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Ok, so I saw some activity a few weeks ago at one of storage locations for Bell's rides. I thought that maybe they were going to move them to possibly their new home. Fat chance at this point. Turns out, they had to clean up a bit after one of the neighbors sold their property to a development company. One kiddie ride was removed from the storage area, don't know where it went to, probably scrap, as it's only a matter of time before Robbie is probably forced to move more items.

 

So today we will take a look back at the storm, which was the catapult the launched the downward spiral of the park, through demolition, and to stuff in storage today.

 

P.S. I have yet to locate the Zingo ride structure and various other buildings/structures that were taken apart and place in storage. I've chased a few leads, but came up blank. If anyone thinks they may know where it is, please PM me. I've been thinking of trying to get in touch with the Bell family to see if they would allow for tour of their warehouse, but thinking is as far as it's gone.

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A freak storm passed through the Tulsa area in June of 2006. The ferris wheel couldn't stand the 100mph winds and looked as if God came down and kicked it over.

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The Tilt-A-Whirl also sustained some damage

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The Himilaya also sustained damage. What alot of people don't know is that this version was not a park model, it was a trailer model and of only a few left in the country. Thankfully, much of it indoors.

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A tree fell over onto one of the bunny hills on Zingo and had to be rebuilt. The park was down about two weeks.

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Although this picture is a little blurry, this was the last time the drop tower would light up. On this day on 11.9.06 the county announced the park had 90 days to vacate. A tall task for a park with 50 years worth of history.

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The drop tower and the sea gull attraction to the left (kiddie attraction that spins around and raises about 20 feet off the ground) went back to their respective ride manufactures in Texas.

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Then came D-Day, in the days following the annoucement a winter storm came through, with a foot of ice and another foot of snow on the ground, it became difficult to remove all of the rides in the 90 days alloted. The fairboard granted multiple extensions. Pharroh's Fury also went back to the manufacture. The ride had suffered from Gangs vandalizing and breaking items on the gondola.

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Behind Fury was the last of it's kind dark ride, Phantasmagoria. I had many of, um, fun times in that ride. Last October, some of the props resurfaced as part of a halloween display.

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The pad for the drop tower that sits empty. In the background, the building with red the roof was a concession stand, over the years it was different things, most notibly, a Mazzios Pizza

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The Super Round Up, an adult and kiddie bumper cars, himilaya, and octopus once stood here.

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part of the old mini gold course

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the dark ride building, almost demolished. There are several websites dedicated to it out there, look it up, be cool.

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White Lighting (log ride) queue line, Zingo in the background, the top of the hill used to house a Pepsi sign that was much neglected in it's later years

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taking down Zingo

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They started towards the north end of the park due to an agreement with the county. They were allowed extra time to take down Zingo and other attractions. The weather was not playing in their favor getting it took down, rained many days.

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the track bed could not be saved. Only the frame was kept

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lifthill

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pieces of Zingo, RIP

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The park had three wet rides, here sat two of them. You sat in a dingy and got wet, really wet, and the water smelt horrible.

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midway

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White Lighting - It was built for the Worlds fair in Chicago (I think) and was one side of the double flume ride.

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The other half went to Dollywood

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the mountain to the right was going to house anamatronics, but that never happened, it was just an empty dark space where you could get in a quickie (kiss that is)

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demoloition crews working to turn it into a....

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parking lot. The fairboard said they wouldn't make it a pay to park site and wouldn't let the fair operator, Murphy, put rides in that location, well, false on both. They've pushed out the fair slightly and you now pay 10 for preferred parking for the fair.

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this was one of three rides that the bell famliy didn't take with them

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it was sold to the fairgrounds. It also had a lien on it, so selling it helped get them out of debt. The sky ride used to ferry people from the dirt track to the amusement park. The dirt track left over twenty years ago. When the track left, the ride only operated during the fair.

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Today, it is in operation during the fair and has been rebuilt and repainted.

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This is where part of the rides are stored, this was taken about 6 months ago.

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vandals had broke out windows

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the 4x4 kiddie truck ride that was once in storage is missing.

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current day pictures, the ride ticket booth.

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octopus arms

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more octopus

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the steel here was used for a canopy that once housed a grand carosuel, it was later sold due to financial problems and was used for picnic areas. The park later bought a replacement, but didn't house it in the structure.

