Mike, the park was located near Mechanicsburg, PA. The park and Radar are long gone. The picture of the defunct park was taken in the early 90’s. I believe it is a community recreational park now. Directions: From Rt. 81 North or South: get off at the Mechanicsburg exit. Take Route 114 East (from the south, turn right, from the north, turn left). Turn right onto Willow Mill Road. At the stop sign, turn right. Park entrance is on the right.
I saw the RADAR ride at a fireman’s fair in Carlisle, PA about ten years ago. I grew up near Willow Mill Park and knew instantly that was the same ride. You could tell RADAR was not a mass produced ride, instead it was specifically built for Willow Mill Park in the the late 1970’s. Safety was always a concern of mine on that ride because if you look closely, only one arm holds on to the seat where two riders would sit. It appeared at the time to only be connected with a welding.
the RADAR was NOT specifically built fot willow mill park. the first radar was built back in the EARLY 70s and called the raven that is for sale right now online. chance mfg. made quite a few of these and most were converted to turbos, however some owners kept the radar theme.
the seats were well attached, as are most rides, are safer then some think.
the willow mill radar was bought new and was originally installed with several other chance rides at International Village in Gettysburg back in about 1970. Thee gettysburg park never survived & is now the Eisenhour hotel & conference center & will possibly be a casino before long. Willow mill bought it from international village & id bet the ride was only 2 years old when it was installed. Fun to ride, but NO CONTEST to a TURBO which Trimpers rides had in maryland, also i remember STRATES SHOWS bringing a turbo to the york pa fair.
Does anyone remember or has anyone heard about a Little 5 year old boy being hit by an Amusement ride..It was a train that drove through the Park..It happened in 1976 or 1977..I am wondering if the little boy died and if thats why the Park closed up.
I remember this park well. While growing up we would go between Willow Mill Park and Williams Grove Park. It’s a shame that both parks are now close. We as adults enjoyed going to them as kids but forgot when we became adults to take our children to these parks so they went broke. We thought bigger was better so we took them to Hershey Park. I hope we wakeup soon and start taking our children to small parks like Dutch Wonderland and Knobles Park before we lose them to the big mega parks like Hershey Park.
I rember going to this park every year, I kived in westfairview pa. and we would have a “town picknic” every year, where the whole town would go. I rember bridie steward “not sure on her name” would sell the tickets. I can only rember parts of the last day the park was open. “so i was told by a worker” the train was my favorite ride and the last ride of the day the gentalman that ran the train. he left me sit and drive it “while being watched” but it was the best day of my young life at the time I had to of been maby 9 or 10. I am 32 now. it is a sad sad shame the park did close. I still wish all the old parks were still up and running. they are the best to spend bonding time with family’s, insted of blowing tons of $..
I now live in Carlisle moved from Clearfield county, and was wondering if any metal detecting enthusiast have visited this park, as I also enjoy this hobby. My girl friend use to go to the park when she was little .
I remember the park well! Back in the mid 30’s I fished at the old mill-worked at the penny pitch-put on skates at the roller rink-double picked rings at the merry go round - swam at the creek that ran by the park (didn’t like the snapping turtles). God! what memories!
I also remember going to Willow Mills for church picnics I think my favorite ride was the boat that used to swing out over the creek,I have moved to New Mexico in 2004 but knew the rides had closed way before I moved, Don’t know if this is the rightr place for this or not but talking about the old parks I also used to work at Williams Grove started in 1972 when Mr Hughes bought the park and off and on till about 2000.
I loved going to this park - the game room (which if you go to the Sled Factory in Duncannon PA you will see some of the very same games!), the ferris wheel, and my favorite - the bumper cars! These where huge, heavy, thinly padded, all steel behemoths that left me with bruises on my legs the next day. Oh, and the big slide and the… I can’t remember the name of the ride that spun in a circle and would raise up on one side. Started with a T maybe???
i remember going to the park every year with my family, my aunts, uncles and cousins. this was a part of our yearly vacactions. we so looked forward to it. my mom and me would ride the roller coaster over and over again. she recently passed it was nice looking at these post and some pics i found on computer. such great memories. my dads company he worked for also took us to williams grove.
I also went to this park and Williams Grove a lot when I was a child in the 70s and 80s. I was addicted to the mechanical bowling games in the arcade. I used to love the slide they had, until one day I slipped off of the rug that you rode on and burnt my arm. That thing got ridiculously hot in the summer.
The coaster was also cool. I remember when they put it in. The last time I was up there and the park was operational, was in the summer of 1992, when the company I worked for… had a picnic. It wasnt long after that, that it flooded(again) and closed. That park was constantly under water. Williams Grove had the same issues.
They both were incredible places that I have fond memories of, as a child. I hate to see these places close. A little piece of me dies every time they disappear.
