Monday, February 15, 2010

The Object of My Desire: Summertime....

Some of you may remember this post from a while back, but it remains one of my favorites.

It's always about this time of year I start to think about the coming of spring, and I can't help but remember how much I used to anticipate the opening of Worlds of Fun, a world-class theme park in Kansas City, where I worked off and on from age 16 until the age of 21.

I used to work as a photographer at a shop called Spittin' Image, one of those instant tin-type joints where customers dressed up in old-time clothes and had their pictures taken.
Spittin' Image was atop the glorious Cotton Blossom docked in a lake with bright blue-green water right at the front of the park. You can see it in the map, here, just to the left of the park entrance where there appears to be a larger-than-life duck swimming next to it. In fact, you could see the stately Cotton Blossom all the way from the highway -- the same grande dame whose exterior appears in the 1951 film Show Boat.

How I loved dressing people up, and I had my lines down: "Ladies, you can be a saloon girl, a southern belle or a bride. Gents, a Civil War officer, a gambler or a cowboy?"

I spent my summers at Worlds of Fun, hanging out with the workers at the Paddle Wheel Cafe, hiding out in the cool confines of the Cotton Blossom Gift Shop on the lower deck when there were no customers and it was scorching hot upstairs, and sneaking off to catch a show at The Tivoli theater or ride The Scream Roller.

Sadly, I've learned that the Cotton Blossom is gone. Instead of saving her-- I remember she was in a rickety state the last time I saw her in the late 1980s -- she was torn down in 1995 to make room for another attraction. I can still hear the ragtime music that played in a loop over the loud speaker, and the screams of riders on the nearby Orient Express, which at the time was the world's largest steel roller coaster -- also gone.

The park is still there, although somewhat stripped of its original charm, but the nearby water tower is still painted with the hot-air-balloon colors of Worlds of Fun, just as I remember it was all the way back when the park opened in the early 1970s.

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous!

The Elegant Thrifter


  1. My guess is that this is what our parents talked about when they spoke of the "Good old Days"....I find myself saying that way too often....smiles.

  2. OH MY GOD... to think you and Ava Gardner have provably walked the same steps on the Cotton Blossom! How fun the park must have been.

  3. ah - Worlds of Fun...haven't been there in at least 10 years. I remember the Cotton Blossom, the Orient Express, and the Zambeezee Zinger (sp?) The Zinger was so mild that it didn't even have safety belts. It's long gone as well. The Timber Wolf is still there, I believe. Someone was killed on it several years ago, I believe. From what I remember, they somehow overrode the safety harness to get more thrills, and flew out of it. I always loved driving the replica antique cars too. Of course, you had to visit Oceans of Fun next door as well when you were there.

  4. I've loved Worlds of Fun since it first opened. It seemed so far away from Overland Park, but that water tower was there to let us know we were getting close! While many of my favorite attractions are gone, there's still plenty of fun to be had. I used to go out there in the evenings for concerts in high school back in the early 80s. They had those great promos: $5 after 5pm, later it was $6 after 6pm. What a bargain! And grad night for the high school seniors was great fun and great memories of that year!

  5. Sweet and sentimental......loved the post, Dianne

  6. Oh gosh. I remember those nights and probably worked every one of them...especially in the early '80s. I worked there off and on from 1981 to 1987 In fact, if you ever had an antique picture done there, I very well may have taken it! Stan

  7. What an intriguing and very facinating blog you have - I have really enjoyed visiting here !! XX



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