Lancaster County’s Dutch Wonderland is celebrating a major milestone this summer as the family-friendly theme park marks its golden anniversary.
But to herald the “Funsation 50-year Celebration,” you have to look back to the park’s humble beginnings. Fifty years ago potato farmer Earl Clark had a dream to turn 18 acres of land along the Lincoln Highway East into a “kingdom for kids.”
When the gates to Dutch Wonderland opened in May 1963 it only had four rides. Now the attraction has expanded to 30 acres and has nearly three dozen rides that children of all ages can enjoy. And while kids and their families can hitch a ride on many new attractions, the charm of Dutch Wonderland is that the four original rides the park opened with in 1963, the Wonderland Express Train, Lady Gay Riverboat, the Turnpike with antique cars and the Whale Boats, are still in service today.
Along with the rides, families can see live shows, play miniature golf or splash around in Duke’s Lagoon interactive water park. Two new shows which have debuted during the 50th anniversary celebration, “Decades of Dutch Wonderland” and “Really Royal: The Story of Princess Brooke,” help compliment the mainstay entertainment that park-goers for generations have come to expect and enjoy from the theme park.
DW General Manager Rick Stammel says he hopes that the golden anniversary celebration serves as a way for many families that have visited the park over the last five decades to make a return visit while welcoming in a new generation of patrons.
Dutch Wonderland is one of the amusement parks located just a few hours from Philadelphia, York, Harrisburg and upstate Pennsylvania. It is a great stop for visitors from outside the state who are making Lancaster County a destination location or they are just passing through either traveling to or from the Pocono mountains, the South Jersey or Delaware beaches.
Just like many other seasonal theme parks open Memorial Day through Labor Day, Dutch Wonderland has found ways to extend its tourist season into the fall. The park offers weekend hours through October 13th and specialty holiday events such as Happy Hauntings for Halloween and Dutch Winter Wonderland for Christmas.
While the theme park has grown by leaps and bounds over the past 50 years, the attraction is now owned by Palace Entertainment, which operates theme parks across the country including Kennywood in Pittsburgh and Splish Splash water park in Long Island, New York.
For more information on park hours, ticket prices and directions visit: www.dutchwonderland.com.