$29,000, Bobby Darin and Disneyland: The Strange, Sad Saga of Freedomland.

Posted by on April 19, 2008

Been to Disney lately? How about Cedar Point? Maybe King’s Island?

Have you been to Freedomland yet?

Well, that last question was a bit of a trick, because Freedomland actually no longer exists. In its brief lifespan, there was quite a bit of innovation as well as other things….such as the $29,000 heist and Bobby Darin….but more on that later!

(1)

With the park in the shape of America and focusing on history and the audience participation, Freedomland burst onto the scene as one of the first “waves” of competitiors to Disneyland, which had opened earlier in 1955. An elaborate design with audience participation, different parts includes themes such as:

“The Old West”

(2)

“The Chicago Fire”

(3)

and others!

Some of the opening rides were simply fabulous and included things like:

antique cars

stagecoaches

Pony Express

Hollywood area (with celebrities)

In his book, Amusement Parks of New York, Jim Futrell argues that everything looked ok with the park and stated, “Freedomland should have been a success…”

However….disaster never seemed to be too far away. Was it because the park was situated on a landfill? Or was it the $29,000 robbery during the first year of operation? We may never know. Bobby Darin, in a concert at the park, collapsed and was rumored to have had a heart attack.(4) Bad luck seemed to not give the park a break. In the end, after all this as well as financial disappointment, the park closed in the fall of 1964 and a series of apartments were built on the site.

If this has spurred your interest, then there are some really great links to explore, including first hand accounts, books, movies and a lot more. Try them below if you get a chance!

Have a great weekend and see you Monday!

Links:

Wikipedia: Freedomland

Amusement Parks of New York

Traveltime: Freedomland

Skyscraper Forum: Freedomland

(color posters) Freedomland (external blog) (have not checked out fully yet….)

External Site: Freedomland (old site, pages broken, etc.)

Sources:

(1-3) Traveltime: Freedomland: Internet Archive

(4)Bobby Darin: A Life, pg. 134

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