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Funland Amusement Park

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Funland Entrance

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The Chutes

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The Chutes
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The Chutes

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Kiddie Boat Ride

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Miniature Train

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Tribune February 28, 1955

On January 2, 1952 Funland Park, Inc. was formed. The park ran at the Point Defiance, WA location (close to the Tacoma Zoo) until the decision was made to stop operation after the 1964 season.  The original Funland had opened May 30, 1933.

Mr. Widenmann operated the wooden roller coaster at Jantzen Beach (which closed after a major fire and removal of the roller coaster), Mr. Bollinger owned “The Oaks” and Mr. LeRoy (who did the maintenance of the rides when needed) was a Superintendent for Mr. Bollinger.

Only one share holder was to receive a salary, Mr. Widenmann, as he was devoted full time to operating the park.

December 28, 1950, the following personal property was purchased from William J. Gerlings. 
  • 1 - Schutes,
  • 5 - Boats, Ticket Box, complete;
  • 1-Buzzer, complete;
  • 1 Merry Mix Up, complete;
  • 1 Miniature Train, as is;
  • 1 Dodgem -  portable building, 16 cars and extra parts;
  • 1 Photo Machine - double unit (1 lens missing), as is;
  • 1 Shooting Gallery with no guns;
  • 1 Manley Popcorn Machine;
  • 1 Candy Floss machine; 39 Benches;
  • 1 500-gallon gas tank and pump;
  • 2 Portable Concession Stands;

  • Restaurant equipment including
  • 2 electric ice-cream cabinets,
  • 1 electric grill, stainless steel sink and electric pop cooler;

  • Office equipment consisting of
  • a safe, desk, counters and 3 small cash registers; together with miscellaneous equipment incidental to the operation of said amusement park, known as "Funland", including lighting equipment. 

All of said equipment is located at Funland in Port Defiance Park, Tacoma, WA, save and excepting the Dodgem portable building and 16 cars, which are now located at 9106 Gravelly Lake Drive, Tacoma.  Seller warrants that said rides are complete with necessary accessories and, with the exception of Dodgem and miniature train, were in operating condition.

On December 30, 1950, W. R. Widenmann and Robert Bollinger secured a six-year lease covering the amusement area within the confines of Point Defiance Park, Tacoma, Washington.

At the 1952 Board Meeting, Mr. Bollinger advised that an additional $5,000 cash had been turned over to the secretary for the repair of the Dodgem equipment and miniature train plus another $5,000 for merry-go-round (Mr. Bollinger was the main source of loans to Funland with Mr. Widenmann secondary. Bank loans were taken when needed).

This location was great and provided enjoyment for many people. The following rides and concessions were available (listed in alphabetical order). 
    • Boats - Kiddie Ride;
      • Six 4 passenger boats (two power boats)

    •  Buzzer Amusement Ride
      • A big Tumble Bug built by Travers Engineering Co. of Beaver Falls, PA.
      • Consisted of 5 cars with 3 spare motors and miscellaneous parts and equipment

    •  C-Cruise
      • Four 6 passenger boats, four 6 passenger tubs, Ford V8 gas motor power plant.   Operates on butane.
      • Ride was made in Albany and ran around a track - similar to the Tumble Bug

    •  Chute the Chutes
      • A water ride that was popular in the early 1900's

    •  Concessions

    •  Dodgem'
      • Scooter ride c1932 consisting of 14 electric powered cars, semi-portable building 33 feet by 66 feet

    • Eli Ferris Wheel #12
      • Twelve seats with electric power

    •  Jeep - Kiddie Ride
      • Ten small autos, electric power, 1hp gear head motor 220 volt, single phase

    •  Fun-In-the-Dark - was built by Russ Langberg of Seattle, WA
      • Pretzel ride where 2-passenger cars moved through a maze within a darkened building
      • 400' of track, 5 cars with stunts

    • Games

    • Jet Plane Amusement Ride - Kiddie Ride
      • 5 planes powered by individual propeller motors, 220 volt, single phase

    •  Laughing Gallery with 8 mirrors

    • Merry-Go-Round
      • 36 foot diameter, 30 jumping horses and 2 chariots; 7 1/2 HP electric motor 3 0 220 volt, clutch drive, 1955 canvas top

    • Merry Mix-Up
      • 36 chairs, 10 hp electric motor 

    • Octopus

    • Park & Ride

    • Photo Machine

    • Pop Corn very popular with patrons

    • Restaurant

    • Rock O Plane

    •  Shotgun Gallery
      • Consisting of 5 guns, Target and miscellaneous parts

    •  Train - Miniature steam-type locomotive
      • Used a Model A Ford 4 (A51531) cylinder gasoline motor, 3 coaches, 18" gauge with tunnel & storage shed;
      • Locomotive, Tender, Gas Motor, 3 5-seat passenger coaches

When the Chute the Chutes was destroyed in a windstorm on February 28, 1955, the park attendance declined. After serious flooding in late 1964, Mr. Widenmann and Mr. Bollinger decided to terminate their lease with the city.

All corporation stock ownership plus the rides and park equipment reverted to Mr. Bollinger as partial payment of loans he made to the company.

Some of the rides and park equipment were sold to Mr. Rutherford (one of mayors of Long Beach, WA). The merry-go-round was operated in Long Beach. The City of Tacoma was very impressed with Mr. Widenmann's efforts to keep the park running and decided if he couldn't make it profitable then no one could. The park property was reconverted to other uses in 1965.

Storm Leaves Wake of Damage Funland Park,
Pt Defiance, WA

Shoot-the-Shoots 'Shot'
"The 65-foot-high tower of the Shoot-the-Shoots at Funland at Point Defiance Park, lies in wreckage, the victim of 50-70 m.p.h. winds early Monday morning.

No One was injured when the fun 'ride' crashed to the ground.

William Widenmann, part owner of Funland, said the 'ride' would cost $15,000 to replace.

Widenmann said he plans to replace the tower, but may not get to it this year. It was not insured against wind damage.

Widenmann said he had put $5,600 in repairs on the tower only last year. The thrill slide was built in 1946."

Monday, February 28, 1955
The Tacoma News Tribune
No. 153 issue of 72nd year
News Tribune Staff Photo

Article by
Leonard Saari

. . . The savage winds did their biggest single bit of damage at Funland adjacent to Point Defiance Park, where the "Shoot the Shoots" tower crashed to the ground.  The 65-foot high structure was a "twisted piece of junk" when Weston Widenmann, part owner of Funland, arrived for work at 7:30 am.

Tower Topples - "It was rather a shock to see the highest thing in the park lying over on its side," he said.  widenmann said he plants to re-build the fun ride but doesn't know if he'll make it this year.

The $15,000 loss wasn't covered by insurance against wind damage, he said. . . .

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