Thursday, December 22, 2011

A bit of sad news during Christmas week...

Had I known about Santa Land, I would've visited it.  Sadly, it was not to be a part of my Road Trip.  And now it never will.

Oh, how I hate reading things like this, but I'm heartened by the fact that there are other parks very similar (Santa's North Pole Workshop in CO and Santa's Village Azoosment Park here in IL) that are still hopping.

Rest in Peace, wee little Santa Land in Vermont.  I'm sure you made many a child very happy...

Blessed Christmas, Happy Yule, and a Wonderful 2012!

I wanted to take a few moments out of my busy week (gifts bought and still needing wrapping, beauty items bought so I look schmancy for the next week or so, lebkuchen baked) to wish everyone the brightest of holidays!

For those of you playing along, I'm now at the editing down, proofing and clean-up stage of the book writing process.  I'll be working on the acknowledgements very soon, then adding photos.

Then the book goes off to the publishing house.

Then the real magic begins. 

I was hoping to have "book in hand" by January 1, but now it's looking more like February 1, in time for my birthday.

Stay tuned folks.  And may your holidays be bright and shiny.  And may 2012 be full of brass rings.

Monday, December 19, 2011

When Im not visiting vintage amusement parks, I often visit vintage restaurants!

Shazam!  I'm now a contributing blogger for Channel 11 - WTTW's "Check, Please!" show blog!  I wrote about my favorite mid-century place to dine, Merichka's!  Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A St. Nicholas Day Treat: visits to Santa-related vintage parks!

Thinking of St. Nick brings me to a couple of my Cotton Candy parks, winds me down the road to their entrances, and lets me recall their gingerbread goodness - even though some were visited in the deep, dark Summer.

Santa's North Pole Workshop, right at the foot of Pike's Peak in Colorado, is the quintessential Christmas park year 'round, 24/7, through and through...

And nowhere else, as far as I know, can one ride an actual reindeer-go-'round!  That's me and Rudolph.

You can sidle up to the actual North Pole...

And then there's the candy cane slide, the same one I slid down as a pipsqueak back in the late 60s...

still thrilling taller pipsqueaks in the present day.

More recently, Ben and I had the immense pleasure of visiting Storybook Land in Egg Harbor County, NJ.  This versatile playground of a park includes fairytale scenes, rides and a sugar plum fairyland of a Christmas section.  I also learned they have a holiday festival complete with the jolly old elf, reindeer, and thousands of twinkling lights.  But on this sweltering August day...

Wwwhat?  Another North Pole?  Will the real North Pole please stand up... oh, wait.  You ARE standing...

Like the Queen of England, I'm inspecting the troops.

But what delighted me the most was the display of holiday animated characters.  Could these little snowbabies be the same ones who adorned the Marshall Fields windows back in the day? 

Back home, Santa's Village has been resurrected as Santa's Village Azoosment Park; the classic structures still stand.

Check in with my post tomorrow and perhaps Santa will leave a few images you haven't seen since you were a tot, ready to pull apart your Christmas stocking with glee.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Blog, blogger, bloggy! Pick a little, cut a little, add a little more.

Hot doggy!  I've been going through my entire string of blog posts, from the very first one, to make sure I don't forget to add relevent ones to my book.  It took me three hours today - read, write, edit, cut and paste -- repeat!  It's messy work, but I believe it will add even more texture to the finished product.

Speaking of messy...

Here's my beloved, taking down number seventeen of approximately twenty-four wings at Lakemont Park back in the early stages of Road Tripping.....

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving! The main writing of the book is DONE!!!!!!!!!!!

As of 1 P.M. central time yesterday, the main writing of the book is completed.  Now, for the editing, the formatting, the inclusion of photos, the addition of "best of"s, the incredibly long list of credits...

Wish me luck!

Kiddieland, where it all began...

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Amusement park news that's anything but amusing.

In a recent poll, amusement park ticket attendants and workers ranked in the 10 lowest-paid jobs, raking in around $19,000 annually.  As you can imagine, this pains me.  The park attendants I've met across the country are, in general, very proud of the parks they work at and love their jobs.  And they often act as the park historian, with a wealth of knowledge and stories you'll never forget.

In an age where the middle class is shrinking in size and impact, I think it's very vital to remember that it's folks like this ticket booth operator who provide sparks of color in a rather dreary world.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

One Man's Dream, shared with so many.

