Celebrating Valleyfair’s First 40 Fun Years!

vValleyfair Stage

Valleyfair has gone through a LOT of changes over the 40 years since it first opened in 1976, but one thing that has remained the same is that it is a lot of FUN!!  Earlier this summer I shared the story about the very first time I went to Valleyfair, which was during its opening year (yes, that makes me old!). Valleyfair was this big, new, unknown thing to me at the time, but I knew that I REALLY wanted to go there.

On the morning of my July 15th birthday, I got into the family car with my mom, dad, little sister and best friend LeAnne with the plan to head to a fun pizza place in the Twin Cities to celebrate my birthday. After what seemed like a lot of driving we looked out the car windows and saw a big fence and a sign that said VALLEYFAIR!! I said, “Mom, Dad – LOOK! It’s Valleyfair!” My Mom said, “Oh, yeah, it is. Would you like to go there?” Us kids never caught on to the fact that was the plan the whole time and the start of my most fun childhood birthday ever.

Valleyfair Flying Scooters 1976

In the last 40 years there have been a lot of changes at Valleyfair. Some of the attractions I saw on my first visit 40 years ago are LONG gone. I actually hadn’t even remembered some of them until I asked my mom to dig up some old photos. Valleyfair no longer has:


Valleyfair Donkey


Valleyfair Dolphins

or the Jolly Green Giant Little Sprout roller coaster.

Valleyfair Jolly Green Giant Little Sprout Roller Coaster

But, some things I loved on that very first visit to Valleyfair are still there or at least “almost the same” comparisons. It’s so fun to be able to share some favorite experiences from my own childhood with Little R while he is at the same age I was back  then!

Valleyfair Ferris Wheel 40 Years

Valley Fair Train Trolley 40 Years

Valleyfair Antique Cars 40 Years

And then there are many, many newer fun attractions – some that we never even would have believed were possible 40 years ago! One of our favorite additions is Soak City, Valleyfair’s Water Park. For us, it is so easy to spend an entire day JUST in Soak City (which is included in the admission price to Valleyfair). Soak City saw a big expansion last year with one of the new additions being a set of 4 tube slides. At the top of a 65-foot-tall platform you are encased above the tube. Once the floor drops out, you either drop 90 feet almost straight down on Breakers Plunge or through a series of drops, twists and turns on Breakers Pipeline. I still can’t believe that Little R talked me into doing that. It was super scary, but also SUPER FUN!

Valleyfair Soak City Ripple Rapids

This weekend I spent more time at Soak City with my husband Mario celebrating his birthday. We had a wonderful “adults only” day relaxing in a rented cabana, playing in Breakers Bay Wave Pool and taking leisurely floats down Ripple Rapids. Mario has already decided that for his birthday each year he would like to spend it at Soak City in a cabana. That way he can relax as much as he likes while everyone else goes off to play and be as crazy as they want, but having the cabana to always return to as a “home base”.

Valleyfair Soak City Cabana

Renting a cabana runs $99 for weekdays or $124 Friday-Sunday. Rental includes a 10′ x 10′ semi-private covered area, table and chairs with umbrella, 2 chaise lounges, wave pool tubes, a lockable storage box, TV and free popcorn and pitchers of ice water. You also have food and beverage service right in your cabana (at regular menu prices).

Valleyfair Cabana Rental

Another thing that always makes Valleyfair fun and new on each visit is that they have so many special events! We visited Valleyfair on the day of their Beach Bash. There was lots of fun including, volleyball, dancing and even a pig roast!

Beach Bash


There are more special events coming up throughout the rest of the year at Valleyfair including Kids Days, Midway Movies, Green Giant Corn Feast and even a Coaster Campout where you have an opportunity to camp for one night IN the park! See all the upcoming Valleyfair Special Events HERE.

Valleyfair Beach Bash

Find out more at Valleyfair.com. If you’re local, like we are, you’ll want to check out the Valleyfair Season Pass. They have packages and upgrades available to fit every family.

Valleyfair 40 Years of Fun

thriftyjinxy@live.com' About Chrysa

Chrysa is the founder and owner of ThriftyJinxy.com, a site dedicated to living a fabulous life on a frugal budget. Her approach is that by spending less on the boring everyday stuff, you can have more money to splurge on the things you REALLY want, whether it’s travel, fashion, electronics – you name it! Chrysa is married, has a 8-year old nephew she dotes on, as well as three lovable cats and a big sweetie of a German Shepherd.


  1. So fun! That looks like a place that my family would really enjoy!!

  2. dsargen3@gmail.com' Catherine S says:

    This looks like a fun place for the entire family. I would spend a lot of time in the lazy river.

  3. Valleyfair looks like such a fun place. I would love to take my family there if we are ever in the area. I like that you are able to rent a cabana.

  4. Valleyfair looks like so much fun! I love the story of you getting to go the first time.

  5. So fun to see what ValleyFair used to look like! I brought my kids there for the first time last year and we really enjoyed it. I have lots of fond memories of going when I was much younger, but I never saw a time when there were donkeys or dolphins!

  6. I love ValleyFair! I use to go there a lot when I was younger. I took my girls there a couple years ago too and they loved it. I’m waiting til they’re taller to ride some of the really fun ones, and then we’ll be going again!

  7. Valleyfair looks like so much fun!! I love taking my kids to places like this, they love going to fairs.

  8. Oh how much fun to see and learn about the history of something. I know you guys had a blast.

  9. cshell090869@aol.com' shelly peterson says:

    This place sounds amazing! What great birthday memories you have of this place. It would be a lot of fun to spend the day there and rent a cabana.

  10. wilsonre09@gmail.com' Reesa Lewandowski says:

    I love looking at the comparison pictures. How awesome that you had those to share with us! ValleyFair looks like so much fun.

  11. jewelwood55@gmail.com' Julie Wood says:

    This looks like a lot of fun for the whole family. I like the Cabana and would love to stay in this when the festivities are going on. We have something like Valleyfairs in our town

  12. We love Cedar Fair parks! Living by one here in Kansas City, they’ve always been great for family fun. I’ve been to Valleyfair once, but it’s been a few years. Would love to come back!

  13. annb10@rogers.com' Ann Bacciaglia says:

    It is so cool to see the photos side by side. I would love to go check out Valleyfair. It looks like a great way to spend the day with the kids.

  14. tammi@myorganizedchaos.net' Tammi Roy says:

    Valleyfair would be a fun day. My kids would love to go and explore the park. I love the pictures together.

  15. Awwww, no wonder you have such fond memories of it there. It looks like a wonderful way to spend time and create new ones.

  16. That looks like a fun place to visit no matter how old (or young) you are.

  17. This fair looks like it would be so much fun! I love how you compare the pictures side by side from the past 40 years, it’s really neat.

  18. dearrhannahh@aol.com' Hannah C says:

    I love the comparison photos from the 70s to today. Very cool!

  19. lizlampman@hotmail.com' Elizabeth Lampman says:

    This would be such a fun way to spend the day with the kids. I wish I lived closer so we could check it out.

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