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I had really, really hoped that Joyland could somehow pull through. But I was also cautiously optimistic for a few reasons. We all knew that Joyland was prone to flooding and faced the difficult task of hiring folks seasonally. Most frustratingly, it seemed to be the constant target for vandalizing. I have to choke down a little bit of angry hate every time I think about that.

With Joyland's recent announcement that it will never return, and in fact, will be sold off piece by piece, the question must be asked- What options with Lubbockites have now? Should I buy the mini-train to circle around the backyard?

Of course, we do have some great family amusement amenities to enjoy. Adventure Park, Main Event, 50th Street Caboose, and any number of lovely parks. However, none of those can quite fit the niche that Joyland provided. Do we have to sit around all year and wait for South Plains Fair?

Not if you are willing to take a relatively short drive.

Amarillo is under 2 hours from Lubbock and has what appears to be Joyland's twin: Wonderland. Well, to be perfectly honest, it looks like what Joyland should have been in the last few years with better-looking rides and grounds.

Wonderland does appear to be a bit more expensive than Joyland ever was, but it appears to offer a lot more, too. With more thrill rides and specialty rides, it very well may be worth the extra admission fee. There's also the option to add on the more premium rides and mini-golf course for not much more, and that appears to be the best bang for your buck.

While I can neither confirm nor deny the quality of Wonderland (I've never been) i can say with confidence that Amarillo is also home to some really amazing restaurants, and it is only a few minutes away from the breathtakingly beautiful Palo Duro Cayon State Park.

And with no other option readily available, it seems well worth the 2 hours to find out if Wonderland is a good substitute for our dearly departed Joyland.

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