Adventureland Staff Interviews

Donald Holliman, Manager | Richard W. Jones, Manager | Bill Picha, Manager

Interview with Donald Holliman, Manager, 1962-1977

Located at the northwest corner of Lake and Medinah Roads in Bloomingdale Township, the Adventureland property was originally known as Paul's Picnic Grove and later, Storybook Gardens, attracting families with young children. Purchased in 1961 by Mr. Durrell Everding, Adventureland began to appeal to young adults as the new owner focused on rides rather than amusement houses. Also owned by the Everding family, Santa's Village was considered the family park with rides for younger children. Mr. Everding used to organize shows for servicemen and would hang cleaned costumes out to dry on a fence line during summer. So many people stopped to look at the costumes, he decided to start charging a fee and that experience led him to the amusement park business.

Roller coasters at Adventureland included the Small Bobs, 35 feet high and the Big Bobs, 60 feet high. The park was open every day from Memorial Day until September when it was open on weekends only. During the peak of its season, 650,000 visitors came to the park. Dance bands and a one-price policy (entrance fee with rides free) drew suburban and Chicago residents of all ages. The charge for adult and children's rides were 4/$1.00 and 20/$1.00 respectively. Families could bring their own lunches to the picnic area and parking was free.

While Mr. Everding owned the park, he expanded its area to the west and the north with purchases of a restaurant/motel, a turkey farm, and the Gossage property. Adventureland was advertised in the Tribune on the back of the magazine section, alternately with ads for Santa's Village, and in radio promotions on WLS.

With Mr. Everding's death in 1970, stepbrothers, Paul, Dave, Jim, and a stepsister ran the park until 1974. Purchased in 1974 by Medinah Investors, Barney Clark, principle, the park stayed open until 1977. The largest park in the state after Riverview, Adventureland closed in 1977 (as did Old Chicago in 1981) because of competition from Great America. Though a ride/auction company purchased rides and attractions at its close, a few Adventureland attractions - the Shoe Slide and Pirate/Indian - may still be in the area at a miniature golf course in Hanover Park.

At age 16 (1962), Mr. Holliman started employment at Adventureland as a ride operator. In 1963, he worked in food services. During his college years, he was ride manager. A graduate of Southern Illinois University with a Business Management Degree, Mr. Holliman became co-park manager in June of 1967. From 1967-1969, management was divided as follows: Robert Noel, co-park manager for Safety and Security; William Picha, co-park manager for Entrance, Food, and Souvenirs; Donald Holliman, co-park manager for Rides and Attractions. After Bill Picha resigned, Mr. Holliman and Bob Noel co-managed the park through the summer of 1971. In 1972, Don Holliman became park manager of Santa's Village and Rick Jones came back to Adventureland as Assistant Park Manager through the summer of 1976. After Bob Noel's resignation, Rick Jones became park manager for the last season, the summer of 1977. In 1987, Mr. Holliman became Vice President/General Manager of the North Pole Corporation, which owns Santa's Village, the Polar Dome Ice Arena, and Racing Rapids Action Park.

Notes from phone interview with Don Holliman on 1/29/01 and his subsequent visit to the Local History room on 2/21/01.

