Adventureland, the first park of its kind in the Okanagan, was the brainchild of two local residents Sam and Dorothy Pestes. Dorothy, a talented artist and Sam, a teacher with remarkable talents for innovation and building, created a perfect team. Their combined strengths helped them fulfill a dream with imagination and passion and a lot of hard work. Their theme park began to take shape in the late 1960s. The couple had purchased thirty acres of land a few years earlier along Highway 97 what is now Pelmewash Parkway.
During their twelve years of ownership many varied attractions were created, some of the most memorable being the giant slide and their remarkable Time Machine. “The Old Lady’s Shoe”, a gigantic bright yellow boot served to catch the eye of passing motorists. It also served as a snack bar for visitors. In the background in the photo you will see the large building that housed the Time Machine.
The towering slide, with its majestic view out over Wood Lake, provided a 175 foot high speed thrill ride for all ages. Each track was waxed to control the speed. Riders sat on mats made from reconstituted gunny sacks. Very high speeds could be achieved and some riders reported “catching air” over the final jump.
The Time Machine was like a miniature Universal Studios as viewers travelled through a series of rooms each providing a unique display. Groups of up to fifteen viewers travelled in a car specially designed and built by Sam. A simulated submarine trip built on the theme of Ogopogo’s Den featured Davy Jones’ Locker, Lost Atlantis, King Neptune’s Cavern, Pinocchio & Jiminy Cricket with the Whale and a futuristic underwater city. Other attractions on the site included Western Town, and a large Noah’s Ark complete with life sized animated sculptures. In all, the ark comprised seven rooms. There was even a small petting zoo to delight the little ones. Visitors were heard to say they’d never seen anything like it outside of Disneyland. All of this was a far cry from the youth summer camp Sam and Dorothy had operated at this location when they first acquired the property.
By the end of the 1970s Adventureland was at its peak employing sixteen staff to tend the thousands of visitors passing through the gates each season. After all their years of dreaming and building, the new reality was that their extensive facility demanded ever increasing work, so the decision was made by Sam and Dorothy to move on. They had achieved and perhaps greatly surpassed all that they had envisioned. The business was sold to the Flintstone Bedrock City Group who continued to operate it for another six years or so. When that company over-extended itself with other projects and failed, Adventureland closed its doors forever. The current owner of the property says that even now a few old pieces of the slide can be found as testimony to what was once a place filled with the happy sounds of children.
And so, like many of those things that gave us such pleasure in earlier days, Adventureland lives on only in the history books and in the childhood memories of many of us who are no longer young. Today Sam and Dorothy live nearby, still active and full of life. Sam has recently authored a book and their quest for new challenges lives on.
Source: Richard Gibbons, Director, Lake Country Heritage and Cultural Society. This article first appeared in The View (September 20, 2014) in Gibbons’ column Backward Glances.