Museum will show model of Idora coaster
The Idora Park Experience, a private museum dedicated to preserving the history of the defunct amusement park that was once on Youngstown’s South Side, has obtained a handcrafted 18-foot long model of the Wildcat roller coaster that once was at the park.
The museum will open this weekend to show off the model, as well as its entire collection of Idora artifacts. Hours will be 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Admission is $5. The museum is at the home of Jim and Toni Amey, 4450 S. Turner Road, who have amassed the collection of items from the park.
The Wildcat roller coaster model was made by John Kondas over a five-year period beginning in 1998. It was displayed at the Canfield Fair in the early 2000s while still incomplete. When Kondas died of cancer in 2003, all but a 1-foot section of the model had been completed.
After John’s death, his brother Ray, and Ray’s wife, Christine, took on the task of completing the one-foot section. They ran the coaster cars once around the track and then stored the model in the their garage for the next 13 years until it was acquired by the Idora Park Experience.
The Wildcat model isn’t the only thing new at the museum.
Since it last opened its doors to the public in June, the Ameys have built a mini version of the Idora Park Arcade and filled it with games that people will remember from their days at Idora. Many of the games are operational, and visitors are encouraged to bring their quarters and dimes and take a turn on a game or two.
Visitors to the Idora Park Experience will also have the opportunity to meet:
Ray and Christine Kondas, former owners of the Wildcat model who will share the story of John Kondas and the building of the model.
Chris Bell and Leslie Bell Redman, the children of legendary local radio DJ Boots Bell, who will display memorabilia and share memories about their dad.
Tammi Anderson, the great granddaughter of the woman who brought cotton candy to Idora Park in 1929. Tammi and her family ran the cotton candy stand until Idora’s closure in 1984. Visitors can buy “Idora Park” cotton candy that Tammi makes makes with the original equipment and recipe her family used at Idora Park.
The Ameys have been finding and acquiring Idora Park artifacts for many years as part of their quest to maintain this piece of local history.
Jim spends countless hours repairing and restoring artifacts and improving the museum’s displays. And recently the Mahoning County Career and Technical Center (MCCTC) volunteered to help.
Beginning this month, 12 students in the Auto Body Repair program will take on the project of restoring one of the cars from the Idora Turtle ride. It’s expected that this will be a six-month project for them in which they will work with the academics department and be expected to do outside research about Idora Park.
The Ameys intend to eventually donate their collection to the Mahoning Valley Historical Society in hopes that a full-time public museum will be created.
To follow the Ameys’ progress, go toTheIdoraParkExperience.com. If you are interested in a private group tour or in having Jim and Toni speak at a function, call 330-774-4107 or send an email through the website.