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Thursday, May 21, 2020

Amusement Park Art and Century Flyers

This is a little bit of a different post for here, but I hope that you still enjoy it! I'm not artistic whatsoever, but there are ways for even non-artistic people to make something that looks moderately okay, especially with computers and the ability to print out or create templates. In middle school art class, I took advantage of several "open-ended" art projects to make something as a tribute to some of my favorite amusement parks and attractions. No matter how crude these may be, I really enjoy having them as decorations.
This is my favorite, although it is admittedly super dorky. (Who am I kidding; the teacher or any of my friends probably had no idea what I was doing!) :-D Of course, these are the original symbols from EPCOT Center: the whole park with logo, CommuniCore, Living Seas, Imagination, Horizons, Land, Spaceship Earth, and World of Motion. The idea behind this project was to create "wind chimes," and the whole thing, about two feet tall, is made out of clay.
I made them by placing a piece of paper as an outline over the clay and then carving the shapes out, like Land and Imagination, or by adding material bas-relief style, like Spaceship Earth and the big symbol. I realize now that if I had switched Imagination and Living Seas, the arrangement would be the same as they actually are at the park! I forgot to put a hole in the World of Motion symbol, so that one doesn't hang with the rest. I wanted to include Universe of Energy, but I found it difficult to make concentric circles, so that piece got thrown away.
I'm a fan of these symbols because they aren't seen at the park today. With the reinvention of Epcot, Disney is planning to return some of them to Future World along with variants for the new attractions.
I cranked up the color a little bit on my 6th grade printmaking project of the Horizons symbol. The funny thing about this is that every kid gets to stick his or her stamp on a ceiling tile, so one of my Horizons symbols will be left behind for years to come on the school. I also made a multi-color printmaking sheet in 7th grade of Pretzel darkride cars.
Aside from Disney, I have made a couple tributes to my local amusement parks, as well. This is for the Blue Streak at Conneaut Lake Park in NW Pennsylvania. A cool logo was created for the ride's 75th anniversary in 2013 and placed on the station. Using "Perler Beads," which are small plastic beads that can be ironed together, I created a huge template of the logo, made of thousands of beads. It's more than two feet long, so I think that it's a miracle that I somehow didn't ruin this by spilling the beads over the months I worked on it at school.
Blue Streak is one of my favorite ever coasters. I love this ride so much that it's my profile pic. I like its story of survival, having been through many years of standing-but-not-operating status, and it is also such a quirky old ride. It's smooth, yet the bumps are different every go-around and really add to the experience. The classic trains that the ride operated with were given the factory name "Century Flyer" when they were manufactured in the mid-century. 
They are definitely relics from the time period, so I decided to make my own not-quite-proportionate tribute to the front headlight design, which is about half a foot by half a foot.
There were better days on the Blue Streak train when the headlights weren't busted out and the stainless steel was gleaming. Take this 1997 picture, found on a website of the American Coaster Enthusiasts.
Strangely, the three parks in the world that still run this style of train are all in PA and West Virginia. This is Kennywood's Thunderbolt, which has removed the center headlight altogether in exchange for the ride logo.

Still, though, the Century Flyer is my favorite roller coaster train ever. Okay, that's enough rambling about something unrelated for now. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, May 7, 2020

More Old Kennywood Postcards

Last post, we looked at the first set of my Kennywood postcards, so we're taking a glance at the rest of the good ones now.
The spelling of "Pittsburg" with no 'h' at the end dates this card of the park's Old Mill from before 1911, as it was between that year and 1890 that Pittsburgh was spelled that way. It's a long story. The Old Mill is arguably the oldest attraction at Kennywood, undergoing a wide variety of re-themes over 100+ years. It is scheduled to hopefully return under its original name for 2020.
"Dear Bertha: How are you all? I suppose you think we have forgotten you, but that would be impossible. We have moved now, and want you all to come up. Tell Aunt Mag and Mary to come along. Would like to see you all. Write soon."
The Old Mill was demolished and rebuilt in 1926, so the image shown here is not the current building.
 "Not to visit Kennywood is not to know Pittsburgh" is stated on the back of this card, even though Kennywood isn't technically in Pittsburgh! It's actually in West Mifflin, just outside of the city, but I get what they're trying to say here.
This card is my favorite, with its bright design and colorized illustrations. I would guess 1940s on its date. Looking clockwise, we have the Tower refreshment stand and the Sportland games building, both of which have been replaced with different structures but still serve the same purpose. You can see the miniature railroad entrance in the far background. Next is the Penny Arcade, which sadly has a newer building and facade now; but once again, it's still an arcade! The picture at the bottom is of the park's lagoon, which was once used for circus acts. Today, it's the loading area for a "Skycoaster" attraction. You can also glimpse the station of the park's wooden Racer coaster in the background.
Moving a little later on in time, we come to a Kennywood's 1986 Ferris wheel, the Wonder Wheel.
In 2001, the Wonder Wheel was replaced by Aero 360, a spinning, upside-down ride. George Ferris, the man who invented the first modern wheel, lived in Pittsburgh for many years, so it's unfortunate that the park no longer has a Ferris wheel of its own.
This verdant card shows paddle boats on the park's lagoon. Boats of some sort have been a fixture at Kennywood since its opening day. 
In 2019, the bridge and the lagoon area of the park as a whole were changed with the addition of Steel Curtain, a new roller coaster. I love the ride, but it unmistakably sticks out as out-of-scale in this area of Kennywood.
Steel Curtain has the most inversions out of any North American coaster, with nine.
Raging Rapids, which pumps 110,000 gallons of water a minute are through its trough, was added in 1985. The waterfall shown here is now no more, due to someone suing the park because he claimed he got an "eye-eating parasite" from it. No comment.
This card shows some of Kennywood's kiddie rides, mainly the Lil' Phantom kiddie coaster, which holds a special place in my heart, as it was my first coaster. The "Dumbo" (officially named "Elephant Parade") and "Red Baron" rides shown along the bottom are the exact same in execution, and Kennywood added a third variant of this system in Thomas Town in 2018. I guess that they're just trying to pretend to be Magic Kingdom...
Last for today is my final antique postcard, although it's not of Kennywood but of Pittsburgh's other major amusement park, West View. This view shows a roller coaster, the carousel, a bandstand, and the pony track. West View Park closed in 1977.
"Dear Paul, I am writing you a few lines to let you know that I am well. I am working full power. I am in Ambridge, Pa. I am sending my best regards to the family. My address is 814 - 18th St. Ambridge, Pa."
I hope that you've enjoyed this compilation of classic Kennywood postcards!