Original items donated:
Black/White Photos

  1. Girl on Swan ride shows rider operator, Mary Kerr, in background
  2. Windy Wilbur blew air when button was pressed
  3. Three boys on the Turtle ride
  4. Super Bobs
  5. White on black positives for ad (2)
  6. Father waving with two sons on Paratrooper ride (late 1960s)
  7. Super Bobs with Larry Piemonte, worker, on the right side of second car from top of photo
  8. Super Bobs with Millie Brown, worker, center person of first car
  9. Paratrooper ride with workers Bob Ritthauer and Kathy Davenport
  10. Barrel in the Fun House, Kathy Davenport and Jim Perkins, workers
  11. Paratrooper ride with workers Bob Ritthauer and Kathy Davenport
  12. Paratrooper ride with Arlene and Ed Tolf (worker)
  13. Super Bobs
  14. Whip with entertainers as riders
  15. Bumper Boats
  16. Whip
  17. Candy Cane Train
  18. Glossy ads (3 positives and 1 negative)
  19. Helicopter ride with swan ride behind
  20. Paratrooper ride
  21. Train and small covered wagon
  22. Go-cart track with Bobs behind
  23. Century Flyer
  24. Ferris Wheel
  25. Bumper Boats with train behind
  26. Super Himalaya
  27. Paratrooper Ride (whole ride)
  28. Bumper Boats with workers in pond
  29. Paratrooper Ride (3)
  30. Small Bobs (single car with 4 riders) (2)
  31. Storybook Park Train #9
  32. Round Up (2)
  33. Deer pen
  34. Folded ad within Comics section (1968? Date on Big George cartoon)
  35. 5 promotional slides Kodachrome, #1,2,5 are the Bumper Cars, #3 is the Front Entrance, #4 is the Paratrooper Ride
  36. 15 Three-negative sets in sleeves
  37. 2 plastics with 5-strip negatives, 7 strips each plastic
  38. 5 photocopies of b/w photo of Don Holliman on sweeper
  39. 21 negatives in 2 sleeves including one color ad negative
  40. Color photo of Durrell Everding, owner, in tuxedo for Grand Opening of Adventureland, 1961

Color Photos

  1. Train with go-cart track in front and Bobs behind (2)
  2. Super Himalaya and patrons waiting in line (4)
  3. Candy Land train (2)
  4. Round Up in background with electric cars and Gingerbread House Restaurant in foreground
  5. Go-cart track and go-cart track with Bobs in background
  6. Arcade building and Drum/Concession Stands
  7. Century Flyer Train
  8. Octopus
  9. Bumper Boats (4)
  10. Super Bobs and sign "Bobs"
  11. Ferris Wheel (2)
  12. Munchner Hofbrauhaus Fun House - Barrel, Maze, Mirrors

5x7 Black/White Photos

  1. Six aerial photos
  2. Three of Super Bobs including one showing photographer in last car
  3. Ad proof for Super Himalaya and "Chicagoland's Largest Amusement Park"

Color Postcards

  1. 5 postcards and one strip from souvenir package - Super Italian Bobs, Fun House, Parashoots, Super Himalaya, Deer Park

Proof Sheets

  1. Black/white proof sheets of photos (5)
  2. Glossy black/white proof sheet for various rides
  3. Glossy proofs (2) for Adventureland and Santa's Village
  4. Six 7 1/2 x 10 negatives
  5. 7 negatives in tissue envelope

Souvenir Slides

  1. 2 six-strip souvenir color slides

Tickets and Passes (in white North Pole Corp. envelope)

  1. Red Carpet Pass 1965, VIP 1968
  2. V.I.P. Pass
  3. General Business Card (shows old style phone number as LA 9-4267)
  4. Business cards for Donald L. Holliman, R. L. Ciccione, Richard Jones, and Bob Noel
  5. Four strips of 4 each ticket stubs - Adventureland
  6. One strip of 8 ticket stubs - Storybook City U.S.A.

Color Negatives

  1. One strip of 2 negatives showing seated visitors and ride

Color Slides

  1. Thirteen slide pages containing up to 20 color slides and one slide page containing 4 slides

Items from Bloomingdale School Days

  1. Graduation Pin 1959 and School Safety Patrol Badge on index card

Photocopies of Photo - 1959 Graduation Class
Top row - left to right
Dale Lamz, Bill Sage, Mike Leep, Jim Taylor, Don Holliman, Henry Van Guten, Emil Zidek, Mrs. Childs

Front row - left to right
Ron Hoff, John Petges, Lenore Rifigatto, Janet Anderson, Sue Hitzman, Peter Camelot

According to Don Holliman, this was the last graduating class with students who were given the choice of attending either high school, Glenbard or Lake Park.

Interview with Richard W. Jones (Rick), Manager through 1977

Richard W. Jones managed Adventureland while it was owned by the Medinah Investors. Some of the amusements from Storybook Land days, the Little Red School House, Cinderella's Castle, and the Fire Truck/Train appealed to younger visitors. Children would ride the Fire Truck/Train and put out a building fire in the middle of the pond with small hoses. Cinderella's Castle became an ice cream shop. The Gingerbread House, the Lollipop House, the Three Bears House, and the Crooked House were also favorites from Storybook Land. Kiddie rides included the Turtle ride, a Merry-Go-Round, the Helicopters, and a Fun House. Children could also feed deer that were kept in an enclosed area. Nursery rhyme themes included Cinderella's Coach and the Pumpkin House with Peter's Wife as an automated figure.

