Owner David Dean looks back on 50 seasons at Joyland

Come join the Joyland birthday celebration on Thursday
Published: Jul. 12, 2022 at 7:55 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Many businesses have struggled the past couple of years, including a Lubbock favorite, but now Joyland is celebrating its 50th season.

“It’s fun, it’s all about family fun and fun with friends - and rides and games and cool food and just creating really neat memories and actually keeping that going through the years,” Joyland owner David Dean said.

Keeping that fun going through 50 seasons is really important to Dean. His parents were friends with the owners of Wonderland Amusement Park in Amarillo. This sparked the family’s future career.

“And that was my first job. I grew up there, I probably got the passion for the industry there,” Dean said.

When his parents moved to the Hub City, they bought the park in 1973. It was originally called, Mackenzie Park Playground. Dean took the business over after his parents died, but it’s more than a business to him.

“We still go out there to the cemetery and talk with them about every month or so about, ‘Oh business is doing this and this,’ you know, and just kind of have a family talk about it,” Dean said.

It started with 13 rides and now the park has over 30.

“There wasn’t much here when we came. Just a few kiddie rides and the tilt-a-whirl and the scrambler and that kind of thing. There were some different bumper cars, different train. Yeah, we’ve changed it up a lot through the years,” Dean said.

Now Dean shares the business with his wife as she handles the office side of things.

Joyland is fun for people of all ages and Dean has seen whole generations grow up at the park.

“People will come say, ‘oh yeah,’ and they’ll be in their 70s, ‘Oh, I came out here when I was a kid and I brought my kids, now I bring my grandkids, and I’m bringing my great grandkids,’” Dean said.

Dean says this park wouldn’t be open without the continuous love from the community.

“They believed in us, they helped us out and then they showed up when we were able to reopen and really that’s what saved us,” Dean said.

Through the pandemic, flooding, and storm damage, it has never been easy. Dean says the memories made there are what makes it all worth it.

“A lot of days it’s what makes you get up in the morning and be ready to work hard and go at it all day long and into the night,” Dean said.

Dean says Joyland being a family-owned business just adds to what the amusement park is about.

He hopes to see new and old faces at the park Thursday night for the birthday celebration of Joyland.

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