While tweaking some of my Cotton Candy writings, a few events jumped off the pages as having more than a little impact.  One of them was part of a trip that almost didn't happen, touring through a park that's way too new to actually be included in the book.  But I'm adding it as a sizely sidebar because it meant so much to me.

"Walt Disney: One Man's Dream" is an exhibit that'll be running indefinitely at Disney Studios in Walt Disney World.  I highly recommend, no, I urge you with the strength of a team of stallions carrying a large man in a chariot, you MUST take in this exhibit and this film.  If you're a Disney fan, if your'e an artist, if you're a dreamer, it may very well change your life.  It changed mine.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Creepshow at the Freakshow at Coney Island

I'm a big fan of the folks who run the Coney Island freakshow.  Part of my East Coast roadtrip, my visit to the freakshow and the Coney Island museum connected me with this group of highly dedicated, creative performers who have their hearts in the rigth place and hold the history and spirit of the true Coney Island  reverently - and somewhat irreverently.

So when I got win that they put together a mean haunted house, I had to learn more.  Truth be told, I hate haunted houses that aren't actually haunted.  Give me an EMF meter and night vision camera, and I'm golden, but I don't get the thrill of spending good money for people to chase me with chainsaws. 

Having said that, if I had the time/money to make it out to Coney for their own unique brand of horror show, I'd be there in one quick bone rattle.  From what I get from reading the description, it's more a theatrical experience, fully immersive, and completely original and deeply creepy. 

Think about it: it takes you "into the tortured dreams of a corrupt and drug-addled amusement park official".  Can't think of much that would be creepier than that.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Another writing milestone

A biggie.  A real biggie.  Wherein I finally tackled the daunting task of writing the Southern California chapter which was a complete homage to the trip I took in 1971 with my Mom.  One of the most emotional, soul-bearing experiences I've had in a while.  What I wasn't expecting was how the process of writing helped to bring me closer with who my Mom really was, what she stood for, and what she valued.

While she didn't wear it on her sleeve, she valued creativity and play and adventure very strongly.  That's why she loved Disney and Disneyland so much.  But because we didn't have scads of money, we always found unique ways to have that manifest. Quite often it was just a day trip to a not-too-far-away amusement park.

I know she would be so proud of the person I've become, the person who puts exploring and being creative and simple things like play very high on her "stuff I WANNA do" shelf.  She'd have a blast on the Road Trip.

Thanks, Mom.

Friday, October 7, 2011

What to do this weekend? How about a trip down Memory Lane and an Autumn Fest combined?

It's an uncommonly brilliant autumn thus far.  Want to do something sweet and memorable while enjoying the amazing weather?  Drive on out to visit our old friend, Santa's Village in East Dundee!  It's re-open, it's now an "Azoosment park" with gentle animals.  Listen up:  they're having a fall festival this weekend and the next two!  Follow the link above to learn more.  What a perfect way to spend a great Fall afternoon with the kiddies - or to travel back in time to the park you remember as a kid!  Bonus: it is the current home of two of the beloved Kiddieland rides!

Enjoy these photos, but do take a hike out west to enjoy more in person.  Get a pumpkin while you're at it; we did!
 You'll certainly remember the little Tyrolean welcome tower...

 The Kiddieland kiddie whip, alive and kicking!

 My weakness?  Lambs.  I love lambs.  I get stupid around lambs.  This one almost ate my notebook.

 A goat with an amazingly sincere face.  Forgot his name, but I shall call him Enoch.

Yes, that's us on the kiddie coaster, screaming to high heavens.  We left the pumpkins at the entrance of the ride, in case you're worried.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Madama Leota's Seance Circle!

Whenever a friend of mine goes to Disneyland, I always tell them, "Say 'hello' to Madame Leota for me."  It's a thing I do; it's my way.  Because the Haunted Mansion has been one of my long-time favorite attractions anywhere, for any reason, any time at all.  I've got the soundtrack memorized, and I've amassed a small collection of HM memorabilia which I proudly display, especially during this time of year.

Imagine my utter ghoulish delight when I happened upon this site, which breaks down Leota's incantations and gives background info on the whole Seance Circle portion of the ride!  What's more, it gives annotated background to just about every single phrase, with historical footnotes.  Kudos to the folks at Hollow who have taken the time to assemble an amazing site for the true HM geek like me!

Artwork: Shag

Monday, October 3, 2011

Vintage Amusement Park Haunted House Attractions

Can you feel it?  The veil between worlds is getting thinner.  It's finally October, one of my most favorite months of the year, due to its Spooky Quotient.  I'm in the throes of putting up my vast collection of Halloween decorations, including my witch dolls, a collection which has grown by leaps and bounds in the recent past.  The downstairs bathroom, which has a Disneyland theme, is now decked out with a sinister Mickey Mouse (well, as sinister as he egts) as Dracula and a mini Doombuggy.

