Here are some of the memories of Old Chicago that have been sent to me.
To add yours please
email me and I'll add them as well.
Paul, My name is Cody, and I have some memories and photos of “Old Chicago”
that I thought you might get a kick out of.
As you will see in the photos, I was pretty young back then. I’m
not sure how much I remember, and how much I was told… but, this is what
I got. My dad was Shane (The Wizard of Norwillit) Dekens, and he worked
at Marshall Brodien’s House of Magic inside the Old Chicago Mall.
Marshall Brodien, as you probably remember, was Wizzo the Wizard from
The Bozo Show. So, Wizzo The Wizard was my Dad’s boss! That was pretty cool.
I don’t remember seeing “Wizzo” that much (at least not in character), but
my clearest memory was of Cooky The Cook (Roy Brown). Me and my Mom (Carol
Elsey/Dekens), used to have to drop off, and pick up my Dad from work every
day (we lived in Kankakee). So I used to go to “The Mall” every day! ‘Cooky”
used to appear at “The Mall’ quite often, so I got to know him pretty well
(in character only), and even got so familiar with him that he knew me by
my first name! For a 3 year old kid, to be on a ’First Name Basis’ with
Cooky The Clown... it just doesn’t get any better than that!!
I was too little to ride any of the rides, but I do remember that The
Haunted House was so scary that I had to go back out the In Door less than
halfway through! I also remember.
Thank you for keeping the memory of “Old Chicago’ alive. I really
enjoyed your website. Please feel free to contact me anytime.
You can see the pictures Cody sent along with this memory
My brother and sister (now in their 50s) both worked summer jobs at Old
Chicago running the rides.
I still remember my brother talking about the time (and the NUMBER of times)
the Toboggan roller coaster would malfunction. This ride had a vertical
chain lift through a tube to bring the coaster to the top before releasing
to the inertia of the track. But the cars would routinely get stuck near
the top of the tube. He mentioned SEVERAL times that he would have to climb
the ladder of the tube to comfort the passengers until the ride was ready
I also distinctly remember my brother having to work the days they closed
the park for the filming of “The Fury”.
Good memories. Kelly (Plainfield)
Great website! Thanks for the walk down memory lane. I was very young
at the time but do remember my mom taking me to my first concert there which
I don't see listed. It was Herman's Hermits..I then developed a crush on
Again, great job! --Michelle
Good afternoon!!! I found your site about Old Chicago and have LOVED
looking through it. I was only about 7-8 years old when my family would
drive up from Central Illinois to go to Old Chicago. Being that young, I
don’t have a lot of vivid memories, but I remember just how huge it all
I remember one visit, Clayton Moore was there as the Lone Ranger. He
was signing autographs and handing out “black masks” (cardboard with elastic
string) to everyone. The thing that was memorable about the visit (besides
getting to meet the Lone Ranger!) was that this was during the time where
he was trying to be stopped by the owner of the LR character from wearing
his mask and making appearances as the character. So, although we got cool
looking masks, he actually wore dark sunglasses (because we all know the
Lone Ranger cannot be seen without his mask!). This makes me think it had
to be toward the end of Old Chicago – maybe 1979?
Thanks for providing a place to enjoy some memories! Christy, Danville,
Hello. My name is Kevin. I am 43 years old now. I grew up in Aurora Illinois.
I went to Old Chicago when I was 5 years old. It was at Old Chicago that
I got on my very first roller coaster. I don't remember the name of the
coaster, but I remember it being almost high enough to almost touch the
top of the building, and being very fast. It was an adrenaline rush I will
I went back a few years later. By that time Old Chicago was out of business,
but the building remained. Across the street from Old Chicago was an Outdoor
Water Park that I went to. And I had a very good time. At that time Old
Chicago was nothing more than a cool Landmark to stare at and remember the
good time I had there at the Fairgrounds.
Today the property is a Car Auction Lot with a lot of cars in the parking
lot. I am a frequent visitor to the area when I go to my favorite restaurant
near by called The Golden Corral. The only evidence that Old Chicago existed
was the street name that it was on. Old Chicago Drive. That is my memory
of Old Chicago and I'm very happy to have had the experience there and share
it with someone else. God Bless You and Take Care. Your Friend, Kevin.
