This Montco Community Sits on Once-Hallowed Ground for Area Thrill-Seekers

Old Images of Philadelphia
Images via Old Images of Philadelphia FaceBook.
The Old WIllow Grove Amusement Park.

As spring 2023 schleps along, thoughts are turning to summer and its warm temps, late sunsets, and outdoor appeal. The Jersey Shore becomes a prime destination for many Montgomery County residents, and its appeal of leisure, food, and rides is hard to resist.

However, it’s worth noting that one local community was once a tourism destination with similar characteristics.

The space that Willow Grove Park Mall presently occupies was once a mecca for thrill seekers big and small, as reported by Alonzo Kittrels for The Philadelphia Tribune.

Image via Facebook page of Old Images of Philadelphia.

Willow Grove Park, which opened in 1895 and closed in 1972, was seen as more upscale than Philadelphia’s Woodside Amusement Park, projecting a more middle-class image. There was no entrance fee, but tickets were sold for rides.

And while there were many attractions that could also be found at other entertainment meccas, Willow Grove Amusement Park had several unique rides.

The Toboggan was one of its biggest attractions, along with several lakes that were used for boating.

There was also the Rocket Ship ride for the younger park-goers and the Wild Mouse, a two-passenger roller coaster. Many locals fondly reminisce over the Alps ride.

The Scenic roller coaster, the Tunnel of Love, and the Merry-Go-Round also drew a lot of attention. Braver visitors never missed the Thunderbolt, the park’s roller coaster.

For some quiet time to recover, the park also had a restive picnic area.

Read more about Willow Grove Park and its leisure-time history in The Philadelphia Tribune.


This vintage documentary perfectly captures the history and appeal of Willow Grove Park in its heyday.

Editor’s Note: This post first appeared on MONTCO Today in October 2021.

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