Looking back on my Roadtrip, a variety of haunted house attractions totally spookified me.  Some were the blood-running-down-the-walls variety, while others were rather charming.  Here's a mere sampling:

The Santa Cruz Boardwalk Haunted Mansion has one of THE best special effects I've seen in any haunted attraction.  It involves a menacing presence in a scary swamp.  Go there -- you need to see it for yourself.

The dreaded Gum Wall is an attraction like no other.  Catch it at Conneaut Lake Park's Devil's Den.  Well, don't actually catch it, cuz you might catch something.  Just let your ride vehicle go by it...

Deno's on Coney Island has a wicked-cool dark ride, the Spook-a-rama, wherein you'll... no.  It would be a tragedy if I told you.  just go see it.  

And finally, there's Rye Playland with three dark rides, each a true treasure.  Here's the one that features zombies, as the name might suggest.  But I simply CAN'T give any details; you gotta see it in person:

Been sufficiently spookified?  No?  Then how about Grandma Fortune Teller at Deno's?

Yep - thought so.  That should hold you for this blog post...

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Just settin' out in the Boondocks

After visiting Deadwood, South Dakota, home of rootin' tootin'ness, casinos, and formerly of loose women (the town fell into a state of collapse after prostitution was made illegal), we ventured back toward Custer and found a place called Boondocks at the side of the road.  The photo above is one of the rescued amusement park rides you'll find at Boondocks.

But wait - maybe you're more intrested in classic cars?  Good - they have them here at Boondocks, too.
It's like this one's smiling at me for adding it to my blogpost.

But maybe you're feeling a bit peckish?  That's fine - how about some soft serve here at the diner, one of those silver bullets diners you see in old movies.
(that's me, on the right; soda jerk on the left.  Coolness abounding)

That's it.  Just pondering on Boondock's, is all.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Grand Finale.

When a park sits dormant, vacant, for years, it's a miracle if it EVER gets refurbished again.  Well, I'll be witnessing a miracle of sorts today, when I visit Santa's Village Azoosment Park in Elgin, IL.  To add to the miraculous?  They've bought two of Kiddieland's rides, saving them from the scrap metal heap.

It used to be Santa's Village, and I remember all sorts of North Polian buildings and rides, and the Jolly Old Elf himself.  But now it's, well, we'll see what it's all about in a short few hours.  It's an "azoosment park" so animals have been included, which is smart because everyone enjoys visiting gentle farm animals, but especially kids.  Give kids a petting zoo and they're happy for hours.

What's really ironic is that it was brought to my attention that two years ago this week, Kiddieland closed.  That was the beginning of my Road Trip.  And what will I be doing to commemorate the end of said trip?  Visiting a retooled park that was one of my childhood haunts, that's rescued some of the vintage rides from our beloved Kiddieland, allowing a whole new generation of kids to enjoy them.

It's poetic, it's an eloquent full circle moment.  I dig when stuff like that happens.

Monday, September 19, 2011

A writing milestone!

For those of you following along, you'll be pleased to learn that today marked a huge milestone in my book progress.  I've transcribed each and every note thus taken.  now the rest of the creative, fun works takes over.

I've written about 70% of the book already (not just notes, but fully-conceived and scribbled down), but the last 30% or so is now waiting for me to transform it into the same sort of magic that I modestly feel I've already attained with the rest.  And then the herculean task of sorting through literally thousands of photos.  Oy vey schmear, so many photos!!

But first, one last park to visit.  This Sunday.  Stay tuned to learn more about that.

Until then, please do enjoy this photo from Kennywood Park in Pittsburgh, PA.
It's the Potato Patch Fries chef.  I choose to celebrate my milestone with the happy memory of too much potato.  Much too much potato.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sunday on the Blog With Photos! I'm LATE!

Many apologies for being late and not very up-to-date with my blog postings, but especially with my Sunday on the Blog with Photos posts!  A lot has been going on at the Turley (that's Turlow-Dooley, for those unenlightened) household in the last month or so, but now things have ironed themselves out a bit and I can regain my focus on the blog, the book, the whole shebang.
So, no time to say hello-goodbye!!!

