Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A friend of mine sent me a Facebook message

Apparently a friend of hers will be writing some sort of an article on Galaxyland, an indoor amusement park in Canada (formerly named Fantasyland until Disney requested they change it) and my friend, who referred to me as The Guru (regarding amusement parks) asked if I had any info. The following is my response:

Sim sala bim! The Guru says, "I have not attended amusement parks in Canada and I won't be for my book, but your friend may wish to take a look at the histories of other indoor amusement parks to fill out her article. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Old Chicago ( ) which lived in Bolingbrook, IL during the 70s. I recall it being loud and strange and I vividly remember my Mom saying, 'I hate it. It's like going to an amusement park in a factory!'

If your friend needs more info on indoor parks, there's this article: It mentions Galaxyland. The Guru is not surprised Disney raised a ruckus over the name, by the way. She hopes these articles give your friend a broader perspective on indoor parks."

mekka lekka hi, mekka heiny ho!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Hippity Hopping Alice is on her way...

Years ago when Storybook Gardens in Wisconsin Dells first opened, this giant-sized watering can was decorated with a Peter Cottontail theme. In the ensuing years, Peter hopped on down the bunny trail and was replaced by the White Rabbit.

Right now this is the closest thing I have from my Cotton Candying that approaches anything Easterish. Hey -- I tried.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Gotta go to SIlver Dollar City!

Branson, MO isn't exactly located near any other vintage amusement parks, so visiting it will be one of those chief destination, single park journeys, but after watching last night's "Undercover Boss" on CBS, just try to keep me from visiting it for my Roadtrip!

In the episode, CEO of Herschend Family Entertainment Joel Manby went in cognito and got to see first hand the dedication and hard work his employees put into their daily tasks. One of the properties visited was Silver Dollar City, opened over 50 years ago and still running strong. And it's clear to see why: the staff is so friendly and committed to their jobs to give each and every park-goer a fantastic, fun-filled day.

The folks depicted in the show are the exact types of people I encounter when I visit vintage parks: the gate greeter who makes sure those entering receive a personal, friendly welcome to start their day off right, the captain of a touring boat who makes every single person's experience a delightful story to tell when they get home.

Truly, they personify the "balloon man soul". And I run into them time and time again.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sunday on the Blog with Photos!

My last post was four days ago -- I apologize for the absence, which had a lot to do with some disconcerting aspects of my Dad's physical condition. Those have been addressed and he's much better. I also took some downtime for myself, reflecting on the loss of my Mom nine years ago yesterday.

So I wasn't as focused on the fun-fun.

Now I'll get the ball re-rolling with this photo of yours truly at Storybook Gardens in the Wisconsin Dells. The story of "Goldilocks and the 3 Bears" plays on a small speaker while you visit the Bears in their humble cottage. I firmly believe these are the exact same bears that sat around this table over forty years ago when my parents took me to visit the Gardens the first time. Sure hope the Bears are enjoying themselves. Cuz otherwise, that's way too much time sitting around waiting for something to happen...

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Happy. Busy. Planning.

And looking forward to more Cotton Candying! As many of you already know, my day job is doing voice-over work and it can be very rewarding. And also very fleeting. Recently I've felt like a schnauzer on a choke chain, being yanked back and forth by someone with bipolar disorder. Seemingly happy-happy one week, discontent and malodorous the next. But this week, THIS week, it's been rather bright and sunny in the realm of speaking in front of the good ol' mic, so I'm able to focus on the upcoming journeys. They include:

** A trip to Athens, OH for my hubby's college reunion, with trips to several parks in the southern OH and IN region.

** A trip to SD and IA

** Looking into what parks I can visit in the greater Boston area.

When all is said and done, at least ten more parks will be visited in the next few months.

And there will be much rejoicing! I may even run around in circles in the back yard -- but no more tail-chasing.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Spring is Springing!

Saw my first fly of the season outside our kitchen this morning. Now, that's not very edifying, but it is still a harbnger of warmer weather.

I much prefer this cutey -- one of the ride vehicles at Denver's picturesque Lakeside Amusement Park.

I could post a picture of a fly, but that would be weird.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Sunday on the Blog with Photos -- and a very important link!

Firstly -- a wonderful bit of Conneaut Lake Park history: one of the colorful animals that inhabit the carousel -- enjoy.

Secondly -- I'm thrilled to announce the Chicago Tribune did an article on my childhood park, Fairyland. Please follow the link below to learn more (a special thanks to my fellow Chicago area amusement park enthusiast, Mark Yurkiw).

Peace and hope on this historic Health Care Sunday!!,0,4969147.story

Friday, March 19, 2010

All Hail Memphis Kiddie Park!!

Ben's friend, Dave Litz, local cinematographer and all-around groovy Cleveland resident, made sure we visited his childhood park, Memphis Kiddie Park (named such because it's located on Memphis Avenue. In Cleveland, not near Graceland).

