Worlds of Fun history

Aerial view of Worlds of Fun

What a thrilling view. | Photo by @kansasdroneguy

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In honor of Worlds of Fun opening for the season, we figured it would be only fitting to take a (roller coaster) ride down memory lane.


Worlds of Fun was founded by Lamar Hunt. Wondering why his name sounds familiar? That’s because he also founded the Chiefs. Under the company Mid-America Enterprises — which focuses on real estate, mining + entertainment — Hunt and Jack Steadman (another key figure with the Chiefs) officially opened Worlds of Fun on May 26, 1973.

The opening of Worlds of Fun was around the same time Kansas City was growing exponentially — with the construction of the Kemper Arena, Sports Complex (now Hy-Vee Arena) + KCI Airport. Hunt and Steadman were truly riding the city’s booming expansion with the construction of the theme park.


Inspired by Jules Vernes’ “Around the World in Eighty Days” — the park is divided into five major sections (Scandinavia, Africa, Europa, the Orient + Americana).

As for its famous hot air balloon logo, it alludes to the park’s theme of creating an experience for all who visit. Steadman said “the large, multicolored ascension balloon… represents fun, adventure, and travel.”


To celebrate the 10th anniversary of Worlds of Fun, Oceans of Fun opened on May 31, 1982. It was the world’s largest water park at the time. Within a year, the country’s largest water slide at 400 ft opened. You can still slide down the Typhoon today.

Oceans of Fun was separate from Worlds of Fun. Guests bought two tickets to visit both parks on different days. The worlds collided in 2013 — now, guests can enjoy both with just one admission ticket.


When you visit this season, you’ll notice some new updates. MAMBA steel has a sleek new look + the Detonator! has been refinished. Thrilling new food options — ice cream from ‘The All-American Shake Shop’ + alcohol from ‘American Spirits: Frozen Drinks’ will also be available. Don’t pack your swimming suits yet. Oceans of Fun will be opening a month later, on May 28.

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