I grew up right up the street. Literally spent almost every day during the summer being a park rat. The park officially closed down in 96′. I think it was declining attendance and the high price of liability insurance..they just couldn’t compete. The carousel went to Bushkill park, which apparently shut down in 2006 and now the carousel is in storage and for sale somewhere.
I lived within walking distance of the park until I was 18 years old. As a younger girl, I danced on the old stage that sat down by the creek. My friends and I spent our summers at the park. Her family ran the new arcade. I loved this park.
I was born in 1947 and as a child or preteen, going to this park and Williams Grove. Later it was Hershey.I loved the pony ring and spent hours leading the ponys around. Wasnt a paid employee but loved it none the less. I think the familys last name was Yohe. Once visited their actual farm. I lived in Mt Holly Springs.
I remember as a child each year going to willow mills for the Penfield Feeds Company picnic to me as I child I was the best day of my summer I rode my first roller coaster there an was shared out of my mind the first time then I think I rode it 11 times that day it was such an awesome place I also won a 10 speed bike there my first big girl bike lol in a peanut scramble boy how I miss the good old days
I remember going here. I lived on Wertzville RD. and attended Shaull Elementary. The school would take us there at the end of the year. I have many memories of spending just about every weekend with my father in this park. It is where I rode my first Coaster. I just wish it would have been around when my children were born so I could share what was always a happy experience in my childhood. I remember a boy that I made friends with that went every year there whom had Downs syndrome I think his name was Rudy but can’t remember. So many great memories and all I have to show for it are tales of how much fun we had there for my children. So sad was a great family oriented park and was very inexpensive for the lower income families.
We went at least once a year through the 1950’s for the annual Harrisburg Bell Telephone Picnic. The whole park was open with all rides free all day long. Free food, snacks, bingo and the first taste of real root beer and cream soda (pink) in keg setups at key locations around the park.
Favorite rides: 1) The flying planes that circled an airport tower, hung by chains, 2) The bumper cars,3) The motor ’speed’ boat or paddle wheel boat ride on the creek.
Even as a child I knew it as a very special place.
I have memories as well as some connections to the park. We there for my Dad’s company picnics in the 60’s. In 1971, my Dad bought one of the original speedboats (1941 CrisCraft Barrel-back, with a 6 cylinder Chrysler-marine engine) that were run in the creek in the 40’s(before the dam was breached). Unfortunately, he never got it restored and sold it.
I worked at the park, summers of 1976 & 77. The first ride I operated was the slide. Ran virtually every ride in the park in those two summers. Worked for Ron & Bob Rohrbaugh. So many memories from those two summers.
It’s heartening to hear such fond memories of Willow Mill Park. My family owned and operated the park from 1966 until our final full season in 1989. I don’t recall the exact year, but I think the auction was held in 1992. The story about the Radar coming from International Village is correct. We purchased the Radar and a few other rides just after International closed. That fall and winter we disassembled everything and trucked it to Willow Mill where it got a fresh coat of paint and was re-assembled. I think that must have been in the mid-1970s, as I remember helping but couldn’t have been more than 8-10 years old at the time. I very clearly remember painting the cars with my Uncle Bob in our old workshop with the wood stove blasting to make it warm enough for the paint to cure.
My Grandfather, Archie, ran the Arcade from 1973, which is the year we re-opened after the ’72 flood, until the park closed. Archie passed away in September 2014 at the age of 93. He was a great man and is very much missed by his family. Ethel, Archie’s wife and my Grandmother, will be 92 tomorrow (March 4). She is doing well, but misses her man.
I was born the year we bought the park and spent nearly every day of my life there for the 23 years that it was in operation. It was quite a way to grow up and I could tell stories all day long. If anyone has questions, please respond and I’ll do my best to answer.
Mike, Just a few months ago Dave Swartz and I talked about the boat your Dad bought. I hope you are well. Say Hi to Tim and Mark for me.
I was probably a preschooler the last time I visited Willow Mills in the early ‘70s. The only real memory I have of the park was the giant slide. The only thing I remember about Fantasy Land was the giant Mother Goose with a girl speaking from within the head. I have more memories of William’s Grove. If I knew Willow Mills was still operating into my young adult years, I definitely would have gone there.
I remember many company picnics at Willow Mills for Berg Electronics and Dupont (after they bought up Berg and before they moved company picnics to Hershey - boooo!!!) What is left of the old park? I have vivid memories of the layout and the rides and miss the old days and the park. Would love to show my girls where I gained my love of the parks at…
I lived down the road from the park until I was 18. I never heard of anyone getting run over by a train. Mostly all of the rides were wiped out be the 1972 Agnes flood. I remember standing on the road watching the water rage through the park. It also took the old covered bridge down off of Rich Valley Road.