I remember very well when Old Chicago was built and demolished. I lived
in Bolingbrook for 20 years starting in 1971. I just always had the impression
that the place seemed very “hollow” and the noise from the amusement park
was just strange sounding. It seemed dark, noisy, and we only went once
or twice. The specialty shops were interesting, but I don’t think their
sales supported the mall. I heard that they wanted a Sears or J. C. Penney
to anchor the mall, but they wanted to have their own entrance but the mall
wouldn’t let them. Everyone had to come through the main entrance to Old
Chicago. - Karen
I worked one summer at Old Chicago Amusement Park in Bolingbrook, IL
while attending the College of St. Francis in Joliet, IL. Working
on a double-major in theater and music, I applied to work at the
park during a summer break and was hired to do a number of "jobs"
at Old Chicago. (I graduated in 1979 - so I most likely worked
there summer of 1978.)
- I ran the spotlight during the magic show.
- I dressed in a 1920's style costume and walked (guarded) the
costumed characters while walking around the mall interacting with
Kids loved to torture the costumed characters... they banged on the "big"
heads, stuck their fingers in the eye sockets, tripped the characters, etc.
My job was to stop them... and sometimes threaten to kick them out of the
park if they didn't leave the costumed characters alone (remember Luigi,
the pizza maker, Sparky the firedog, etc.)
- I was a stage hand in the "Old Chicago International Circus" held
along side the rides. I switched and set up the stage as the acts
- I also worked in a wine shop upstairs (on my off days from
the park) which sold Michigan fruit wines I believe... we gave
taste tests! - Judith K
My uncle worked on the construction of Old Chicago and it was his first
job. There was a picture of him in the Harold News climbing the dome
to install a hand rail. We talk about it a lot and he remembers a
lot about the construction. My uncle also gave us tickets for the
VIP party before the grand opening. I was 8 1/2 at the time and telling
a kid at that age he can look at a new amusement park but cant go in sucked.
I also remember a lot of hanging wires. My uncle said they had no
business opening the building that night. - Bryan S
Far as the dunk tank’s uniqueness, there were several things. Physically,
it was huge about 12 foot tall I would say. It had 4 seats and 4 targets…
though I never saw more than 2 people in it at any given time. The water
was over 5 foot deep, so when they got dunked they actually had to tread
water and swim back to the ladder. This was all visible through the full
The part that made it so memorable to a 19 year old guy was the dunkies.
Though there was an occasional guy, it was 90% 18 year old attractive girls
in very skimpy bikinis. Intermixed with them were some smoking hot girls.
I was at the park quite a bit because my girlfriend lived close buy. I frequently
got myself into trouble with my girlfriend while strolling past the dunk
tank. The dunkies were all very flirty and loud. In the early opening of
the dunk tank the girls in the tank had no microphone, the ones out front
did. There were usually three of them out front. They would conspire among
themselves and flirt up all the guys around their age. If a family went
by they were very appropriate and sweet. If a group of 18 year old guys
or guys with dates went by, they were brutal. It was an outpouring of comments
that were intended to have double meanings. They would often pick on a group
and ultimately zero in on one guy in the group. “Hey you think you can make
her wet? I’ll bet she’d love to go down for ya.” Another popular tease was
that the girl that gave you the balls and took your money would stand by
you and yell “HARDER!!!” After every miss. Often they would all join in
and chant it together.
Since you could not hear the dunkie till after they put microphones
by them, they were all about hand gestures. Here again the family crowd
would see waves and motions as to say come on or yawns and other gestures
of boredom.. Guys the dunkie girls age could expect to see that and occasionally
be flipped a mean or even sexy finger in between That game was easily one
of, if not the biggest turn on of my youth. I was addictive. I could go
on and on.
I just stumbled upon your site and it has brought back many memories.
I remember that Marshall Brodien had a magic shop at Old Chicago. He's
the same Marshall Brodien who went on to be Whizzo the Wizard on the Bozo
T.V. show. He was also the magician who appeared in many commercials selling
his T.V. Magic Cards. He sold the shop to Billy Bishop, another Chicago
area performer and magician.
I had just worked with Jimmy Troy, the performer who fell to his death
in Old Chicago, a few weeks earlier at a shopping mall outside of Milwaukee.
Clyde "Buddy" Farnum, former manager, is still around. I think he lives
in New York state somewhere.
I once auditioned for a television commercial that was shot at Old Chicago.
The camera crew began setting up for the commercial after the park was closed.
The park was transformed into an old county fair grounds with sawdust on
the floor and all the amusement rides as a background. The commercial was
for a soft drink called "Quirst." "Quence your thirst with Quirst" was the
slogan. I appeared as a clown among a group of children. With special effects,
a can of "Quirst" was beamed from a spaceship right into my outstretched
hand as the children looked on in anticipation for their treat of the soft
We shot the commercial over two week-ends from very late until the early
hours of the morning. I eagerly awaited the commercial to air but unfortunately
the makes of Squirt, filed an injunction over the similarities of the two
names-Quirst and Squirt. The judge ruled in favor the Squirt and the commercial
never was aired. I got paid for the two nights work but was very disappointed
that the commercial never aired and I never got paid the "resididuals."
Those payments that come to a performer every time the commercial gets shown
on T.V. I do however still have one can of "Quirst" as a reminder of those
two special nights spent at Old Chicago. - Donald W.
Being from nearby Lemont, I remember going there several times as a teenager.
I never went into the amusement park area, because the plain cement floor
and lack of sky made it seem too sterile and unnatural. The constant loud,
discordant noise from this area was also discouraging.
I did, however, enjoy walking through the mall with my friends. I was
always intrigued by the detail of the storefronts and how well designed
everything seemed, especially those nearer the front entry. I also recall
the entryway, with its "hanging gardens" (large brass-type fixtures that
contained draped ivies, hung at varying heights and intervals). At the time,
I thought they were among the most beautiful things I had ever seen, and
to this day, I have had hanging ivies in every place I've lived. I was also
impressed by the "cobblestone streets", and wondered at the time how long
it took to build them, with what must have been hundreds of thousands of
individual stones. Now, they are all probably in a landfill somewhere.
The only store that I seem to recall is a Wendy's restaurant in one of
the mall "corners". I remember that it had a unique second floor eating
area that you reached from a spiral staircase. The eating area looked out
over the mall area, and you could sit in it and watch people walking through
the mall. I would go to Old Chicago just to eat there. I believe it was
the first Wendy's in the Chicago suburbs.
I remember driving there with a friend one evening, in summer of 1978,
only to find just a handful of cars in the enormous parking lot. We turned
around and went home. That was the last time I saw Old Chicago "alive".
Once it was boarded up, I expected -- as did most people -- that it was
just a matter of time before it would reopen. When we saw the walls coming
down, it was quite a shock. Now the area nearby is festooned with cement
warehouses as big or bigger than Old Chicago was. The site itself is a series
of car auctions and auto sales centers.
Long before we met, my husband worked on the subdividing of the Old Chicago
property after its demolition, and he says that by then, all that was left
was a big hole in the ground. - Reja
I grew up in Downers Grove, and now I'm married with 2 kids living in
Woodridge . . . so we're still in the area . . . and my heart still skips
a beat every time I see the damn, huge "auto" place there now, (where they
hold the car auctions). It makes me sad - but I still remember that building
standing there . . . with all the magic inside!!
What I haven't seen on the internet, nor your site on Old Chicago, is
something called (if I remember correctly), "The Four Seasons" ride. It
was a ride, kinda tucked in the back corner, next to the smaller roller
coaster . . . it was on a track that took you through winter, spring, summer
and fall. (I remember loving that ride for some reason!) Anyone ever write
to you about that?
ALSO, I remember seeing SEVERAL concerts there . .. I remember seeing
Ricky Nelson there . . . and Willie Aames . . . and I KNOW I saw others
too . . . I'm a few years older than you from what I gather in your articles,
I was 9 when it opened and 14 when it closed . . . . and I got my first
kiss there! I think there was also a part near the back area (on the complete
opposite wall of the entrance), where they showed old movies - like black
and white stuff, Charlie Chaplain, Three Stooges, etc. . .. but that is
such a DISTANT memory . . . it's so vague!!
ANYWAY - SORRY, I don't have one picture of those old days . . . SO wish
I had . . . but it was GREAT seeing all the ones you displayed, and the
pictures of the old stores, as well!! (I remember a poster store in there
too - as "Saturday Night Fever" was huge back then - and we were always
looking at the Bee Gees posters, Shawn Cassidy posters, etc.!! LOL!!) I
remember a "Fortune Teller" machine too - which was really cool to us kids,
sitting out in one of the dark corners of the mall area!! I DID see a picture
of her on another site one time . . . so it's out there!!
Well, I didn't mean for this to be a novel!! Sorry!! You just touched
upon one of my FAVORITE childhood memories . . . and I got on a roll!!
I just found your website and it brought back some great memories.
