IDAHO FALLS — A restoration project is underway to restore a piece of history while giving families a fun place to play.
For over a century, Tautphaus Park served as a home for Funland, an amusement park full of carnival rides and concession stands. It’s been in Idaho Falls since 1947 but has changed ownership multiple times and parts of it have gradually closed in the last decade.
The city of Idaho Falls purchased the property in 2019 in order to restore the aging carnival. The Funland Restoration Committee was then created with eight community members.
“This is really a grassroots, community-led effort to restore this,” Committee Member Brandon Lee told EastIdahoNews.com. “This isn’t something that’s being mandated by the city or anyone else, but it is a group of citizens who just think this is a great place to come with your family and make memories.”
To get the entire community on board, the committee is now selling legacy bricks to raise funds. The tax-deductible donation will come with a brick placed in the central plaza of the rejuvenated Funland. There are two sizes – a four-by-eight-inch for $100 and an eight-by-eight-inch brick for $500, both engraved with a name or message.
“It really will be a demonstration of how much support our community has for this project,” Lee said. “I know that my family and I are buying bricks and my dad is buying bricks because we think it’s a great way that we can, in a very small way, participate in the restoration.”
Committee member Jarom Manwaring explained at the center of the brick-laid courtyard, a time capsule will be placed during the 2022 grand opening of the restored Funland. Manwaring said the named bricks will stay with Funland for generations to come.
“There are multi-generational families in this community where grandpa, mom and the kids all have memories of coming here,” Manwaring said. “I think that’s something worth saving and when this is back up and running … I don’t know if there will be a more fun place to bring that whole family — that multigenerational family — where everyone can participate and have fun.”
Restoration of Funland will not only preserve the decades of history but also improve safety, according to Lee. The park’s centerpiece, the Eli Wheel — a ride inspired by the Chicago Farris Wheel — will undergo extensive inspections and restoration before taking visitors up for a view of historic Tautphaus Park.
The committee also plans to restore and improve the original carousel, train, planes and octopus rides.
Manwaring explained corporate sponsorships and other donation opportunities will be available to help restore Funland. From purchasing merchandise designed by Rebecca Pyper to naming rights – all will help.
“In August we’re going to have a picnic in the park,” Lee said. “Where we can bring those interested in the plans and seeing the vision and seeing how else they can help participate and be involved.”
For those interested in discovering more about the plans for Funland or finding out how they can contribute, you can visit the Funland restoration project’s website here.