Located in Middletown, Fantasy Farm was open from 1963 to 1991, and was especially designed for children 12 and under.
Photo slide show credits (above): Thank you to Gary Shuppert and Jeff Siler for contributing photos to this article
The older I get the more time I find myself spending in the ‘kiddie land’ area when at Kings Island, only I don’t have any children. All those calm, slow-moving rides look pretty tempting, but I’m not allowed to ride them without being accompanied by a child. It’s really embarrassing to be denied entrance to a ride that toddlers are in line for. Such moments make me yearn for the days of Fantasy Farm, an amusement park geared towards children that all ages could appreciate, without spending a small fortune for a ticket.
Located in Middletown, Fantasy Farm was open from 1963 to 1991, and was especially designed for children 12 and under. It featured a petting zoo, rides, a picnic area and a playground. For myself, and many others, Fantasy Farm was the introduction to amusement parks and a fun filled place to spend a day. Most eventually grew to prefer Americana, which was right next door and had roller coasters, but I was always satisfied with Fantasy Farm. At the time I was too young to care about the interesting history of the two parks and how they became neighbors. Way back in 1922, Edgar Streifthau opened LeSourdsville Lake, originally mainly as a swimming area and overtime began adding rides. In 1960. Streifthau sold LeSourdsville Lake,( which was renamed Americana in 1978), and on the adjoining land still owned he started Fantasy Farm.
My first time behind the wheel occurred at Fantasy Farm, thankfully the cars were guided by a track. There are days I wish I still drove on those tracks, as do the people who ride with me. No amusement park is complete, even one for the youngsters, without bumper cars. Other staples at Fantasy Farm were a ferris wheel and a carousel. I remember ride which was a boat that went around in a little pool of water, getting wet was not required or even suggested, yet it was still fun. The names of the rides I don’t recall, but there was one in which you could set in a car shaped as Santa Claus and get swung around, slowly, in a circle. One of my clearest memories is of the ski-lift type ride that traveled around the park from above to provide a bird’s eye view. I feel sorry for the visitors under me, because I was mostly likely scared and ruined their day by sharing my lunch or whatever I had consumed that day with them.
The petting zoo was a highlight to get up close to and feed animals like deer, horses, goats and sheep. Who needs an upside down roller coaster, when you can touch the all-natural wool of sheep? Talk about a thrill. While on the subject of animals there were a number of fiberglass located throughout the park, it’s a wonder my legs don’t have burn marks from sitting on them with shorts. I remember sitting on them for lots of pictures, none of which could be found. There was a Big Red Barn, which contained antique farm equipment, a blacksmith and a giant slide.
Other memories of Fantasy Farm include an old train that circled the park and a house lived in by The Three Bears, or at least figurines of them. The bear’s home could be rented out for birthday parties, but I never had or invited to such a party. For those like me, whose biggest risk taken at amusement parks is seeing how many funnel cakes can be eaten, Fantasy Farm was the perfect place to escape for a day.
In 1982, Streifthau sold Fantasy Farm to a new owner, who kept it in operation until 1991 when it was closed. Despite some rumors over the years a new park has never been opened and is now very unlikely. We do however still have the memories which always become more clear around this time of year.
Sidenote: Americana closed in 1999. It was purchased by new ownership in 2002, renamed back to LeSourdsville, but closed after just one year.
Mike Woody is a life long resident of Dayton, and has a passion for writing, which is good because he doesn't excel at much of anything else, except eating.