Unearthed details of proposed Chicago Taft park!

Thursday, February 14, 2002 7:59 AM
For some time now, I have been researching a "lead" I got from a very old information that was published when King's Island was first opened.

Upon reading it, I stumbled across a little blurb about how Taft was in design stages for King's Dominion in Richmond but was also eyeing the Toronto and Chicago areas for future park development.

This intrigued me. Obviously we now know that Toronto finally got Wonderland, yet Chicago never got their Taft park. The interest in their development came at a time when Riverview was closed (I believe) and Mariott had yet to begin to develop or build what is now SFGAM. Great America did not open until 1976.

Well, I have just unearthed the details of the Chicago plans. The option to puchase land in the Chicago area by Taft (this was prior to "KECO" being formed and all fell under the Taft umbrella) had been secured and the Chicago area park was indeed in the initial development stages.

I am not that familiar with Chicago and it's layout, however maybe other locals can help. By the end of 1973, Taft had secured the option to buy and develop 800 acres of land on the Northwest Illinois Tollway (Interstate 90) at State Road 47. They were "actively investigating the development of an amusement park and leisure time complex in that location" according to my information. All of this was ocurring in the spring of 1973 following the success of Kings Island's opening.

My question to locals is, wouldn't this be near the area where Great America was eventually developed? Doesn't it seem ironic that when Mariott no longer operated the Great Americas that Taft (which by then had become a KECO park)was enlisted to manage the CA location, while the Chicago park was sold to SF? I am still curious about all of this and hope to find out more details.

My initial perception is that basically there must have been some sour grapes that developed between Taft and Chicago area planners. I expect that maybe Taft either pulled out and Mariott took over, or Mariott pulled the rug from under Taft's feet and developed GAM with the cooperation of the city. Perhaps from there, when Mariott's reign ended years later, KECO was approaced to take over the Chicago Great America but passed allowing for SF to buy the park. They opted to take the reigns of the CA park and eventually bought the lions share. Hence Paramount's Great America in CA.

But with each passing tid-bit of info I get about Chicago, it seems we almost had a Paramount's Great America in the midwest!

Hmmmmmm, isn't this interesting? Does anyone else have any insight?


A.K.A. John K.

*** This post was edited by Shaggy on 2/14/2002. ***

Thursday, February 14, 2002 8:14 AM
Actually I-90 and Rt. 47 isn't anywhere near SFGam, though it would be an interesting location...midway between Chicago and Rockford. As it stands that area is still mostly just farmland and open area.
Thursday, February 14, 2002 8:19 AM
You know, I always love hearing about the Taft-KECO story.  The Paramount Parks have VERY interesting histories, and that's why I love PKI so much, because of it's incredible past...
Thursday, February 14, 2002 8:34 AM

I-90 and 47 is a pretty rural area, but at that location is currently a 50-or-so store outlet shopping center. I've never stopped, so I don't know the year it was built. Judging by the architecture and look of the place, I'd hazard a guess that it was built in the late '80's or early '90's.

"Just remember, wherever you go, there you are." - Buckaroo Banzai

Thursday, February 14, 2002 8:59 AM
That land is rural giong all the way to Rockford.  Rockford which is allways the topic for places to build a park that would fight against SFGAM.  I could only imagine that Gurnee where SFGAM is located was just rural farm land also, at the time it was built.  Either spot would have been good I think. 
Thursday, February 14, 2002 9:11 AM
Yes, I-90 and Rte 47 is Huntley, Ill which now has the Huntley Factory Outlets and the Dell Webb Sun City retirement community. Both are located right along the tollway and 47. That spot actually is the midway point between Chicago and Rockford.

Interesting find Shaggy. They would have been able to aquire that land for next to nothing back in the 70's.

"The Peoples Elbow" or "The Spinaroonie?. Cant decide which is the most electrifying move in sports entertainment!!! LOL

Thursday, February 14, 2002 10:28 AM
That location back in the 70's would have been very close to popular creak music theater....
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*** This post was edited by Coaster Art Guy on 2/14/2002. ***

Thursday, February 14, 2002 11:26 AM
Poplar Creek was at Route 59 and I-90 which is about 15 miles East of rte 47 on I 90
"It's Deja Vu all over again." - Yogi Berra

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