WORLDS OF FUN HISTORY - 2000's
The new century and new millennium has brought along with it a lot of hardships, change and several good memories as well as terrible ones as well. Who knew the economy would be belly up? Who knew we would hit a recession and who could have foreseen September 11, 2001? Itís changed us, maybe for the better, maybe for the worse only time will tell. With the countryís economy crumbling it in a way seemed like the park and all of its memories would go along that route too. 2000 began rather bumpy, with the park picking the pieces up of the 1999 season prior, most overlooked the addition of the park's fifth coaster at that time, Boomerang. Though Boomerang was given scathing reviews for being completely unoriginal, it became fairly popular with park guests, and gave the park a status it had not had since 1985... more then four coasters.
Camp Snoopy would be the "new" addition for 2001, and along with it, the park welcomed another change, in management. Both changes provided for fans a glimmer of hope for the future of the park and were stark contrasts to even the most previous year. While Boomerang was literally thrown into the hole left by the beloved Zambezi Zinger, with very little thought to esthetics or landscaping; Camp Snoopy was the opposite of Boomerang, well planned, quite beautiful and fun for all ages.
Worlds of Fun wouldn't leave their worst trait to the 20th century though, the tradition of ride removals was back again in 2001. Out went the beloved, but ever breaking down Omegatron. The next year, 2002, came a new hope though, Thunderhawk.
The inner workings of the park werenít as pristine as the attendance starting seriously slipping. The 2000 decade was the first years to see Worlds of Funís attendance dive under one million ever in its history. 2003 didnít seem to help Worlds of Fun out at all, but it did help Oceans of Fun as the parkís sister water park added at that time the Midwestís largest water playground and named it Paradise Falls. It boosted Oceans of Funís attendance to near record levels, but Worlds of Fun again took a turn for the worse.
Worlds of Fun was hurting a little, attendance wasnít good, but the park did look a lot better. However, one ride was hurting a lot. The Orient Express, was hurting, and hurting bad. It was closed almost half the season, the track was failing, and it was time for those out there to get one last ride. Some didnít get it; in late September the beloved and sometimes loathed Orient Express gave its last ride, and was closed for good. It was last time for the Arrow chain lift to be heard through the park, the last time hearing it structure shake as you walked in. In November the great red ride was removed. However, unlike every one of its predecessors this removal was visual from the road. Click the photo to the left to see more deconstruction photos
2004, started on a somber note, there was a new roller coaster, Spinning Dragons. Finally a family roller coaster to replace the long lost Zambezi Zinger. It is a great ride, a fun ride. It wasnít the Orient Express though. Many on opening day watching the continuing construction of Spinning Dragons this didnít open for another month, a few cryed about the missing Orient Express. There was a lot of anger there too, many were upset that Spinning Dragons dare even try to replace the mighty Orient Express. It was a glaring sore spot and one that had to be solved fast.
2005 was the swing year, The park could have let it get worse, and its easy to imagine the prospects especially today with so many parks closing. They didn't though. This time the park's saving grace wouldn't come soley from a steel terror, it wouldn't even cost millions of dollars. It would be a little thing called Halloweekends. Many parks have Halloween events, even Worlds of Fun did prior to 2005. Guests didn't come for just that event though. 2005 changed that, as new, scary, thrilling haunted houses would invade the park's midways. Lore of the Vampire, Camp Gonna Gitch, and Asylum Island would become the new terrors on the midways. It worked. It was amazing to all of us that Worlds of Fun became competition to the classic Kansas City River Bottom's Haunted Houses.
Patriot needed to happen, of all the coasters at Worlds of Fun none could be considered such a direct replacement as Patriot was for the Orient Express. Added in 2006, and opening on a rather cold day, Worlds of Fun had a new state of the art steel thrill coaster for the first time in eight years. Did it propel Worlds of Fun back into a golden age immediatly? No. It did make the future look a little brighter. It signaled that there were those that still worked at the park that cared about it and it gave the park a healthy competitive atmosphere, something it had been missing for several years.
So again I leave you, the future is an open book. Amazing though, so is the past. We learn from those that have came before us, and so change our history and our future at the same time.