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From mini-trains to Zingo: the history of Bell's Amusement Park

Bell's billboard
Posted at 10:43 AM, Nov 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-04 11:52:02-04

BROKEN ARROW, Okla. — Back and ready to bring the family fun! Bell's Amusement Park is officially coming back to the area.

After Broken Arrow officials confirmed that a local family bought a section of land in eastern Broken Arrow, Bell's Facebook page confirmed the announcement is about details for the park to return.

Bell's was an amusement park that operated in Tulsa for 55 years before closing down in 2006.

The start of Bell's Amusement Park (1948 - 1997)

The amusement park had humble starts beginning in 1948. Robert Bell built a mini-train around his home in Tulsa. He also ran some children's rides at the Admiral Twin drive-in.

In early 1951, Bell started the beloved park at the Tulsa Fairgrounds in Expo Square. The park, at the time, had a small collection of rides and attractions that included the original mini-train.

The first adult ride added to the park was a bumper car attraction in 1955, then a Tilt-a-Whirl and mini-golf course were added not long after. These additions helped grow into a family-friendly addition to the city and the park's popularity kept growing.

The Wildcat Accident (1997)

On April 20, 1997, the Wildcat roller coaster at Bell's experienced mechanical failures that caused a car to disengage and roll backward. The car ended up colliding with another one. The accident killed a teenager and injured at least six others.

The Oklahoman reported, at the time, the Wildcat had been a part of the park since 1976. Robert Bell confirmed the roller coaster had gone under inspection two weeks before by the Oklahoma Labor Department and approved for operation.

It is still unknown what caused the malfunction to occur. Shortly after the accident, the Wildcat was disassembled and relocated to another amusement park in Maryland.

Closing down (1997 - 2006)

Nearly a decade after the Wildcat accident, Bell's was forced to shut down at the end of its 2006 season when Tulsa County did not renew its lease.

There were plans to move the park, but ultimately Bell's never rebuilt somewhere else.

Over the next decade and a half, the Bell family would attempt to try and reopen. Many locations across Green Country were considered to be the new site for the amusement park, including Coweta.

Plans for the future (2006 - Now)

In September 2019, the Facebook page for Bell's garnered widespread attention when a new profile picture was uploaded that seemed to indicate a return of the amusement park.

Two years later on the same day in 2021, Bell's updated their Facebook page and teased they began plans to start the process of rebuilding the park. Rumors sparked about the possibility of the park returning to the area.

After confirmation and years of waiting, the Bell family confirmed the park is returning to eastern Broken Arrow. 102 acres are dedicated to the project with plans for things such as:

  • A new thrill park. It will feature Zingo, Phantasmagoria, and other fan favorites but with new rides too.
  • A kiddie park safe for small kids.
  • A new water park.
  • An indoor facility for Virtual Reality games.
  • Longer hours of operation.

READ MORE: Bell's Amusement Park is coming back

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, construction and other steps in the process had to change or be put on hold. The amusement park industry has also taken a hit which has contributed to the delay in rebuilding.

At this time, it is unclear when Bell's will reopen, but the family confirms that due to the amount of prep work they've completed, construction will be able to proceed quickly once it begins.

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