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Retro Photo TR: Idora Park 1983-84

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More pics from the past!


The first batch were taken in 1983, the last summer the Wildcat ran before the fire in April of 1984. They were taken by Joe Riznar, the regional ACE rep back in the 1980's.



The rest of the pics were taken on the last operating day of the park, Labor Day 1984 and during the auction in October of that same year. It was sad that the final day of the season was dark and dreary, while the auction day was bright and sunny.









The bumper cars


The Old Mill completely burned down, but some boats survived.



Trains in the station ready to go, but never given the chance. They actually nailed a 2X4 on the track in front of the train in case it got dispatched.


What was left of the Wildcat after the fire


The park's sign


And the Back Wabbit in 1984


The Jack Rabbit in 1983


A full train of riders


Wow. Lemonade was only $.75



The midway leading to the Wildcat on the left


The fan curve and final tunnel


The station as viewed from the lift hill


The fan curve



Looking backward down the lift hill







Entering the 2nd tunnel



The Wildcat


The Back Wabbit in action on Labor Day 1984.

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Part Two: Auction Day


The slide. Notice the dust. I am pretty sure it had been closed for years.


OK. I THINK this slide was in the fun house, but it was closed off when the park was open. I discovered it during the auction and snapped a few pics.





And strange props


Lots of random signs for sale


Does this count? : )


The kiddie coaster. I never got this credit. : (

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Great pics!!!!!


ANy more of the dark rides or fun house? Good fun house pics are so hard to come by. Everyone took pics of the big coaster, the gem of the park, in the old days. The average person wouldn't take pics of dark rides.


Thanks for sharing.



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I think one of biggest killers of this park wasn't the fire, but when they put the kiddieland on the site of the old giant pool... unfortunately, refurbishing the old pool was way out of their budget at the time, too... so it was fate from the start.

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All I can say is your a lucky guy to have been able to visit all these truly classic parks.


How would you compare these parks with the ones they have today?




Idora was so unique. It had a small park charm but never felt cheap. I don't think there was ever a crowd when I went. I remember Labor Day 1983. We got in for $5 a car load! We ended up riding the Wildcat probably a dozen times that night. It turns out we were probably the last people to ride it.


I remember they had decent food inside one of the park's restaurants. The park also was built right in a neighborhood with houses bordering the Jack Rabbit coaster. They even had a baseball field on the infield of the Jack Rabbit.


I don't know if this park would have survived today. It was located many miles from the nearest interstate. They had 2 great coasters and a lot of cool flat rides, but they really didn't have the money or land to compete with Cedar Point, Geauga Lake, or Kennywood.

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If the fire hadn't occured I think the park would have survived into at least the late 90s. And, if it had fallen on hard times, I wouldn't have put it out of the question to see Kennywood Entertainment purchase the park as it had the same goals as most of their parks. It's a shame the fire came and began Idora's demise. It looked like a really great park. If the blueprints have survived to 2009, I would love to see the Wildcat and/or the Jack Rabbit reconstructed somewhere. Also, the picture of Kooky Castle caught my interest, as it bears a great resemblance to my favorite dark ride as a child, Le Cachot.

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great pics Pianojohn...i'm a moderator at the only active website for Idora...and a former employee...as far as the post above me i have 4 of the wildcat blueprints i tracked down after 23 years, finding them about 2 years ago...its hard to believe its been 25 years since the park closed, but those pics are sweet..i also have the last car to the yellow wildcat train...thanks for posting those

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Sadly not much is left to show that idora was there, only the over grown paths that were once the midway and the perimeter fence and a stone stairway that led to a picnic area are still there. Bounce over to Idorapark.org for current pics of the grounds.


10 years ago idora was ideal Urbex territory but time finally caught up with it and the owners of the land bulldozed every last structure. Idora was amazing to snoop through back then.

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Well, I guess I'll answer the question since I rode it so many times!


A ride on the Wildcat started off with a left handed turn into a long, dark tunnel. Basically an S shape in the dark. As you emerged the tunnel, you connected to the chain lift. Looking backward, you could see the whole layout of the ride.


A quick turn to the right was followed by the first drop. Nothing too great but a decent start. Next was the most intense part of the ride: the fan curve.


You entered it and made a swooping left turn and drop. As the car dropped, you got whipped to the right side. I remember always bracing my hip against the car so I wouldn't get a bruise! It really was that intense.


Another hill in the middle led to a right hand turn. As you exited the turn, the track stayed banked to the right. You dropped out of this and into the tunnel under the fan curve and then into the brake run.


When I rode it in 1983 at night, you could see sparks flying off the coaster at various parts of the ride.


Also, the trains had fixed lap bars. This meant you had to slide into your seat and HANG ON! I often rode it alone, and you would be tossed side to side throughout the ride.


I imagine if the ride were still around today, they would have had to change the cars and add locking lap bars, head rests, and seat dividers. It was an amazing ride!

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The Old Mill and 1/3 of the Wilcat (and some other buildings including the park's offices) burned in a fire caused by accident. A worker was doing welding on the Old Mill and sparks from that set off a fire which quickly spread to the other rides.


From Wikipedia:


"A devastating fire on April 26, 1984 destroyed the Wild Cat coaster, the Lost River ride, eleven concession stands, and the park office. Employees scrambled to save park records, but only some of the most current files were pulled to safety, while older files and historical records were lost.


Investigation later determined that a welding torch's heat or sparks may have ignited leaves or roofing material on the Lost River, which stood next to the Wild Cat. Employees tried to extinguish the growing flames with hand extinguishers, but soon realized that the fire was out of control.


Twelve fire companies responded to the fire, which spread quickly as winds carried it across concession stands and on to the midway. Many off-duty firefighters also responded to the call to help contain flames that spread along the Wild Cat's wooden tracks and threatened the merry-go-round, which was scorched but ultimately saved from destruction.


Firefighters found themselves at a disadvantage with a lack of in-park hydrants, poor water pressure, and aged wooden rides and buildings. They finally tamed the blaze by running lines to hydrants outside the park.


Final damage was estimated in millions of dollars; the replacement of the Wild Cat was estimated at $1.5 million. Intense heat melted paint in various areas of the gazebo. The south horseshoe of the Wild Cat was destroyed, but repair cost was prohibitive. Park owners acknowledged that the loss of the Wild Cat was disastrous.


The Wild Cat was Idora's biggest attraction. The park operated through the summer of 1984, but with the premier ride gone, a decision was made to close permanently. Idora Park welcomed its last visitors on September 16, 1984."

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IIRC, The carousel was saved due to the firefighters continually dousing the ride with water. If you look up the carousel now called "jane's carousel" in Brooklyn, Ny, the lady who restored it and now displays it left some of the heat seared paint unrestored.

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