Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Sabrina's Brochure Spotlight: Wild World 1988

Back in January, I kicked off the new year by bringing you a month-long SBS "mini-series" where we took a look at how Hersheypark has grown and changed through the decades--via brochures, of course! This month, Six Flags America in Largo, Maryland is getting the SBS time line treatment. Let's turn back the clock, shall we?

You've probably noticed two things right off the bat: (1) we didn't turn back the clock very far, and (2) we're supposed to be talking about Six Flags America but the post title says "Wild World". What gives?? Well, the simple fact is that this park is comparatively young and has not enjoyed nearly the same level of stability as Hersheypark and other veterans of the industry.

The destination we now know as Six Flags America began its life as a wildlife preserve back in the mid-'70s. Hopes were high, but after numerous fits and starts, the park simply was not turning the expected profit. It was eventually acquired by a group of local businessmen who transformed the property into a combination theme/water/animal park and reopened it as "Wild World" in 1982.

This is not my oldest Wild World brochure, as that honor has already been taken by the very first brochure spotlight I wrote for NPN. Nevertheless, the fact remains that I currently do not own any brochures from Wild World's earliest days, and the young park had already seen many changes by the time this 1988 brochure was published.

As the new owners struggled to find the park's niche, their focus seemed to oscillate between dry rides and water slides. At one point, they went so far as to place all but a handful of the newly acquired rides into storage. The abundance of water attractions featured in this brochure stands as testament to the critical role played by the water park in the early days.

But then, in 1985, Wild World's owners made the pivotal decision to add a roller coaster. It wasn't just any coaster, either. In an effort to save some cash, they decided to purchase and relocate the John Miller classic which formerly operated at Paragon Park as Giant Coaster. Following some small changes to the layout, the newly rechristened Wild One (pictured in the upper left-hand corner) made its debut in 1986 and was an instant hit. The rest, as they say, is history. Niche found!

While 1988 was not a huge year for Wild World in terms of new attractions, they did add a new park mascot and that definitely counts for something in my book. The friendly creature pictured here, better known as Wilbur the Walrus, invited tourists to come experience Wild World's "good old fashioned family fun" and meet his new pal Big Tooth the Shark while they were at it. Seriously--Could you turn down an offer like that?

Be sure to tune in next week for installment #2 of my Six Flags America spotlight!


Unknown said...

Wow I grew up in laurel and this brochure really brings back some memories. Thanks for posting

Audra said...

My best friend and I managed to convince our parents to allow us to get season tickets in 1989. Seemed like SOOO much money then. Now zoo's cost that much for a day! I learned to love roller coasters on the Wild One when it rained just enough to chase most people away and we rode it probably 20 times in that afternoon. Thanks for the laugh and memories!