Skip to Main Content

Worlds of Fun

Skip to Next Section

Worlds of Fun Grand Opening 1973: 10 Fun Facts

Chris Foshee

I bless the rains down in Africa - adjacent to Prowler. 

Communications & social media manager at Worlds of Fun - @ChrisFoshee on Twitter

Worlds of Fun opened its gates for the first time on May 26, 1973. To celebrate the park’s rich history, let’s take a trip down memory lane to the very beginning with 10 facts you may not know about Kansas City’s beloved theme park!

Worlds of Fun Grand Opening

1) Founded by Hunt

Worlds of Fun was founded by the famed businessman and sports icon, Lamar Hunt. After becoming one of the forefathers of the NFL and founding the Kansas City Chiefs, Hunt and his business partner Jack Stedman had the vision of building a theme park in the bluffs above the Missouri River as a gift to the city. Early accounts say it was a $20-million investment.


2) Around the World in One Day

Worlds of Fun is themed after the Jules Verne novel Around the World in 80 Days. Themed areas of the park include the following continents: Americana, Europa, Africa, Scandinavia and Orient.

“We chose the large, multicolored ascension balloon for our symbol because it represents fun, adventure and travel reminiscent of the movie, Around the World in 80 Days. These are the things we want Worlds of Fun to represent.” – Jack Steadman, 1971.

Worlds of Fun Theme

3) Boatloads of Cinematic History

As part of the theming, Stedman went to the historic movie prop sale at MGM Studios in Hollywood to find large pieces of cinematic history to incorporate into the park. Stedman returned with boatloads of goodies.

  • Henrietta – from the movie Around the World in 80 Days, you would cross over the Henrietta as you entered the park, meant to signify that your adventure and trip around the world was starting.
  • Cotton Blossom –a sternwheel riverboat from the movie Showboat that was showcased in Americana.
  • Victrix – from the movie Mutiny on the Bounty, it was showcased in Scandinavia.

Worlds of Fun Boats

In addition to the boats, the War Wagon used in the Worlds of Fun Railway was from the classic John Wayne movie True Grit.

4) KC in the Early 70’s

The planning and opening of Worlds of Fun coincide with the rapid growth that occurred in Kansas City during the early 70’s. Expansion of the city included Kemper Arena, Sports Complex and KCI Airport. A similar surge was also occurring in the amusement park industry with new parks opening yearly.

Worlds of Fun Construction

5) Building Buzz

The city of Kansas City was buzzing with excitement after the park was announced, and everyone wanted to be a part of the massive project. For example, when the live entertainment auditions were scheduled in a major downtown hotel, they expanded from one ballroom to three to house all of the performers and spectators.

Theme Park History

6) Breaking Bread

Every guest entering the park on Opening Weekend received a mini loaf of fresh bread. The park also featured a bread cart that would fill the midways with the scent of baked goods.


7) If You Build It…

JE Dunn served as the park’s general contractor and Burns & MacDonnel was responsible for the architecture and engineering. Both are Kansas City based and nationally renowned companies.


Worlds of Fun was designed by Randall Duell, former MGM Studio art director turned theme park designer. Similar projects Duell worked on include Carowinds, Kings Island, Kings Dominion, Opryland and California’s Great America.

ThemePark Design

Teams broke ground on the construction in 1971. It took 22 boxcars of lumber, three miles of plumbing, almost three acres of roofing and 35 miles of electric wiring to complete the construction of 60 buildings and 20 rides.

Worlds of Fun Open

8) Phase-One

Worlds of Fun was just the first phase one of a larger entertainment complex that was planned by Hunt and Stedman. They originally hoped to build a 500-acre complex that would rival Disneyland and include hotels, venues, shops and restaurants. Unfortunately, the 1973 oil crisis hit in October of their inaugural season and put a damper on future developments.

