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Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois

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Author Topic: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois  (Read 8161 times)
Desolate Angel
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« Reply #105 on: November 22, 2010, 10:58:22 pm »

old chicago amusement park

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Desolate Angel
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« Reply #106 on: November 22, 2010, 11:00:06 pm »

BlueIslandGirl (2 months ago)

A friend of mine had a job as one of the "monsters" in the haunted house. He was in costume, but it still hurt his dignity to have to do what they said to do to scare the patrons. He wanted to be classier than that. Speaking of class, when they first built Old Chicago, they wanted to buy the 2 lions from the front of the Art Institute. I'm glad the Art Institute didn't sell.
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Desolate Angel
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« Reply #107 on: November 22, 2010, 11:00:28 pm »

devtrev (2 months ago)

I remember when it first opened I got to meet Vincent Price there - he was signing autographs at the entrance to the haunted house. - very cool. If I remember correctly, the haunted house ride had a recording of Vincent Price saying spooky stuff as you went through the ride. This was pre-"Thriller". Also, the park was surrounded on the outside by a shopping mall which had the very first Wendy's in the Chicago area. It also had the first corkscrew type rollercoaster in the area.
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Desolate Angel
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« Reply #108 on: November 22, 2010, 11:00:56 pm »

abydos2002 (5 months ago)

Wow! I'm 37 and I vaguely remember going to this place when I was in 1st grade. The roller coaster scared me. And I was really nervous because of all the noise. I think I remember that log ride too ... and my dad holding me really tight when we rode it. I remember Kiddie Land more fondly. Old Chicago was just too much for a young tot like me! LOL!
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Desolate Angel
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« Reply #109 on: November 22, 2010, 11:01:17 pm »

666billyboy (6 months ago)

The first time I seen The RAMONES was at Old Chicago. One of the best times of my life.
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Desolate Angel
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« Reply #110 on: November 22, 2010, 11:01:40 pm »

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Teledebrukman (7 months ago)

Well, as they say, unless you kill a guy now and then, you're not putting on enough of show. I'm 40 and remember the place well. A great idea having an indoor park in Chicagoland where the weather SUCKS for 8 months out of the year but I guess it failed anyhow. That log ride looked a lot bigger when I was a kid though. They used to sell colossal bongs out in the open in a few of the shops too. Try that noise today. And it just kind of smelled weird, but in a good way. I recall the smell.
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fuzzybunny1972 (10 months ago)

today is my 39th birthday and I'm watching these videos missing my childhood. where did the years go? LOL
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Desolate Angel
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« Reply #111 on: November 22, 2010, 11:02:19 pm »

chicteach1 (2 weeks ago)

OMG... We used to go there. *tearing up*
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Desolate Angel
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« Reply #112 on: November 22, 2010, 11:02:45 pm »

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anthonisaac (4 weeks ago)

The horror house was very scary, and since I went to Old Chicago a year or so before it failed so a lot of the shops were closed. The whole place was kind of creepy.
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thoughtsurfer1 (1 month ago)

Good times at Old Chicago, both the amusement parks and the shops. I remember the horror house being particularly scary.
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Desolate Angel
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« Reply #113 on: November 22, 2010, 11:03:21 pm »

johnduncan77 (4 months ago)

@sdavis197 @ChiRock773 @sheltermaniac I might be able to fill some holes in. It DID close in 1981 (family friend owned a record shop there). Leveled and then became a large auto auction, which still operates to this day. Bolingbrook tried to convert it into an international commerce center but that failed years back. Great memories.
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Desolate Angel
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« Reply #114 on: November 22, 2010, 11:03:41 pm »

johnduncan77 (4 months ago)

This is why I REFUSE to call Mall of America "an original" of its type. It's not. The first time I saw MoA pictures, the first thing I thought was this is a ripoff of Old Chicago on a bigger scale. Great memories though.
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Desolate Angel
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« Reply #115 on: November 22, 2010, 11:05:48 pm »



555 S. Bolingbrook Drive, Bolingbrook IL 60439
1975-1981
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Desolate Angel
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« Reply #116 on: November 22, 2010, 11:06:20 pm »

Old Chicago was a combination shopping mall and indoor amusement park. It was the world's first completely enclosed amusement park, and it was located in the Chicago suburb of Bolingbrook.

Old Chicago 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. When it opened in 1975, part of the grand opening celebration included a tap dancer dancing on the very top of the dome.

Various events took place at Old Chicago during its short history, including holiday fireworks displays and radio station promotional appearances. The Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy Telethon took donations in a glass fishbowl in the parking lot, and sometimes did remote broadcasts from inside the park. Many rock bands and singers appeared at Old Chicago, as well.

Old Chicago seemed like an idea that couldn't fail. In retrospect, however, it's easy to see why it did. The mall consisted solely of small specialty shops and restaurants, and without any large chain stores or anchor stores, it wasn't enough of a shopping mall to attract shoppers. Once the novelty wore off, the building didn't seem to attract repeat visitors, except for those who attended special events or lived relatively nearby. Unlike an outdoor park, which can constantly update and add rides, Old Chicago was confined to the space between its walls, and it got old very quickly. It was also in a somewhat remote location, southwest of the city. The cost of operating the building year-round was probably very high. And I'm sure that when Marriott's (now Six Flags) Great America opened in 1976, it didn't help much either.

Old Chicago never did very well financially, and this culminated in the abrupt closing of the ride area in 1980. The mall, with just a handful of stores, stayed open while efforts were made to find a new owner. Nothing came of it, however, and the entire building closed for good in 1981.

As the next five years passed, the building gradually fell into ruin. Officials were reluctant to demolish it, and everyone hoped that both a new owner and a new use for the building would eventually be found. Several ideas were considered - a gambling casino, a convention center, a retail outlet mall and a movie soundstage were just a few of them. Sadly, none of these ideas panned out, and the building was finally torn down in 1986. Currently, a car auction lot occupies the space, and all that remains is a street named Old Chicago Drive.
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« Reply #117 on: November 22, 2010, 11:07:18 pm »



This photo appeared in the Chicago Tribune in May 1975. It shows 18-year-old Michelle Mauthe tap-dancing on top of the dome, while a cameraman inside the helicopter films her for an Old Chicago TV commercial.
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« Reply #118 on: November 22, 2010, 11:08:10 pm »



The main entrance, guarded by two replicas of the famous Art Institute lions.
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« Reply #119 on: November 22, 2010, 11:08:56 pm »



"Under our Columbian Exposition Arches is the World's first completely enclosed amusement center. Climate controlled year 'round."
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