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Wonderland Amusement Park in Amarillo Enters 70th Season

Wonderland Park Opened it Season in April
The park features a variety of classic amusement rides including a Huss Rainbow, Pirate, and more.

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Entering its 70th season, Wonderland amusement park in Amarillo, Texas continues to offer coasters and thrill rides, water rides and slides, family classics, kiddie rides, and mini-golf in North Texas.  The park opened for the season in April, using the cashless Wow Card system for admission of all guests over the age of 2.

The Wow Card includes all rides except the big thrills of the Texas Tornado, Fantastic Journey, and Drop of Fear; an Ultimate Wow Pass allows access to those rides plus unlimited mini-golf play. Spectator passes are also available for $5; for guests who then decide to ride, they can purchase a Wow card in the park. Most rides take a $2 credit from the card, which can be reloaded or purchased at kiosks throughout the attraction.

The card system is cutting-edge but the park itself is a true institution in the region, from rides to food to fan-friendly celebrations. In the latter category, guests can write a celebratory message of 30 characters or less in high tech lighting illuminating the towering top of the Drop of Fear, for either 1 or 3 nights.  

From tower to iconic older rides, the park is a family-owned regional mainstay. The Cyclone and the Mousetrap ride are among the park's most popular; also popular is the park's steel roller coaster, the double loop, 2000-foot Texas Tornado, created by water-ride specialist O.D. Hopkins. The ride offers a maximum height of 72-feet at its highest loop, along with two vertical-loop drops. It's listed in the top 50 of the nation's steel coasters.

Originally opened in 1951 by the Roads family, it began with a three-ride Kiddie Land featuring a boat, a Lil' Dipper coaster, and a hand-built car ride. It made a name change and expansion in the 1960s, with its new Wonderland moniker taken from Alice in Wonderland. In the late 60s the park added attractions such as the bumper car ride and Fantastic Journey, which Roads hand-built. The completely unique classic dark ride features black lights, an alien in strobe lights, and a colliding bus.  

Son-in-law Paul Borchardt took over the park; today the Borchardt family is still in charge with 32 rides on 15 acres. It normally enjoys approximately 150,000 to 200,000 visitors a year from the region, 60% of visitors arriving from outside Amarillo itself. The family has no plans to sell. Borscardt's daughter Rebecca Parker, in the park's controller.  

The park's season started late last year, in June, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, losing approximately 60% of its operating dates. Borschardt says the park now includes a rigorous pandemic cleaning system of after-hours sanitizing and cleaning each ride after operation. Hand sanitizing stations at gates, kiosks, and food stands, as well as social distancing guidelines and signage, too. Staff members wear masks; guests are encouraged but not required to do so by the state.

During the previous two years, new attractions have included more traditional theme park purchases and maintenance, from standard equipment upkeep to the planting of new fruit trees and the addition of shade umbrellas in 2019. Borschadt says that the park under normal circumstances spends approximately $500,000 annually in painting and maintenance alone.  In 2020, the park added the family friendly Old Tymers Car Ride, with a twisting track taking guests in cars that evoke a period 100 years earlier. The park also added the Spin O' Saurus roller coaster.  Purchased from a Florida amusement park, the compact but mighty coaster was built by SBF in Italy. It's two-rider spinning cars feature a green dino theme. This year should offer a more normal operating schedule for guests to enjoy both rides.

Park dining, always focusing on traditional fare like hot dogs, corn dogs, and cotton candy, was more limited in the numbers of items available last year to streamline for pandemic operations and the shorter season. This year however, more favorites will return including combo specials, kids specials, and regional treats like fried pickles.

Encouraging guests to return and enjoy the fun, the park uses social media channels including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. The social media team frequently offers promotional games and giveaways. This year, references to park history and throw-back photos encourage guests to reminisce and come back to experience the park's 70th season, and support it, post pandemic closure.
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