(Photo from the Alice in Wonderland walk through portion of Storybook Land in Egg Harbor County, NJ, one of the greatest storybook parks you'll ever visit.  Time got away from me there, too!)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Severe flooding at Hershey Park and Knoebel's

When you step foot in Knoebel's Park in eastern PA, you truly feel transported back in time.  It's in my top 10, and possibly top five.  Okay - it's in my top three parks for my Road Trip.  And Hershey Park is warm and welcoming; their zoo is a small-but-mighty historic treasure.

Just read that both parks got walloped by tropical Storm Lee and suffered extensive flooding.  Worse yet, Hershey Park's Zooamerica lost two of their beautiful bison.  Please say prayers for the folks who are working hard to clean up and put things back to rights.  So very, very sad.

Friday, September 2, 2011


Taken inside one of the structure in the Olde English section of Oregon's Enchanted Forest Park.  I know I've mentioned it before, but I must remind you:everything in the park was made by hand.  All the structures, including buildings and fairytale scenes.  And rides.  All by hand.  And that also includes this beautiful piece of stained glass.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Missing Oak Park Man Needs Medication

I know this isn't amusement park-related, but it's a dire situation and very important to me. Please help us find our missing friend.

Evan is a sweet, caring, talented person; lots of people are very concerned for his safety. If you know anything, please contact the Oak Park, IL police department at 708-386-3800. Thanks. And thanks in advance for your prayers, good wishes, white light.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tumble Bug!!!!!!!

Did you know Conneaut Lake Park possesses one of only two operational Tumble Bug rides in the US of A?  It's a rollicking, tumbly coaster-type of a ride.  Chances are you've never experienced it, as it's so very rare, so here's a recent video of the vintage ride in all it's upsy-downsy glory!

Ben and I rode it in early June of this year and it's officially in my list of Top 10 Best Vintage Rides for my book.  What makes it so very special, aside from it's rarity, is that it's a great option for those of us who intrinsically love coasters but, for a variety of reasons, may not be up to riding them anymore.

Tumble on, Bug.  Tumble on...

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Where have the Kiddieland Rides gone? Read and learn!

Mercy buckets to Jill Chukerman-Test for sending me a "heads up" on this Chicago Tribune photo essay on the whereabouts of the beloved Kiddieland rides.

Just a little bragging rights here: I gave the gentleman at Nelis' Dutch Village the info about the auction of the Kiddieland rides and he bought the pumper cars, which now are enjoyed at his park.  I look at the photo here and get just a little misty.

Next up on my roadtrip: a visit to the reborn Santa's Village Azoosment Park to revisit two of these transplanted rides!

BTW: When I win the Powerball, after taking my Dad on a trip around the world and buying Ben a Borsalino, I'll be purchasing the German carousel, oh yes I will.,0,3120793.photogallery

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Back Out. No Fair. Will Pout Now.

I wish I could say I threw my back out while riding the Boulder Dash, the world's highest-rated wooden rollercoaster.  It curves along the dips and highs of the Lake Compounce hillside.  Ben rode it; I sat quietly with a twist cone because of my back.  Which I threw out the night before while bending over to wash my face.  I was washing my face and my back caved in, making the last two parks visited for my book a real physical chore.

But did I have a sack o' fun?  You bet I did!  Connecticut houses two wonderful vintage parks, Quassy and Lake Compounce.  Quassy's small-but-true, set near a lake where you can ride paddleboats, enjoy a host of vintage rides, or try your luck in the arcade (I was aiming to win the ultra-cool Quassy glass tumbler decorated with carousel ponies and stamped "Quassy", but, due to my physical limitations, was only able to win enough for a sippy cup and some candy.  Yes, I'm the proud owner of a Quassy sippy cup and, in a way, that's cool, too).

I couldn't have planned it better to visit Lake Compounce last, because it literally encompassed the best of so many of my favorite park attractions in one, easy-to-navigate place.  Listed as "The Oldest Amusement Park in the Country", it opened in 1846 and has kept growing since then. Besides the aforementioned coaster, it's home to an historic carousel, a scenic train ride, and an honest-to-goodness antique trolley!  My favorite bit of fun had to be the sky ride that takes you up so high, you can nearly touch cloud wisps.  I think I heard some angels tuning their harps, that's how high we went.

More to come, plus photos.  But right now, I have to get up and move around to help heal my back.  "It just isn't fair that this happened at all" says the squirmy kid in me.  But the older and wiser kid is very grateful I was able to enjoy these two classic parks...and witness the creation of the Biggest Cotton Candy Mountain in the World.

Tune in soon for photos, because seeing is believing.

