Monday, April 12, 2010

Legend City

Being a Zonie, an Arizonan born and raised, I have seen many changes around the city, and many other localities around the state. I have witnessed many old places being torn down and replaced by newer and sometimes better places. One such place that holds a big part in my memories is Legend City. This place was billed as an Old West theme park, inspired by the layout of Disneyland. It was located on the border of Phoenix and Tempe and lasted only 20 years.

On June 29, 1963, Legend City opened to much excitement by the local residences. They had high hopes of this being our version of Disneyland with a western feel to it. It featured several different attractions that were popular and always stick in the memories of those of us habitual visitors to the park. There was the Lost Dutchman Mine ride, Cochise’s Stronghold river ride, Sky Ride, a Penny Arcade, Gay 90’s Miniature Golf, Log Jammer, Iron Horse train ride, and many more fun and fast rides. A local kid’s TV show, “Wallace and Ladmo” appeared there almost every weekend the park was opened. Even an ex-Miss America 1965, Vonda Kay Van Dyke, presented a well-liked ventriloquist act at the park’s Golden Palace Saloon.

I have many memories of visiting Legend City, first with my parents and then with my friends. There were many times that we had nothing to do on weekends and lucky for us, Legend City was there as a place we could go to have fun. The prices were affordable and allowed us to experience all the attractions of the entire park. We got to know some of the employees, which usually gained us free access to some of the rides. It was definitely a fun place for us teenies to hang out in.

Legend City wasn’t without its problems. Through its 20 years of existence, it fell into hardship with a series of closings, bankruptcies, and ownership changes. After many years of difficulties and falling into financial disarray, it was finally sold to Salt River Project, a local electric company, in 1982. The doors were permanently closed after the 1983 season was over, then dismantled and bulldozed to make way for the new corporate offices for the electric company.

Even though Legend City is truly now considered a legend, it has fond memories for all of us that often visited the park when it was at its most successful era. Perhaps it is our very hot summers or the failing state budget is why this fifth largest city in the United States is lacking a major amusement park.



6 comments:

  1. Oh, Julie, what memories...burning against metal seating, sweating, sun beating down, dying of thirst... It was miserable and yet fun! I remember going there with a date once and he vomited all over everything--I'm the type who loves to spin nonstop and never ever get motion sickness. Apparently, he was not. Perhaps a good way to find out compatibility. Thanks for the memories! I heard Kingman is getting a huge amusement park like Six Flags type. Quite a drive and not really great weather for a lot of the year, but better than Disneyland, I would guess (drive-wise and crowd-wise)...

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  2. Yeah, it did get pretty hot in LC in the summer, but the blazin' summers didn't bother me much when I was a youngin'. That is a funny story about you and your date, but I bet he didn't think so. I did hear about a possible amusement park in Kingman but not sure if or when that will ever happen.

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  3. Sounds like it was a pretty cool place once upon a time.

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  4. NEAT! I wish I'd ever gone there. I know my family never took me. But we did always go to that other place that used to be way out in the desert. now the name is escaping me. But they serve steaks and have an old cowboy town...dang it. I wish I could remember the name. don't know if it's still there, and with all the growth that's happened I'm sure it's no longer out in the desert by its lonesome. What a cool, cool article. (Again.)

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  6. Oh my this brings back many memories I was born in Phoenix and remember legend city all to well my buddy and played baseball,and were quite good throwing a ball, they had a game were you threw baseballs at clowns and if you knocked down three of them you won a big stuffed teddy bear,we went out there almost every weekend, the old boy running this game would see us standing in line and when it was our turn, he he would say which one of these bears do you want?we had won so many of them in the past he did not want to go through it again so he would just give us a couple and tell not to come back that night I think he was loosing money on us, it was 9 balls for a buck and we would almost always win two or three of them each time. but trust me that was a long time ago I was 17 or 18 then .I now live in Kansas city Ks and in the winter time wish I was there,I also lived in northern Arizona for a period of time went to school in Cottonwood and Jerome ,as a freshman the seniors made us paint the J on the hill above Jerome so lots of good memories from there thanks for the article DC

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