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Shane's Amusement Attic

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Old Chicago


Here is a great read from a great publication "Amusement Park Journal". Old Chicago was a great idea just executed wrong, at the wrong time, and the wrong place. You'll see what that means when you read the article.


This park had some pretty major rides for an indoor facility. An Arrow Corkscrew, "The Chicago Loop" which eventually ended up at Canobie Lake. The Pinfari "Chicago Cat" and a Chance Toboggan. There was also an Arrow Flume and a Bradley & Kaye Barnstormer.


One story that I heard but have never been able to validate was that Old Chicago had ordered a Scwarzkopf Shuttle Loop to install. Of course the park went bankrupt and the story is that the coaster went to Walibi Belgium.


All that is left of this place is memories and the street where the park was located is still called Old Chicago Drive.


Credit goes to Charles J. Jacques Jr. for this great article.





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Honestly, I think indoor parks would be all the rage---especially in areas where they have harsh winters that don't allow year round operation of outdoor ones.


You'd think such parks would be goldmines, too.



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^ I am not a fan of the indoor amusement parks, the ones I have been to are loud and just lack the fun atmosphere of outdoor parks. The exception to that being the Little Mermaid themed area at DisneySea in Tokyo. That indoor amusement area works!!!

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What was unfortunate for Old Chicago was the lack of sunlight, other than that rotunda in the middle it looks like a huge dark warehouse, but that was era and what was available at the time. Imagine the MOA Camp Snoopy/Nick Universe with the skylights all blacked out.

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^ I am not a fan of the indoor amusement parks, the ones I have been to are loud and just lack the fun atmosphere of outdoor parks. The exception to that being the Little Mermaid themed area at DisneySea in Tokyo. That indoor amusement area works!!!


I actually disagree. I think both Nick Universe and Adventuredome are fun parks. The noise does become a bit of an issue, but that just doesn't bother me. Ultimately it is hard to compare an indoor park to one that is outdoors, because of the space restrictions an indoor park has. My only complaint of indoor parks is that the attractions are usually packed in so tightly.


Nice article by the way. I really enjoyed learning about this park. It is amazing how many parks were doomed to fail from the beginning because of bad business plans.

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We are finally dying to see the original 1994 opening commercial for "The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror" at Walt Disney World. The one with the high school kids following the footsteps of the tragic five.


What? You want more commercials? OK I got your commercials right here!


"Attack of the CORPORATE PARKS"




Six Flags



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So what was it like inside Old Chicago? Not really more than a carnival inside a big warehouse. Here is a clip from a movie called "the Fury" this scene takes place inside Old Chicago and you can really get a sense of what the place was like. You can see the Toboggan and the Chicago Loop corkscrew roller coaster operating with a 4-car train.



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Here is a clip from a movie called "the Fury" this scene takes place inside Old Chicago and you can really get a sense of what the place was like.


"Oh my god!"


I so remember this movie, the 70's were way messed up!


God, I love all these memories!

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Ride Renderings


So far I have posted all kinds of things that I find up in my attic: park brochures, souvenir books, maps, photos, commercials and videos.


Well I have dug up some interesting things out of the attic this week. Conceptual art for attractions before they were built. Back before the days of computer animation the marketing department had to have some kind of visual to show the general public to generate buzz about there new attraction. I have collected a few and have them here to display.


This is totally old school compared to the stuff that the parks put out today but it is a lost art form from the hey-day of theme parks.


The Great American Revolution


The Bat


Orient Express


Greezed Lightnin'


The American Eagle


The Beast


The Loch Ness Monster




Raging Wolf Bobs


Timber Wolf


Wolverine Wildcat


Thunder Run


White Water Landing


Texas Cliffhanger


Arrow Shoot the Chutes


Arrow Shoot the Chutes


Arrow Pipeline Coaster



And here are a few other Curtis Summer designs that never made it off the drawing table.





I hope this stuff is interesting for you, I love seeing this old style art. Let me know what you think...

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Busch Gardens "The Old Country"


In this souvenir book you can take a look at the beautiful Busch Gardens park the way it was back in 1977. You can see it has a different name, different lands and different rides.


At the time they had two "of the fastest coasters in the world", Die Wildkatze and Glissade, both of which are no longer there.


Can you imagine Busch Gardens with out the Loch Ness Monster? While most parks seem to lose their charm and direction with time, Busch Gardens has continued to improve each year with only one major mistake along the way...cough...drachen fire...cough


This park is truly one of my favorite parks!!! Rides, Theme, Charm...all the elements are spot on!


Here is a look at the park map from the days before the Big Bad Wolf.




























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Well with all the Universal Studios news lately I thought what better time to post this old commercial than now. This ad from 1981 doesn't really show the park but it sure gives you a feel for what the park was 27 years ago when it was "Universal Studios Tour"


Also as a bonus here is another old Knott's spot from the Urban Cowboy days.



Knott's Urban Cowboy Days



God I miss the corkscrew and the parachutes!

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Hello friends of the attic...Several of you have wrote me and asked if I had run out of things and if Shane's Amusement Attic has come to an end.


I am happy to report that my attic is still full and I have many more great historical things to post, but I have noticed that during the summer season this site is full of GREAT photos and trip reports of todays amusement parks and there are just so many great threads to follow.


