Thursday, March 21, 2019

Wonderland (Amusement) Park, Danville, Illinois / Tilton, Illinois

Wonderland Park was built circa 1903 by William B. McKinley, chief executive of the Illinois Traction System. In 1905 the park was operated by the Danville Amusement Co. 
The park was believed to be situated on the west side of South Gilbert Street, just north of the intersection with Tilton Road. The park has also been described as being along Tilton Road near the United Autoworkers Hall and the Golden Oil Company. The third suggested location was between Wayside Drive and Parker Avenue on Tilton Road.

Wonderland Amusement Park was only open on Sundays. The round trip fare was 10 cents. Admission was free if you presented your round trip ticket for the interurban train. There were baseball games during the week but none of the rides or other attractions were open.

Note the misspelling of "Shoot the Chutes" on this postcard.
Rides included a roller coaster, a merry-go-round and other carnival-type rides. Between 1905 and 1907, the park was enlarged to about 15 acres. An old theater was enlarged and remodeled to accommodate about 1,000 persons. A restaurant, a funhouse, a small zoo, a bandstand, billiards and pool hall, bowling alley, refreshment stand, and other attractions were added.

Wonderland Park had a base ball park at the rear of the grounds. There was a Minor League Base Ball team (class D), named the "Danville Old Soldiers" listed as playing in Wonderland Park in 1906.

The name Wonderland Park was changed to Wayside Park in 1907.

An article in the Danville Daily Democrat of June 16, 1907, describes it this way: 
"With pretty flowers, green grass, newly painted buildings, a handsome merry-go-round, which has cost $3,000 to place, practically new roller-coaster, a penny arcade not excelled outside of Chicago, a handsome new Nickelodeon, a theater filled with the stellar lights of comic opera, four additional small shows, cages of fine animals from the provinces of Brazil, eating-stands and dozens of new features which have been added to the old ones which stood in Wonderland Park last year, the new Wayside far overshadows anything ever shown in this or any other city in the state, even twice the size of Danville."
According to an article in the Danville Press-Democrat, Wayside Park was dismantled in April of 1909

Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.

Thank you Leann Stine of the Danville Public Library, for adding information about Wonderland Park. 

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