Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Holiday World

One of the new-to-me amusement parks I got to visit this summer was Holiday World in Santa Claus, Indiana. Opened in 1946 by Louis Koch - whose family still operates it today - Santa Claus Land was conceived when Koch realized that there was no place for children to go to see Santa Claus in the whimsically-named town (so called because there was already a Santa Fe, IN).
Today, the former Santa Claus Land area serves as the park entry plaza but does not contain any major attractions.
In 1984, the park was given its current name and expanded beyond the scope of Christmas to cover the Fourth of July and Halloween.
In 1995, Holiday World put itself on the roller coaster map by installing Raven, a wooden coaster in the Halloween area of the park. Although a ride on a smaller scale, I was still greatly impressed by this coaster and its wooded setting.
Along with the "Scarecrow Scrambler," the Hallowswings is a lavishly decorated Wave Swinger.
The Legend is the other wooden coaster in the Halloween area, and it opened in 2001. This was another spectacular ride that took me off-guard. It's currently my fifth favorite wooden coaster.
In 2006, Holiday World opened its largest expansion yet, a new Thanksgiving-themed area of the park.
The Voyage is the park's main attraction, and I had high expectations for this ride. I wasn't disappointed, as this 2006 ride - the second longest wooden coaster in the world - is now my favorite roller coaster.
The Thanksgiving section also features a shooting darkride called "Gobbler Getaway," in which you have to "call" (not shoot) turkeys that have escaped. But as you can see below, in the end, everyone just has pizza instead.
The park's next major expansion was in 2015 with the Thunderbird coaster in the Thanksgiving area. This is a wing coaster, which means that the seats are cantilevered out to either side of the track. (It was also a ride made for social distancing!)
The last themed area in Holiday World is the Fourth of July, which is home to an assortment of typical flat rides. This was a park that I had wanted to visit for many years, and despite the less-than-ideal circumstances this year, I still enjoyed Holiday World and its three wooden coasters! 

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Unlicensed Disney Amusement Park Influences

Yep, that's Goofy holding a fishing net, ready to catch a child. The place is Trimper's Rides, in Ocean City, Maryland. The building that houses this park's 1902 carousel is home to many kiddie rides with artistic flourishes, some of which are quite interesting - let's take a look above this pelican trash can, for instance.
I wouldn't trust The Big Bad Wolf with that oil can. He could cause an accident.
Mickey is dressed like Mr. Toad, complete with goggles.
I don't think that this is Dumbo...
Donald gives the Trimper's kiddie bumper cars a THUMBS UP and a FOOT OUT.
Meanwhile, one of the Three Little Pigs is eating some cotton candy that's not even as big as his behind.
Although it's not Disney, this Popeye cartoon is worth a mention. I don't have a picture of the other side, sadly. Trimper's has to be one of the smallest parks in America that still retains a park artist, at least as of last year.
I mainly wanted to write this post to share the pictures of Trimper's, but here're a few bonuses.
Conneaut Lake Park here in Pennsylvania brightened up their train ride last year with some new cutouts.
The "Enchanted Forest" outdoor walkthrough-style attraction existed before Disneyland opened, but many of them contain Disney knock-offs. Story Book Forest at Idlewild in Ligonier, Pennsylvania, keeps mostly to safe ground on the majority of their fairy tales. Pinocchio is the one that I do see some direct references in. Look for Figaro, Cleo, and a copy of the book in the film's title sequence. Here's a video clip:

With the Disney theme parks being the successes that they are, many attractions have been based on their design at regional theme parks. Most are significantly reinterpreted, but you will also see things that leave no question where the idea came from. Take the "Country Bear Jubilee," which has some of its old (non-functioning) animatronics in the park history museum at Knoebels, for instance...
Not nearly as endearing as Henry...
I'll end this post with a picture of Kings Island's International Street. With the park entrance leading straight into this area, it's obvious that Disneyland and Magic Kingdom provided inspiration. In fact, Bruce Bushman worked on the design of the street, making it one of the more appropriate examples of a Disney influence.
Shh... don't tell anyone about Trimper's...

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Pirate's Cove - Mega Post!

