Thursday, January 2, 2020

Storyland (Amusement) Park, Elk Grove Village, Illinois. (1957-1961)

Storyland Park was a fairy-tale story experience for young children. It opened on May 1, 1957, at Higgins Road and Touhy Avenue in Elk Grove Village by an enterprising ex-ice skaters Durell Everding (who also owned Santa's Village), Shirley Taylor, George McIlvaine, and Ray Abney.  They constructed exhibits attractive to children and adults on the theme of Mother Goose and Fairyland.
The Storyland owners had about 22 exhibits starting out and were striving to add one per week to the total. The owners constructed all the exhibits themselves. The storybook figures and houses were constructed of plastic and concrete. Everding and Abney doing the heavy sculpturing work and Miss Taylor the painting, and McIlvaine, who worked during the week with his father in an electronics manufacturing business, responsible for the mechanical work.
A sausage and cheese factory (If you know the company name, please comment) was the entrance to the park. Visitors had to go through the factory to the entrance to Storyland Park. It was noted that most children would hold their noses on the way through, only to be delighted to be welcomed by an 8-foot high figure of Mother Goose. 

Storyland Park's claim to fame happened in June of 1957 when a deer named "Brownie" gave birth to triplets, adding to the park's animal population which also included a midget cow weighing 125 pounds, ducks, rabbits, and deer. Since deer rarely have triplet fawns, this made the news around the area. There was a small duck pond where a child could fill a barge with seed, press a button that starts a tugboat which pulls the barge in circles. The live ducks chase the barge to get the seed and sometimes upset it in their eagerness for treats.
Among the amusement park, kiddie rides were several mechanical storybook exhibits. A child can push a button and one of the Storyland characters will perform.  At Red Riding Hood's house, a wolf pops out of the window and snaps his jaw. At another exhibit, a button prompts a cow to jump over the moon. 
Other mechanical operations included the white whale Moby Dick which spouts water 10 feet in the air. There was a gingerbread house that proved such a dangerous attraction for Hansel and Gretel, depicted in plastic figures. A little girl figure drenched in rain; in keeping with the poem - "Rain, rain go away."
For some yet unknown/undiscovered reason, in July of 1961, the owners of Storyland withdrew an application to build Storyland amusement park at Busse and Landmeier. (Unknown why they left their old location.) The Elk Grove Townships site was zoned for single-family residential development, which the application, submitted 6 months earlier, to change the zoning to B-5 general commercial district was denied. 

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.

2 comments:

  1. WOW ! I recall going to this amusement park in the early 60's with my sister and dad.

    They had several rides , a winter sled that would go down a slight hill that was frozen with refrigeration equipment. and an airplane ride that had electric motors with exposed propellers on each plane...rather dangerous by today's standards.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I never knew that this Amusement Park existed.

    ReplyDelete

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