Wonderland Theatre

Ackerman Island,
Wichita, KS

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missmelbatoast
missmelbatoast on October 18, 2007 at 2:15 pm

This site contains a brief history with photos of Wonderland. Love that Spanish Fantasy architecture!
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Lost Memory
Lost Memory on December 18, 2006 at 6:03 am

From the Wichita Public Library:

“Wonderland Park Theater, located on Ackerman Island. The Theater seated 800 on main floor and 300 in balcony”.

This is from “Wonderland Park” by Ralph Decker, Jr.

“Wonderland Park was built on Ackerman Island, a sandbar in the Arkansas (pronounced "R — Kansas" within the State of Kansas) River. Access to the park was from the Douglas Avenue Bridge just west of the present site of the Broadview Hotel. Unlike most parks of the day Wonderland was downtown, located on the western edge of the central business district.

The main attraction of the park was the theatre. William Jennings Bryan, Billy Sunday, The Marx Brothers, and John Philip Sousa were among the notables to appear at the park. Vaudeville performances were given and other bands played at the bandstand.

Nothing remains of Wonderland Park or Ackerman Island. The park closed in 1918 when blue laws were enacted and Sunday shows at the theatre, the big source of revenue, were banned. The Palenstinian Film Co. leased the park in 1919 for use as a movie studio, but the plan went by the wayside as the United States entered World War I. By the 1930’s downtown Wichita had grown by filling in the east side of the Arkansas River. Flooding concerns and the desire to put men to work brought Ackerman Island to the attention of the Works Progress Administration. With picks, shovels, and wheelbarrows, the island was removed".

No mention of movies playing at this theater. In any event, this theater is gone.