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Joyland Roller Coaster Demolished

After years of uncertainty, then a few more of inevitability, the 1949 Herbert Schmeck Roller Coaster at Joyland in Wichita, Kansas, was demolished on July 23, 2015. The coaster last operated in 2004; its structure was damaged in a windstorm in April 2015.

Roller Coaster, a near-perfect example of an L-shaped out-and-back, completed an arc of postwar wooden coaster production from the Philadelphia Toboggan Company (PTC), a series which included a pair of beloved Comets and the coaster now known as Knoebels' Phoenix. Recognized as an ACE Coaster Classic, Joyland's Roller Coaster was the last to run PTC rounded-front cars with fixed lap bars and grab-rings.

Following years of difficulties for owners Stan and Margaret Nelson, the park closed midway through the 2004 season. An attempt to reopen the park under an outside management firm failed in 2006; deterioration and vandalism of the property set in. Mr. Nelson passed away in 2010, and a minor 2012 fire in a maintenance building raised concerns for public safety at the closed site. Though popular efforts to save the park continued, restoration was by then considered impossible. Mrs. Nelson donated Joyland's carousel to Wichita's Botanica Gardens in 2014, and various historic relics have been salvaged from the park in the past year.

In better times, Roller Coaster thrilled ACE members when Joyland co-hosted Coaster Con XVI in 1993.

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* Lee Ann Draud
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* Rus Ozana
ACE News Now Editor

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