For 20 years, Legend City was a wonderland for kids in Arizona. But time took its toll, and today the old theme park is just a memory.
© Jeremy Rowe
An advertisement promotes Legend City, a Wild West-themed amusement park that once operated in Phoenix.
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By Danielle Grobmeier
There’s no sign of it today, but Phoenix once had its own Wild West-themed Disneyland on 30 acres of land next to Papago Park. When it opened in 1963, Legend City was the stuff kids dreamed of. Its attractions included candy shops, historical re-enactments and roller coasters.
Some of the park’s more popular rides were the Lost Dutchman Mine, which took park-goers through a skeleton-filled mine, and the River of Legends, later renamed Cochise’s Stronghold. Visitors also enjoyed live performances and weekly Wallace and Ladmo shows.
Despite Legend City’s popularity, the park was a money pit. Not long after its grand opening, the owners declared bankruptcy. The park closed temporarily but reopened years later.
John Bueker, author of the book Legend City, remembers visiting the park as a child and again as an adult.
“The last time I went was in 1980, and I hadn’t been since I was a kid. It was very depressing, it was run-down, and none of the rides worked properly anymore,” he says. “Near the end, it was pretty dilapidated and had pretty much run its course.”
The park closed its doors in September 1983.
To learn more, visit www.legend-city.com.
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