I lived in the south suburbs of Chicago and went to Old Chicago probably
5 or 6 times before it was torn down. I was amazed that the park didn't
make it, as it did ease the cold winters of Chicago. Seeing the site
reminded me that there was some film footage shot there in the movie "The
Fury" from the late 70's. I don't know if you knew about it.
- Dave W.
You can see the Old Chicago section of The Fury on the
Old Chicago Videos page.
Loved your Old Chicago website!
I've been reminiscing lately. I remember seeing Willie Aames and
Paradise at Old Chicago, back in 1979. How I loved him. I think
Alicia Bridges was performing there the same night too, before Willie Aames
- I never heard of her but I liked "I Love The Night Life" that
she sang the night that I saw her. My favorite ride was The Four Seasons
where it would get cold when you rode past winter. I remember the
old cobblestone streets throughout the mall and the Old Fashioned Wendy's
(when they had the old ads on the tables).
Thanks for posting all those pictures on your website! I loved
browsing through your site. What great memories! - Debbi
From 1974 - 1980 I lived in Downers Grove and Old Chicago was a couple miles
down I-55 in Bolingbrook. In addition to working in the games department
in the summer of 1979, I went to Old Chicago many times.
My most fond memories of Old Chicago are of the Windy City Disco Movement.
It was the only place around where teenagers could go to dance to the latest
disco music. It had a great dance floor. I took many dates there. It was
located in the southwestern corner of the amusement park.
There was a bookstore that always carried the latest issue of Billboard
magazine - not easy to find, especially in the suburbs. Being a diehard
music chart follower, this required frequent trips down there before I could
afford the pricey subscription.
And of course there were the rides. The Chicago Loop, there was a Tilt-a-Whirl
and a Scrambler though I'm sure they had different names, and the Enterprise.
I now live in Minneapolis/St Paul and only seven miles away from me is the
Mall of America. Every time I'm there (frequently with 13 and 12 year old
daughters), I remember Old Chicago. Because in many ways, Old Chicago was
the predecessor to the Mall of America. It was the same idea, but without
anchor stores, it couldn't survive. But my Old Chicago memories will always
survive. And they are all good! - John J.
I enjoyed reading your page on Old Chicago. One question! The ride that
you call The Enterprise, the one that went around in a circle as it rose
until you were just about upside down, wasn't that ride called "The Windy
City"? I had very specific memories about that name and of course the Chicago
Loop, as they were my first rides of their kind. -Laura Smith
I believe it was called the Windy City Screamer. I called it the Enterprise
because that is the name that the manufacturer of that type of ride called
that model. Thanks for reminding me and it has been changed.
I went to Old Chicago many times. I remember that a friend of mine won tickets
from the Loop for New Year's Eve. we had so much fun there. I was little
for my age and they didn't want to let me on the Chicago Loop, but since
my dad was with me they let me. I don't remember that much else about it
though, but I do remember that right next to the ticket booth there was
a novelty shop that sold all kinds of crazy stuff, & we bought fake
dog poop there for our teacher's birthday. - Annette M.
I have fond memories of Old Chicago. That was were I got my first job
in 1977 at the one and only game that was upstairs “Fascination”. It was
tic tac toe with balls that you would roll up to the top of a machine and
they would fall in a hole and light up a screen on the front of the machine
it was twenty-five cents per game. I worked with a guy there named “Justo”,
don’t know whatever happened to him. You would win tickets and you could
turn them in for prizes (like the now Haunted Trails/Chucky Cheese).
I moved from that game to the amusement park office downstairs. I worked
with Greg Rice and a Mr. Brandolino. I met some of the stars that came to
put on concerts – the big ragu (Laverne and Shirley), Peaches and Herb and
a few others.
I could hear the “Loop” the roller coaster going and when it jumped the
track and got stuck on the top just before it would go down the first hill,
I would get several calls from workers that said “Loops jumped”. I would
have to call maintenance and the manager on duty to go and check it out.
My brother Richard worked there as well as a game manager. I also met
my first husband there William Carlson, he ran the rides. I had a lot of
fun at that place and was very sad when it closed down so soon after I started
working there. The memories will never be forgotten. - Renee L.
I remember going to Old Chicago a few times and loved it. We went there
on a Saturday when Karl Wallenda walked the tightrope near the dome during
a weekend engagement. I was disappointed on its closure but realize it was
very much a product of its time period, yet I feel it will eventually be
regarded as ahead of its time as well. - Myron J.
