Monday, May 23, 2005

Magic Landing's Final Remains

Magic Landing closed its doors to the public in 1988. After several attempts to re-open the park over the course of 5 years, the park went under, and was locked out by the landlords, making the park a time capsule. I entered the park on May 15th 2005 to catalogue what is left of a park that was so fresh to the community, but was forgotten just as fast.

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The entrance lies silent now. The flagpole used to welcome the park patrons with old glory and light airy music was pumped through the overhead PA system, filling the park with whimsy and fun. This was also what people saw when they left. The retaining wall behind the pole was also the bridge for the train to travel.

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The board walk's buildings remain standing, however, it doesn't look like they have weathered time too well. All entrances are boarded up and either nailed or screwed shut, keeping people out, and all the history of the park in. Nothing seems to be welcoming in the park.

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This empty spot is where the Ferris wheel once stood. When erected, it could be seen from the park 10 miles away. From the top of the wheel, you could see at least 20 miles in any direction. Dismantled a long time ago, only the snack shops in front, and in back of the entrance locations remain (see photo below).

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This is the entrance to the children's area. I remember coming to the park and coming into this area with my parents. My brother and sister would go off on their own, but I remember a vast majority of my time in the park was though this area.

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This is just a pathetic, sad image. So cheerful, so joyous, yet hasn't seen a child in over 15 years.

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This is all that remains of one of two rides left standing in the park. The floor of the bumper car's arena is buckled and no longer smooth, the electric rack at the top has been removed and is just an empty plenum. Leaves roost in the corners of the building, and a dead, eerie silence. I was too young to ride these, but would sit on the sides with my parents watching my brother and sister ram each other in the cars. I remember the sounds of the midway clattering in back of the ride.

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The buildings are all sealed, locked and unwelcome. The midway is silent, all but for leaves blowing around, or the occasional wood support falling. All the games are gone, just buildings remain.

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Moving towards the back of the park, you can see that the paths become difficult to navigate. Almost all of the trees in the park are dead & fallen on paths and structures left standing. Dried from lack of water, they fell because of the strong winds that rack the city every year. This area is where the ill-fated ride the Wildcat stood.

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This is one of the stages that used to be a part of the parks entertainment venues. The front grassy area is now a dirt patch with weeds and the occasional jackrabbit. Parts of the old Tom Sawyer's Mill ride can be seen on stage. The water ride itself sits to the left of the picture.

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Old Tom Sawyer's Mill water rides cement foundation and parts of the ride still stand. The boards still were able to hold weight on them, but just barely. All of the rest of the Fiberglas parts of the ride rest outside the parks gates on the other side of the park.

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Magic Landing used to be home to a 36" gauge steam locomotive that circled the park. The train is in storage, along with the passenger coaches, but the train stations still stand.

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I would stand on this platform with my parent's and eagerly wait for the train to come, knowing that we would be riding a real, authentic train as many times as we wanted. This picture is heartbreaking for me, knowing the train will never come back to the station hurts.

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One of the last memories of the park was of this water tower & oil tank for the train.

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This is a rare, treasured piece of El Paso's history. El Paso used to have a golf park called Castle Park, and inside was this animatronic trio who would sing a medley every 15 minutes or so. When Castle Park closed, Magic Landing's owners bought the animatronics and placed them inside one of the restaurants to entertain the children. They now rest silent again, now they have a creepy air to them, their oils and lubricants spewing out of them like the life blood seeped from them. They are silent, and voices now forgotten. Their music, lost to history.

I have a lot more photographs to share. At least for now, people can look at the park in its sad condition & remember their own great memories that they might have long forgotten.

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Hungry anyone?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow. These photographs were so great that I am so intrigued by the history of this park. I have been conducting research on it and these pictures were just what I needed to a glimpse of the urban myths in our border city. When trying to get into the park, I was unsuccesful (truck drivers) but I would appreciate if you could send me more pictures to to help me continue my work.

6/01/2005 1:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, great blog. Hopefully you may be able to share some more photos of the park in a future entry. I'm absolutely facinated by what Magic Landing was, and what it could have been, and these pictures are both intriguing and depressing to see. BTW, do you happen to know if there are actual photos of the park when it was open? I've yet to see any online, and wonder if they exist. Anyway, once again, awesome blog.

6/29/2005 10:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember going to Magic Landing when it opened. I was excited to know that El PAso had a major theme park. I remeber the day I visited the sand was blowing in drifts across the walkways and had all but filled the log ride channels. The park was located of I-10 at Ave.of the Americas. That was a long drive from my mother's house. She lives near the Sunland Park Racetrack. I had totally forgotten about Magic Landing until I found this article. The photos almost made me cry. Thank you for the photos. THey bring back fond memories. ...

