The well anticipated return of a long-time Fort Worth attraction is only a few stops away.
The Forest Park Miniature Train operators received their third extension to reinstate service – and they are confident that it will be the last. The new deadline to be fully operational is set to Sept. 1, and operators plan to reopen mid to late August.
“I’m relieved, ” said Mary Talley, president of Forest Park Rides Inc., which operates the miniature train. “I feel good about this.”
The train, which has been around since the late 1950s, initially shut down service in March 2020 due to the pandemic. After its return in April 2021, the train closed down again in March 2022, when former president, Raymond Hames, underwent surgery due to medical issues.
Since then, plans to meet deadlines to reinstate service have continuously derailed.
Initially, the city of Fort Worth issued Forest Park Rides Inc. a 60-day notice in October 2022 to have the train up and running. After a request from operators, the notice was extended to the end of March. The deadline was again extended to June 30 to address repairs and supply challenges, but failed to meet it because of weather and more supply issues.
But the Fort Worth Parks and Recreation Department could not let go of the miniature train. The train’s significance to the city was an important factor in the consideration of granting the latest extension.
“When you think of something that’s been in place for that long, it’s iconic,” said Sandra Youngblood, assistant director of the department.
Additionally, Talley had been closely communicating with the city about the train’s progress toward reopening. The department wanted to acknowledge the long process and efforts that go into bringing back the attraction.
“They are doing a yeoman’s job and they are working diligently, ” Youngblood said. “They’re taking their time to make sure that the train operates safely and provides a memorable experience.”
With its comeback, Fort Worth residents can expect several upgrades to the experience, Talley said.
The train’s concession stand at its pitstop, located halfway through Trinity Park, will have more treats available for purchase. The stand sold popcorn and drinks before, but will now offer new additions including cotton candy, hot dogs and nachos.
Purchasing tickets also will be easier and quicker, with the installation of self-service kiosks that accept cash, credit, debit and several types of contactless payment methods.
The train is currently undergoing new paint jobs, flooring replacements and equipment repairs in preparation for its grand reopening.
“I don’t believe that we’re going to need another extension,” Talley said. “We’re getting pretty close now.”
Sara Honda is the audience engagement and social media fellow for the Fort Worth Report. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.