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the U.S. in the 1950s. City and county parks could readily invest in a miniature carousel and Ferris wheel, aMiler or Hersche rides, some ponies was born.

to ride, and a new kiddieland l kiddie coaster, a few circular

“ Be erl Park’s real ark’s real

claim to fame ect on

claimto fame is its efis its effect on Walt Disney,

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who took his tw daughters there egularly.

who took his two daughters ther regularly.


Of these, probably the most celebrated kiddie park was Beverly Park in Los Angeles, California. It opened during the war in 1943 by Frock &Meyer Amusement Company, and was purchased just two years later by David Bradley, who wanted to "bring life and laughs to people after the death and destruction of the war.” He turned what had been a collection of kiddie rides sitting on asphalt and dirt into a lawned, flowered, and even themed kiddie park. A giant Los Angeles oil well towered over the property, which Bradley painted and adorned so that it looked like a dragon wit flapping wings. During Bradley’s time with Beverly Park, tinkered and experimented with kiddie rides, forming a partnership with Don Kaye. Their first hit was the Little Dipper roller coaster “The Only PortableMiniature Roller Coaster.” It was such an immediate hit that Bradley and Kaye sold the copyright to Allan Herschell for mass production. Though Kaye left after just two years, Bradley kept their name and continued producing kiddie rides, most famously his well- themed Red Baron circular biplane ride, which was a must- have at every amusement park, large or small.

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Bradley’s Beverly Park’s real claim to fame is its effect on Walt Disney, who took his two daughters there regularly. While they ran from one ride to another, Disney had an epiphany on how an amusement park should indeed, like Beverly Park look like a “park.” He also famously said “I want something for the parents to do at these parks,” veering away from the thrill and noise of the traditional amusement parks, which were enjoying a resurgence after the war. It’s not substantiated, but many believe that Bradley’s miniature train ride circling the perimeter and thus neatly enclosin g his

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park inspired Disney to o the same with hi wn park, which opened just a few years later in 1955. Beverly Park’s success, andWalt Disney’s often told

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explanation of Disneyland’s inspiration, was felt nationwide as kiddielands sprang up by the thousands; some were asphalt quickies, others were landscaped and well-planned, and all were moneymakers. Hosts of local television children’s shows capitalized on their captive audience, as they bought a few rides from Bradley and Ka

Kaye circled them with a chain-link ,

fence, and made an easy million. The largest and most successful TV star kiddieland was that ofWilliam Boyd

“Hopalong Cassidy,” whose Hoppyland in Los Angeles sported a 35-foot-high wood coaster from the Philadelphia Toboggan Company. The theme park boom of the 1970s didn’t leave kiddie parks behind, as themed kiddie parks like The LandOf Oz inNorth Carolina, Storytown USA inNew Yo Santa Claus lands proroliferated across the country.

To York and several

Although the new theme parks of the 1970s had their own kiddie areas, it didn’t hurt the business of the smaller kiddielands — at least thos e that weren’t just kiddie-rides-on - asphalt — and families could avoid the steep theme park tickets for a cheaper alternative for their kids, who were too small to ride the big rides anyway. If there was an eventual down-slide of kiddie parks in America, it only mirrored whatever else was happening to the amuseme nt industry at large.

MARC MARCH 20 2019

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