Saturday, August 10, 2019

Trimper's Rides - The Historic Carousel Building

This post is a bit of a longer one; I hope you like the change!
At the south end of the boardwalk in Ocean City, Maryland, there's a building that has been a fixture of the amusement park it is part of, Trimper's, for over 100 years. At the heart of both the building and the park is a historic, turn-of-the-century (I find conflicting dates everywhere.) carousel. It was manufactured by the Herschell-Spillman Company and is kept in very good shape. 
Here's the machine's "lead horse," or the animal that is most ornately designed. However, this carousel is of the menagerie variety, which means that there's everything from the rooster in the background of this picture to a frog wearing a tuxedo. 
A look around shows that there is more in this structure than just the carousel.
 The antique kiddie rides here represent one of the best collection of rides made by the W.F. Mangels company anywhere. The majority of them, like this Ferris Wheel, date from as far back as the 1920s.
Mangels is most famous for its invention of the Whip, and Trimper's has perhaps the most ornately painted version anywhere - and a kiddie one, at that!
 All around the carousel building is a prevailing sense of artistry, with pretty much every available surface beautified in some way.
Adjacent to the large version is a kiddie Merry-Go-Round that is also kept up with nicely.
Just look at those tiny murals on the back of this bench. Immaculate.
This Snoopy-themed Sky Fighter ride has most likely been the exact same from the 1960s, and it's been personalized in a way truly unique to the park. Take this, for example:
"If my brakes fail me, I'll be stuck on that Merry-Go-Round!"
Unsurprisingly, the Merry-Go-Round is right there!
These "wet" boats (real water) are very cool and quite large.
These clown faces are pretty prevalent among classic amusement parks, and Trimper's has two of them.
These buildings are real old-school amusement park experiences, trips back in time. They seem to be found pretty commonly on coastlines, with their collection of older kiddie rides, but the Trimper's collection is among the best remaining. But although it's my favorite place in the park, there's more to Trimper's than just this inside portion, and we'll be taking a look at in the future. There'll be more to come from the old rides in this building, as well.

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Wednesday, July 31, 2019

The Site of Idora Park

 Idora Park left Youngstown, Ohio 35 years ago, yet the old park site has remained undeveloped since then. It's quite a sight to behold:

This was the location of Idora's old 'upper midway,' which had all sorts of typical flat rides. I tried finding a picture of it, but I couldn't get a good one. 
 You can just imagine the screams and squeals of the fun that came before here. The wooden roller coasters along with most of the buildings remained until everything was demolished in 2001.
 This is the old road that led into the parking area. Now it goes towards a grassy field...

Maybe one day this site can be made into a public park, perhaps even with a few portable rides!

Saturday, July 27, 2019

The Idora Park Experience

 In Youngstown, Ohio is a small, homespun museum dedicated to the city's old amusement park. Idora Park operated 1899-1983, and although the park is long gone, a couple has preserved some old artifacts from it in a building behind their home. Let's take a quick look around!
 Here's a car from the park's old Tumble Bug ride. I understand that it's completely been refurbished by a local technical school since this picture was taken in 2016.
Since the museum is only open about two times a year, a good turnout is to be expected.
 One of the most striking features inside is this model of Idora's biggest roller coaster, the Wildcat. It burned during the off-season before the 1983 summer, which ended up being a major factor in the park's demise.
Of course, the park had a Tilt-A-Whirl, and one of the old cages is backed by the original sign and some of the decorative work. I hope you enjoyed this post!

The site of the old park remains today. We'll be taking a look at that sometime in the future.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Knoebels Trip Report Pt. 3

The Knoebels fun is 'chugging' right along...
 The miniature train at Knoebels is great for a lot of different reasons. It moves at a nice clip, takes a nice journey underneath Twister - one of the park's wooden coasters - and there's a place where the park sets out corn near the train's turnaround that often attracts squirrels.
 This picture was taken from the Knoebels Scenic Skyway, which takes a stunning climb up and down one of the mountains that border the park. Wooden coasters are best in lush settings like this!
 That aforementioned coaster is Twister, one of the two big Knoebels woodies. Celebrating 20 years in 2019, Twister was my favorite coaster at Knoebels on my last visit in 2016, but it couldn’t top the awesomeness of Phoenix on this trip. Twister is a semi-faithful recreation of the old Mister Twister at Elitch Gardens, one of the most legendary wooden coasters of all time. When the park re-created it in Pennsylvania, however, they didn't quite have enough room so two lift hills were built pretty much right on top of each other to save space. These two lift hills build anticipation, and this is certainly the wood coaster in the park for people into huge drops. 
The last of the three wooden coasters at Knoebels that is Flying Turns. This is a coaster built on determination. If you're not familiar with this style of roller coaster, they are essentially cars that ride freely through a trough without a set track. They were initially popular in the 1930s, and although some versions were resurrected in steel form around the 1980s, a wooden version of the "bobsled" coaster was nonexistent for about 70 years. That is, until Knoebels stepped in and took on the project! Starting in 2006, they worked to bring this ride back from the dead. It took... wait for it... 7 years (mainly to develop the train)... but the ride eventually opened to much acclaim in 2013. It's an all-out fun experience that's completely unique to Knoebels.

