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Amusement Parks: Wonderland Park – a Potted History

Related:  Lakemont Park / Knoebels Amusement Resort / Sesame Place / Gillian's Wonderland Pier

Wonderland Park is an amusement park located in Thompson Memorial Park, which is in Amarillo, Texas.

The idea for the amusement park came from Paul and Alethea Roads who began by purchasing some undeveloped grassland in the memorial park which the city’s Parks and Recreations department flattened and then added trees to in order to transform the area into what was to become ‘Kiddie Land’ which opened in 1951. 

In its early stages, the amusement park just contained 3 children’s rides and a ticket booth which was constructed out of a box. It was an instant success. However, the amusement park on its own was simply not sufficient to sustain a full-time income for Paul Roads and he was to spend the next decade juggling his responsibilities at the amusement park with his ‘day job’ to make ends meet.

It was only after a long and laboured decision making process that Paul finally took the plunge and decided to give up the day job and to focus his complete attention on making the amusement park an even bigger success.

More rides were added to the amusement park and, with that, the Roads decided on a name change to ‘Wonderland’ which was inspired by Alice in ‘Through the Looking Glass’. 

For the past 30 years, the continued success of the amusement park has primarily been the responsibility of the Roads’ daughter, Paula alongside her husband Paul Borchardt who has added many magnificent rides to the amusement park. Some of these rides have been bought from other parks or from manufacturers whilst several have been custom built for the amusement park itself. 

Popular rides at the amusement park include the Texas Tornado, the Rainbow and Pipeline Plunge whilst Paul Roads, himself, has still played an active role in the amusement park’s continued evolution as it was he who designed and built the amusement park’s Fantastic Journey ride. 

In fact, so much devotion did Roads put into this project at the amusement park over a 9 month building period, that new seasonal staff often commented “who is the old guy who keeps coming out of that building?”

The amusement park is now set to continue further along the family tradition path with the Borchardt’s 4 daughters all having worked at the park, with one of them, their eldest daughter, Rebecca, actually committing to the amusement park as a full-time career.

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