LUBBOCK, Texas — A lot can change in 50 years but one thing that hasn’t changed in Lubbock: where the fun is.

For more than two million visitors and several generations, the amusement park has brought family memories and joy.

For David and Kristi Dean, Joyland is a family tradition. 

In 1973, the U.S. ended its involvement in the Vietnam War, President Richard Nixon was impeached and Secretariat won the triple crown.

And Joyland opened its doors.

“I wouldn’t imagine at all when we came, there were 13 rides, there wasn’t much at all. And we were barely getting by,” said David Dean, owner and operator of the amusement park.

Dean had just graduated high school when his parents Jimmy and Katie bought the place, known then as Mackenzie Park Playground.

Since then, Joyland has been a family affair.

“I guess I caught the passion of this business of the business of fun,” said Dean. “And that’s, you know that, that has kept me going through all of this.

But over all that time, Dean said the biggest challenge he faced as a business owner happened in the last few years.

“When COVID came along, we were closed for probably a quarter a third of our season, we closed and right after we opened in March, we were allowed to reopen in June,” said Dean. “So that put a big dent in us. That was a very, very, very difficult time to survive. And since then, we’ve survived a flood, terrible storm that tore things up.”

He said even that couldn’t curb his passion for putting smiles on the faces of his visitors.

“They’ve been coming for all those generations,” said Dean. “That’s what makes me get up in the morning. That’s what makes us willing to work hard on the rides, train hard on the employees and keep going and keep going when it’s 100 degrees outside.”

He said he plans to do just that, for years to come. 

“The support that we’ve had from not only the people in Lubbock, but the West Texas area, and you know, it’s those kinds of things that make Joy land a tradition of fun in people’s lives,” he said.