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.
As usual, my analysis is free of charge! Original enough to not steal someone else's quote as a signature
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.
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.
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.
^ 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.
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?
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