Building Amusement Park

9) Running with a Theme

To tie into Around the World in 80 Days, each original ride was named and themed after a form of transportation. Original rides still in operation include The Worlds of Fun Railroad, Le Taxi Tour, Scambler, Autobahn, Flying Dutchman and Viking Voyager.

Park Map

10) The Water Tower

To celebrate the opening of Worlds of Fun, the city of Kansas City painted a nearby water tower with the iconic colors of the Worlds of Fun hot air balloon. It has since become a Kansas City landmark.


Photo: Thomas Industrial Coating

Today, Worlds of Fun stretches over 235 acres and features 64 rides and attractions. While the park has grown and evolved over its history, it is and always will be Kansas City’s theme park!

Share This

Chris Foshee

I bless the rains down in Africa - adjacent to Prowler. 

Communications & social media manager at Worlds of Fun - @ChrisFoshee on Twitter

Post a Comment

Skip to Next Section

Grand Carnivale: A Spectacle of Talent Show Guide 2019 

Grand Carnivale features a total of 22 special shows around each of the five countries highlighted.
Read More

Grand Carnivale: Know Before You Go


Worlds of Fun is taking “Around the World in 80 Days” to the next level at Grand Carnivale! Each night from 5:00 PM to close from July 13 through August 4, you can celebrate the rich traditions of Germany, India, France, Italy and China. From sampling authentic food and drinks to taking in worldly performances and making unique arts and crafts, there is so much to see and do at Grand Carnivale. Here are three ways you can make the most of your night at this larger-than-life festival.
Read More

The Art of Landscaping 

The guest experience at Worlds of Fun goes a lot deeper than coasters, shows, food and laughter. Our landscaping crew make sure of it. At this level, landscaping is a craft.
Read More

Grand Carnivale’s Adventure Club

The Grand Carnivale Adventurer’s Club is specifically designed for young explorers 8-13 years old. It’s similar to a scavenger hunt or The Amazing Race, but those willing to embark on this interactive journey around the world will be challenged to unlock the mystery and magic of Grand Carnivale.
Read More

Sweeten your park experience at the Candy Kitchen!

Located near the front gate; Candy Kitchen makes a wide variety of goodies that are sure to satisfy your sweet tooth. From fresh fudge to hand-dipped caramel apples, it will be hard to leave without something sweet in your hands.
Read More

New Worlds of Fun Shirt Collection By Charlie Hustle 

They say fashion can be quite cyclical, like a ride on the Skyliner or Zulu. Worlds of Fun recently partnered with Kansas City's Charlie Hustle, the familiar apparel company behind the classic KC heart t-shirts. Together, we created a new collection of tees that celebrate the past and present of our iconic Kansas City amusement park.
Read More

The History of Kansas City's Water Park

After years of planning and construction, Oceans of Fun opened on May 31, 1982 as the world’s largest water park. Over its 37-years of operation, the Kansas City water park has become the premiere summertime destination for families in the Heartland. With over 63 acres of beautifully shaded landscape and 17 attractions ranging from mild to wild, planning a visit to Oceans of Fun has been a long-time tradition for millions of fun-loving families.
Read More

A Delicious World Tour of Grand Carnivale Food

Food is the culmination of culture, and during Grand Carnivale, your tastebuds will be sent on a jetpacking journey around the world. Here's a preview of some of that food you can enjoy!
Read More

National Hot Air Balloon Day

June 5th is National Hot Air Balloon Day. While there seems to be a “holiday” for everything these days, this one is particularly special to Worlds of Fun. Our Kansas City amusement park has rocked the hot air balloon in our logo since we first announced construction in 1971.
Read More

Summer Show Highlight: Space Beagle 

Worlds of Fun's 2019 Summer Live Entertainment has begun and an action packed season awaits! The park features two new shows that are sure to keep audiences of all ages moving and grooving all summer long! Hot Rhythm Nights and Space Beagle offer fresh sights, sounds and stories to the park’s visitors. In particular, Space Beagle has an interesting connection to real events of American space flight that people may not know.
Read More