America's Oldest Theme Park?

Sunday, November 8, 2009 1:29 AM

Got into a discussion about the oldest theme park in america tonight, said that I believed Cedar Point is the second oldest, but wasn't sure about the oldest. So after looking quite a few places state that Lake Compounce is the oldest. Began in 1895. However in looking at cedar point history, people began using the island for swimming in the 1870's, Grand Pavilion was erected in 1888, and Switchback Railway was installed in 1892. Making it easily older than Lake Compounce.

My Question to you :

What is America's oldest theme/amusement park?

Sunday, November 8, 2009 1:44 AM

1846 was when Lake Compounce started i think. So yea it is the oldest.

I don't know where you got that number from.

Last edited by Eric Hossfield, Sunday, November 8, 2009 1:46 AM
Sunday, November 8, 2009 2:51 AM

I believe that Knotts berry farm is the oldest "theme park".

Lake compounce is an amusement park....not a theme park.

Last edited by crazy horse, Sunday, November 8, 2009 2:53 AM
Sunday, November 8, 2009 4:36 AM

Funny, I could have sworn that Holiday World claims itself the oldest "theme" park.

Sunday, November 8, 2009 9:25 AM

Holiday World opened its doors in August of 1946 as Santa Claus Land making it the oldest "theme" park.

While Knotts Berry Farm started in the 1920s, it was not until the 1950s that they actually became a "theme" park.

Sunday, November 8, 2009 11:40 AM

^^^^ Cedar Point claims itself to be an 'Amusement Park'. I guess a theme would be silver queue rails and concrete...

Yup, I think it's good, smart and friendly Holidayworld, kudos!

Sunday, November 8, 2009 11:56 AM

If knotts is not the oldest theme park, somebody better tell them. It's right there in big print on knotts web site here.......

"The success of the chicken dinners was immediate and by 1940 the restaurant was serving as many as 4,000 dinners on Sunday evenings. To give waiting customers something to do and to pay homage to the pioneering spirit of his grandparents and his love of the Old West, Walter developed Ghost Town, eventually the first of Knott's Berry Farm's six themed areas."

In 1940 , knotts added it's first(and oldest) section of the theme park.

The history of the park can be found here......

Last edited by crazy horse, Sunday, November 8, 2009 12:06 PM
Sunday, November 8, 2009 1:35 PM

After looking again, i see the 1846, so yeah that would be oldest. I must have been tired last night, im not sure where i found 1895. Actually looking up 1895 it was the year the first major buildings were built there.

Not sure why i didn't see 1846 last night.

I want me some chicken dinner.

Sunday, November 8, 2009 1:47 PM

Knott's and Holiday World have both claimed to be the oldest operating "theme park" in the U.S. for as long as I can remember. While it's true that Knott's had attractions, shows and an elborately themed area in the 1940s there were no rides until the early 50s. So we have to ask--was it really a theme park in the 1940s or just a heavily themed roadside attraction?

Since most park enthusiasts associate "themed amusement park" with rides, I'm guessing most enthusiasts (but I have no empirical data) recognize Holiday World as the country's oldest theme park.

Sunday, November 8, 2009 4:44 PM

As I recall the only "ride" that Santa Claus Land had when it opened was the train , although I can't confirm that it was actually in service when the park opened in the late summer of 1946. Knotts started givng rides on the Butterfield Stage Coach in 1949, followed by the building of the Ghost Town & Calico RR in 1951. Bud Hurlbut began his long association with the Knott family in 1955 with the installation of his Gustav Dentzel carousel (former Hershey Park machine).

Now the key word that has been brought up is "rides" , plural. I don't think that either one of them had more than one major ride untill the early 1950's. A roadside attraction (which both of them were initally) with a single ride a theme park does not make.

Last edited by Dutchman, Sunday, November 8, 2009 4:46 PM
Sunday, November 8, 2009 5:45 PM

We prefer the word "first."

Old just sounds ... old. :)


Sunday, November 8, 2009 6:02 PM

Theme parks are amusement parks, in my eyes. Even if the "amusement" parks lack of theme, there's still a theme.

Sunday, November 8, 2009 7:30 PM

Dutchman said:
As I recall the only "ride" that Santa Claus Land had when it opened was the train , although I can't confirm that it was actually in service when the park opened in the late summer of 1946.

According to HW's website they opened with "a toy shop, toy displays, themed children’s rides, a restaurant, and, of course, Santa Claus."

Note that rides is plural. It may have been small, but I think at this point although it was a themed children's park, it was nonetheless a theme park.

Sunday, November 8, 2009 7:48 PM

Knott's officially was a theme park in 1940 (where themed Ghost Town attractions and horse-carriage rides first popped up), although it originated in the 1920's as a Berry Stand.

Holiday World did not open until 6 years later. So Knott's is America's first theme park.

Key word is theme park.

Obviously, Knott's is not the oldest amusement park. Those go WAYYYY back.

Sunday, November 8, 2009 8:57 PM

I think your dates are off, everything I've seen indicates the horse-carriage rides at Knott's started in 1949, three years after Santa Claus Land opened. Prior to that it there were no rides, just shows and attractions. To me that is not a theme park.

Sunday, November 8, 2009 9:06 PM

My theme park is older than your theme park.

Sunday, November 8, 2009 9:24 PM

And all of this matters how?

Sunday, November 8, 2009 10:22 PM

Yeah, Knoebels still beats them all, right RGB? ;)

Sunday, November 8, 2009 10:37 PM

Fun said:
My theme park is older than your theme park.

Exactly what I was thinking. I kind of wish that I said that. lol

Monday, November 9, 2009 12:16 AM

I'm sorry, some people like historical minutiae. If you don't have anything to add to the discussion, I believe the polite thing to do is move onto another thread.


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