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these benches would be found all over the park. There are more stored between two buildings, but I don't know who owns those buildings and didn't trespass to get those pics. parts of the super roundup are also stored between those buildings.

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part of the lighting and ski lift supports

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first lift of the log ride

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in this building sits many more rides, like the zingo train, logs, ride cars for the himilaya, arcade games, etc.

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remember the ferris wheel? Can you believe they kept the gondolas?

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motor for the ski lift

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this was part of the log rides lift

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i laugh that they kept part of the roof the covered the station of the log ride.

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here we find the super round up

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backside of the ride

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log flume parts, more log flume parts are located about a block away, but because they sit in a lot next door to an occupied home, I chose not to be rude and take pictures.

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round up drive line.

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I'm sure it would fire right up and work first time, ;)

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more supports.

 

That's it, hope you've enjoyed.

Edited by chadster
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This reminds me of the Rollercoaster Tycoon games with the scenario of a rundown park that had to be restored. I liked that scenario since you could reinvent the park. Pity that in the real world it takes a lot of money to reinvent such a park.

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Do you happen to have a photo of the missing kiddie 4X4 ride? I ask because Lakemont recently has been putting together a 4X4 jeep type ride and that would be interesting if it was the same ride in a new location.

 

Doing some research, I came across this article that talks about Bell's signing a new lease and has a picture of the Zingo trains in storage. http://www.newson6.com/Global/story.asp?S=12533027

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^the lease has acutally fell through at this point as two of the county commissioners in Wagoner voted against going forward due to lack of business plan, oddly, the same reason the tulsa county fairboard voted not to renew their lease

 

edit: I believe I have a picture of it somewhere at home, I will check tonight or tomorrow tonight, elections tonight so I will be busy working.

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I will try to stop by today and snap a picture with me cell phone of what the former area occupied by the park looks like today, its nothing more than a parking lot, but still.

 

I haven't heard anymore whisperings about when or if a vote would be rescheduled. Most of the people who would vote for it live in Tulsa County and not Wagoner County. Wagoner is a smaller county so any increase in taxes would hit the residents bottom line, that, combined with other taxes for business over the last years that have been voted for, only to have the businesses close of just barely fullfil their commitments, then, pick up and move, kinda stings. Tulsa got bit by American Airlines just recently.

 

At one point the Bell family said it would cost around 1 mill to rebuild Zingo, it was built in house (built, not designed) originally with the help of local students. The phantasmagoria (awesome dark ride) will never relive in the same capacity it once was according to Bell Sr. As far as the rest of it, I mean think about the cost of infastructure alone, that would be in the millions. It's a sad reality that while the park made the Bell family a good living, they went through ups and downs including a bankruptcy and a catostrophic event on the wildcat where two people died after the dog came loose on the lift hill and the roll back failed. The op dispatch a car too soon and when the car on the lift rolled back it did with such force that riders were thrown out of the car, killing them. which helped to see an attendance decline for a few years as they removed the ride and never put anything back in it's place. RCDB has a little history on where it went after Bells, but I think it's still in storage.

 

As such, I doubt they had much money in savings to rebuild from scratch. Without a no/low interest loan from taxpayers I don't know if he will ever get the capital together to rebuild, and you can be assured if he does rebuild it won't be in Tulsa County.

 

edit: don't take this a negative comment, it's just reality. I loved the park as a kid, and Zingo will always be in my top 10, and should they rebuild, I would patronize the park, if for nothing else than to support the small business and show my support.

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Wow, thanks for bringing back these memories. Bell's was my home park. Now that it's gone there's a huge void in my summer that Frontier City just can't fill. Man I miss Zingo...

 

What saddens me most about all of this is that all of it could probably have been averted, nay, they could probably have been back in business by now, if Robby actually knew anything about running a business. I used to defend the park passionately, but after settling down and reviewing things a bit, it's not hard to tell why they were let go, and why no community wants them. I mean, they still don't even have a business plan? They never even made an attempt to put out any public statements to rally support from all their fans. They were investing pretty heavily in the park just before their lease was discontinued. I mean, they had installed 2 new rides and a coaster was about to break ground! Why did the council not believe they had viability? Robby should have made a huge fuss about this, but instead all we heard from him was "poor me...".

If they had put out a public letter to the people of Coweta explaining their intentions and how it would help the town pay for the new SPCA and Exhibition center, maybe they wouldn't have been adamantly given the boot. It's not 1955 anymore!

