New Items - MGM's Cotton Blossom at Worlds of Fun


MGM built the Cotton Blossom, A 134 foot long, 34 foot wide replica steamboat, for their 1951 movie SHOW BOAT. In 1971, MGM sold it at auction to the Worlds of Fun theme park near Kansas City, Missouri, where it was reconstructed, and then dedicated on May 26, 1973.

Attached 2 photos - on the left one taken on dedication day and on the right when the restoration was nearing completion. Unfortunately the Cotton Blossom was demolished after the attraction closed in 1995. It's a shame they didn't place more value on their investment after all the trouble they went to transport it to the Midwest, reassemble and restore it. See the article on this link to Jennifer's Worlds of Fun blog where photos document how much effort it took to accomplish the neglected boat's resurrection.

The Cotton Blossom is now gone. Wish I had known about it when I was in K.C. in 1979 and later in mid-90's, would have loved to have seen the 'Blossom in person.


Cotton Blossom being reassembled at Worlds of Fun, 1972-1973.

The Cotton Blossom was shipped in pieces from MGM's back lot in Culver City, California. There is scaffolding around the smokestacks where the construction crew is carefully putting it back together and making sure that all the sections of the stacks will fit firmly together and firmly set with hardware and possibly an adhesives of some kind as well.

After Hunt Midwest had purchased the Cotton Blossom came the daunting task of disassembling the boat, moving, storing, and then reassembling a 134 foot long, 34 foot wide movie prop. The Cotton Blossom was shipped cross country using 6 rail cars, and then stored in Hunt's underground caves for 2 1/2 years before the park began their attempt to re-assemble it on July 5th, 1972.

J.E. Dunn, who was responsible for construction on the entire park also assisted with re-construction of the Cotton Blossom. The park also brought in specialized help including Glenn Robinson and his crew from California. Glenn was in charge of special effects at MGM studios when the Cotton Blossom was originally built.

Another problem arose with re-construction when it was discovered that the supposedly individually numbered parts were not ALL individually numbered, causing for a brief time the concern that re-construction of the Cotton Blossom might not be possible.

It was at this point the park brought in a local retired ship builder, Wyman Beardsley to assist with finishing the construction project. Finally after 10 months of construction and most likely stress and frustration the dream became a reality.

The Cotton Blossom, though not a truly moving craft lead the park through its formative years as one of its main attractions. It was sadly destroyed after the 2005 season.

On March 14, 2010 Mike Koder commented . . .

"Oh! My Boat! My very first position at WOF was on the Cotton Blossom and I managed the boat for many seasons, many other seasonal employees called it 'Mike's Boat.'

I cried when I heard it was gone. I have so many memories from the Cotton Blossom.

I remember being on the Boat when the Timber Wolf opened. I watched the parade from the front deck of the Cotton Blossom as it proceeded to the where the Wolf was located.

I miss the Cotton Blossom so much! Thanks for the memories."
Wyman R. Beardsley
(The retired shipbuilder who assisted in the reconstruction of the Cotton Blossom)

He resided at Blue Springs, Missouri (25 miles southeast of Worlds of Fun, Kansas City) Wyman was born on the 1st of September, 1907 He passed away at 89 years of age on the 7th of December, 1996.


Neat photo of a carpenter doing detail work to gingerbread during the restoration of the Cotton Blossom for the Worlds of Fun theme park. The wide angle lens gave the illusion that the round capstan was "squashed" into an oval shape, otherwise everything looks the way you would expect it to. Believe that a while back this image was featured on the Worlds of site but it does not appear to be there anymore as of January 2017.


Cotton Blossom at Worlds of Fun.


From a color slide a photo of the Cotton Blossom during its retirement, serving as a static attraction at Worlds of Fun. Wish we could see the tops of the stacks and more of the rest of the boat including main deck and hull but what we are able to see here is impressive.


Night time photo of restored Cotton Blossom at Worlds of Fun from the following link: The Cotton Blossom 1973-1995 is listed among defunct attractions in a Worlds of Fun fan site. This link is gone but used to say:

Cotton Blossom, was one of two full-sized boats bought by Hunt Midwest in the 1971 MGM Backlot Auction.

Best remembered for its famous role in the 1953 MGM musical SHOW BOAT, it was stored in caves under the park and re-assembled in late 1972 and early 1973. Cotton Blossom served as host for the opening ceremony on May 26, 1973. Over the years it was home to a Dixieland band, Paddlewheel Cafe, Souvenir shop and finally an antique photo shop. It was removed at the end of 1995 due to structural rot, and replaced by the thrill ride Ripcord.


Cotton Blossom BAR-B-QUE restaurant at Worlds of Fun park

The Cotton Blossom was long ago dismantled but in 2019, as a sort of tribute to its memory, they opened the Cotton Blossom BAR-B-QUE. Below excerpt from article on the eatery.

Worlds Of Fun's New Restaurant Re-Themed to Cotton Blossom BBQ

Back in August, we reported that a new flagship restaurant, Boathouse Grill, was headed to Worlds of Fun in 2019. The restaurant is still coming, but for those looking for that nautical name on the midways of Worlds of Fun next year, you might get lost. The park has decided to re-name the new restaurant to Cotton Blossom BBQ, which according to Worlds of Fun, is "a name that better suits the park's identity and the building's location."


Cotton Blossom Worlds of Fun Artist's Quick Sketch


Cotton Blossom at Worlds of Fun . . . color photo taken at night.
Current link for Worlds of Fun: (sans Cotton Blossom).


With the exception of images credited to public institutions,
everything on this page is from a private collection.
Please contact for permission for commercial use.*

All captions provided by Dave Thomson, primary contributor and historian.