Sunday, August 7, 2011


Maine is awash with green and pine and slickness.  It's been raining all night and into today, and the forecast basically promises rain throughout the day, into the evening, through tomorrow, maybe even bridging into Wednesday.  I'm used to rain and it really doesn't bother me because Earth needs a drink.

But not on the day when I'm visiting my 40th park for "The Cotton Candy Road Trip", the last of the forty: Palace Playland in Orchard Beach, ME.  Palace Playland is also the farthest park north and east that I'll be visiting.  We traveled 5 hours yesterday from Rye Playland to get here.  It's a big deal.

And it's raining.  We'll definitely visit, but, due to the weather, won't be able to get the full Palace Playland experience.

So it's a very good thing I've decided to play Big Kid with All the Toys.

Remember when you were a Little Kid and it was time to leave the amusement park and you cried and whined and your parents said, "Well, when you're grown up, you can come back and stay as long as you'd like"?  Well, I'm grown up, but I'm still a kid - hence a Big Kid.  And I have All the Toys now (i.e. my own schedule, a charge card, and a driving desire to see more parks).

So this Big Kid is making her own rules.  Who says a book about 40 parks has to cap at 40?  No one.  I've got All the Toys and I can play as long as I like.

Keep tuned for more info about my slightly longer Road Trip, because I'm totally willing to share those really cool toys with you!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Rockin' it, old school.

I can hardly catch my breath after the amazing onslaught of history, charm, grime, magic, wonder and hope I encountered today.  I'm tired, I'm spent, I'm slightly tipsy after a glass of pinot grigio.  What I will tell you is this:  I'm rolling along through the last leg of my Road Trip, on the East Coast, where I'll tackle 9 parks (yes, you read that correctly) in less than a week.

What have I seen so far?  The sweetness and childhood hope of Storybook Land.  The perfect summer evening at Gillian's Wonderland (and some might fine coconut macaroon ice cream).  Keansburg Park's embrace of the old and new. And Coney Island's cornucopia of Wonder Wheel, red hots, red hot mamas, freak shows and amazingly sad/happy/glittery/seamy history.

I'm going to sleep well tonight.  Very well.  Because I'm Cotton Candying again, winding down this tremendous journey, and collecting some of the most incredible, heart-wrenching stories yet.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Grab the Brass Ring!

How cool is THIS!  From August 1 through 7, folks who ride the Looff carousel at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk will win a prize if they catch the brass ring!  Haven't you always wanted to actually say the phrase, "Hey!  I grabbed the brass ring!" and not have it be a metaphorical statement?  Now's your chance!

We rode the Looff last year and it's truly one of the most amazing carousels you'll ever see.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Santa Cruz Boardwalk carousel turns 100!!!

A 100th birthday is a big deal, but it's an even bigger deal when you're an endangered species, like a vintage carousel.  Wonderful article about a beautiful work of art!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Danger! Warning! Humongous T-rex will eat your popcorn!! And then... YOUR HEAD!

Oh, the giddy expectation one gets when planning a trip to South Dakota.  And NO trip to SD is complete without venturing to Wall Drug.

It had been 8 years since we last stepped foot onto the antique planked walkways, had a tasty cowboy lunch and 5 cent coffee.  So we were completely surprised to find a whole new area to the back of the main building, which included this guy here.

Every 10 minutes or so, he menaces, growls, smoke billows, kids drop their popcorn and run for their young lives.  I've seen it.  Frankly, I was inches away from joining them.

(BTW - I love that there's a "Wall Drug, SD - U.S.A." street sign right in front of him, so if you're rattled to your core by his roars, you won't forget where you are.  Or maybe it's for his benefit?)

Friday, July 22, 2011

Oujia, the Fortune Telling Chicken

A big, whopping "cock-a-doodle doo" nod to the Society for Commercial Archeology who happened to post this on Facebook today.  This has made my day, week, nay MONTH.  I give you: Ouija, the Fortune Telling Chicken who apparently used to crystal gaze at Silver Springs, one of the parks I visited for my book.  I'm now fueled to learn more, so here I go, wandering the Internet in search of more clucky clairvoyant info:

I found a wonderful blog about the Silver Springs area:  which boasts even more ephemera about this great Florida vintage park.  Silver Springs has been a destination for pleasure seekers for decades; this blog opens the window into its fantastical history.

Cyndi Lauper had her fortune told by a chicken.  No, really:   This makes me glad to be alive.