12/06/2005 12:02 AM  
Anonymous The Kid said...

I used to live in Horizon City as a kid, and I remember going to Magic Landing with my parents almost every Friday night. In all honesty, Magic Landing made Western Playland look like dog poop!!You know, I often tell myself "If I win the lottery, I might just buy magic landing and rebuild it again and open it up".

1/10/2006 9:56 AM  
Anonymous The Kid said...

How were you able to get into Magic Landing?

1/10/2006 10:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A gentleman who lives in New Mexico now owns the old train and the twisted remains of the track.

The family was in talks to sell the old train and it's old tracks to the project now known as "Wallacetown" in Cornudas, Texas.

They even staked out a two mile stretch of land for the new route...however there were no plans discussed to purchase a new set of tracks because the old tracks are too rusted and warped for safe use..This was the deal breaker I beleive.

The train runs off a Ford V-8 Engine,according to the new owner in New Mexico.

1/12/2006 4:29 PM  
Anonymous The Kid said...

The train has not been sold, according to D.Strasser. I dont know as to where the guy above got his info from?

2/26/2006 12:49 PM  
Blogger The Archivist said...

The original train that used to circle the park at Magic Landing is currently being stored in a warehouse in Horizon City. It is a 36" steam powered locomotive. The one that is mentioned by the annonymous writer is not the one from Magic Landing. The person who has it in storage, says he has the train, all of the railroad cars and 3/4 of a mile of track.

2/27/2006 5:29 AM  
Anonymous Lizard said...

It's great to see the pictures of magic landing when it was still fully intact. Yes THESE pictures. It has been about 30 hours since i've been there and the poor place has been vandalized and trashed by teenagers. It is now a party central for stupid high school kids. Not only are ALL the windows broken, but arson has been attempted in the building right next to the doll house. All the light posts have been thrown down and through windows. Graffitti and beer bottles have been scattered all through the park. Stuffed animals inside old galveston midway have been thown through out the park. I think if people are going to visit the park at least have the common courtesy to leave the place as it was. Its just trashed.

7/10/2007 12:29 PM  
Anonymous B-bunny said...

my name is Bianca & i actually visited magic landing about 3 months ago. it was pretty creepy inside but i did enjoy it. allthough there were empty beer bottles & many broken windows it was pretty cool to see the buildings that still standing, the cups with the magic landing logo are still there & i took soooo many pictures. i even saw lots of red tape, the creepiest thing was seeing all the stuffed animals face down. i wish i knew what it looked like when it was open. if anybody knows where to find pix of when it was open, let me know!!!

12/21/2007 4:36 PM  
Blogger dumpster_bagel said...

Me and a few friends went to magic landing last night. We turned off some streets and went down a dirt road, we parked in afield. We walked down a small hill and then turned left and climbed up a much much larger hill. I didn't know anything about magic landing except that sweet parties happen in the desert below it but i had never went up. I thought it was like a UFO site or something. Once we reached the top of that hill we walked north for about 10 minutes then we went through a hole in a gate. Once in the gate we walked by some body of water. We passed one of the stages and then we heard voices. A lot of my friends turned back because rumor has it that some man got his arm cut off on the rollercoaster, some little girl burned, and a few people died when a basket from the Farris wheel fall off, and so i took the lead walking over fallen trees and trying to follow the trails as best as possible. The voices started talking to us and we realized it was just a bunch of pot smoking kids looking for adventure. We stopped by and greeted them as they told us to look out for cops. We started walking through the park there was like these game rooms that still had the prizes in them, there was rooms with fountain drink dispensers, menus, napkins, money bags(empty), basket balls, tickets, maps of the old park, cups (lots of cups), and all sorts of other cool stuff. We saw the building that got burned down a couple weeks back, our buddies got drunk and left a bonfire on. Through out the night we kept seeing small groups off people and their flash lights make there way to this abandon park. I have to say it was an amazing adventure and i plan on going back. You can find all sorts of people hanging out there and well that's cool i guess but when people start tagging everywhere and burning things down and breaking stuff, they are ruining a piece of El Paso.This park closed like twenty years ago and there's still a lot of stuff left, and well when these kids go and mess everything up it pissises me off to know that twenty years of preservation could be taken away away in a few hours. I also have to say i got sad when i saw all the graffiti. We walked around and went in all the buildings. Now days i guess the kids get board so they go and do their drugs and drink there booze at the abandon theme park.

4/26/2008 10:02 AM  
Blogger dumpster_bagel said...

Crews respond to blaze at Magic Landing park
By Stephanie Sanchez / El Paso Times
Article Launched: 04/14/2008 12:00:00 AM MDT

Several firefighters battled a blaze at the now-closed Magic Landing Amusement Park on Interstate 10, Horizon City Fire Department officials said.