Darkride designer Bill Tracy built many walkthrough funhouses in the 1960s and 70s, but only two remain. Both are named Pirate's Cove and are located 500 miles apart, at Waldameer (home to the Bill Tracy Whacky Shack) in Erie, Pennsylvania, and Trimper's in Ocean City, Maryland (also home to the 1964 Tracy ride-through Haunted House). Trimper's built theirs in 1971 and Waldameer's Cove opened in 1972.  I wanted to do a photo walkthrough of both rides and also show the similarities and differences between them. This will be a long post, so I'll be happy if you stick through to the end!

The first pic is of one of the entrances to Trimper's. The crow's nest with the terrified pirate used to be at Waldameer as well, but it was removed years ago.

Note that Waldameer has an apostrophe on the sign, and Trimper's doesn't. I know you care.
Here's the more detailed Trimper's facade. The "barker" parrot animatronics at the center were added within the past 30 years to give the front some extra ballyhoo. They run through a spiel and move a little.
Both rides have spooky skulls on the exterior. Waldameer has the bonus of the mouths opening and closing!

Along with the skulls on the wall that faces the midway, Trimper's has a nice mural.

When you enter the Trimper's version, you cross a rope bridge and navigate a tilting floor of a ship before arriving at the first interior stunt, the moving floorboards. Waldameer has an identical setup, minus the exterior stunts. If you take the "easy way," you'll be blown by multiple air jets.
Practically every Bill Tracy attraction has a diminishing corridor, and both Pirate's Coves have an example. It's a different sensation to walk than ride through one.
The next two stunts are identical between the two attractions. A shark diorama is followed by a circular room with a disco ball that you wind around several times.
The following room that you navigate is a "Mystery Spot"in both attractions. Trimper's has the better one, with a tableau that's supposed to show water running uphill into a drunken pirate's mug.                                            
Compared to Trimper's, Waldameer's tilt room is barer:
There is a flashing diorama on one side of a dog with some bones, though. Right after this in Waldameer's walkthrough is a scene of a monster that is not a Tracy creation. Trimper's and Waldameer's attractions are pretty different from here, so let's finish up Trimper's first.
This is a revolving barrel with a spinning disk at the end. It's hard to take a picture of it!
The drunken skeleton is a Tracy classic and is very similar to one at Waldameer that we will see in a second.
The skull waterfall is found in Trimper's Haunted House and the Waldameer Whacky Shack, the latter of which is seen below. Waldameer still has the water pouring out of the eyes!
Following a rubbery floor, you see this head in an outhouse hole, yet another classic gag.
The next scene is this skeleton captain, with clear influence taken from Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean. He's supposed spin the wheel, but that feature was MIA last year.
Tracy ghouls always have a certain look, and Trimper's has some of my favorites!
After this pop-up that doesn't work anymore, you navigate a maze of bars with a flashing strobe light (when it works...) and leave the attraction. Now let's take a look at the remainder of what you will see at Waldameer!
First off is this barrel maze, which shines in its new paint here. The barrels are real, and they make a hollow sound if you knock against one.
Here's a Tracy water effect that actually works, which is remarkable given that these props are nearing 50 years old and are made of chicken wire and paper mache. 
The skeletal captain is placed in a more elaborate setting at Waldameer, complete with rotating "quicksand" hands and a waterfall along the rear wall. You're also crossing a suspension bridge when viewing this scene.
This scene is another pop-up that no longer functions, but take a quick look at the face of the ghost in the back? Does it look familiar? If not, take a close look at the crow's nest figure at the beginning of the article.
Here's Waldameer's drunken skeleton, but this one is better since it has a "Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum" soundtrack and a rotating coil that makes it look like he's drinking!
Waldameer has a "jail maze" like Trimper's...
This is one of the best Tracy gags ever because of the humorous accompanying soundtrack. These heads seemingly "float" up and down while they each exclaim in different tones of voice, "I ain't got no body!"
A Tracy "Last Drop" gag completes the walkthrough! You have to love the toilet paper roll, and water trickles out from under the toilet seat.
Whew! I'm sure that was much more info that you ever wanted or needed to know, but I enjoyed piecing it together all the same. Trimper's apparently opened their walkthrough this year and gave every person that walked through a pair of rubber gloves, which is definitely a commitment on their part, but Waldameer chose to keep theirs shut. Hopefully, it will come back next year. Thanks for reading!