School groups came out from Chicago in busloads to picnic and enjoy a day at the park, sponsored by Chicago's Neighborhood Summer Program. Rides at Adventureland included the Rocko Plane, Super Himalaya, Fighter Planes, Octopus, Rambler, Flying Bobs, Caterpillar, Whip, and the YoYo Swings, the latter being the last new ride purchased by Mr. Everding.

In addition to souvenir stands, Pudge's warehouse sold people clothing, auto parts, and miscellaneous merchandise. It closed in the mid 1960s.

Popular groups, such as The Cryan' Shames, and a house band performed evenings for dancing. During the 1970s, a hired instructor gave disco lessons. As the park began to appeal more to teenagers, security had to be increased. During the peak of the season, there was a security officer at each ride and the DuPage County Sheriff's Office assisted as well.

Mr. Jones related the stories of three accidents. A woman tried to climb over the barbwire fencing to get ahead in line. She caught her wedding ring on the fence and it pulled off her finger as she reached the ground. She admitted it was her own fault, so there was no suit. The second episode involved an employee who started the ride he worked, the Round Up, and then jumped on the edge, thinking he could shut the ride off again when he came around. Unfortunately his hip was pinched between the ride and its railing and he fell to the ground. Both were taken to Alexian Brothers Hospital for treatment.

A third incident involved the Roll-O-Plane ride. The arm cracked and riders had to be rescued by the Fire Department.

When Riverview shut down in 1967, Mr. Everding bought some of the dilapidated ride cars and organized them into Riverview Memory Lane. Cars from the Fireball and Ski Ball equipment were part of this display.

At the time of Mr. Jones’ employment, there were four full-time employees and 100-150 seasonal workers. In addition to the manager, there were three full-time mechanics. The property included a house (and a small pond) that was rented to one of the mechanics. Mr. Jones recalls that Heinz Stock had an interesting history leading up to his employment. Mr. Stock was a soldier who survived the sinking of a German sub during WWII. As a prisoner of war, he was held in Arizona. After his release, he went to Canada and eventually obtained citizenship there. Eventually, Mr. Stock's skills as a mechanic got him the job at Adventureland.

At the beginning of each season, stored amusements were brought out, repaired, and repainted. Werner Stenzil, a German painter, refurbished the amusements as needed every spring. In 1977, Mr. Everding obtained a permit to build a filtration plant but decided to sell that same year. An auction company purchased most of the rides and amusements that eventually went to an amusement park in Lagos/Nigeria, Africa. Jim Ziaja, a fellow employee of Mr. Jones, traveled to Africa and worked at that park.

Phone interview with Rick Jones on 1/30/01.

Additional notes from a visit by Rick Jones on Wednesday, February 7, 2001.

Rick showed us memorabilia that confirmed ride names and the address of Adventureland as Route 20 at Medinah Road, Addison, Illinois, for mailing purposes. He signed an Unconditional Release Form for our use of these materials.

Original items:

  1. Two of Mr. Jones's Adventureland Business Cards
  3. STORYBOOK CITY, USA brochure

Items we copied:

