Donley's Wild West Town is a small family-owned amusement park for children located roughly fifty miles north-west of Chicago. It was immediately obvious on our arrival that management places a strong emphasis on presentation; the staff were dressed for the part, and were even adapting their language; we were greeted with an emphatic Howdy! on more than one occasion.
The park added a roller coaster four years ago. The operator on Runaway Mine Cars (#2094) was unusually candid, advising us the he couldn't guarantee we'd be thrilled, but he could guarantee that we'd need a chiropractor. This was perhaps a little unfair; his ride was typical Herschell, a bit bumpy but not uncomfortably so, and we were happy enough when given a second lap.
With the credit completed we decided to try the Train Ride, an extremely slow journey around the park area and a field at the back. The journey passed by several visible props, including an Indian camp with several teepees. The operator told us that we wouldn't be stopping today, but if we came back in the fall there would be an opportunity to pick up pumpkins. We also passed by a separate track that led into Boo Canyon; a special route used during hallowe'en.
Our admission included several opportunities to try out weapons. The Western Plains Archery Range had arrows with suction cups on the end rather than the more traditional sharp points, and their somewhat haphazard aerodynamics meant that the few sticks we made were mostly due to luck. Buffalo Billy's Rootin' Tootin' Shootin' Gallery was somewhat more straight forward, with air pistols that could fire cork pellets at clear targets. The most satisfaction was had from Huck Finn's Slingshots, where each hit was rewarded with a metallic ping. Last but by no means least came the Tomahawk Throw, something that I'd love to try again some day.
One of the stand-out features of the park is an interesting if somewhat eclectic museum. Part of the floor space is devoted to a streetscape made up of shops and businesses that might have existed in times gone by, including a medical surgery, a barber shop, a clothing shop, and for some unfathomable reason, a model train set. The remainder is devoted to an impressive collection of artefacts, covering topics as diverse as the American Civil War and how to cheat at card games. A magnificent collection of antique phonographs and music boxes lines the back wall, the latter apparently being one of the finest collections of Edisonia in the United States.
Exploring the museum in full requires at least an hour on its own, and to be honest, I'd recommend enthusiasts plan to spend at least three hours at this park. We gave ourselves two, and felt distinctly rushed.