Upon request, I would like to retell the unfortunate event that doomed Magic Landing from ever being anything short of a now forgotten joke that this city has quietly let disappear into the desert sands.
For the record, there had only been one death attributed to this park. Several accidents did happen at the park in its tenure, but the one incident that marked the beginning of the end would have to be the unfortunate accident on the Wildcat ride, more infamously known as the parks lone rollercoaster.
Lets rewind a bit before we get to the subject. When Magic Landing opened its doors in 1984, none of their rides made their completion deadline. On July 4th, the gates opened, but only the shops & food stalls were open to the public. There were some rides that were completed, but because the insurance company hadn't signed off on the safety of them and proper insurance policies weren't in place at the time, the ones that were finished and waiting for people were inoperable. People were still awed into the park by the seemingly lavish and frequent fireworks shows. Being outside of the El Paso city limits meant they were exempt from fireworks bans and their shows often eclipsed that of Western Playland.
According to the news articles posted at the time, there had been serious lapses in training & operator safety around the park. The evening in question was a normal operating day at the park, and by all accounts rather mundane. In years previous, the train would frequently spend more time shut down due to the train tracks being washed away durring El Paso's heavy monsoon season. The train this time was operating as normal, the frequent flash floods known to wash parts of the track away didn't hamper rides and the Wildcat was churning with life. No one knows why he did it, but what happened was at best strange. A park patron lost his hat while riding the rollercoaster and when he came to the end of the ride, asked the ride operator if he could retrieve it from high on one of the supports. The ride operator obliged.
It's unknown from the newspaper articles, and people who were on the ride aren't coming forward with what happened but the operator climbed a certain distance up the ride while it was in operation. While he was resting his arm on a part of track still in use, a ride car turned the corner and severed his arm quite cleanly. It's unclear if he fell from the ride, however, he was on an ambulance rushing away from the park to save his life. Newspapers report that the operator died halfway to the hospital due to loss of blood, his veins collapsed. Investigators later determined that the ride operators failed to stop the ride completely and before attempting to climb its structure or wait till the end of the parks operating hours before retrieving the hat.
This accident along with several seemingly minor accidents through the park raised insurance rates higher than normal. Couple this with the publics lack of trust within the parks safety record and you get a recipe for failure. It's also noted that around this time the park received its most infamous nicknames: Tragic Landing. The once whimsical aura of the park forever mired in the publics eye as an unsafe and ill-managed for letting such obvious safety rules and regulations go without practice. The lack of trust also meant lack of paying customers.
Soon, as the years dredged on and the combined low attendance & insurance became a factor, coverage for the rides became lapse and many times the rides would fall silent for weeks at a time. Several times in 1988 the park closed for weeks, reopening when more funding was sought (usually from concerts & corporate sponsors) but when a major fight broke out in late spring of '88, the park closed for good. Pending lawsuits from the minor accidents & the large cash settlement doled out from the Wildcat accident sealed the parks fate.
It's strange, being present at the park when the unfortunate accident with the rollercoaster, I still remember going back to the park with my family and seeing people idly walk by. Somewhat enjoying themselves, I remember the people who paid for admission walked the park peering around corners at every turn and watched the park start its death throes. The whispers were in the air, and the once light whimsical music that filled the main drag was gone. An eerie silence was cut with the hushed tones of parents grasping the hands of their children tightly, not knowing what might happen.
The park stood quiet in the desert for a total of two and a half years. All of its rides stood right where they were, ready at a moments notice to resume operation. A few attempts were made to re-open the park, some efforts even called for people to go to the park for job applications. All efforts were futile. The park was locked down tight and all of its rides were unceremoniously dismantled & sold to other amusement parks around the world. As seen in previous postings, the only standing structures are the buildings & snack shops. All current attempts to purchase the park go upon deaf ears.
Its sad to say that if someone were to really purchase the park, it would be completely demolished and rebuilt brand new. As it stands right now many of the buildings are falling apart, their usefulness to the park is limited, their need is none. While researching information about the park and realizing what I have been writing about, I am sickened and saddened that no matter how much information is given back to the public, the park is far from being saved. My efforts to give El Paso one last look at a park that disappeared before its time is probably just that.
It's unclear whether or not my efforts might prompt park owners to demolish what stands of the park or let Mother Nature take care of that. Whether it be time or human intervention, Magic Landing will never exist the way it did some 22 years ago.