But wait, there's more!  Musician Sean Hayes wrote a song entitle"Alabama Chicken", about a feathered prognosticator.

And a children's book I simply must find:

If anyone has more info on chicken fortune tellers, which I'm now apparently obsessed with, feel free to drop me a line.  And yes, that means YOU, Cyndi Lauper!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Haunted Mansion's Infamous Hatbox Ghost!

As a tot, I visited Disneyland in 1966; don't remember that trip, but saw some wonderful images in my Dad's old home movies.  Fast forward five years: my Mom and I take our "girls' only" trip to Disneyland, but we took no photos or movies.  Luckily, I was old enough to recall much of that trip and I'll be merging those memories with recent events when I write about my 2011 Disneyland trip in this forthcoming book.

But back to old home movies: what a treasure trove they can be!  For Haunted Mansion enthusiasts, a recently-found film has unearthed some of the only known images of the much-talked, mysterious Hatbox Ghost, who was only seen in the Mansion in August of 1969.

Follow the link and scroll down to the footage; you won't be disappointed!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Oaks Amusement Park and Roller Rink featured on TNT's "Leverage"

I love the clever, gentle humor that infuses the TNT show, "Leverage".  Every episode keeps you guessing, with plot twists and turns designed to simultaneously rattle and amuse.  I adore this show and its cast;  been a Timothy Hutton fan since "Ordinary People", and his co-stars are top-notch, fearless actors.

My hubby and I were enjoying this past weekend's episode, "The van Gogh Job" when I leaped forth from my comfy couch and yelled, "Hey!  That's Oaks Park!", having recently been there as part of the Road Trip   Besides a great vintage amusement park, the grounds include a time capsule of a roller rink; I recognized its charming green and white painted entrance.

The enclosed link contains a great article on the filming at Oaks in Portland, OR, which has been used as a backdrop for not one but two episodes!

I love seeing my Cotton Candy Road Trip locations up on the big (and little) screen!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

World's Steepest Rollercoaster! World's Steepest Rollercoaster!

When my hubby took on the Top Thrill Dragster over at Cedar Point two years ago, I thought THAT was the most incredible, mind-boggling, "over the top" (pun fittingly perfect) coaster I'd ever seen.  Like a giant vertical zipper in the sky.  But check out this one in Japan: the "Takabisha" at Fuji-Q Highland amusement park.

Thanks to Rachel Maddow for bringing us not only thoughtful political commentary every night on MSNBC, but video of a front-seat-view rollercoaster ride that actually aged me about five years as I watched it from my office chair.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Butterbeer Revealed! Well, not completely...

In honor of opening weekend of the final installment of the "Harry Potter" films, I give you a bonus posting for the day.  And (stay with me here) it's a great article written by Jim Hill, a Disney super-enthusiast whose writings I turn to for pertinent Disney info all the time, so in a strange "scant few degrees of separation" it becomes a vintage park article!

Well, no, not exactly.  But it sure makes for good reading.  Congrats, Jim Hill, for making it to the Huffington Post website!  I have yet to make it to "The Wizarding World of Harry Potter" as I've been so busy with my vintage parks, but I hope to take a swig of this frothy concoction sometime next year!

Cotton Candyriffic Cotton Candy Recipe!

Really?  Can it be that easy to make?  I vow to try this recipe sometime soon and report back the results.

Monday, July 11, 2011


Luckily, tragedies like this happen very rarely. But still, seeing this on the morning news chilled me to the bone. Who's at fault? In my opinion, really no one... and everyone. It's an unfortunate mix of circumstances and miscommunications. What I would say is this: I visited Darien Lake for my book and it's a clean, safe park. But perhaps the amusement park industry should have some clearly defined rules pertaining to riders with disabilities? Maybe those who no longer have the ability to use their legs should sign a waiver upon entrance to the park? So many questions to ask -and I have no answers here.

My prayers go out to the family of the veteran.. and to the owners and operators of Darien Lake.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

"Couldn't put Humpty together again..."

Enchanted Forest park in Salem, Oregon, is teeming with storybook legends - and you get to meet them all! I snapped photos like a paparazzo throughtout our visit. Take a look at Humpty here -- before he had that fall that became tabloid fodder. He seems so at ease, just enjoying his wall, minding his own business.

I think there should be an investigation into the shady dealings made between the King's horses and King's men. Don't trust 'em.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Must. Hold. Self. Back. From. Purchasing. Entire. Line. Of. Goodies.