I hope that you've enjoyed this trip to Knoebels!

By the way, I've been enjoying doing this blog every day, but from here on I think that I'm going to take a step back from doing daily posts. The show won't stop, though! I'll probably still have a post at least once a week. I appreciate everyone's support. I really wasn't expecting it!

Monday, July 22, 2019

Knoebels Trip Report Pt. 2

Knoebels is one of my favorite amusement parks, so let's continue our look at my recent day there!
 Earlier in the day dad and I boarded a “minecart” to take a journey through the coal mine theming of this darkride/coaster hybrid, Black Diamond. It was even better than I remembered it being three years ago! I certainly noticed things that I didn’t see back then – themed to Pennsylvania coal mines, the level of detail throughout the whole attraction is beyond small park level. I honestly think that this ride might be superior to the park’s classic dark attraction, Haunted Mansion, as Black Diamond has a wonderful collection of gags as well as the added fun little roller coaster drops. It’s so, so awesome that Knoebels would see value in resurrecting such an old ride, and in the 2010s, nonetheless! 
After Black Diamond, we decided to keep the darkride fun going with a ride on what may be my favorite attraction at Knoebels, the Haunted Mansion. After paying the $2.50 upcharge (which is apparently to prevent vandalism to the stunts - not really that high of a price, especially considering the quality of this ride), we began our trip. The Haunted Mansion may be one of the best if not the best classic darkride in the country. The stunts are all impeccably timed, with the lights often going out just as something flies out at you, and the use of diversion is also used to an incredible advantage. I’ve been watching videos of the ride for years, so I wasn’t startled but instead was just able to soak it in and enjoy the style at work here. A not to be missed ride while at Knoebels!
Around the park are little details of all sorts - take this North Pole in front of the Christmas shop that is ice-cold in the heat of summer!

Another thing that Knoebels is well-known for is their varied collection of band organs. This one is over 110 years old. Not connected to any carousel, it just sits on the midway and provides valuable atmosphere. The two Knoebels carousels certainly have wonderful organs, though!
It's a relatively well-known fact, but the Knoebels Grand Carousel is one of just a handful of rides left in the country on which you can catch the brass ring. My ring-catching ability remained fairly consistent with my earlier ride that day – not terrible, but it could definitely be better. It's definitely something I would like to improve on; I have no idea how some people can apparently grab two rings on one go!

More Knoebels pictures are coming tomorrow. Sorry for the weird text sizes; I guess it happens when you copy and paste form Microsoft Word.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Knoebels Trip Report Pt. 1

This past week (July 15th), my dad and I made the four-hour drive from Pittsburgh to what is probably my favorite amusement park, Knoebels. Located in Elysburg, PA, which is in the central part of the state, Knoebels started out as a small picnic grove in 1926 but has since grown to include some 60-odd rides, tons of refreshment stands, and a variety of unique attractions.
Walking in, Knoebels' large steel coaster, Impulse, is the first attraction you see. It makes a good first impression and is one of the park's most thrilling rides. It's far from being my favorite ride at the park, though, as it has a bit of a rattle to it.
This is the coaster of which Knoebels is perhaps most well known for, Phoenix. Known for the intense "airtime" it provides, the ride is a favorite of many amusement park fans. The first time I rode it three years ago, I was a bit underwhelmed, but this visit more than made up for that. By far one of the most fun wooden coasters I've been on! It's historic, too - originally called the Rocket and built in the 1940s, it was completely relocated from Texas when the park it was located at closed in the 1980s. This was significant because no other amusement park had ever attempted to move a wooden roller coaster before.

Another Knoebels favorite is the Skooter bumper cars. These are my dad's favorite ride and by far are one of the most intense bumper car rides in existence today. Although many parks have removed their Lusse Auto Skooters, Knoebels has kept theirs, which is great. It was certainly a fun ride, but nothing will beat my first experience on this ride when a complete renegade rider decided to drive the opposite direction with plenty of wooing a waving of fists. Good times.
Another classic "flat ride" is Flyer. A first for me,  this ride completely blew all other Flying Scooter ride's I'd been on out of the water! It seemed like you could barely move the sail and the tub would start flying all over the place. Again, like Phoenix, I should’ve been expecting this, but the amount of awesomeness Flyer provides was such a surprise to me. The combination of soaring inches away from tree branches and the thought of “Am I supposed to be doing this?” when my car did a huge jolt really made this a thrilling ride… and I had no idea what the operator thought of me.

We'll be continuing this tour of my day at Knoebels tomorrow. 

Saturday, July 20, 2019

50 Years Since Moon Landing - Knoebels Sky Slide

Just one slightly-crooked picture for today, but that's for good reason, as today is the exact 50th anniversary of the landing of men on the moon. To celebrate this occasion with some amusement park fun, I thought I'd show the "Sky Slide" at Knoebels, a simple attraction with some surprising history.

About 50 years ago - at the peak of interest in space exploration - Knoebels was home to a rocket simulator ride. However, the interest in this attraction eventually wanted, so when it had ran its course, the park simply turned it on its end and turned it into a slide! It's a cool example of space-age optimism that found a second life.

Here's to the future of space exploration!