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Happy 50th Anniversary Legend City - Phoenix Mesa Arizona

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  • News Happy 50th Anniversary Legend City - Phoenix Mesa Arizona

    Today, June 22nd, 2013, the Arizona Historical Society hosted the 50th Anniversary of the only theme park that Arizona has seen.

    This 50th Anniversary was celebratory in spirit, but was bittersweet, being that this theme park, which opened in 1963, closed in 1983. However in those 20 plus years, its impact on Arizona, the employees of Legend City, and its visitors cannot be denied.

    The Park was founded by Louis Crandell, who mentions that Disneyland served as an inspiration for Legend City, where stories of Arizona's Legendary people and tales of the old west could live on. Louis Crandell, and his family moved to Utah shortly after Legend City opened. Most of the Crandell family still reside in Utah, today. And yes, Louis Crandell and his five children all attended the celebration.

    In preparation for building Legend City, Louis Crandell took several trips to Disneyland. He visited so often, that they knew him by name. He also says that the Operations Manager of Disneyland was helpful in the planning of the new park! I wanted to find out specifically who and which people from Disneyland assisted with the planning and building, and was able to ask Louis Crandell's son, unfortunately, his son did not know the specific names. Perhaps someone out there does know. . .

    I won't go into all the details of what this park included, however I will mention of few of the people that took part in the celebration, and a little glimpse of what this park was like . . .

    Now, first I must admit that I never actually visited Legend City, as I didn't move to Phoenix until after the park had closed, however I am very much fascinated that some of the people who put together Disneyland, also had a hand in Legend City. But, with some of the online information and the stories I heard today from some of the people who worked there, have aroused my curiosity even more.

    In brief, at the time Legend City opened in 1963, it was half the size of Disneyland. If you look at a map of the parks layout, you will definitely see some similarity between it and Disneyland. The major difference, being that Legend City was entirely based on the old west. In essence, the entire park was one big Frontierland. In fact, after seeing some of the photos and hearing about some of the attractions, I dare say that Louis Crandall must have also visited Knott's Berry Farm, and been inspired by Walter Knott, too. You see, Legend City did have its own panning for gold, and a building that reminds me of the old Haunted Shack at Knott's!

    Legend City also had it's own "Golden Horseshoe", and it was called the Golden Palace Saloon. One of the performers in the saloon, was Vonda Kay Van Dyke, and she became Miss America 1965!

    Another show that took place in the park is one that was known by all Arizona kid's in the 60's and 70's, and was televised on a local tv station, was the Wallace and Ladmo show. Wallace even made an appearance on stage.

    One other attraction is worth mentioning, and they attempted to give us an idea of was the attraction was like with an old tape recording, and several photos. The best way to describe this attraction is to say it was a Rivers of America boat ride, done in the style of the Jungle Cruise.

    In the near future, the videos that were presented at the reunion will be added to the Legend City Web site, so you can see them for yourself.





    Here is the online reunion party information: Legend City 50th Reunion! - Home

    And here is a website devoted to the history of this Legendary Theme Park, the only theme park that Arizona has had in its 101 year history, that made its home in Phoenix Arizona: http://owww.legend-city.com/
    Last edited by Aladdin; 06-22-2013, 08:20 PM.
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  • #2
    Re: Happy 50th Anniversary Legend City - Phoenix Mesa Arizona

    Wouldn't the various Old West themed parks in Tombstone (and other locales) also count? Helldorado bills themselves as a "Theme Park", and my memories of Old Tuscon were of a very heavily themed park that appears to have kept slowly expanding over the years.

    Nothing against 'em or anything, but there's a theme park tradition in AZ same as the rest of the US.
    Boggard LIEEEEF!

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    • #3
      Re: Happy 50th Anniversary Legend City - Phoenix Mesa Arizona

      Old Tucson is primarily is studio, not a theme park. It does have some entertainment, but the the tours are extremely limited during the summer. AZ also has Rawhide and Castles and coasters, but none of those are anywhere near close to what Legend City offered as a theme park.
      Critter Country's a mess ev'r since the Country Bears were kicked out. Ya can't cover pooh with honey and 'spect people ta like it.
      An Adventurers It's Time to Put the Spotlight Back on Bring Back the REAL Disney Gallery
      Life for Me! ~ ~ ~ Melvin, Buff, and Max!!! ~~~~ Dump the Dream Suite!
      Meese-ka Moose-ka Mice-Chatter!

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Happy 50th Anniversary Legend City - Phoenix Mesa Arizona

        Thanks for sharing the info about Legend City. It seems like it was a charming place in its day.

        Originally posted by BogLurch View Post
        Wouldn't the various Old West themed parks in Tombstone (and other locales) also count? Helldorado bills themselves as a "Theme Park", and my memories of Old Tuscon were of a very heavily themed park that appears to have kept slowly expanding over the years.

        Nothing against 'em or anything, but there's a theme park tradition in AZ same as the rest of the US.
        Originally posted by Aladdin View Post
        Old Tucson is primarily is studio, not a theme park. It does have some entertainment, but the the tours are extremely limited during the summer. AZ also has Rawhide and Castles and coasters, but none of those are anywhere near close to what Legend City offered as a theme park.
        I think this all goes to the question of what exactly is a theme park. I have friends who call Cedar Point and Sea World "theme parks" because they have a theme (coasters, sea life).
        sigpic
        “That's the way a lot of things happen... You think one person did something
        but he was just the one to put the color on it." – Ken Anderson
        ​I'm blogging here again!

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        • #5
          Re: Happy 50th Anniversary Legend City - Phoenix Mesa Arizona

          My personal dividing line between "amusement park" and "theme park" is having cohesively themed areas as a focus of the park; in SoCal for instance, I place SFMM on the "amusement park" side, as they have pretensions towards "themes" but the focus is very strongly placed on the rides themselves.

          Again, nothing against the OP's park of choice here. But I'm firmly on the side that whether it's "near close to what Legend City offered" or not, if it's a park with a strong, coherent theme that they commit to and develop, it's a theme park.
          Boggard LIEEEEF!

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          • #6
            Re: Happy 50th Anniversary Legend City - Phoenix Mesa Arizona

            Nicely worded. I also follow about that criteria for defining a "theme park" which is why my friends and I agree to disagree about their designation of CP and SW as theme parks, though I am more likely to allow that SW is a theme-parkesque aquarium and sea life education center.
            sigpic
            “That's the way a lot of things happen... You think one person did something
            but he was just the one to put the color on it." – Ken Anderson
            ​I'm blogging here again!

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