Can I tell you just how much I love the retro-inspired artwork of Shag? there's no way I can qualify or quantify how it appeals to me. He's got a new line of goods to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Walt Disney World and I can't find one single thing that isn't spectacular. I especially love his nod to the Contemporary and Polynesian Hotels.


Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 4th of July!!

May you all have a safe, happy, fun-filled 4th. May you experience no rain, be stung by no bugs, and wear the amount of red, white, and blue that appeals to you.

I was going to upload an appropriately patriotic photo: the miniature train from Del Grosso's Park, all decked out in the colors of our flag, but Blogger is being stupid.

Sty tuned: in the next few days, I have new photos from Conneaut Lake Park!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Third time = charm

Although in no way would I consider the other two visits to be less-than-charming, but the first time the park was just reopen. The second time, it rained - but we ran into the kids from "Paranormal State" so that was entertaining. But this time, I've got old friends to revisit and new adventures to tackle.

In just a few hours, we'll be Road Tripping out to Conneaut Lake Park - for the third time for this book. CLP is the only park that I'll be visiting three times for the book, for many reasons: it rose like a phoenix from the proverbial and actual ashes (after its magnificent ballroom burned to the ground), it continues to add attractions and rides, it refurbished the Blue Streak, its historic rollercoaster. For all intents and purposes, it should've closed years ago, if you consider many parks in similar situations have closed their gates, leaving their precious rides to rot. But CLP keeps on bringing it.

For that, and also for the fact that it has a dark ride called the Devil's Den that totally delights me, a neighboring hotel with a haunted past, and an amazing vintage carousel, Conneaut Lake Park was, is, and will continue to be one of my favorite parks on "The Cotton Candy Road Trip" - and one that tugs at my heartstrings like no other.  Heartstrings tugged?  Well, you'll just have to read my book to find out, won't you?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sunday on the Blog with Photos!

For my Dad's 86th birthday (yesterday, actually), we're taking him to the racetrack today to play the ponies. In honor of this event, I give you a photo taken at Cedar Point, at the very start of my "Road Trip". It's a horserace carousel that runs at a clip!

Happy Birthday, Daddy! Many more!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Our Visit to Flintstone's Bedrock City!

Traipsing through Flintstone's Bedrock City in South Dakota can be quite an enlightening experience.

For instance, did you know there's a Mount Rockmore? There is; a veritable twin to the slightly more famous Mount Rushmore only a few miles away. And it only predates it by about a million years, so it's still looking pretty sharp

And I bet you had no idea Wilma played the organ made out of coconuts and bamboo shoots.

If you're lucky enough, you might hear "Bedrock, Twitch, Twitch" playing at K-ROCK, the local radio radio station, a perfect excuse for a spontaneous dance break.

But the true treat is getting to rub elbows with the natives.

Pictured: Barney Rubble and Fred Flintstone, flanked by the Yabba Dabba Dooleys.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Sunday on the Blog with a VIDEO!

For the first time ever, I'll be sharing a video rather than a photo on this glorious Sunday. Today, a bit of slightly sinister, kinda strange, always interesting cartoonery from Sally Cruikshank from the 1970s.

I give you, "Quasi at the Quackadero". I thank my friend Craig Gustafson for enlightening my world with this piece of animation artistry.

And yes, it's set at a bizarro amusement park. Enjoy!

Monday, June 13, 2011

The First Drive Past

Necessitated by my desire for a Caribou coffee (made even more inviting by the fact that they're doing a "Buy 7, Get 1 Free" promotion), I made the trip to visit my dad in Oak Park today by way of North Avenue, through Stone Park and Melrose Park, and finally through the intersection of North and First Avenues, the former site of Kiddieland, the "little park that could" for over 80 years, until greed took over and moved one half of a family to sell the land to Costco so the Greater Chicagoland area could have one more place to stock up on 50 rolls of toilet paper for cheap.

I'm usually not a swearing person; I've recently returned from a soul-edifying trip to South Dakota and the Black Hills, a place that charges up my spiritual battery, big time, so I'm feeling very peaceful and most irritating things are rolling off my back like water off a duck. But when the side of the Costco came into view where once a cheerful little locomotive took generations of families on a journey into imagination, here's what came out of my mouth:

(As this is a family blog, I'll use a bouquet of euphemisms)

"What a fruggin' mistake. Flip you, you money-grubbing monkeyfloggers. Hope you're happy with your funkin' money, you greedy fonkers. Pluck moo!" (I had Ivy in the car with me and I do believe I made the beagle blush)

And, by the way, it was 10 A.M. on a Monday and there were only about a dozen cars in the parking lot: the area where the German carousel once stood.

