Closed Now For Almost 30 Years, Peony Park Has Been An Entertainment Center For Generations | Story

A sand-bottom pool, originally three acres with a capacity of 5 million gallons, replaced the pond in 1926. It was built over a large underground lake that was operated by seven artesian wells. A fireproof public bath would be large enough to accommodate 5,000 swimmers per day. The lights were installed in 1929.

With the Crystal Ballroom, the natural-bottom swimming pool, 10 acres of athletic fields, a playground and picnic areas, in 1933 Peony declared that she was “Omaha’s Family Country Club”. The Royal Grove for outdoor dancing opened in 1934 and the Tower Tourist Village (later the New Tower Inn) a year later.

A view of the Peony Park Ferris Wheel in 1993.


During the Big Band era, Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway and later Guy Lombardo played Peony. The same goes for former Omaha chicken farmer (80th and Miami streets) Lawrence Welk. Contrary to tradition, Welk’s original base in town was the Chermot Ballroom at 27th and Farnam, not Peony Streets. Malec’s claim in the 1960s that – in the 1930s – he inspired the term “champagne music” for Welk’s use also seems implausible.

The peony was a favorite stopover for the Omaha military going back and forth during WWII. Malec, in 1968, said it was after the war that they were back for good and wanted to ‘have sex with the girls’.

Its first rides were part of a $ 100,000 expansion in 1958. Charles Malec, one of Joe Malec’s two sons involved in operating the park at the time, visited the new Disneyland and other parks. attractions for inspiration for a helicopter ride, train, merry-go-round, ferris wheel, miniature roller coaster (they were still running when the park closed), automatic toll ride and pump carts. Characters from storybooks such as “Willie the Whale” and “Old Woman in the Shoe” have been depicted. An attraction for young and old was the miniature golf course “Around the world in 18 holes”.

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