Worlds of Fun is a 235-acre amusement park in Kansas City, Missouri, United States. The park opened in 1973 and is owned and operated by Cedar Fair, which purchased the park from Hunt-Midwest in 1995. Admission to Worlds of Fun includes access to Oceans of Fun, a water park adjacent to the amusement park.
Worlds of Fun opened on May 2, 1973, at a cost of $10 million. It is situated at the northern edge of a vast industrial complex in the bluffs above the Missouri River in Clay County, Missouri. At the time of its opening, numerous modernization projects across Kansas City were in progress including the opening of Kansas City International Airport, Kemper Arena (now called Hy-Vee Arena) and the Truman Sports Complex. Mid-America Enterprises, seeking to capitalize on the citywide expansion movement, began construction on a new amusement park in 1969. The park was originally planned to complement a 500-acre (2.0 km2) hotel and entertainment complex, but a lagging economy during the park’s early years derailed the idea.
In 1974, the first addition to Worlds of Fun was the 4000-seat Forum Amphitheater opened in the Europa section of the park. In 1976, a new section opened in honor of the United States Bicentennial – the 200th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence – and was named Bicentennial Square. The new section included the debut of Screamroller from Arrow Dynamics, which was a replica of the first modern-looping roller coaster, Corkscrew, that opened a year earlier at Knott’s Berry Farm.
In 1982, Oceans of Fun opened next door as the largest water park in the world. Also the same year, a sub-world “River City” was opened in Americana bordering the Orient section. Screamroller was transformed into Extremeroller the following year, which featured stand-up trains instead of the original sit-down models making it the first looping, stand-up roller coaster in North America. Several years later in 1989, Worlds of Fun ended the decade with the addition of Timber Wolf, a wooden roller coaster that initially ranked high in several national polls.
Cedar Fair LP purchased Worlds of Fun in 1995. The new owners invested $10 million with the addition of Mamba, a D.H. Morgan Manufacturing steel hypercoaster, to the park’s attraction lineup in 1998.
The park takes its theme from the Jules Verne book, Around the World in Eighty Days. Worlds of Fun is divided into five major sections (Scandinavia, Africa, Europa, the Orient, and Americana). Rides, attractions, shops, shows, and restaurants are named according to the area theme. Guests enter the park in Scandinavia. In 1997 the Americana “main entrance” was closed for the creation of Grand Prix, so the “back gate” became the “main gate” ever since. The next world to the left is Africa, continuing in a clockwise rotation, guest would then enter the Americana section, followed by the Orient. The Europa section is located in the approximate center of the circle.
Within Americana, lies the sub-section of Planet Snoopy (the area of the park specifically for young children). Originally added in 1978 as an expansion of Americana, over the years the grounds have changed its identity several times. Initially it was called “Aerodrome” (1978-86) with futuristic rides for adults, it then became a children’s area called “Pandamonium!” (1987-97), then “Berenstain Bear Country” (1997-2000), and “Camp Snoopy” (2001-2010), and is currently “Planet Snoopy”, new to the 2011 season. Past sub-sections have also included Bicentennial Square, River City, and Beat Street, which all have been absorbed back into Americana.
Despite the lack of an Australian/Oceanic section, the Australian-themed Boomerang roller coaster is incorporated into Africa.
Oceans of Fun is Worlds of Fun’s water park. It opened in 1982 as the world’s largest water park. It is included with admission to Worlds of Fun, beginning in the 2013 season.
Fast Lane is Worlds of Fun’s “two line” system introduced 2012. For a cost between $30 and $50 (in addition to normal admission charges), visitors receive a wrist band that enables them to bypass the standby line and enter the “Fast Lane” line to significantly reduce their wait time.
During Halloween Haunt, a similar system named “Fright Lane” is sold. Serving the same purpose as Fast Lane, it significantly reduces wait time of select haunted attractions. “Fright Lane+” includes a “Skeleton Key”, a key that grants you special access to secret, intense rooms in six of the eight haunted houses. In addition, holders receive special seating for Ed Alonzo’s Psycho Circus of Magic and Mayhem. “Fright Lane Max” is a VIP system that allows you special seating at Overlord’s Awakening, a meal, limited edition Haunt T-shirts, plus all perks listed above.
In 2005 Worlds of Fun opened the first on-site resort. The campground is adjacent to the park, and is located “behind” Mamba. The Village has 22 cabins and 20 cottages and 82 sites for RVs, complete with electric and TV cable hook ups. Each cabin or cottage can fit 6-8 people.
“Snoopy’s Hot Summer Lights”, which debuted in 2010, was an immersive light and sound experience starring the Peanuts characters. Snoopy’s Hot Summer Lights features over 2 million LED lights and a variety of audio soundtracks through the Africa and Europa sections of the park. Along the walkway there were replicas of Snoopy and other characters for guests to view. Snoopy’s Hot Summer Lights was a one million dollar investment that used special effects and sound design, custom designed for Worlds of Fun by Emmy Award-Winning RWS and Associates. Snoopy’s Hot Summer Lights opened for its original run on June 4 and ran through September 5, 2010.
Halloween Haunt is a Halloween event that takes place during the Halloween season. It is included in the price of admission.
As of 2019[update], it features 12 Extreme Haunts, including eight mazes and three scare zones, along with three live shows.
Cole Lindbergh, former manager of the park’s games department, was featured in a 2011 episode of Public Radio International’s This American Life, “Amusement Park.” In the nine-minute prologue, host Ira Glass interviews Lindbergh about his management philosophy and plays segments from several YouTube videos he made to promote the park’s games.
Finnish Fling and Octopus rides.
Le Taxi Tour’s line queue in Europa.
Le Taxi Tour in action.
The Sea Dragon in Scandinavia
The Flying Dutchman is reported to be founder Lamar Hunt’s favorite ride.
Zulu at night
The Skyliner Ferris wheel at Worlds of Fun.
Nighttime at Worlds of Fun.
Boomerang’s full profile
Prowler’s main drop.
Prowler’s queue line.
Mamba and Timber Wolf.
Coaster’s Diner near Mamba.
Prowler’s train ascending the lift hill.
Fury of the Nile in action.
Fury of the Nile’s signature turnstile dock.