Nestled in the corner of Tautphaus Park in Idaho Falls, the well-known amusement park Funland At the Zoo is scheduled for a three-phase renovation project. Once known as Funland Amusement Park, the park has recently been incorporated into the Idaho Falls Zoo at Tautphaus Park.
"People have a lot of really wonderful memories,” said Dana Kirkham, chair of the Funland Renovation Committee. “I mean, as I go around, talking to people about the Funland project, I just love to hear all the stories. People tell me, ‘You know, that's where I had my first date,’ or maybe ‘my first kiss was on the Ferris Wheel’…. I love that it’s part of the fabric of their nostalgia and their formative years, and so we want that for the next generation."
Kirkham explained the three-part renovation will take a lot of time and money. The committee is first reaching out to the community for donations before going to corporate donors.
“We wanted to get the community involved and raise as much money as possible in small donations… [to show] that it means something to the community,” she said.
In the first phase, the park will focus on fresh paint and mechanical upgrades for most of the rides and the Ferris wheel, redesigning pathways and pavement areas, installing a time capsule that won’t be opened until the park’s 150th year anniversary, and creating a new, 18-hole golf course that is ADA accessible.
The second phase is scheduled for 2023 and will work toward restoring the old log hut and remaking it into a restaurant. In 2024, the third phase will focus on park expansion.
To kickstart the fundraising and renovation process, Kirkham invites people to join a family event at the park on Saturday, Aug. 21 from 1-4 p.m. The event will feature free pony rides, face painting, bounce houses, live music and a pie eating contest. There will also be an appearance from Percy the Penguin, as well as informative displays about park renovations. Visiting food trucks will be donating their proceeds to Funland. Admission is free to all, and the first 1,000 visitors will receive free popcorn and cotton candy.
Kirkham said Saturday’s activity is all about people coming together and looking forward to a fresh, new park.
"We want people to come and just enjoy that space and kind of remember that it’s a place where we gather together as a community,” she said. “We’re trying to build that atmosphere, and at the same time show you these are the plans that are coming. If you can make a donation, that'd be wonderful."
You can learn more about the project online at https://funlandatthezoo.com/.