The story of Memphis Kiddie Park: 70 years as one of the last operating kiddie parks

Memphis Kiddie Park — CLEVELAND, Ohio (CLE WEEKEND) -

How do you create an amusement park that captures the imagination of kids for 70 years?

According to Memphis Kiddie Park (10340 Memphis Ave, Brooklyn) owner Russell Wintner, the “secret sauce” is to make a place where kids feel like they’re in charge. It must work, because the Kiddie Park is not only still running strong since 1952, but has remained largely unchanged in all that time.

Conceived and built by Russell’s father, Stewart Wintner, the park was part of the “Kiddie Park boom”, with small roadside attractions springing up between cities and newly-forming suburbs. Now Memphis is one of the last remaining children’s parks in America.

The small park couldn’t be simpler in its ride selection: there are only 11 attractions. There are the “travel in a little circle” rides (the Merry-Go-Round, the airplanes, the boats, the turtle chase, the rocket ships and the Jeeps), the track cars (electric cars and the pony carts), a Ferris wheel, the “Little Dipper roller coaster, and a small train that chugs around the whole park.

The “Little Dipper” coaster holds its own place in history, as it’s the oldest steel Kiddie coaster in America.

The rides have largely been unchanged since opening day, with a few exceptions. Hand-cranked track cars were replaced by electric cars, and gas-powered toy tractors gave way to the toy pony carts. There used to be live pony rides as well, but were phased out.

The business model is family-friendly. Parking is free, as is admission. Individual ride admission tickets are sold, and never expire. The people who work the park are largely retirees and high schoolers, giving a feeling of being surrounded by grandparents and big brothers and sisters.

The park’s last day for the season is September 6th, so before the air chills and the leaves change, step through the gate of Memphis Kiddie Park and experience a place that’s been magical for generations of kids.

You can see the complete hours of operations on the Kiddie Park website.

Thanks to Danielle Miller for her additional ride footage, and to the people who shared their Memphis Kiddie Park memories within the video.

Zachariah Durr

Zachariah Durr

Video Producer for CLE Weekend since 2018. LIKES: Savory snacks, line drawings, Russian animation. DISLIKES: Wet chips, clickbait, polo shirts where the logo is most of the shirt. Has lived in Texas, Florida, New York and Ohio. Not in that order.