I'm posting the sign today because I just adore the clowns' images. If you look closely, you'll see it depicts three different clown styles: tramp, auguste and wacky.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

At the end of the rainbow...I found a new park!

Or I should say an old one, but it's new to me!

Been curious about parks in the Southwest -- haven't found too many. Happened upon Enchanted Island in Encanto Park in Phoenix AZ. Phoenix!! I can alredy taste the TexMex!

Put an email out for more info about the park and learned that it's the historic “Kiddieland” which was opened in the late 1940’s. The park was closed in December of 1987 while the City of Phoenix completely renovated the grounds and constructed new facilities. Construction was completed in September of 1991, RACAM Encanto, Inc. assumed the property in October and opened Enchanted Island in November of that year.

It always puts me in a happy, almost prancing mood, when I discover a park to add to the Cotton Candy Roadtrip itinerary!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Pat's Day!!

Just a shout out to my gorgeous, green-blooded hubby, all my green-blooded in-laws, my green-blooded pals, and everyone else who's green for the day! I have abolsutely nothing amusement park-related to report today.

Keep safe and don't do anything a leprechan wouldn't do.

(On second thought...)

Image from Disney's "Darby O'Gill and the Little People"

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Not for the Squeamish...

While visiting Lakemont Park last August, we stumbled upon their Wingfest. Judging from the photo, you could easily say that my sweet hubby first stumbled upon it, then in it, finally rolling about through and through it. I'm not the hot wing connoisseur, but even I was taken aback by the scope and variety of wingage. From jalapeno to mango to savory and saucy, Lakemont's wing tribute had something for everybody.

And mostly anything for Ben.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Sunday on the Blog with Photos!!

Goaty goaty goat! It's almost Spring and we've just Sprung Ahead, so here's a little harbinger of the upcoming season: a kid at the Cedar Point petting zoo inside the peaceful Frontier Trail.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Free Ice Water!!

Yesterday's post mentioned our westward ho! sojourn to the Black Hills to visit Flintstone's Bedrock City. But any discussion of the journey would be incomplete without a nod to the Wall Drug signs.

This from Wikipedia:

"Wall Drug has over 500 miles of billboards on Interstate 90, stretching from Minnesota to Billings, Montana. Wall Drug spends an estimated $400,000 on billboard signs every year."

They break up the journey, they're kitschy in a good way, and they almost make you feel like you're a member of the Jode family in "The Grapes of Wrath" only it's not "California or bust", it's "Ice water and Jackalopes or bust!"

Yes, there be jackalopes.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Yabba Dabba Huh?

If you look at it on the map, it's intimidating. Having done the drive twice before in my life, I can vouch for the fact that it IS intimidating.

The trek from the greater Chicagoland area, through Wisconsin, across Minnesota, westward to South Dakota, then finally the Badlands, culminating in the Rapid City area and the Black Hills.

It's been seven years since I've been "home" in the Hills. Ben and I went there for our 5th anniversary and it was glorious. Now we're going back and we're driving the whole way. And back. The trip will be broken up with visits to Wisconsin and Minneapolis so Ben can visit coaching federations and wow 'em with his knowledge. For me, this trip is about the Cotton Candy opportunities, specifically Arnold's Park in Iowa and the fabled Flintstone's Bedrock City in Custer, South Dakota.

Arnold's looks like a delightful vintage park, a fact my friend whose been there whole heartedly agrees with. But the westward ho, across the plains we go pilgrimage is specifically for the little park in Custer, SD. Yes. We're making the trip out to South Dakota specifically to visit Bedrock. Twist, twist.

And this time, I'm going to take close inventory of each and every Wall Drug sign I see. I'm looking forward to the free ice water already.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Throw it to the wall. See if it sticks.

At approximately 2:30 PM today, I removed my coat. Big deal, right? Well, yes, it is if it's March 10 and it's been cold and bone-achey for months and now you're able to throw your coat to the wind, like Mary Tyler Moore jettisons her beret. Well, I didn't throw it to the wind sicne it's a nice coat, but I did throw it into my backseat, the vagabond risk taker that I am.

All this warmth means only one thing: time to plan itineraries for my Cotton Candy 2010 Roadtrips. Right now, I have three general geographical clusters I'd like to work with: southern Ohio/Kentucky/Tennessee/Indiana, the East Coast, and eastern Pennsylvania. Just casually lurking through those states, I can spy a possible total of around, oh, 20 or so parks just like that! But there are so many more possibilities, including a grand old park in Iowa and, let us not forget, Flintstone's Bedrock land in South Dakota. So the mind boggles.

Now is the time to send along ideas for my road trippin'. So bring it on.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Help the rebirth of the Blue Streak!

Wanna give to a great cause, one that will help revive one of the greatest vintage wooden rollercoasters in America? Then follow the link below and consider making even a small contribution to the refurbishment of the Blue Streak at Conneaut Lake Park.