Shane's Amusement Attic is going to take the summer off and be back in Fall with a great NEW SEASON of old things.


Thanks to all of you "loyals" who regularly check in and comment on this thread and I'll see you all again in the Fall for season 2 of Shane's Amusement Attic!

Have a GREAT summer!





PS- Well before I sign off for the summer I want to leave you with one last little gem...It may be a little off topic but I think some of you may really enjoy it.


I have noticed that many of us TPR enthusiasts also shave several other similar interests one of them being video games. Well the theme of the Attic is to take a look at how things used to be back in the day.


About the same time that we were going thru the Roller Coaster Revolution we were also going thru the video game revolution.


While we were obsessed with being turned upside down we were also obsessed with little creatures from outer space. Take a look back at the beginning of video games and see how far we truly have progressed.


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  • 2 weeks later...

Wow, I remember seeing the prototype footage on television when it was first released, it struck me as impossible to corkscrew a swinging suspended then, and it does even more now, I can imagine one or more of the shocks failing or downrods cracking and then POW here comes a 1000 lb fiberglass bucket with 600lbs of people in it careening towards the crowd, Hey its Bowling for Park Patrons! I can certainly see how the Bat would have been the cause of someones death or serious injury had it continued to operate. I think it was a wise choice to close it and avoid all the carnage, Hey I know, lets tie a playground swing to the bumper of a Ferrari and have the driver do repeated, High speed U turns till the chains break..... No but seriously, I 've ridden both Ninja SFMM and Vampire @ Chessington with the original trains, and I felt kinda unsafe with all that mechanica over my head, not to mention the vinyl tarps/diapers to keep our hands out of the gears oh and to catch the oil drips...... Um, I love thrills, but safe ones, Give Me a B&M Invert any day, I dont wanna die for fun...... Wow, Im pretty mouthy for a new guy, Huh?


BTW, Super Groovy footage Shane, very cool to see

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First: I want to say the single Biggest THANK YOU to all those people who posted these great finds on one of the rarest of all coasters- and SECOND only to the Crystal Beach Cyclone as one I'd build a time machine to go and ride-


I've been researching (So far quite nearly impossible) the Bat to make a model of the Bat in all it's glory. It is TRULY a shame that no park has taken the initiative to build an updated version of this amazing ride- the simple geomertry and use of high speed curves, and the sensual and subtle actions of the train movments are certainly a rarity- and if the videos posted are anything to be judged by, a graceful ride no less. Having ridden a majority of the existing suspended/'swigning' coasters produced, I have yet to see even the Mighty BBW do things that the Bat did- and I truly love BBW.


Perhaps S&S Arrow should REALLY REALLY REALLY Consider reading this thread- and perhaps someody should get off their duff and get to work on one- A rebuild of BAT would be a treasure that the coaster enthusiast community as well as the general public searching for an ever increasing thrill threshold. Mabye Knoebels, purveyors of classic coastering could introduce the first 'new' BAT as their first 'preserved' steel coaster?

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It would be amazing to see the Bat done again with banked turns and a workable lasting and more reliable suspension system, and It is very cool that these historical materials are available to show us the progression from invention to trial, to park installation, to alterations in the industry, and finally to the viable working lasting rides we have today. Bravo to the keepers of these examples, So interesting to see the progression, and how far the engineers have come by learning from their own work.


Heres some Info from Wikipedia


The Bat was a state-of-the-art coaster that was only open sporadically. After SBNO (Standing But Not Operating) for an extensive period of time, on November 9, 1984, park officials announced the ride would be dismantled. Over the next two years the ride was removed.


The problems that plagued the ride and ultimately led to its closure included:


Excessive stress on the supports and track due to unbanked track.

Excessive stress on the wheels due to brake fins being mounted at bottom of the swinging cars.

Excessive stress on the trains' shock absorbers due to violent swinging.

Hairline cracks on wheels and chassis.


Arrow Dynamics went on to perfect the suspended coaster, starting with AstroWorld's XLR-8 in 1984. XLR-8 operated successfully for 2 decades, however was demolished after the closure of AstroWorld. XLR-8 was quickly followed by Busch Gardens Williamsburg's Big Bad Wolf. The Big Bad Wolf was, and continues to be, a success, due in large part to lessons learned from The Bat. However, it was also plagued with excessive downtime and an embarrassing grand opening delay in its first season.


So fascinating to see the progression

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  • 3 weeks later...

thanks so much for the post.


i was lucky enough to visit WSMK in 1976 (well -- i guess that goes without saying; when ELSE could i have visited) when i was about 7 or so, on vacation in Atlanta. like someone in one of your previous posts, i could remember very little about the place -- despite being a huge fan of all the Krofft shows, the park had precious little to do with its TV counterparts. (the pinball machine ride left a stamp on my brain, but little else.)


in fact, after a good 20 years of telling people about the park -- especially in the pre-internet years -- i met with so little affirmation that this place had actually ever existed, i became convinced that i had dreamed the whole thing... that is, until i read about it in a Krofft book in the 90s. talk about obscure.


hopefully with the upcoming Land Of The Lost feature film, there will be a renewed interest in all things Krofft, and maybe more information will start to resurface. thanks again.

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