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Kiddieland ad 1948.jpg

Kiddieland (or Kiddieland Park) was a small amusement park which operated at the Alabama State Fairgrounds from 1948 to the mid 1980s.

The park was planned by the Alabama State Fair Authority, newly reorganized under the ownership of the City of Birmingham, as an effort to combat juvenile delinquency. It was aimed at primarily at younger children and was seen as the successor to the East Lake Amusement Park, which closed during the Great Depression. Birmingham News city editor Vincent Townsend chaired the subcommittee responsible for developing the attraction. Walling Keith managed the park for the authority.

The $100,000 park opened on June 5, 1948. Special guests that week included Joe Rumore and Happy Wilson's Golden River Boys, as well as the Industrial High School band and Captain J. P. Snyder's trained bears. Ernest Norris, president of Southern Railways dedicated the park's "Little Southerner" miniature train, which was sponsored by the railroad.

WSGN-AM and the News sponsored a weekly contest during the first summer, inviting kids to send short essays to Miss Ann, who read comic strips over the air, describing which character they'd like to bring to the park. The winning boy and girl would be crowned King and Queen of Kiddieland and have their pictures in the newspaper. The park's bandstand featured "hillbilly shows" and concerts on Sundays. The entertainments were broadcast live on WSGN. Admission and parking were free, with most rides costing 9¢ for children and 10-20¢ for adults. Free rides were given to "underprivileged groups" during special events sponsored by the park and local civic clubs.

Entrance sign for Kiddieland

Many of the park's thrill rides were supplied by the National Amusement Device Company (NAD) of Dayton, Ohio. William L'Horbe, Jr and Charles Paige from NAD provided design and consulting for the park's development. The park and each ride within it boasted a neon-lit entrance arch created by Dixie Neon for $10,000.

Previously open only to white patrons, Kiddieland was closed on January 1, 1962, along with all of Birmingham's city parks, in defiance of a court order to end segregation. The parks were reopened to all comers by the newly-installed Birmingham City Council in July 1963.

After the majority of the original rides were dismantled, the site continued to be used for traveling carnivals, such as Spring Fling and Fall Carnival, which were subsidized by the city of Birmingham.

Rides and attractions

  • "Kiddie Merry-Go-Round", three abreast model built by Allen Herschel (1948-)
  • Large Ferris Wheel, No. 5 model, built by National Amusement Devices
  • Kiddie Ferris Wheel, built by National Amusement Devices (1948-)
  • "Airplane Ride" swing ride, built by Smith & Smith (1948-)
  • "Auto Ride" cars, built by Allen Herschel (1948-)
  • "Scrambler"
  • "Comet Junior" roller coaster, built by National Amusement Devices, with 750 feet of track and 14' vertical drop (1948-)
  • "Caterpillar" roller coaster
  • Clowns on Tricycles
  • Swans and Turtles
  • "Flying Scooter" swing ride, built by Bisch-Rocco (1948-)
  • Chair swing
  • "Rock-O-Plane"
  • "Auto Scooter" bumper cars
  • "Spitfire"
  • "Tilt-A-Whirl"
  • "The Little Navy U Drive It 'Speed Boats'", 10 fiberglass gas-powered boats built by National Amusement Devices, operated in the park's swimming pool (1948-)
  • "Laff in the Dark" dark ride ("pretzel")
  • "Laugh Land" funhouse
  • "Penny Arcade" operated by Fred Goldstein for the L. & H. Distributing Co. (1948-)
  • "Shooting Gallery"
  • "Kiddieland Zoo" petting zoo (exhibiting "Mary's Little Lamb", "The Three Little Pigs", "Brer Fox", "Brer 'Coon" and other storybook characters
  • Crosley miniature fire engine rides
  • Bandstand gazebo
  • Pony rides and pony-pulled buggy rides
  • Jeep ride, built by W. J. Bethel (1948-)
  • Youth center with "milk bar" and juke box (1948-)
  • Free picnic grounds with barbecue and shelter

Little Southerner

Main article: Little Southerner

The "Little Southerner" miniature train was a replica of "The Southerner" streamliner which stopped in Birmingham on its route between New Orleans, Louisiana and New York, New York.

Alabama State Fairgrounds
Buildings Alabama State Fair cattle barn · Bill Harris Arena · Birmingham International Raceway · Exposition Building · Kiddieland
Events Alabama State Fair · Birmingham Fairgrounds Flea Market · Fair Park redevelopment · Fall Carnival · Southern Heritage Festival · Spring Fling
Exhibits Batmobile Rescue Ship · Engine No. 4018 · Historical Panorama of Alabama Agriculture · Vulcan
Organizations Alabama State Fair Authority · Birmingham Bandits · Birmingham Magicians · Birmingham Power · Magic City Court Kings


External links