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Tips to Enjoy Funderland

May23

Has this happened to you? You hear about a fun place you want to take the kids, make your plans, and when you arrived find out that you are not prepared for the day? Luckily you don’t have to take that chance when you visit Funderland. We have compiled some tips to help your first, second, and third trip to Funderland be successful!

  1. Check the Weather

Because we are an outdoor venue, we are at the mercy of the weather. So don’t forget to dress accordingly. Bring the sunblock. Even on cloudy days, sensitive skin can get burnt. Also, if it is raining, we may have to close. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for updates at to whether we are open or closed.

  1. Come Early or Late

Our busiest time is during the middle of the day (noon – 3). Typically the crowds thin out if you come early or late.

  1. Save Those Tickets!

If you didn’t use all your tickets, you can save them for another day. They never expire.

  1. Park on Sutterville During the Weekend

Typically on the weekends parking in the park can get crazy. When this happens, try parking on Sutterville Road. It is just a short walk around our outer gates, and typically there are plenty of spaces. Better when you are done for the day you have an “easy out” of the park.

  1. Don’t Forget Cash

While you can pay for your tickets and food with any major credit card or debit card with the Visa or Mastercard symbol, any other vendors in and outside of the park usually take cash only. This means if you want your face painted or a pony ride you will need to break out the moolah.

  1. 2 Words: Cotton Candy

We spin our cotton candy fresh, and it wouldn’t be a visit to an amusement park without it.

  1. Bring Water Bottles

Water fountains are available, but bring some water bottles too, so you can fill up and stay hydrated on hot days.

  1. Wear Comfy Shoes

One of the most common requests we have at the park is for bandaids to cover blisters that new shoes have created. Making sure that your little one’s shoes have been properly broken in will help avoid tears during the day.

  1. Get Social

We regularly run giveaways and competitions on our Facebook and Twitter pages. Follow us to stay up to date on important news and fun prizes!

  1. Check In

If you’re on Foursquare or Facebook Places, don’t forget to check in, and unlock deals!

Who is Sam Johnston?

May23

Sam Johnston started as a young boy working for his parents who operated a small amusement business in the 1950’s. His involvement in the amusement business continued through his college years at Sacramento State when he majored in business administration. After college, Sam joined the Army and served in Vietnam with the Army Corp. of Engineers. At his discharge, he had attained the rank of First Lieutenant and was ready to resume his position with his family’s carnival business, Johnston’s Amusements. During these years, Sam and his wife Gail traveled with Johnston’s Amusements, running nearly every aspect of the show. When his father passed away in 1978, Sam kept the dream alive, booking a handful of rides from the former Johnston’s Amusements with several larger west coast carnivals. A short time later, his new endeavor became Sam Johnston’s Midway of Fun, which he owned and operated until 2002.

In 1984, Sam had the opportunity to take over Land Park Kiddie Land, and in 1990 and 1991, he remodeled the park entirely to its present condition. Being as how Sam has always had worked in a family business, he was delighted when both his daughters and their husbands worked in management. With the help of family, Funderland has been able to continually excel and dish up kid-sized thrills for generations. In 1985, he took on another pint-sized park in Lodi and named it Funderwood, and in 1989 he also took over Pixieland Amusement Park in Concord, CA.

Ready to retire, in 2002 and 2007, Sam sold the remainder of his carnivals. He also sold Funderwoods and Pixieland to new operators as well. He currently resides in the Land Park area with his wife of over forty years and enjoys playing with his five grandchildren.

Some of his past accomplishments include serving as President of the prestigious Outdoor Amusement Business Association in 1999, a past Board member of the Western Fairs Association and one of the few carnival operators to be nominated to the Western Fairs Association Hall of Fame in 1996, President of the Showmen’s League of America in 2002 and again this year (Interestingly enough the Showmen’s League was established by Buffalo Bill Cody), and President of the Showfolks of America in 1984. He has also been the guest speaker in fair management classes at California Polytechnic University.

