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King's Castle Land was a magical place of make believe for children
King's Castle Land was a magical place of make believe for children
King's Castle Land was a magical place of make believe for children

Published on: 07/09/2024

Description

This summer we take a look back at the playgrounds of yesteryear in our series THE SOUTH SHORE AS IT WAS. 

WHITMAN − Fire-breathing dragons. A towering 22-foot statue of Paul Bunyan. Dozens of child-inspired amusements and rides.

These were just some of the attractions at King’s Castle Land, a 7-acre family theme park on Route 18 in Whitman.

The entrance to the castle was across a drawbridge over a moat and inside was a place where nursery rhymes like "The Three Little Pigs" and "There Was an Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe" came to life.

Joe King started the park in 1946 as a restaurant with a couple of amusement rides in the back. Clarence and Paula Whitney bought the business in 1968. They already owned the Brockton-based Hideaway Toy Store and moved the store to the site.

Ron Whitney was 14 years old when his parents bought the park.

“My dad thought an amusement park and toy store were a great combo, and he saw King’s Castle Land was for sale and he jumped on it,” Whitney, an attorney, said. "It was a simple time in America where people were getting into mobility and would pack a lunch and come down from Quincy, Weymouth and Milton."

The Whitneys, a family of seven, moved from Weymouth to Whitman because there was a home on the site of the park. Ron Whitney said his grandparents lived on the property in a second home. All the family members worked at the park, which was open May 1 to Oct. 1.

When his parents bought the park, Whitney said there were only two rides. They bought adjacent land to expand the park to 7 acres, and he bought a new ride each year to go with the nursery rhyme displays.

More: Did you know Quincy had a social club in the quarries in the 1930s?

The park grew to 14 rides in all, including a train with a half-mile of track, bumper cars, a Tilt-a-Whirl and a petting zoo.

"We had goats, lambs, peacocks and deer, and at one point, we might have had a pig," Ron Whitney said.

One of the favorites was the "Dragon Coaster." Whitney said the family bought the ride from the Italian company Zamperla.

"It was a big hit for us," he said. "It was a compact ride, but had big coaster thrill."

The park itself closed in September 1994, the victim of a poor economy, bad summer weather, rising liability insurance costs and the Whitneys' desire to retire. The rides were auctioned off, with the carousel going to an Albuquerque, New Mexico, park for $120,000.

The property was sold and is now home to a Stop & Shop supermarket. Whitney later built a 12-by 6-foot replica of the park in the basement of his Plymouth home, which he then donated to the Whitman Historical Society.

Whitney's law office is inside a building called King's Castle Building, which is next to where the park once stood. His office has one of the horses from the park's carousel mounted at the top of the sign out front.

Inside, Whitney said he has a memorabilia board of the park, which is a huge conversation starter.

"Everyone who comes into the office remarks about memories they have," he said.

Park-goers from years past keep the memory of King's Castle Land alive through a Facebook page where they share nostalgic memories and photographs.

News Source : https://www.patriotledger.com/story/news/2024/07/09/kings-castle-land-whitman-ma-amusement-park/74052198007/

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