Dark Ride Paradise - Wild Bill's Nostalgia Center

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Dark Ride Paradise - Wild Bill's Nostalgia Center

Postby larrygator » Mon Nov 07, 2011 9:24 pm

November 24th, 2011 - Dark Ride primer
November 27th, 2011 - An exclusive tour of Wild Bill's Nostaglia Center
December 2nd, 2011 - New photos of walkthrough construction
December 15th, 2011 - new construction photos
December 13th, 2011 - Dismantling of Dante's Inferno at Williams Grove
December 31st, 2011 - another visit to Wild Bill's
January 22, 2012 - testing of the Pretzel cars occurs
January 31th, 2012 - info on the rotating Pretzel cars from Beech Bend
Feabruary 16th-24th, 2012 - Additional construction photos: building the floor of the Haunted House.
April 26th, 2012 - Opportunity to help the doumentary filmmaker capturing the project
May 23rd, 2012 - Another visit to Wild Bill's
August 29th, 2012 - Larry is forced into manual labor at Wild Bill's
October 2nd, 2012 - further updates
October 28th, 2012 - Latest visit to Wild Bill's
January 6th, 2013 - Visit to Wild Bill's
June 15th, 2013 - Latest update on the status of the Funhouse
August 17th, 2013 - Latest update
April 21st, 2014 visit to Wild Bill's: Pretzel ride building construction
July 7th, 2014 - Dark ride construction
September 28th, 2014 - Progress on the pretzel dark ride "Laff in the Dark"
April 8th, 2015 - Laff in the Dark update

Imagine a place where old dark rides don't go to die, but are reborn, refurbished and resurrected for future generations. I know a lot of enthusiasts dream of bigger, faster and more complex. While I love progress, I have really come to love dark rides and walk throughs. The older and cheesier the better. There are still some excellent dark rides left in the US, but they are diminishing. Great haunted houses still exist at Knoebel's, Trimper's and Rehoboth Beach to name a few, but quite a few dark rides have been lost in the past 5 years from Myrtle Beach to Geneva-on-the-Lake to Williams Grove. Kudos to Camden Park, if you didn't realize, they recently refurbished their Haunted House.

Walk throughs are even more rare in the sue happy U.S.A., but I have to give props to Trimper's for still maintaining two old school ones with Pirate's Cove still one of my favorites and who can forget Noah's Ark at Kennywood. Indiana Beach and Jenkinson's Pier also still keep the faith alive.

What if this trend did not have to continue?

While in college I had this fascination with the funhouse at Coney Island's Steeplechase Park, the one with the "wheel" at the end. I never rode it but talked to many of my friend's parents to learn more about the attraction. Eventually, I was able to experience the wheel at Southport Pleasurelend in 2006. I have also walked through some of Scandanavia's best funhouses or as they are commonly called in Europe cakewalks. Stupid US lawyers.

Where am I going with this diatribe?

So, while many on TPR dream of Leviathan, Sky Rush, Wild Eagle, X Flight, Mythos or the latest coaster flavor of the day. I dream of nostalgia. I dream of a place why I can wander from dark ride to dark ride and celebrate simple props and tricks to create thrills. I can't pinpoint where this dream occurs.

Is it Coney Island? Have I became mesmerized by the endless loop of movies from old Coney Island that are shown in the Coney Island Museum?

Have I watched too many grainy black and white YouTube movies? I'm not so sure, my dreams are in color. I'm walking through a funky place filled with nostaglia and dark rides?

Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?

To be continued.
Last edited by robbalvey on Sat Apr 15, 2017 10:09 am.
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Re: Dark Ride Paradise

Postby MayTheGForceBeWithYou » Mon Nov 07, 2011 9:42 pm

larrygator wrote:Stupid US lawyers.


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Re: Dark Ride Paradise

Postby The Angry Darren Mullins » Tue Nov 08, 2011 2:15 am

I know exactly what Larrygator is talking about. Go to Lakemont Park and ride Leap The Dips. Try out a classic dark ride. Ride a carousel and you will understand what is missing from the new rides being built today. Rides today are awesome and very in your face, but older rides were built for fun. We have amusement parks because we like to have fun. I discovered a suspended coaster recently in China that had a track design that recalled early suspended coasters and while it was not an in your face thrill, it was a lot of fun. Some rides like the PTC Crazy Daisy, boat chutes, Whip and others are cool beyond belief. Lost Kennywood was an example of how parks could add an area based on the thrills of yesteryear. Most of Kennywood is very traditional, so the theme of the Lost Kennywood area wasn't too far from the rest of the park. I love visiting parks that feel like a throwback to more simple time. Stricker's Grove is one place where the whole park feels like time stopped decades ago.

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Re: Dark Ride Paradise

Postby cfc » Tue Nov 08, 2011 7:02 am

I'm a fan of the old-school dark rides and walk throughs, as well--we need more of them in the States. For example, I usually spend a day at Virginia Beach with some friends each summer, and I always make a case for visiting Nightmare Mansion, an old walk through on Atlantic Avenue (the main drag by the oceanfront). But I can never talk them into going because they're afraid it will be too costly and lame.

But apparently there's more than just the walk through. There's four separate "haunted" attractions there, including some sort of pirate-themed dark ride (you can experience them all for 24 bucks): Nightmares on the Beach.

The next time I'm at the Beach, I'm gonna check this out.
Last edited by cfc on Tue Nov 08, 2011 7:34 am.

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Re: Dark Ride Paradise

Postby BigDipper 80 » Tue Nov 08, 2011 7:10 am

I remember going to Geneva-on-the-Lake when I was just a little tyke. I was excited for the Flying Scooters, but I was too short to ride. I took one look at the Pretzel (or whatever they called that dark ride in its later years) and immediately freaked out. There was no way I was going to be dragged on that. I did enjoy watching the little cars bang through the doors, though. That's probably what I love most about old dark rides- those doors. You can never be certain as to what lurks behind them. I really wish I had gone on that ride now, even though I probably would have barely remembered any of it at this point.

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Re: Dark Ride Paradise

Postby OISU8P » Tue Nov 08, 2011 8:44 am

^ The ride you are thinking about is "Fright Zone" at Erieview park. It was a relocated ride (minus the second floor) from West View Park in PA. It was a classic Bill Tracy ride and was bought by CLP and will probably never be put up given their history these days.

Here is a short article with some pictures:


Here is a ride through that is not great quality:


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Re: Dark Ride Paradise

Postby nursemelis374 » Tue Nov 08, 2011 11:12 am

Love this! I totally agree!

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Re: Dark Ride Paradise

Postby niiicolaaah » Tue Nov 08, 2011 5:01 pm

I LOVE dark rides. One reason I loved Blackpool so much when I went there :)
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Re: Dark Ride Paradise

Postby OISU8P » Tue Nov 08, 2011 6:13 pm

This is a must read site for all classic dark ride lovers.


I may have linked this before in another thread awhile back. However, I thought it would be a nice read to bring up again.

I personally like looking at the topics in the "Professional" link. You may find the blueprints of your favorite defunct dark ride from Tracy.

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Re: Dark Ride Paradise

Postby RoCo » Wed Nov 09, 2011 1:47 pm

Totally loving this thread. Perhaps a "National Dark Ride Museum/Refuge" is an impossible dream, but I'd gladly donate land/money/pick-up trucks if I had anything to offer. How does something like that get started?

My copy of Doug Higley's "Scary Dark Rides" is just about ready to fall apart from over-reading: http://www.lulu.com/product/hardcover/scary-dark-rides/792254
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