A local landmark is getting some tender loving care and will reopen to the public in the not-so-distant future. It's a landmark that will bring some "fun" back to Idaho Falls. It's Funland.
"Well, hopefully it will outlive me," says Chair of the Renovation Committee Dana Kirkham. Of course, she's talking about the longevity of Funland after the city fully renovates the amusement park.
In 1948, a collection of classic carnival rides set up camp at Tautphaus Park in Idaho Falls and Funland was born. Originally there were three rides: a merry-go-round, a miniature train ride and an airplane swing ride. A year later, the park added an octopus ride and not long after that, a Ferris wheel and miniature golf course followed suit.
Today, the amusement park looks a little different than it did during it's golden years. The rides don't run and the miniature golf course is gone entirely. However, the city hopes a little T.L.C. can revive it.
"There's a lot of nostalgia that's attached to Funland for people who grew up in Idaho Falls," Kirkham says. "They just have wonderful stories to tell. This is the place they had their first kiss, or maybe this is where they always came on Sunday with their dad."
To bring back some of that nostalgia, the city purchased Funland in 2019 from Ann Rehnberg. Rehnberg is a passionate advocate of the amusement park and bought it in 2000 from Leo Larson. Larson owned the park for more than 50 years. Before owning the property himself, Larson worked at Funland as an equipment mechanic.
Now that the city owns the property, it will be run in conjunction with the zoo under the parks and recreation department. "It will grow our staffing base as a whole," explains Director of Parks and Recreation P.J. Holm. "We're going to need someone to manage this facility and then we're going to need some great customer service staff. That (customer service) will probably be a seasonal type of employment."
The city is currently in the early planning stages and is waiting on bids from construction companies before moving forward at full speed. Nevertheless, the city has an idea of what Funland will look like upon completion.
The log cabin will be renovated, the original rides will be restored, there will be a shared entrance with the zoo, a bricked central plaza will be built, and a new 18-hole miniature golf course will be erected.
So, when will it open to the public? "June of 2022 because that will actually be the 75th anniversary of Funland," answers Kirkham.
While the city paid to purchase the amusement park, the plan is to fully fund the renovation through donations. "We're hoping that people remember their wonderful memories of Funland and be willing to participate in some way whether it be in kind, or writing a check, or participating in volunteering when it's needed," adds Kirkham.
In 2022 when the park opens, a time capsule will be buried to be opened in 2097 which will mark the 75th anniversary of the renovation and the 150th of the park. "We're sending a clear message that Funland is here to stay and generations will enjoy it for decades," Kirkham says.
The city is waiting on a few bids to determine the final cost of the project and will soon release that information, but is already accepting donations to help fund the project.
If you'd like more information on Funland, Including how to donate please click here.