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Help us, Restore the Park

We have a vision.

To create the picturesque of what once was, the majestic park that sits along the beautiful blue glacial waters of Lake Okoboji. Improving our current facilities, restoring the historical structure, and developing functional facilities for today’s modern world.

Historic Arnolds Park Amusement Park – an “American Classic” that celebrated its 125th anniversary in 2014 – was born of humble beginnings along the southern shore of West Lake Okoboji in 1889. It was there, on a property owned by Wesley Arnold, that a 60-foot tall toboggan-style waterslide was constructed, the very first attraction of what would become a full-scale amusement park. Arnold was a visionary who first conceptualized a public entertainment complex at the coveted site, he challenged himself and others to build attractions that would attract and win over visitors, for years to come.

The park began to flourish in the Roaring Twenties. The iconic Roof Garden – which would become famous throughout the Midwest for hosting marquee swing and then rock n’ roll bands – became the heart and soul of the burgeoning park. There are places in everyone’s lives that resonate with bold memories. It’s not so much the buildings – although you may recall the curvatures of the windows or the warmth of the sheer immensity of the wooden dance floors – but the memories they evoked.

The much-anticipated Legend roller coster was opened in 1930 and remains one of only a handful of functioning wooden coasters in the country today. In 1991, Captain Kennedy, of the Queen II, opened the Iowa Great Lakes Maritime Museum in a small lakeside building in the park, which has grown into a rich gallery of Okoboji nautical and entertainment lore. The Museum quickly outgrew its confines and is presently housed in the IGL Welcome Center.

Arnolds Park Amusement Park remains one of only five such non-profit entertainment facilities in the country. The Park is an excitable destination of Iowa Great Lakes visitors, young and old. It has withstood the sternest tests of time and today stands poised for a bright future under the direction of a community-based and dedicated board of directors.

“We continually invest in strengthening the appeal and capacity of the Historic Arnolds Park. By working toward creating a place of dreams, where guests gain a whole new experience of happiness and family fun in each visit, only then, are we able to succeed as a sustainable venue. Our larger efforts with the new fundraising campaign, are to see the restoration of the Roof Garden both inside and out, the restoration of the pavilion and expansion of our Maritime Museum. In addition, there will be many things upgraded to bring us into the 20th century and poise us for sustainability for future generations. The Park is the api-center of our community and remains the heart of Okoboji.” – Charley Whittenburg, CEO