 

Having the rides sit outside gathering rust in downtown Tulsa isn't helping either. A lot of people know that stuff is there and now think that all the rides will be horribly unsafe (Bell's past history isn't helping there).

 

I just wish the city would contact someone else about building a little park. That would heal over the scars pretty well I think, even if it wasn't as large as Bell's.

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Thanks for this excellent report. This is a good reminder to fans that setting up a park is an expensive proposition, and keeping it going it not always an easy task. Super parks like Disney and Universal and SF and CF make upkeep look easy, but it's not. Maintenance and managment of these parks requires enormous resources. You have to keep things looking good and still pay salaries and the bank. Home entertainment possibilities and other distractions have eaten away at the traditional amusement park market, and small operator's are often struggling. So get out and support your local 'crappy" park, no matter how lame it is, or one day you'll be doing a report like chadster's. Just my two cents.

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^ Not to worry, the fairgrounds has restored many of them. I am going to try to go out later tonight or in the morning and grab some pictures of what the area where Bell's used to live looks like today. The gondola's are stored at the opposite end and are enclosed while not in operation. They've even put advertisements on them!

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As promised, here are pictures taken today of the sky ride and of what used to be Bell's Amusement Park. Enjoy

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This is the business end of the sky ride. The gondola's are stored here 50 weeks out of the year. You can see how far the ride goes back, about a 1/4 mile give or take.

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Closer view of the ride building, which also houses the motor.

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As you can see, they have painted the gondola's.

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and plastered them with advertisements of the fair and other businesses.

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this is the other end of the ride, on the west side of the fairgrounds.

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walk on in if you want to, I chose not to.

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Hello, Von Roll.

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hmmmm, what is this you say?

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why, its where Bells used to be. Now, it's a parking haven. Hope the neighbors are happy now. Winey, bitching, groaning, and going to court to get the park to close at 10pm and Zingo at 9pm. Jerks.

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See, we are no better than Six Flags, Tulsa invented wrapping rides!

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and finally a picture of the famous golden driller. He let us down on keeping a watchful eye out on the park, today, he just watches over the parking lot. So, just how famous is he? Google it and you will see.

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  • 5 months later...

Here's the news story about it: http://www.newson6.com/Global/story.asp?S=13818460

 

Ugh. At this point I even hate to hear about Robby's attempts to get Bell's going again. It just brings back bad memories of seeing my old childhood haunt get torn apart.

 

There's absolutely no way the park is making a comeback now. I've been steadily loosing hope since the the last rides on site were torn apart by the city. The attempted deal with Coweta was bad, but this takes the cake. Without Zingo, Bell's is nothing. The park had three major rides: Zingo, the White Lightning log ride, and Phantasmagoria (Bill Tracy dark ride). Without those, all that's left are a few kiddie rides, a chance swinging ship, and a tilt-a-whirl. I guess they do have a pretty decent tower, but if I recall correctly, that ride cost over a hundred grand just to install.

 

So even if he somehow miraculously gets $400,000 for some old PTC trains and wood that can't even be used for their original purpose, his new park is going to be worse than Little Amerricka was before it got the Little Dipper.

 

Don't get me wrong, for years I've wanted nothing more than for Bell's to make a comeback, but at this point it's getting pretty hopeless and I'm becoming extremely jaded. If he can open something, I'll be the first to show up, but I think Tulsa is going to end up pretty disappointed.

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^ The tower and sea gulls went back to the manufacturer, I understand they weren't 100% paid for. I'll try to grab some pics of the storage facility and accompanying new "For Lease" banners this week. Too damn cold today to do it. Lots of stuff has been moved and/or disappeared since the summer. And more recently, part of the fence has been taken down surrounding what houses parts of the spider. With a few other rides being sold off as well, his best hopes are for a kidde park, and that won't draw them in.

 

Now here's something funny about the ad...Capture.JPG.f3549bd9cb504e015e083813bfdfd00a.JPGCapture1.JPG.718409528c8f3dbeadc574bc2a93ffca.JPG

 

Buyer: "You know, after I got it home, I decided I didn't like it, I'd like to return it please, many thanks" LMAO

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Another thing I noticed - the listing states they have until May 30th to remove what's left of Zingo. Sounds like that's when his storage lease is up and he can't/doesn't want to spend the money to store all that anymore. I wonder what that means for the rest of Bell's remaining assets.

