144: Theme Parks

"FreedomTrain" by Holiday World & Splashin' Safari / OParalyzerx at en.wikipedia - Holiday World & Splashin' Safari FlickrTransferred from en.wikipedia by SreeBot. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:FreedomTrain.jpg#/media/File:FreedomTrain.jpg

Santa Claus Land Railroad in Santa Claus, Ind. (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

On August 3, 1946, the first theme park, Santa Claus Land, opened in Santa Claus, Indiana.

Here are some things you may not know about theme parks.

First, there’s a difference between an amusement park and a theme park. Theme parks are amusement parks built around a particular theme. Santa Claus Land was built by Louis J. Koch after visiting the Indiana town which was not capitalizing on its namesake. The park, obviously, had a Christmas theme, with Santa Claus available year-round. Later the park would change its name to Holiday World and have other areas based on other holidays.

Second, Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park, California, began as a fruit stand, and later added fried chicken dinners, which became so popular people would wait hours for a seat. Walter Knott built a ghost town attraction to entertain the people waiting in line. The park was fenced in and admission was charged for the first time in 1968.

Third, Dollywood, a theme park owned by country music entertainer Dolly Parton, began in 1961 as Rebel Railroad, a train ride with a Civil War theme. Parton bought the Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, park in 1986 and renamed it. Since then, the park has doubled in size and welcomes more than 3 million guests a year.

Our question: Where did the first Ferris wheel debut?

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