Remember Penny Whistle Park? No? Then you didn’t live in East Dallas in the 80s

Penny Whistle Park sign. (Photo courtesy Josh Miller)
Penny Whistle Park sign. (Photo courtesy Josh Miller)

“Welcome to Penny Whistle Park.”

The rusty old sign still stands in the property at 10717 E. Northwest Highway, now home to Lindsey Tree Service and an indoor soccer center.

Remnants of Penny Whistle Park on Northwest Hwy.
Remnants of Penny Whistle Park on Northwest Hwy.

My Penny Whistle Park memories are fuzzy and tinged with both giddiness and anxiety. One specific memory involves a “man” (probably a 15-year-old park employee) scolding me for sticking my hand in the water on the boat ride. Another is the gut-sick feeling I always experienced exiting the spinning teacup ride (yet never considering not boarding the ride during every visit). The pipe-y music and the whir of the rides generally sent a surge of adrenaline through my little kid body.

Looking back, the place was an ideal setting for a Stephen King novel.

I mean just check out this video and tell me it is not.

Art by Penny Whistle Park fan John Alexander Taylor, part of his One Last Ride exhibit.
Art by Penny Whistle Park fan John Alexander Taylor, part of his One Last Ride exhibit.

One Dallas artist, John Alexander Taylor, recalls the place so fondly — or perhaps he too was impacted by the emotionally confusing cocktail of joy and terror — that he has placed Penny Whistle Park and its twirling teacups at the center of his latest pop-art series, Peso Whistle Park, on display in Addison this month (Through Oct. 29—details here).

If you are too young to remember, or missed the Penny Whistle Park days, here’s how the Dallas Morning News, in an article from the 1980s, pitched it:

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“At Penny Whistle Park, an indoor amusement arena geared toward the under 12 set, brightly colored rides beckon youngsters, while ice cream parlor chairs provide a spot for mothers to relax and watch their offspring. ‘This is like a mother’s day out, sighed one parent,’ It’s really an ideal spot because you can sit back and talk and since all the rides are for small kids you don’t have to worry about big kids pushing and shoving.'”

The article mentions  Jumping Jack — the giant bouncing bubble. Gertrude, the tic-tac-toe playing chicken in a glass box. And it notes that a party for five children, including hot dogs, eight rides each and balloons runs $15. The “Wee Whistle Wower” party for the high rollin’ parents and offspring costs a whopping $40 and includes unlimited rides for 10 kids. Wower, indeed. No wonder I attended a steady stream of birthday parties right there at those indoor picnic tables.

T-shirt from spreadshirt.com
T-shirt from spreadshirt.com

Feeling nostalgic about PWP? You can get the T-shirt here for about $32.


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