Excelsior Amusement Park

Excelsior Amusement Park

Infobox Amusement park
name = Excelsior Amusement Park
slogan =
area =
owner =

location = Excelsior
location2 = Minnesota
location3 =United States flagicon|USA
season = Daily Memorial Day through Labor Day
opening_date = 1925
closing_date = 1973
rides =
coasters = 1
water_rides =
homepage =

Excelsior Amusement Park was an amusement park located on the shore of Lake Minnetonka in Excelsior, Minnesota. The park operated from 1925 to 1973. The park was a popular destination for annual company picnics and as a day trip for many from the nearby Twin Cities.


The main attractions at the park included a wooden roller coaster named The Cyclone, a Ferris Wheel, Bumper Cars, Boat Rides, a Fun House, and a Carousel. The Carousel (built by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company) was in service the entire operation of the park and is still in service at a nearby amusement park, Valleyfair. At one time it also featured a funhouse with a long gunny sack slide, a disc called the pancake that was waxed down so as it picked up speed it hurled people into a padded sidewall, and a turning barrel that was a challenge to walk through.


The Excelsior Amusement Park opened in 1925 on the shores of Lake Minnetonka and was originally built and operated by Fred Pearce, a well-known amusement park operator and roller coaster builder. The park was served by a streetcar line from Minneapolis which brought many guests to the park from Memorial Day to Labor Day each summer. The park was inspired by Coney Island and, like Coney, attracted guests with attractions such as a roller coaster called "The Cyclone".

Excelsior Amusement Park was very popular in the 1940's, 50's and later. The park was a popular destination for annual company picnics, one of the largest of which was the annual Honeywell picnic. During the sixties the park was a popular hangout for local teens, and also attracted crowds of young people from around the Twin Cities. Several incidents occurred in the late sixties, some with racial overtones, and the trouble helped lead to the eventual decline of the park.

Like many regional amusement parks of its period, the Excelsior Amusement Park contained a ballroom, which hosted many popular musical acts, including Lawrence Welk, Tommy Dorsey, The Beach Boys, and the Rolling Stones. Legend has it that the stop by this latter group in June 1964 allegedly gave inspiration to the Stone's song You Can't Always Get What You Want, due to an oft-rumored conversation between Mick Jagger and a local Minneapolis character, “Mr. Jimmy," or Jim Hutmaker, who to this day is a celebrity to Excelsior. [ [http://www.rakemag.com/stories/section_detail.aspx?itemID=9344&catID=146&SelectCatID=146 Hot Times in Fun City | The Rake Magazine ] ] Jimmy died on October 3, 2007 without his story ever being verified. [ [http://www.kare11.com/news/news_article.aspx?storyid=266626 kare11.com | Twin Cities, MN | Excelsior loses tie to rock and roll history ] ]

The park finally closed in 1973 and was demolished soon afterward. Valleyfair in nearby Shakopee, Minnesota opened a few years later in 1976, and now serves as the Twin Cities primary amusement park.

It is a common misperception that the Cyclone roller coaster was relocated to Valleyfair and renamed High Roller, but this is not true. While High Roller bears some similarities, it was a brand new ride in 1976, and Cyclone was demolished. The Philadelphia Toboggan Company carousel, however, was relocated from Excelsior Amusement Park to Valley Fair in 1976.

The former park site is now home to condominiums and seafood restaurants.


External links

[http://collections.mnhs.org/visualresources/Results.cfm?Page=1&Keywords=Excelsior%20Amusement%20Park Minnesota Historical Society photo archive for Excelsior Amusement Park]

Lake Minnetonka History http://www.lakeminnetonka.com/13historydanceland3.html

[http://www.kare11.com/news/news_article.aspx?storyid=266626 News Story and Video on Mr. Jimmy Hutmaker]

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