I Toured Flint’s Playland Park One Last Time and It Was A Real Bummer [VIDEO]
For almost 50 years Flint's Playland Park was a beloved summer fun and birthday party destination that is now set to join Toys R' Us in the hall of dead things from my childhood.
Growing up and raising a family in your hometown is a weird thing. I often find myself trying to share fun experiences I had as a child with my kids. One such experience was going to Playland Park. As a kid, I loved going there and blowing $20 in the arcade or racing go-karts and playing putt-putt with my buds. It was a fun place for kids.
A decade and some change later, I returned with my own family and the place looked exactly the same. They had a lot of the same arcade games I remembered playing there as a kid, many of which were now malfunctioning quarter thieves. It looked to me like they hadn't done enough updating in the past 15 or so years. The kids had a good time, but even then I could see the writing on the wall.
Looking at the more recent photos, it appears that they did do quite a bit of updating since my last visit. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough to draw in the crowds like they did back in the 80s and 90s. Then again, back then they didn't have to compete with smartphones for kids' attention. Actual activities just aren't as appealing to most of the younger crowd as virtual ones, and that's why less and less of these places can afford to keep the lights on.
Fast forward a few years to May 2018, when news broke of the neighboring Grand Blanc Township purchasing the property shortly after it was put on the market by owner Kris Werner. In addition to hosting the seasonal St. Lucifer's Haunted Asylum, the location had recently added escape rooms to its repertoire. Werner told ABC-12 that he may find a new home for both of those attractions.
Prior to the township shuttering the business for good, Werner had been selling all of the equipment still at Playland via Facebook. A few days before he held the final sale on location, I reached out and Kris was kind enough to let me walk around and take some pictures of the grounds, which can be seen in the video above.
Walking the go-kart tracks and the putt-putt course was a pretty soul-crushing experience. I had so many flashes of long-forgotten memories from seeing a familiar sign or obstacle that it was almost overwhelming. It's like I was flipping through a photo album of lost childhood moments, ripping each page out after viewing, and throwing it into a fire. I knew that a lot of those memories would die right there and it was a real bummer.
That being said, I was glad I got to have that last walkthrough. It was a similar experience to my recent trip to Toys R' Us prior to its demise. Now, another place that was such a huge part of my childhood is lost to time forever. Like Toys R' Us, I was glad that I had my time there and that I got to share it with my kids. Plus, if ever I need a stroll down memory lane, I can just watch this video. It's obviously not the same, but it's better than nothing.