I went in August of 1976 to the park so I'm sure some things changed.
But here is what I remember:
After entering the park (which you entered by going down spiral concrete
ramps that led from the mall level to the park level) I will describe the
rides I remember in a Clockwise fashion. Obviously there were probably more
"flat" and kiddee rides than I remember. But any of the big things I remember
because my brother and I went on them.
If you looked into the park directly from the ticket booths the first
ride in front of you was the Log Ride. It was a rather short ride and the
water channels were made of cement instead of fiberglass which I remember
as being weird. The ride was kinda boring; it meandered around and ended
in a small hill (probably only about 25 ft). To the left of the log ride
was the Chicago Loop which was the Corkscrew coaster. This was a standard
Arrow model but since it was enclosed it made a really "neat" noise when
it travelled on it's circuit.
Working around the outer circle (which the park was laid out in) the
next ride was the Enterprise. This ride was placed directly against the
wall; when the ride was elevated to its peak it was parallel w/ the exterior
glass wall that separated the amusement park from the mall. I remember riding
this since it was my first Enterprise and it actually scared me back then.
The next ride on the circle (and it was directly behind the Chicago Loop)
was a Chance Yo-Yo. Walking past this there was a large food stand and I
believe some kind of show stadium. The next thing on the circle was "The
Cat" rollercoaster. I remember it being flush against the wall and I remember
it having the longest line we encountered all day. The only other ride I
remember was a dark ride that was called "The Four Seasons". It was extremely
lame as I remember. But what was neat was that the entrance to the ride
was flush w/ the amusement park wall. In other words the track traveled
under what must have been the walkway for the Mall. The day we went to the
park it wasn't crowded at all and we did most everything in about 3 hours.
I remember thinking the layout seemed odd since a couple of ride entrances
would be close together and then there would be patches of dead area filled
w/ food shops and game booths. Something I read about in articles about
the park and something I experienced at that time was the weird noises that
the rides generated and that the indoor park contained. In the last few
years of the park major bucks were spent (apparently) on sound dampers.
When we visited it wasn't that all the rides were noisy. Rather the just
echoed in a really strange way. The sound from the Chicago Loop was so distinguishable
that you could tell exactly where the train was on the coaster even if you
didn't look just by the "pitch" of the sound. I don't know any other way
to explain this but I would be interested to hear if anyone else remembers
this. - Christopher
I remember Old Chicago.
Only visited a few times. In retrospect, I remember the park did
have some cool names of rides. In addition to the Chicago Loop, I thought
the Crash of '29 was a neat name for the bumper cars. I also remember the
Four Seasons dark ride which I liked a lot. Seem to remember a YoYo as well.
I remember getting sick on the Rotor, one of the very few times I got sick
at a park. Took a rest and then went on the Tilt a Whirl and got sick again.
I remember they had these funny box like things hanging from the sky.
Supposedly to dampen noise. The sky or lack there of was a negative. Wish
they had skylights like Camp Snoopy at Mall of America. For an indoor park,
that one does a good job of making you feel like you are outdoors, almost.
Interestingly, the site still attracted me years later.
My two passions in life are parks and cars. I've been back several times
for classic car auctions (the site is now a car auction), and in my brief
stint as a car dealer, have been there to buy and sell. Still wish it was
a park though, and better yet, wish some of the other outdoor parks in Chicagoland
had survived. - Jim W
I visited Old Chicago in my youth. I believe I went two times. I think
the first time was still while the park was in full swing, and the second
was when it was in decline.
I don't remember much for sure--my impressions were very vague--but I
seem to recall the park not being very crowded on my second visit. I don't
remember the rides very well. I know they had a flat ride that I liked a
lot. I think it was called the Bobs (I had no idea that there might be a
coaster association with this name), and consisted of tubs that swung out
freely as the ride went around on a track with some hills. Geauga Lake has
one of these called the Yukon Yahoos, and Cedar Point also has one, possibly
called Matterhorn. I loved this ride at the time.
I don't really remember the coasters clearly at all. I have the impression
the Corkscrew got very close to the roof, but I don't really remember the
ride experience at all. Oddly, the one thing I remember clearly is when
a guy at the dunking booth was trying to get me to play by calling me "four
eyes." This was located on one wall of the park area, along with some other
games. This is when I remember the park not being very crowded, because
there weren't too many other people for him to make fun of as we walked
by. It's really the only visual memory I have of the place now, unfortunately.
- Dave S.
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