Kart Gardens or Kart World? It seems that those who owned this Calgary business weren’t even sure themselves. A sign in front lists BOTH names. No matter I guess. What ever it was called, it’s now closed and the site is quickly falling into disrepair. You’ll hear no screaming kids nor screaming go-karts, no laughter, no squeals of joy – only the sounds of passing cars, the occasional train and the click, click of our camera. Join us as we have some fun checking out what’s left of this operation.
I have not been able to find exactly when this business started but I have memories of passing by the place in the early 1990s and it was in business then. At that time it operated under the name Kart Gardens International. When the new owners took over, when ever that happened, they changed it to Kart World, but did not bother to alter the sign out by the road.
In addition to go-karts, they offered a games room, laser tag, mini golf, something called “Euro Bungee” and a small snack bar serving all manner of “gourmet” fare. You know, hot dogs, burgers, popcorn and big icy cokes. Five star eating!
It appears in the last few years of operation, the business was not well maintained and looking online one can find numerous complaints about how broke down and neglected the place was. You hear customers speak of out of order games, gross biffies, badly running karts, stinky helmets (!), indifferent or uncaring staff, wild out of control kids (I guess that’s their parent’s fault) and an overall state of decay and uncleanliness.
I think the owner’s limped through 2013, hoping to get what ever they could out it, knowing very well that things were falling apart so fast that their time was limited and this would be their last year. They closed at the end of the season have not reopened. As of the writing of this report, the company website is still up and claims the venue will still be open in spring 2014. Whoops, they’re a little late!
This “glowing” review found online sums it up pretty well…
”Went to Kart World today. First of all they had a flood and the laser tag or washrooms were not working – not mentioned on their website. So they had porta-potties that patrons could use that were absolutely disgusting – the waste was nearly to the top and there were flies and larvae and other crawling things in the waste – absolute health hazard. Needless to say, my son or I couldn’t use them. Kart World is run by teenage kids who really don’t care about safety and customer service. Avoid this place, it just has a general feel that not much money is invested in it to the detriment of safety and cleanliness. I guess the car that was parked outside the main entrance with 2 flat tires and that had obviously been sitting there for some time should have given me a clue!”
Kart World, or was that Gardens, I can’t keep it straight, is located in a light industrial area in south-central Calgary and this sort-of out of the way location, no doubt, did not help things in regards to business. Busy MacLeod Trail is only a block or so away, but since the track can’t be seen from it, they could not rely on spontaneous business from families driving by. Also, visually the surrounding area was not that appealing. Who wants to look at a power substation, big power lines, tire shops and passing trains. Wait…I like trains. It’s a great spot! Perfect!
At one time, there was a second go-kart track up near the airport that also operated under the name Kart Gardens International. I assumed they were connected at the time.
Let’s take a tour of the place…
Peering inside the main building we can see it’s completely empty (and dirty). Okay, let’s move on to the “golf course”. As a mini golf aficionado, this one strikes me as rather..well…lame. The holes are too simple, the whole execution is amateurish, and where the hell is the windmill shot?! That’s a mini golf staple!
Good mini golf courses are built INTO the landscape and not simply plopped onto a concrete slab like they did here. This course was built from a pre-made kit. I found the manufacturer online.
Working our way around the complex, we pass a couple abandoned karts on the kiddy track. Looking at the main track I think back to the days when the karts would scream past (or maybe putt-putt past given the lack of maintenance they received). Now it’s all quiet. More go-karts, full sized ones this time, can be seen in back. Even from this position I can see most are in rough shape.
A sign on an overpass warms drivers not to bump. Back when I karted (admittedly a long time ago) that was the most fun part of the race. There was no protective bumpers surrounding the vehicles back then, nor guide rails on the track. Go-karts lost something when they started worrying too much about safety.
From this position, one can see the pit area where karts were worked on or rather cannibalized to keep others running. Pick and Pull for go-karts. The whole place from this angle looks like a dump. There are old tires everywhere, ripped up tarps and lots of junk.
We did not see the “Euro Bungee” mentioned earlier. I looked it up – basically you jumped on a trampoline while wearing a bungee suspended harness. This allowed you to bounce higher and safely do flips and the like. At one time, I understand there were bumper boats here, although where they were in relation to everything else and when they operated is not known. Chime in if you know.
I wonder what will happen to the land now that the business has closed. Will someone attempt to resurrect the Kart World “brand” or will the land be redeveloped? Given Calgary’s hot real estate market, the latter is likely.
The former Kart World mascot “Speed Bunny”, now among the ranks of the unemployed, made a brief appearance on our visit. I guess he’s got no where else to go.
And so ends our tour. Calgary is now down one family fun place but given that it was driven (get it, driven) into the ground, I doubt anyone will miss it. We know you are out there people and anyone who has some Kart World (or Gardens) experiences they’d like to share with us, you are welcome to comment below.
All our photos were taken from public property.
To see some other closed and abandoned businesses we’ve explored, go here…
Blackfoot Farmer’s Market.
Buffalo Jump Arts and Crafts – with Jon Dirks.
The Seymour and New National have served their last drinks.
If you wish more information on what you’ve seen here, by all means contact us!
Date of adventure: June 2014.
Location: Calgary, AB.