Wild, Wild Wonderland

When Wonderland is opened to the public and its ten acres peopled with thousands enjoying themselves in various open air recreations, when the lights gleam from thousands of incandescents, when the band plays, cars flash up-and-down on the undulating surface of the scenic railway, boat dash down shoots into the lagoon in the center of the park, when the miniature train carries passengers in and out from a labyrinth of walks and flowerbeds, sensational ariel acts delight and astonish and a score or more of fun factories and contrivances that surprise startle end delight are going, then what will the attendance be? The anticipation is that it will be large, very large, as large at times as it is on the big days of the state fair. The promoters of Wonderland expect this and the street railway company is preparing for it by arranging for a service sufficient to carry as large crowds have been gathered on any public occasion in the history of Minneapolis or St. Paul. The Twin Cities have seriously lacked some scheme of public amusement along the lines of the project at Wonderland a place for open recreation and moderate enjoyment has been wanted.

True there are the lots and Woodland resorts in a profusion which few cities enjoy but those do not appeal to all and besides they are sometimes monotonous to even the most ardent lovers of nature. The thousands of people one sees loitering listlessly a long business thoroughfares whiling away leisure hours will have someplace near at hand where there is a diversion and enough excitement to stir the blood and break the monotony of the routine of life. Furthermore, at such a resort will come to them at cost so moderate that all can afford it. Wonderland is not to be midway, a continuous kind of carnival or a collection of shows. Neither is it a picnic ground. It’s general plan can be said to be a jubilent mixture of open air recreation and amusement. It has a scenic Railway on which thousands of people will be flying through the air on the track that undulates in curves, takes them up inclines 50 feet high and runs them through a scenic Loop. Cable cars carry passengers to the top of a steep incline where they embark in boats and slide down a huge toboggan that shoots to a miniature lake across which they will scoot in bounds as the flat bottom boats strike the water cushion, an experience that is exhilarating even the spectators. A tower nearly 100 feet high will have projecting arms from which hang by stout cables, eight cars, each holding six people. A revolving shaft to which the arms are attached turns faster and faster and the cars which are near the ground at the start gradually swing out as the orbit in larges until the occupants are high above the heads of the spectators, swinging around and round at a great rate. It will be about as near to the experience of riding in an airship as most of us will come in this generation.

Approach the old mill and you will find a rustic scenic front of trees and rocks where a huge water wheel turns the water in its revolutions. Enter a boat which will hold a half dozen people as the swift current ceases and darts you first into a dark tunnel along the sides of which you will catch glimpses of scenes from many lands as you go by the ruins of an old church, you see palatial gardens, you catch an impression of a trip along the seashore with a,skyline set against a range of mountains, then suddenly dart into an ice cave, a grotto of frosted stalactite columns, then, by the way of the sudden contrast, into the Everglades of Florida. A loop brings you back on your return trip along another panorama of scenic vistas in which occasionally some comedy surprises in the way of a witches, caves and caverns inhabited by minions of the evil one. You can have a dance in an open air pavilion just as if you went to a resort or ride on a flying horse to hurry up music in the $10,000 carousel. You can wake up your risibilities in a laughing gallery where convex and concave mirrors will lengthen or shorten the reflection of your features to ridiculous proportions. If you want you can lose yourself and your cares in a crystal maze or you can get the laughing you want for nothing by simply watching people who are bumping the mumps as it is called as they slide down a huge banister started with a little protuberances that will send people flying this way and that. You visit to a House of Nonsense where you will experience practical jokes that will judge you to enveigle your friends into investigating its mysteries. You can explore a myth city and witness some of the uncanny spectacles furnished by optical illusions which picture young woman for instance, comfortably reclining upon a couch of red hot coals. She appears to be enjoying herself although you can feel that the coals are really hot. You will see a woman suspended in mid air with no visible means of support or have your blood chilled by a trip through the catacombs or he hunted chamber etc.

There are all these and a dozen other fun making contrivances and then there are several attractions that will need more serious attention. One of these is an exhibit of infant incubators, where tiny lives are being preserved by means of the treatment that is altogether scientific and humanitarian. The incubators are glass cases, ovens they might be called in which the air is always fresh and sterilized and kept at it even temperature. The little codgers seem to thoroughly enjoy their residence in there glass houses and the sweet sleep of infancy makes hear a fascinating picture. It is an instructive an interesting site to all who love babies and who does not do? The reflection to is comforting that the little lives are being saved that otherwise would’ve been blotted out for the resort of the incubators is the last hope.

Visit the fairy theater and you will see what is an illusion of coarse, but a beautiful one which gives you a look into a world peopled that with the brownies, hobgoblins, giants and witches of storybooks, who walk and dance and move about in the pantomime production of the charming little play of “Jack in the Beanstalk”. The scene sparkles with light and color it is so marvelously surprising that you can scarcely believe your eyes. All these attractions which you can view or not as you please are strung along a broad promenade. The passing throng may interest you as much is anything else for it will be a kaleidoscope review of people of all conditions, sizes and ages in their happiest of moods. This is called the Bowery and a trip along it will be well worth the while, depend upon it.

There will be plenty of music to the Journal Corp Band will give open air concerts at a stand near the center of the grounds and there will be music from an orchestra in the dancing pavilion besides from mechanical instruments in different parts of the grounds. The buildings are trimmed with flags and gay bunting and a night blaze with lights from 23,000 incandescent, 50 are lights and the rays of a 10,000 candlepower marine projector from the top of an electric tower 120 feet high. Everybody gets hungry in the open air and there will be fruit refreshments for the multitude in the way of cooling beverages, creams, ices sandwiches etc. served in the café or a half dozen ornamental kiosks.

Uniformed guards in attendance ensure a good order and freedom from annoyances that sometimes occur in promiscuous gatherings. The various amusement devices can be depended upon upon to be time-tested for safety, so the element of alarm should not for a moment shadow of the enjoyment, no matter how surprising the experience you may unexpectedly encounter. There are walks and flowerbeds, a miniature zoo and many booths for the sale of miscellaneous knickknacks and many other things that cannot hear be recounted. Remember that every afternoon and evening there is a program of open air attractions. The latest cycle sensation, leaping the gap is furnished by Marie Brookes who writes down a steep incline and makes a sharp Leap on her wheel 35 feet in mid air before she connects with a continuation of the incline. There is to be a high wire walking by Guy Thule, noted equilibrist and several other ariel sensations. The programs are to be changed weekly. On Tuesdays and Friday nights there are fireworks displays. Wonderland represents an investment of $150,000. Six months have been spent in the preparations by a large force of workmen. All indications are that Saturday’s opening will find the arrangements in a state of perfection. Wonderland Park can accommodate 50,000 visitors in an afternoon and evening without overflowing.

-From the Minneapolis Journal, May 25th, 1905