Kansas City, MO

Exploring Worlds of Fun's 50th anniversary including the return of the Zambezi Zinger later this year

CJ Coombs

Correction: city location was added.

Timber Wolf, Worlds of Fun, Kansas City, Missouri.Photo byJeremy Thompson, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

I remember when Worlds of Fun opened and tickets were under $14. On more than 235 acres, Worlds of Fun is a massive entertainment complex. Between the amusement park and water park of Oceans of Fun, it's the largest center in the Midwest bringing fun for families. Worlds of Fun opens its gates on April 8 this year.

The entertainment park was founded by Lamar Hunt and Jack Steadman. The park opened on May 26, 1973. In 1982, Oceans of Fun was added adjacent to Worlds of Fun. The park is located in Kansas City, Missouri off I-435 either north or south depending on which direction you're driving.

The Prowler coaster, Worlds of Fun, Kansas City, Missouri.Photo byMoonraker0022 at English Wikipedia, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Remember when the Screamroller (1976-1988) became the Extremeroller (EXT)? The EXT was said to be the first stand-up roller coaster in the country. Due to mechanical issues, it returned to being a sit-down coaster. In 1988, it was disassembled and replaced by the wooden Timber Wolf that opened in 1989.

I remember stepping onto the Zambezi Zinger (1973-1997) not knowing it was a roller coaster. True story. Needless to say, I rode that ride that was located in the Africa section of Worlds of Fun. I will say at the time, it was fun. I just remember the long slow crawl up to the top before the fast decline into the night air. I've never been on another roller coaster since. A "reimagined" Zambezi Zinger is returning this spring to help kick off the 50th anniversary.

It would be years before I returned with my own children. On July 28, 1995, Worlds of Fun and Oceans of Fun were sold to Cedar Fair LP for $40 million. At one point, Sea World Entertainment, Inc. made an offer to buy the amusement park's owner, but it was turned down.

Orient Express, Worlds of Fun, Kansas City, Missouri.Photo byJeremy Thompson, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

In 1980, the Orient Express was born at Worlds of Fun. In June 1990, it was reported in celebration of the ride's 10th anniversary, that the park was having a Coaster Mania Celebration through early July. Souvenir roller coaster guidebooks were given to guests which included entry forms to win gifts, and one was a trip to Hawaii. The Orient Express was later demolished in early 2004. Visit here to see the car that was donated to the National Roller Coaster Museum and Archives in Plainview, Texas.

If you frequented Worlds of Fun since its inception, then you have a lot of positive memories. This year, the park is having its 50th Anniversary Memory Contest. The contest began in January and ends on April 24, 2023. Visit here for more details.

Thanks for reading!

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Multi-genre writer and author/publisher with a BA in Eng Journalism/Creative Writing. I worked in law firms for 30+ years and retired early to pursue writing. I was born into the Air Force, so you could say I'm from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Missouri. I love family, research, history, true crime, reading, art, and travel.

Kansas City, MO

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