Memories of Abandoned Binghamton Area Amusement Parks
Think back to when you were a kid. Maybe you remember spending summer days at the Skyline Park in Tioga Center. Perhaps your family enjoyed Fraley’s or maybe your spot was the Airport Kiddlieland. This morning on the Hawk Morning Show, we revisited those and others places that are long gone.
The Skyline Park in Tioga Center closed for good in the 1980’s and is now home of the Skyview Drags and Shangri-La II Motor Speedway. Skyline Park had several kidding rides like a scrambler, Tilt-A-Whirl, boats, rocketships, helicopters, Lusse Auto-Skooter bumper cars, a whip, 12 car ferris wheel, a kiddie train ride that went along the edge of the park and much more including a Spillman carousel. Yesterday, Johnson City resident Mike McKilligan placed a $37,500 bid on that 32 horse Herschell and Spillman Carousel and tells WBNG that he’s not sure what he’s going to do with the carousel, but that he’s thinking about keeping it in the Southern Tier.
Barb Mack of our sister station WNBF called and shared her memories of Skyline Park:
Did you know that there was once an amusement park on Riverside Drive in Johnson City on what are now the Davis College grounds? Locals called it “White City Park” although the official name was “Wagener’s Park.” White City Park was established in 1902. The park was backed by a brewery so that liquor could be sold there. The Davis College history site states that “the drunkenness and debauchery of the place was unspeakable. Conditions, in face, were so vile, degrading, and unlawful that a separate jail had to be erected on the property to make possible the immediate incarceration of those guilty of the more serious violations of law.” That’s right- things were so out of control at the park that they put a jail on the property. By 1910 the park went bankrupt. By June of 1911, plans were in place to transform the park for God’s work through Davis College.
Fraley’s Park was from what I can tell, built in the 1950’s and destroyed by hurricane Angus in 1972 although I can’t confirm this because there’s very little online about the park. On a Topix board, user jrink wrote: “I remember that park well. My sixth grade class would go there at the end of school. You could get a ten pack of ride tickets for one dollar. They had tilt a whirl, bumper cars, tubs of fun, cars, helicopters, carousel,mini-golf, a fire engine ride, arcade and a small roller coaster which seemed much bigger then.” One thing that everyone seems to remember though is the Fraley’s jingle that went like this: “….in Waverly NY it’s Frayley’s, just for fun!”
There’s not much online about Airport Kiddieland, but I found a sweet little nugget of knowledge posted on Cinamatreasures.org by Jim Macumber of Binghamton. This is, in part, what Jim wrote:
I worked at Airport Kiddieland in the summer of 1966…the rides were almost all completely from the Herschell Carousel Company in North Tonawanda, NY … Airport Kiddieland was owned & operated by Dr. Naim N. Khuri. He built & opened it in the 1950’s simply because he loved children. I had myself ridden all those rides there as a child! Airport Kiddieland did a booming business in the 50’s & early 60’s but by the late 60s & early 70’s business had fallen off. Dr. Khuri also started the Airport Drive-In with, I believe, 2 other partners in the early 60s & soon the 2 businesses complemented & bolstered each other’s business. Airport Kiddieland started out & maintained 8 rides: a small carousel, a rocketships ride… boats …, a cars ride & a tanks…a small ferris wheel, a small roller coaster, and the train. All of which I ran for the kids during the summer of 1966. I also helped maintain the rides & the train tracks. It was just like a miniature railroad with real tracks & ties & spikes!! There was also a small 9 hole miniature golf course in the train’s tracks front loop. In about 1965, the Kolba family added a bumper cars unit into the park. I have absolutely no pictures of Airport Kiddieland or the Airport Drive-In & wish that I did. (Anyone out there have any ??) Many many fond memories of Airport Kiddieland (and Dr. Khuri) as a child AND as a teenager entertaining a new generation of kids myself.
A couple ladies called in to share their memories of Airport Kiddieland:
Here are a couple of the other memory roads we walked down this morning: