The History of The Amusement Park

The History of The Amusement Park

The Basic Origin of Amusement Parks

You would be surprised to know that amusement parks have not always been the big commercial blow-ups that they are now.

In the 19th century, they started out as picnic-like areas where working men could relax after a long day. If they wished, they could bring their families along to share the enjoyment of the entertainment.

However, by 1893, there were some occasional expositions, such as the Chicago World’s Colombian, that led to the parks being as we know them today. They were the one who installed the first Ferris wheel ever. They included shows and rides. This helped boost the public’s interest greatly. The fact that most people who worked in them loved what they were doing helped boost their profits very significantly.

Coney Island and Steeplechase made their rise to fame the decade before. They basically resembled a combination of rides and concessions with circus-like shows. This included people showing off acrobatic, clown and animal talents. Unfortunately, often included showing off the people who were known as “circus freaks”.

The First Official Theme Park

The first official theme park was Santa Land in Santa Claus, Indiana. The town originally shared its name with the famous city in New Mexico. They had to change their name when

The federal U.S. Post Office refused to establish a post office there because of another town in the same state having a duplicate name. So, the residents got together and renamed it from Santa Fe to Santa Claus. Naturally, they started receiving a lot of kids’ Christmas letters to Santa Claus.

As a result, Lois Koch of Edwardsville bought over 200 acres of land to establish Santa Claus Land. It opened in 1946. It was a dreamland of Alpine shops and rides catered exclusively to children. Jim Yellig was the big Santa figure there for over 40 years. It has since added other holidays such as Halloween and Fourth of July. As a result, it has since been renamed Holiday World.


Aah, who could forget good old Walt Disney? He had been in the entertainment business since the 1920’s. In the 1950’s, he founded WED with a big vision in mind. He wanted to bring the movies to life for the children. As a result, he visited numerous theme parks for years in order to conduct his own research of what made successful theme parks thrive, how they were funded, etc.

Simultaneously, he worked with ABC to fundraise for his vision in exchange for hosting a weekly television show for kids. That led to the Disney channel as we know it today.

Disneyland was established with much excitement and anticipation in 1955. It was highly successful for the first 10 weeks. Initially, Disney charged an entrance fee and tickets for every ride. However, they shortly merged to include eight rides for $2.50 each. Today, they include full priced packages. There were some operational issues along the way but it continues to thrive to this day and it does not look as if it will be slowing down anytime soon.

Amusement Park Houston

The Houston area is about to be next to establish its own theme park. The Grand Texas Theme Park off of Highway 69 is scheduled to open in 2022. It will be a historical and cultural park about the state of Texas. The new amusement park Houston will be located inside of the Grand Texas Sports and Entertainment District. The construction on that has been going since 2013.


Bonnie Baldwin