  1. Two pages from "STEP RIGHT UP, FOLKS!" by Al Griffin. Page 106 refers to Adventureland but with incorrect information. Adventureland and Santa's Village ARE NOT outgrowths of Rainbow Arena
  2. Two pages from "The Great American Amusement Parks: A Pictorial History" by Gary Kyriazi, showing listing for Adventureland
  3. Letter from Kenneth W. Sain, Deputy Mayor of the City of Chicago, to Mr. Jones, in regard to Neighborhood Summer Programs
  4. Copy of newspaper photo regarding Roller coaster from Adventureland but listed as coming from Riverside Park which didn't exist
  5. Photocopy of article regarding next venture for the Park - headline "Former fun…". The Cinderella emblem on the sign was a holdover from STORYBOOK CITY days
  6. Photocopy of article - headline "First thaw…."
  7. Photocopy of article - headline "Where fun, fantasy reign" (2 pages)
  8. Photocopy of article - headline "Rating the dips…" (2 pages)
  9. Photocopy of article - headline "Fun and Games…"
  10. Photocopy of staff party photo, Bruce Petrie, employee
  11. Photocopy of Adventureland ad "THRILLS A PLENTY…"
  12. Photocopy of the back cover of the TV guide for #11, dated 5/30-6/5/1976
  13. Photocopy of Adventureland ad "TEAR OUT THIS…"
  14. Photocopy of back cover of TV guide for #13, dated 8/25-31/1974
  15. Photocopy of picture of The Old Shoe slide, which had to be closed due to accidental injuries
  16. Photocopy of picture of the Merry-Go-Round with Mr. Everding watching it (man in plaid shirt with back facing camera). This ride is at Santa's Village.
  17. Photocopy of woman dancing on stage
  18. Photocopy of postcard backs
  19. Photocopy of roller coaster car with riders
  20. Photocopy of the Super Italian Bobs
  21. Photocopy of the Mushroom ride with roller coaster in the background
  22. Photocopy of the Bumper Cars
  23. Photocopy of the Super-Himalaya lit up at night
  24. Photocopies of photos of bandstand performers, portrait artist, rides, crowds, and puppet performances
  25. Color copies of the Adventureland pennant
  26. Color copies of postcards of main entrance and rides
  27. Color copies of advertisements
  28. WLS top 45 list dated August 13, 1977 includes FREE PASS to Adventureland
  29. Copies of photos of the park after it closed and before demolition
  30. Copies of scanned photos of Rick Jones and memorabilia

Three items sent to us February 12, 2001

  1. Tape recording of WIND commercial and Tribune sales
  2. Photocopy of Adventureland Point Values for Tribune orders
  3. Photocopy of Audiodisk label WIND ad

Additional notes from conversation with Mr. Michael Turman during his visit to the Local History Room on March 2, 2001: Mr. Turman's grandmother, Mrs. Dolly Chrysler, lived on Broker Road. Mr. Turman and friends used to cut through a farm property (which we believe to be Franzen's) to walk to Adventureland. Also, Mr. Turman indicated that at one time, Medinah Road was moved to the west as it originally ran through what was the Go-Cart area for Adventureland.

Interview with Mr. Bill Picha, Manager, 11 Years at Adventureland and 3 Years at Storybook Park

Mr. Picha managed Storybook Park, owned by Dick Barry, from 1955-1958. Bankrupt in the late 50s, the Park was sold to Mr. Everding. Mr. Picha worked at Adventureland for 11 years until 1968. Originally started as Paul's Picnic Grove, the picnic tradition continued in Storybook Park. In order to draw visitors to the park at less busy times, there were two fee schedules based on when people rode the rides. Visitors paid one fee to use the picnic area and could ride early and late. During the middle of the day, a different fee was charged riders.

With the closing of Riverview, gangs started coming out to Adventureland. Mr. Picha told the story of one event, a prospective gang fight, which he avoided by suggesting to one of the kids that the fight location had been changed, thus directing them to another field.

Referring to the Park advertising in the Chicago Tribune, Mr. Picha said that the managers counted ads (which contained coupons for free popcorn) every night and determined that the back of the TV guide was the best advertising space. Radio station promotions complemented the advertising. An 8mm film advertised the park, promoted by WLS on television and radio. WLS disk jockeys Dick Biondi and Clark Weber emceed dances on weekends with performances by The Cryan' Shames and other singing groups.

Mr. Picha was in charge of the front entrance and refreshment concessions. Starting as a ride operator, he worked his way into management. Don Holliman managed the rides and Bob Knohl was in charge of security. Mr. Picha said they built their own self-serve refreshment stand. Drink cups were filled with ice and put out so visitors could help themselves to soft drinks after paying for them. People from Coke came and took pictures in order to use the same idea. The Health Department approved hot dogs in buns in a bun warmer with a clear window as well as the pop concession idea. Mr. Picha also negotiated contracts with vendors bargaining for .28 Burney Brothers rolls and free sweet rolls for employees.

Phone interview with Mr. Picha on 1/31/01.