 

It also says that he is open to people making offers. Since he's made it so that people can't actually use Zingo's pieces to rebuild Zingo, I can't even fathom how he expects to get anywhere near $400,000. I mean, I could see making a fair bit off the PTC trains, but that's about the only valuable asset here. Is there some sort of use for 50 year old used coaster wood I'm not aware of?

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Another thing I noticed - the listing states they have until May 30th to remove what's left of Zingo. Sounds like that's when his storage lease is up and he can't/doesn't want to spend the money to store all that anymore. I wonder what that means for the rest of Bell's remaining assets.

 

It also says that he is open to people making offers. Since he's made it so that people can't actually use Zingo's pieces to rebuild Zingo, I can't even fathom how he expects to get anywhere near $400,000. I mean, I could see making a fair bit off the PTC trains, but that's about the only valuable asset here. Is there some sort of use for 50 year old used coaster wood I'm not aware of?

An old wooden coaster means an incredible amount to people in Ohio suprisingly enough...

 

Thanks for posting those pictures Chadster. It really was rather sad looking through what looked like it was a great park. I'll have to keep an eye on this thread.

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^^ What's funny is that the location where the ZINGO structure is isn't the one that has a "For Lease" sign on it (last I looked), yet, but, the one where the train is, does have a "For Lease" sign on it. Even funnier, Fox23 is reporting you can buy it and rebuild it, but they've always been "D" league news. I think you are correct that if it has to be out by May 30th, that's when that location has to be vacated. I'm fairly confident the park won't reopen.

 

If you didn't get to see the way they were taking Zingo down (has to do with who I worked for) then you missed out. They were using saws alls and cutting the supports in half level with where the cross boards were nailed in place. I kept my mouth shut as they hired someone to design a deconstruction plan for them and figured they knew way more than I, but, I just didn't see any way in the world they would have been able to put it back together again, with the same strength, without using tons of plates and brackets, and of course, a fair share of new wood.

 

He's also said the Pantasmagoria would never be recreated, so that doesn't leave much. Unless he opens a "Celebration Station" style venue, and we know how long that lasted, I believe he's a little delusional, especially wanting 400k for wood, metal, motor, and chain. Afterall, it did use skids to stop so there's not much to the mechanics.

 

Still too cold for me to get current pictures, 8 degrees this morning. Looks like he's moving stuff from one field and gathering it all in another. I believe the land where some of it sits is up for re-zoning for commercial from residential so he's probably got to get it gone.

 

Don't get me wrong, I'd like to see the park re-open in some fashion, but he's been saying it will re-open for going on 4 years and keeps saying I have something, just can't say anything, for the last 3 years.

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So here we are at what I call the main storage and off site maintenance facility for what was once Bell's Amusement Park. You will see that quite a few items are now missing, granted, the ones that are missing (food trailer, random structures) were pretty much tore up by vagrants over the years and wouldn't be surprised if they didn't meet their maker.

 

One thing of note, I drove by this morning without camera in hand. I noticed that the gates were open between two of the storage buildings, (of which I've not ever posted pictures of as some of the items belong to a business next door), where the tilt-a-whirl cars were being stored. When I returned to take a few pictures, wham, the cars are gone. Clearly they are cleaning up, moving, or selling more off. Also, don't expect any shots of the lumber yard (Zingo), the local news media has made it clear on several occasions that the location is "undisclosed", so, I will honor that and not post or take pictures from that site.

 

Finally, I will do some comparison photos to more or less show that the Himalaya going into Lakemont is indeed the same.

 

So, here goesIMG_4737.JPG.3a46e34310bbef16c1b655dd50372a0e.JPG

1 year ago

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today

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ok, so on to the himalaya. See the green trailer on the right?

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head on shot

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this was taken this past summer, notice the trailer missing

 

And here is the photo Philrad took in his Lakemont Post virginia_adventure_2010_072.jpg.b5d6c63a9dc073bf0f6a1d4dda992e1f.jpg

Same trailer

Edited by chadster
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Ugh. It all looks worse than ever. I can't believe they actually sold the Himalaya - that thing leaked all over the place at Bell's and was a maintainence nightmare according to some of the old workers I talked to during the lease fiasco. I guess they got it cheap. It was definately one of my favorites though, and I have so many memories from that ride.

 

I wonder if they still own Pharoah's fury? I wonder if they have any good rides left...

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