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Old Chicago
Bolingbrook, IL

by Lisa Cummings

Date Opened: 1975
Date Closed: 1981
Location: 
555 South Bolingbrook Drive, Bolingbrook, IL 60439 (Route 53).
Remains at site:
none
Trolley Park: No

Outside View

The Park

     Old Chicago was the world's first completely enclosed amusement park and  shopping center, open 365 days a year. It consisted of a large square building with a dome in the center. The rides and attractions (the "Old Chicago Fairgrounds") were in the center, under the dome, and the shopping area surrounded them. It opened in 1975, and part of the grand opening celebration included a tap dancer dancing on the very top of the dome.

     The "Shopping Mall" had a cobblestone floor, and was designed to resemble a turn-of-the-century street. Basically it was one long hall that followed the entire perimeter of the building. At strategic points, there were windows where you could look out into the amusement park area.  The mall didn't have any large anchor stores or chain stores, only gift shops, specialty shops and snack bars.

     The "Fairgrounds" had "31 great rides and attractions" all crammed into the domed center of the building. I remember being amazed that they could fit everything in. At the time it opened, Old Chicago charged $1.00 for admission to the ride area (50 cents for kids), and then charged a flat fee for unlimited rides. In addition to standard rides like the Scrambler, Spider, Rotor, Merry-go-Round, Tilt-a-Whirl, Bumper Cars, Ferris Wheel, and Paratroopers, there were 2 roller coasters (the Zyclon and the Chicago Loop) and a water ride (the Chicago Log Race). The ride area also had a circus, a vaudeville theater, and a haunted house, as well as a few kiddie rides and some games of skill and chance.

Various events took place at Old Chicago from time to time. Chicago radio stations held 'back-to-school bashes,' and the Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy Telethon had a donation "fishbowl" there, and did remote broadcasts from there during their Chicago segments. In 1979, a friend of mine attended an Oldies Reunion concert there, in which Peter Tork of the Monkees was one of the performers.


     Old Chicago never did very well financially. Perhaps, without major chain stores, it wasn't enough of a shopping mall to attract shoppers. And  it may not have been enough of an amusement park to attract kids & families after their initial visit "just to see what it was like."  Old Chicago lasted   just 6 years, closing in 1981. The building was torn down in 1986.

   
Park Map

 

All material on this page was provided courtesy of Lisa Cummings.
Defunct Amusement Parks wishes to thank her for allowing us to use this material.

Article 2000 Lisa Cummings. Used with permission.
2000 Joel W Styer. All rights reserved. Updated Friday, April 26, 2002