Idora Park opened in 1899 as a picnic area located at the final trolley stop on the south side of Youngstown, Ohio. Over the years it expanded into a full-blown amusement park and home to the largest Ballroom between New York City and Chicago. It wasn’t uncommon to have upwards of thirty thousand people turn out to see top name acts perform at the park.
On April 26, 1984, at the age of 85, it all went up in smoke… literally. A fire destroyed the two premier rides and half of one midway. Idora Park never recovered. It had one final season and then the gates closed and everything of value was auctioned off leaving only the broken bones of the park behind. Across the next thirty years mother nature, with a bit of help from scavengers and treasure hunters, reclaimed her own, eventually leaving no sign that Idora Park ever existed. Until Jim and Toni Amey came along…
Like so many Youngstown natives, Jim spent much of his childhood at Idora Park, an amusement park located on the city’s south side. In 1976 at the age of eighteen, with no local job prospects at hand, Jim joined the military and left Youngstown. It would be 17 years before he’d walk the grounds of Idora Park again and by that time, it had been dead almost 10 years.
Trespassing onto the old Idora Park property (It’s okay, everyone does it), Jim and his wife Toni (he calls her Spike, but that’s another story…) were shocked and heartbroken to see Youngstown’s beloved Idora Park abandoned, dilapidated and disappearing from existence.
The Ameys spent the next 20 years collecting “stuff” from Idora Park as a way of holding on to the memories. What started out as an event poster, ticket stub, or game prize, here and there, eventually became parts to rides and structures and a full-blown obsession (aka passion). Along the way, they met some amazing (and oftentimes odd) people and had some crazy and unbelievable adventures.
Their experiences along with the realization that they had inadvertently become the curators of a large part of the heart, soul and joy that was once Youngstown, led them to believe there must be a higher purpose to what they were doing… otherwise, they were just hoarders. They knew they needed to find a way to share their experiences and collection with others.
In 2013 they built a 4,400 square foot building next to their home in Canfield, Ohio, to house the enormous collection of Idora Park artifacts and in April of 2014, 30 years after the fire that destroyed Idora Park, they welcomed over 1,000 people to the grand opening weekend of The Idora Park Experience.
Because of local zoning issues, the museum only opens a few days each year but has had more than 10,000 visitors to date and enjoys a large social media following.
The Ameys are the authors of the books, “NUCKED! 2 - More Misadventures with the IDORA PARK EXPERIENCE NINJAS”, published in 2023, “NUCKED! Misadventures with the IDORA PARK EXPERIENCE NINJAS” published in 2021 and “LOST IDORA PARK,” published in 2019 by Arcadia Publishing. The Idora Park Experience is also the publisher of "IDORA PARK, THE LAST RIDE OF SUMMER, Commemorative Edition", by Rick Shale and Charles J. Jacques, Jr.