature train, merry-go-round, and similar amusement park facilities. The contract included reimbursement to the city as a percentage of the “nominal fee” required for admission.
The local neighborhood protested the building of the park. Woody described the operation as under the control of the city parks and recreation department and not loud or boisterous.
Woody and the City of Wichita Falls prevailed and Kiddyland opened in July 1960. According to a Times Record News article, over 100,000 ride tickets had been sold from July to September 1960.
Besides offering amusement rides, the park provided concessions, a covered area for parties, and catered birthday parties. During its early years, Kiddyland partnered with the Symphony Benefit League to raise money for an “acoustic” band shell for the orchestra.
The true draw to all the kids was the rides. Called the “old 369,” the Cannon Ball miniature train followed a mile-long track around the park. Helicopters would “fly” up and down circled a tall spire. Kids could drive a kid-sized tractor, pump a hand-car on the railway, and ride a “sports car.”
Many a school child spent a few hours at Kiddyland followed by a sandwich under the picnic shelter, celebrating the beginning of summer vacation. Kiddyland drew school children not only from Wichita Falls but from North Texas and Southern Oklahoma.
The park was a favorite for a family outing. Companies entertained their employees with a trip to Kiddyland. As Ben Woody said, the park could entertain people from 18 months to 80 years!
By 1974, the new park owner of the park, now called Fun Land, expanded to the east to add amusement opportunities.
By 1994, after entertaining children for over 30 years, Fun Land had seen better days. Newspapers reported a 9-year-old boy hanging upside down, 35 feet in the air, from a Ferris wheel car. Rescued by the police, the young boy was okay, but Fun Land was not.
Following the death of the current owner, the city couldn’t find another operator for the park.
Selling off the various rides, the corner of Southwest Parkway and Weeks Park was soon vacant except for the memories of many happy little children.
(Thanks to Wichita County Archives for photos and research assistance.)