I’m sure it’s happened to everyone: you’re lying in bed, late at night, trying to go to sleep and, suddenly, a random, fuzzy memory pops into your head.
This happens to me a lot. Almost unnervingly so. Last week it was the time I randomly drove to Galveston in the middle of the night with my two college roommates so one of them could try to patch things up with his ex-girlfriend (spoiler alert: it didn’t work. But we did end up drinking beer on the beach until first light, so that was a bonus).
Last night, it was a vague memory of a long-forgotten amusement park that we went to a couple of times as a kid. I didn’t remember much, except that it was in Corpus Christi, Texas, and that it had a genie on the sign. I struggled for a bit, rummaging around in the dungeons of my mind trying to remember what it was called, but all I could remember was that genie, beckoning passersby to stop for some amusements.
Giving up, I rolled over and grabbed my iPhone off my nightstand and, one quick Google search later, I’d found the name: Magic Isles, along with some other interesting tidbits.
Magic Isles was only in existence for six short years—1978 to 1984, yet somehow we managed to visit it at least once if not twice (my memory is good, but not that good). Since we didn’t live in Corpus Christi, it would’ve had to have been on a trip to visit my mother’s father in the time between him moving from near Houston to South Texas, which would’ve been in the very early 80s, so the sliver of time where us going to Corpus fairly-regularly and Magic Isles being open was pretty narrow. My memories of Magic Isles are pretty limited: I only really remember the smiling genie on the sign.
Luckily, someone online had saves this image of the logo. The sign was pretty similar, featuring the smiling (yet kind-of-unnerving) genie with the Magic Isles logotype below.
It was located at Flour Bluff Road and South Padre Island Drive. Luckily, Google Maps gives us a location via historical imagery:
It’s good to see that even though Magic Isles is gone, there’s still entertainment to be had: the location is now In the Game Funtrackers.
I also found a fairly-recent write-up in the Corpus Christi Caller-Times that gives a bit more background on the park, but basically it’s demise came down to our old frenemy, money.
Which seems to be a theme with small, regional parks. You don’t see very many local amusement parks anymore…most of them are owned by big corporations such as Six Flags. I kind of miss the days that you could go to a poorly-maintained local park and risk life-and-limb to have a thrill. The closest you get now are the parking lot carnivals that pop-up at dying malls on occasion, but I always feel like those are a little too-unmaintained as they’re moved town-to-town regularly, like a WKRP disc jockey.
If you’re interested in other out-of-business theme parks, I suggest perusing the excellent Defunctland on Youtube.