Memories of Defunct Binghamton Area Amusement Parks
Think back to when you were a kid. Maybe you remember spending summer days at the Skyline Park in Tioga Center. Perhaps your family enjoyed Fraley's or maybe your spot was the Airport Kiddieland. Over the years, the Binghamton area was scattered with fun parks, all long gone.
The Skyline Park in Tioga Center closed for good in the 1980's and is now home of the Skyview Drags and Shangri-La II Motor Speedway. Skyline Park had a pretty decent number of rides including a scrambler, boats, rocket ships, helicopters, bumper cars, a ferris wheel, a kiddie train and many others, including a Herschell and Spillman carousel. In 2014, Johnson City resident Mike McKilligan placed a $37,500 bid on that 32 horse Herschell and Spillman Carousel and won it. He told WBNG that he wasn't sure what he was going to do with the carousel, but that he was thinking about keeping it in the Southern Tier.
Did you know that there was once an amusement park on Riverside Drive in Johnson City? The park was located on what are now the Davis College grounds. Called "White City Park" by locals, the official name of the park was "Wagener's Park." White City Park was established in 1902 and was backed by a brewery. The Davis College history site states that “the drunkenness and debauchery of the place was unspeakable. Conditions, in face, were so vile, degrading, and unlawful that a separate jail had to be erected on the property to make possible the immediate incarceration of those guilty of the more serious violations of law.” That's right- things were so out of control at the park that a jail had to be placed in the property. In 1910 the park went bankrupt and by June of 1911, plans were in place to transform the park for God’s work through Davis College.
From what I can tell, Fraley's Park was built in the 1950's and was possibly destroyed by hurricane Angus in 1972, although I can't confirm this because there's very little to be found about this park outside of spoken memories. On a Topix board, user jrink wrote,
I remember that park well. My sixth grade class would go there at the end of school. You could get a ten pack of ride tickets for one dollar. They had tilt a whirl, bumper cars, tubs of fun, cars, helicopters, carousel,mini-golf, a fire engine ride, arcade and a small roller coaster which seemed much bigger then." One thing that everyone seems to remember though is the Fraley's jingle that went like this: "....in Waverly NY it's Frayley's, just for fun!"
Much like Fraley's Park, most of what can be gathered on Airport Kiddieland is through the memories of those who visited as children. However, a few years ago I found a sweet little nugget of knowledge posted on Cinema Treasures by Jim Macumber of Binghamton. Through email, Jim expressed to me his excitement about his special memories of an old treasure being shared with people who might not have heard of this place before. In part, this is what Jim wrote on Cinema Treasures,
I worked at Airport Kiddieland in the summer of 1966...the rides were almost all completely from the Herschell Carousel Company in North Tonawanda, NY ... Airport Kiddieland was owned & operated by Dr. Naim N. Khuri. He built & opened it in the 1950’s simply because he loved children. I had myself ridden all those rides there as a child! Airport Kiddieland did a booming business in the 50’s & early 60’s but by the late 60s & early 70’s business had fallen off. Dr. Khuri also started the Airport Drive-In with, I believe, 2 other partners in the early 60s & soon the 2 businesses complemented & bolstered each other’s business. Airport Kiddieland started out & maintained 8 rides: a small carousel, a rocketships ride... boats ..., a cars ride & a tanks...a small ferris wheel, a small roller coaster, and the train. All of which I ran for the kids during the summer of 1966. I also helped maintain the rides & the train tracks. It was just like a miniature railroad with real tracks & ties & spikes!! There was also a small 9 hole miniature golf course in the train’s tracks front loop. In about 1965, the Kolba family added a bumper cars unit into the park. I have absolutely no pictures of Airport Kiddieland or the Airport Drive-In & wish that I did. (Anyone out there have any ??) Many many fond memories of Airport Kiddieland (and Dr. Khuri) as a child AND as a teenager entertaining a new generation of kids myself.