Just visited this site today. It is indeed now a municipal type park. There’s a very nice military memorial, picnic pavilions, gazebos, benches, signs about the natural features such as the wetlands, a disc golf course, the lovely creek, a small racetrack, and a now defunct but fun to stroll through mini golf area. Lovey place to spend an afternoon, but all signs of former rides are gone except for the large empty areas, only some of which have now grown grass.
I went to this park every year in the late 70’s in to the early 80’s for the Consolidated Freightways (CF) annual company picnic. We would ride the roller coaster over and over and over. I sort of remember a giant sliding board and riding on burlap bags. I finally rode by the site yesterday. Very depressing that this place and Williams Grove have perished.
All my early years were spent at Willow Mill Park at my family reunions. I remember spending July 1985 there with my first husband. Thus was the last summer of operation. With anticipation, I awaited our yearly trip and always with a very good friend, each year. I miss that park. I now live in Orlando, Fl and visit Universal Studios several times a year.
We had our Family Reunions there as well all through the 60s and 70s. We always seemed to coordinate with the Grange Steam engine displays. I loved the penny arcade, nothing rivals that now. We have one near the beach here in SF but it just isn’t the same. We used to run barefoot through that park and have all kinds of fun.
Ron R, please tell me you or someone else has pictures of the flying planes that went out over the river.That was the best ride EVER. i tell people about it all the time and they lok at me in disbelief. Would love to get some pics to show them.
Does anybody remember a 1970’s band named WILLOW MILL PARK? I saw them at the Railroad House in Marietta sevral times…very nice folk-rock group. I assume they were from the Mechanicsburg area. There were a lot of local bands in the 70’s, this one was special!
I answered my own question, after a little more research. Article from Morning Call newspaper dated March 4, 1993: Neal Fehnel, co-owner of the Forks Township amusement park, announced yesterday that he finalized the purchase of a 1915 Allen Herschel carousel on Monday. The lead horse of that carousel has arrived and the rest of it will be here within the next two months, he said.
The park has been without a carousel since 1989 — the last year it was open under its previous owner, Ron Long of Boiceville, N.Y. Long was the nephew of Tom Long, who began operating the park with his wife, Mabel, in the 1930s. Mabel Long died in April 1989.
Ron Long sold the park — minus the carousel — to Fehnel, also known as Balloons the Clown, and Easton attorney William Hogan in 1990. Local residents then tried — but failed — to raise money to purchase the 1903 Long carousel. After they failed, Long sold it in Ohio.
The new carousel, which sports 42 horses compared to the Long’s 48, originally sat at Willow Mill Park in Mechanicsburg, according to Fehnel. It has not been used since that park closed in 1989, he said. It has one feature that the old carousel doesn’t have, according to Fehnel. All of its horses go up and down, while only some of the horses on the Long carousel did so, he said.
Music for the carousel will be provided by a newly purchased antique Wurlitzer Band Organ that was also used at Willow Mill Park, Fehnel said.
He said the new carousel and organ “will add a lot to the park. It was the character of the park that was missing without a carousel,” he said. “So I think it will put that character back in the park.”
The carousel will not be immediately available when the park opens Memorial Day weekend, but is being restored for a possible Aug. 15 debut, he said. Fehnel said there will be advance sales of carousel tickets. A $100 purchase of a book of 100 tickets will enable you to attend the debut or obtain a certificate good for four full days of passes to any ride at the park this season or next, he said. A purchase of 50 tickets comes with a videocassette showing the history of carousels, he said.
Also noticed that the “Forks Township amusement park” was not mentioned by name in the above article. They mean Bushkill Park, which is cuttently closed, though they say they are trying to address problems and reopen.
I started to work at the park in 1964 when I was nine years old (before child labor laws). My pay was 45-cents an hour. The park was then owned by the Fasnacht family. My job, which I think was more charity than a real “job”, was to collect empty glass soda bottles for return. Back then all soda bottles were returnable. I was assigned various simple tasks over the next few years. By the time I was in my early teens the park was purchased by the Rohrbaugh family, and I was assigned to the miniature golf course. I held that coveted position until my “retirement” in 1971.
These simple jobs as well as the influence of the Fasnacht and Rohrbaugh families made a profound impact on my young life. I am grateful for the opportunities and learning experiences the park gave me.
John Frey: Yes, there was a band called Willow Mill Park in the early 70’s. Many members of the band rented a house across the street from the park. They did Candles in the Rain better than Melanie!!
I grew up in Middletown, and visited Willow Mill park several times as a child. I remember cars on a track that you pedaled with hand cranks, and airplanes on cables that “flew” from the second story of a small building. I knew the Rohrbaugh family from Middletown, and the Fasnacht family, who have owned Funland in Rehoboth Beach for many years, through family marriages. In fact, the money they got through the sale of Willow Mill helped fund the purchase of Funland. I would guess that liability insurance alone would keep a park like this from making money today, but they were great while they lasted. Too bad today’s kids will only know the bigger “Theme Parks.”