old rollercoaster

History of The Park

Magicland is the story of one man’s dream, a passion for fun and one lovable lizard.

The son of a successful Toledo-area podiatrist, Frank Skinkerelli always expected to take over the family business. But something about orthotics and insoles always left Frank feeling empty. He wanted more excitement than foot-fixing could provide.

Frank attended the prestigious Poughkeepsie Podiatric-Polytechnic University (PP-PU), and went on to a residency in one of the top Ear, Nose, Throat, Ankle, Foot and Pinky Toe clinics in the country. But he put off a return to the feet of Toledo with a stint in the Army, thinking it would be an opportunity for adventure. The popular advertisements of the time suggested as much.

Instead, Frank met Walter Colavetti in the service, and the two young soldiers bonded over their shared passions: not being shot at, being just young enough to miss the Vietnam War, and getting out of the Army as soon as humanly possible. Frank also shared with Walter his dream of someday opening an amusement park, so he could generate adventure and excitement for everyone, in a way that didn’t also involve hand grenades and buzz haircuts.

The rest, as they say, is history. Soon after Frank and Walter were discharged from the Army, Frank’s father was lost in a tragic accident on a medical missionary tour delivering bunion pads to Amazon tribesmen. Rather than take over the family practice or continue his dad’s work with Podiatrists Without Perimeters, Frank used his inheritance money to make his dream a reality — and in 1979, Magicland was born.

The early years were lean. For a while, Magicland’s “rides” consisted of an unusually long playground slide and Frank and Walter tossing children back and forth over a small gully. But attractions were gradually added over time, culminating in the magical extravaganza we know and love today.

There were plenty of highlights along the way. In 1984, Frank capitalized on the Skinkerelli family name to create Sammy Skink, the much beloved Magicland lizard-themed mascot — portrayed ever since by Frank’s pal Walter. In 1991, the park purchased the world’s oldest Tilt-A-Whirl ride, which was recently renovated to also be (briefly) the world’s fastest. In 2002, Magicland became the first — and still only! — theme park to stay open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. And in 2010, the park welcomed its most popular thrill attraction: The Blaster.

Magicland has seen some great times thanks to Frank and Walter — and Sammy! Thirty-six short years of hard work and dedication has turned one foot-fearing kid’s dream into the 16th most popular family-owned theme park in northwestern Ohio, and the 2nd-best all-hours hangout, as recently voted by readers of Toledo Slackers Monthly. (Enjoy that top spot, airport-area 7-11. We’re gunning for you!)

What’s next for Magicland? With Sammy Skink’s antics, fun for kids of all ages (willing to sign an insurance waiver) and Frank’s son Jake taking the reins, anything could happen. But one thing’s for sure: it’s gonna be magic.