Weather Bug

May23

Ahh… Sunny days in the park. The smell of clover in the air, a soft, warm breeze rustling the trees, and not a cloud in the sky. Days like this make it easy to determine whether Funderland should be open. But come overcast days, dark clouds, and windy weather that decision becomes more difficult to make.

Some large amusement parks are able to remain open during the rain, as their rides are either not affected by the wet weather or are indoors. Unfortunately many of our rides cannot operate in the rain, as they cannot make traction. Additionally, we have found that usually most would rather remain warm, indoors rather than take their children to play outside in the rain.

On days where it has been raining and continues to rain, it is easy to make the decision to close the park, but on days where the weather can change at any moment, the decision is not so easy. The decision was once based on reviewing a number of weather forecasts. However, as of late, many of those forecasts were incorrect, causing us to close the park when in fact we could and should have remained open for our customers.

In an effort to make better determinations as to whether we should remain open or closed, we have implemented a new procedure at Funderland. It is called the “4-hour rule.” We utilize the 4-hour rule by examining the weather three times during a 4-hour period. We call these weather checks, and we do them at the beginning of the 4 hours, 2 hours later, and finally at the end of the 4 hours.

Our first weather check begins 2 hours before we open. If the weather is looking “iffy” but not terrible, we will remain open. However, if it is raining more than just a sprinkle, and the forecast calls for it to remain that way or get worse, then we will usually close for the day.

Once we make it to opening, we will do another weather check. If the weather is still holding out on us we will remain open. Usually just a sprinkle or light mist won’t shut us down, but if it starts to really pour down on us, we will have to close simply because the rides will not operate.

If we make it to the last weather check, then usually the weather remains nice enough to stay open for the remainder of the day. However, if it begins to or is raining we will have to close the park.

Our new procedure isn’t foolproof, and we know that there is no way to predict the weather perfectly. But hopefully, we will be better able to make our customers happy.

History of Funderland

May23

The fun began in the early 1940’s when Raymond Silva opened Land Park Kiddie Land on our present site to the delight of the surrounding community. He operated the amusement rides until 1978, when his daughter Raylin Silva took over. She continued to operate Land Park Kiddie Land through 1983 until Sam Johnston purchased the rides in 1984.

Sam Johnston saw potential in Land Park Kiddie Land and transformed it through a complete remodel in 1990 and 1991 into the park we see today. He also renamed the park Funderland to celebrate the transformation. The entire two-acre site was fenced for children’s safety, a sound wall was built to minimize the impact of laughing and screaming children on nearby residents, our current concession stand was built, the whole park was re-landscaped, and birthday party areas were constructed. Additionally, new rides were added to the park, including the Backroads Buggies, Log Flume, Red Baron, Funderland Train Ride, Flying Dragon Roller Coaster, Spinning Teacups, and Himalaya ride. Two of our rides have been providing smiles for over fifty years! The Carousel was opened in 1947, to the delight of 6,000 children who initiated the ride during its first week of operation. Oscar the Fish opened shortly thereafter and is still popular with younger children today.

In addition to providing children with magical memories that last a lifetime, Funderland makes a major contribution to the quality of life in Sacramento. All city revenues collected from Funderland are placed into a special fund earmarked for Fairytale Town and the Sacramento Zoo. This helps with the operating expenses of our neighbors and provides improvements to William Land Park in general. Funderland also works with a number of non-profit organizations, schools, churches, and more providing donations and free activities for children.

Johnston still enjoys coming out to the park almost daily and seeing the children’s smiling faces as they ride the rides at Funderland. Johnston states, “Funderland is the only place of its kind in Sacramento, and it is great to see the kids having fun and interacting with their parents here at the park. For some families this may be one of the few times they have during to week to have fun with each other and spend time together. We are glad that we can be a place that brings families together.”

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