This park's history is a poignant one -- it was closed and abandoned for years, but the community came together and is bringing it back to its former glory! This much-loved premiere coaster still needs some help, so check out the link and see what you can do!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Sunday on the Blog with Photos!!

Sundays are meant for fun. Here's a photo of Ben and me at Kennywood riding the Whip, the second-oldest ride in the park.

We are goobers.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Grew up underneath the Thunderbolt...

Happy Oscar Weekend everybody!

In my favorite comedy of all time, "Annie Hall", we learn Alvy Singer, Woody Allen's iconic antihero, grew up under the Thunderbolt rollercoaster (demolished in 2000) at Coney Island, where his father ran a bumper car concession.

I remember seeing this film when it first came out and rather than being concerned for Alvy's nerves, I actually envied him. Imagine -- all the bumper car rides you wanted! Then again, it was probably a bitch to make a souffle in that kitchen.

Friday, March 5, 2010

No Joy in Joyland

THIS is why I'm working on this project, why it's become more of a calling than just a book-in-progress that entitles me to ride all the rides.

While researching parks to visit in the Midwest (there are precious few), I came upon a Wikipedia entry for Joyland, an abandoned park in Kansas. Unless you have a heart of granite, the following segment of the entry will move you:

Since the park closed in 2005 it has been subjected to numerous incidents of vandalism and looting. Nearly every building in the park is covered with graffiti and the vintage sign from the top of the roller coaster has been stolen. The administration offices have also been destroyed. Park owner Margaret Nelson was quoted as saying "We're sick. Our hearts are just sick. It's not easy, not easy."

The park opened in 1949. Think of the generations who enjoyed themselves there. Imagine the energies which were created there, and still linger. It would be a crime for me to recogize them and NOT write about parks who still stand a chance.

Joyland, I never knew you. But I was great, good friends with your departed cousins and, in their memories, I honor you.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

A "Very Merry Unbirthday" ANY time of the year!

Disneyland is my fantastical, fun-packed, cotton candy and caramel home away from home. Ben and I visited there during high season one year and the teeming throngs made us wonder, "Who are all these people in OUR PARK and why are they in our way?" Disneyland is filled with Turlow memories, new Turlow-Dooley memories, and even newer memories sprinkled with the laughter of various friends we've had accompany us through our Home.

Disney's rolling out the plush red carpet this weekend with the premiere of the new Tim Burton "Alice in Wonderland" and I'm jazzed and ready to follow that anxiety-laden rabbit down, down, down the hole -- and watch Johnny Depp's clothes change every few seconds. But I'll forever be a fan of the Disney original -- and the "Alice" ride at Disneyland is a must-ride every time we visit.

I vaguely recall when it was a little longer, when the Upside-Down Room still existed. Watch the video below and go... ask Alice...

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Amusement Park Movies

It's Oscartime, which is like gearing up for the Superbowl for actors and filmbuffs. I'm an actor-type person and the build up toward the Academy Awards is always a sparkling time of the year.

2009 was a "just okay" year in film as far as I'm concerned. One of my favorite films was "Adventureland", filmed in part at Pittsburgh's incredible Kennywood, but it wasn't nominated for a stitch. But it got me wondering what other films are set in amusement parks, or feature a visit to an amusement park as a major plot point.

Here's a casual list. Feel free to post any additions:

"The Fury"
"National Lampoon's Vacation"
"The Jerk"
"KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park"

I'm looking, I'm searching -- there's gotta be more. Help me out here!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Hey -- that's, um, freaky...

I forget how the topic came up, but I was at a voice-over session yesterday and the producer and I got talking about my book project and suddenly we strode down the tangential side road of the freak show.

"I think they still have them at Coney Island", said she.

"Really? Are you getting that confused with the burlesque show there?" asked I.

Neither of us was quite sure where to go from there and were probably both grateful it was time to start recording. But it got my brain a'tapping, so I've done a little research.

Yes Virginia, there IS still a place to attend a proper sideshow, complete with freaks and human curiosities.

I can't wait. The main amusement park may be gone (there are still some rides remaining, so it's definitely fodder for my book), but the freaks abide.

Monday, March 1, 2010

"Riverview was a jewel."

Last September I had the honor to visit Denver's Lakeside Amusement Park on the final day of the 2009 season. Bustling, vibrant, hopping like a kid on a Pogo stick, the park brimmed with vitality and fun. Lakeside's a vintage park that honestly feels like it's popped out of a time capsule, with it's antique neon lighting, glorious rides, and quiet places for kanoodling still intact.

While strolling through the grounds, I visited with one of the owners. I told her I was from the Chicagoland area and immediately we dove into a conversation about Riverview. Turns out Lakeside is very similar to Riverview, from the fact that it's an urban park to the fact that many of the rides had sister rides running at Riverview. She went on to say the long-gone Chicago park was "a jewel" and that Lakeside as well as other vintage parks took their cue from Riverview.

You'll be hard-pressed to find a prettier park in the evening. The neon lighting casts a jewel box of colors on the water's surface. Enjoy.