At about 2:20 p.m. Sunday, firefighters were called out to Magic Landing Amusement Park, near the Eastlake exit off of Interstate 10. After arriving, fire officials learned one building was engulfed in flames.

Fire departments from Socorro, Horizon City and Clint responded to the fire. Fire officials said no one was hurt, and they do not know what caused the fire. An investigation continues.

4/26/2008 10:20 AM  
Anonymous Patrick Gomez said...

I never visited Magic Landing myself, but remember asking my older uncle about it as we passed on our way to the Dump on the South Side of El Paso. Everytime I asked him about that park he would smile and how I loved to ask him and imagine my own trip to this Raimbow of Magic that I could visit from only a fence away. Thank you for this story, and I hope you one day make a story of the now relocasted Western Playland for it to has a great history as Ascarate Park does. Thank You again.

5/24/2008 10:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember a bunch of my friends were invited to spend the afternnon at Magic Landing for filming of its comercial. Every thing was free except you couldnt win anything. It was great as a 14 year old seeing youself on TV.
N Nunez

6/06/2008 10:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Has that jar of pickles really been there since the park closed??

8/01/2008 4:01 PM  
Anonymous Jackie said...

I just thought I'd leave links to pictures of that animatronic show new. I thought you and others would be interested. The pictures are from the other section at (just letting you know I don't own these and I am not claiming that i do, just spreading info)

10/16/2008 7:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think they should try to reopen this park. Westernplayland is alright but this amusment park having roller coasters, and the ferris wheel. Come on western playland doens't even have that. I say they should clean it up and try to rebuild, and reopen so some of us can remember the good old days and share with our children. :)

11/20/2008 12:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for creating this memorial to ML. I only went there once when it was open, but it was a great place and it's sad to see the ruin it has become. But such is life: you can never go back to the past. However, it's nice to see people like yourself who still remember the great days of ML and share them with others.

1/02/2009 3:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okaaay so here it is, magic landing is NOT haunted..a man did get his arm cut off yes. he was a very happy guy and wouldn't come back and haunt. as for the other RUMORS, they are false.. those pictures are BEAUTIFUL even after its been closed down. The place looks nothing like that at all now..its nearly in ashses.. do not waste your time and go there will get caught..learn from other peoples mistakes.. its trespassing and breaking and entering..dont do it.

5/28/2009 10:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the park looks nothin like tht now...its burned down n has graffiti all over it...its creepy at night u can hear weird noises

11/05/2009 12:47 AM  
Blogger Sean said...

Wow. Thanks for posting this! I used to work at ML as a ride operator the summer that it opened (1984) and through the autumn as well. It was definitely a fun job. My usual area was the rides surrounding the midway games. The Pirate ship, the Waveswinger, and the Rainbow. The owner's name was George Dipp and had quite a reputation locally. He used to own a local chain of pinball arcades called "Silver Mines Unlimited". He had a vision of building Disneyland on the border but it just didn't work out. Must have lost a real fortune on the place. I wish I could say I took pictures of the place when it opened but I didn't. Thanks again for posting this stuff. It brings back memories.

8/01/2010 4:32 PM  
Blogger Brandon said...

So, were you able to get INSIDE Magic Landing in 2005? My bro told me him and his friends went there and it was blocked off by security. I guess its owned by Private Property now... :( --As of AUGUST 2010--

P.S. Wow, 15+ year old pickles... just nasty.

8/07/2010 11:18 AM  
Blogger Daniel said...

Wow :o Those Pictures MakeThe Park Look Newly madee!! :o i Went There Today Earlier, i Went Through The Back, And Wow Im Amazed, Right Now Its Tuesday, September 14, 2010 And This Place Looks Like If Its a Place To Throw Old Junk In There No Joke, Check It Out

9/14/2010 10:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow this place looked nice. I know my dad went there when he was youunger. And about the rumors, A guy did get his left arm cut off by the roller coaster and he died withing 3 hours at WBMC.

4/21/2011 7:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bastards set fire to it again yesterday cld see it form the I-10 :(

1/30/2012 9:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fyi all buildings are to be demolished soon due to vandals the great news is that it is also for a newly proposed fiesta six flags

1/22/2013 9:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beautiful place

1/23/2013 7:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is so sad! I was in junior high when the park opened. Several of us bought season passes, and spent a good part of our summers there. The park was beautiful back then. I remember watching concerts at the outdoor theater sitting on a bed of green grass that sloped up so that everyone could see. I always liked the rainbow ride and the pirate ship. We were there when the young man lost his arm. Good memories!

2/03/2013 7:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

where is it located ???

8/23/2013 10:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

where is it at ??

8/23/2013 10:06 PM  

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