So, if anyone is still wondering why I'm putting up mostly all my own money to go across the country and visit 40 vintage parks in order to keep their stories and spirit alive, I hope my mission has been made crystal-clear.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

And then there's this place.

While driving out to Deadwood, in search of gambling machines both Ben and I provided voices for (these are the whizbang ones with stereophonic sound and lots of gaming levels), we came upon Boondock's. It's like a small 50s town just sprang up in the middle of the Black Hills, as if someone planted some Retro Seeds and it just grew there. No, it's not technically a vintage amusement park. It rather defies description. Is it fun? You bet your bippy it is!

We had soft serve custard and took in the memorabilia store and visited the museum which houses some truly amazing finds, like a Studebaker collection... and Archie Bunker's hat. And tin doll houses like the one I had as a kid.

And they have rides. I asked around and learned that the owner assembled this collection from defunct parks across the country. This guy obviously "gets" that they're worth preserving.

And that makes Boondock's worth a visit and very worthy of an Honorable Mention in my "Road Trip".

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

"Bedrock! Twitch, twitch!"

I intend to sing this song as I enter the stoney gates of Flintstone's Bedrock City in a mere couple of days. I may wear my Wilma necklace - you know the one: small, white granite boulders. It offsets my long neck.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

For my 300th post: A 45th Anniversary Tribute
They're hiding in the basement: grainy 8MM movies of my family's first visit to Disneyland back in 1966. I was all of three years old and there's footage of me wearing a bucket hat and kiddie sunglasses. There's also a long segment of Pam running in circles; but that's just par for the course and an ode to my temperament over the years.

The real treasure of the footage is approximately five glorious minutes taken while riding "It's a Small World". I clearly remember the images of the Parisian dancing girls and their flirtatious winks, the comical penguins, and Cleopatra, majestically reclining on her settee. My parents were so taken with the magic, color and spectacle of the experience; I kept hoping the ride would stop so I could hop out of our boat and join in with the dancing kids!

Happy 45th birthday to a true Disney classic. And thank you Mary Blair, for sharing your talent and sense of play with the world.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Back in the saddle again!

Guess where we'll be in about a week.

The Road Trip continues when we take the All-American Road Trip to South Dakota. To visit Flintstone's Bedrock City in Custer. But on the way, I'm gonna saddle up one of 'em doggies right here. With the percoolyer horns on 'em.

Yee ha! Wall Drug here we come!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Gratitude for Oprah... and a whole lot more.

Just finished watching the series finale of "The Oprah Show" and I'm still rather emotional about the whole thing. I mean, it's like she's been there for me, for almost half my life, someone I could count on at 9 A.M., to bring a little light and inspiration into my day.

In her final show, she gave viewers her personal email address to write to her, to check in with her, let her know what matters to them. And she promised to read as many of the emails as she could.

So I did it; before writing this blog post, before checking emails, before (gasp!) updating my status on Facebook, I wrote to Oprah and thanked her for reminding me to keep an attitude of gratitude. I know, that hits some people as rather corny, but I feel it's the act of acknowledging the gifts God gives you when you take time to be grateful every day.

My gratitude list, right off the top of my head, at this moment, in my office, after a thunderstorm, with a stream of gray light shining in:

I'm so very grateful for my wonderful husband; my dad (who, although he's battling dementia and a string of physical ailments, still smiles in a way that brings a rainbow into any room he's in); for Ivy - my dainty beaglette; for my home; my car (which is in the shop for maintenance, NOT a huge repair!!); my talents of acting, speaking with a clear voice, oral interpretation, mimicry, and singing which have given me the ability to earn a living for over twenty years; my intuition; the money I DO have; the angels that have been with me on my travels for my book, "The Cotton Candy Road Trip", who constantly urge me on and bring amazing stories to me in serendipitous ways; my wacky and wonderful friends; my kick-boxing, kick-ass, vegan, tattooed cousin; and for God, the Universe, The Great Mystery.

So thanks, Oprah, for reminding me that when I'm grateful, a powerful light works through me, setting the stage to create miracles wherever I go.

Monday, May 23, 2011

I Hate When This Happens.

No, really. I'm not saying that in the old "SNL" sketch way. I mean it. I've lost track of the number of times I hear of a park (or ride) being closed because of upkeep costs or insurance fees. It's so important for classic amusement park attractions to be preserved. Many coasters are listed on the National Registry of Historic Places, but not nearly enough. Or a coaster may receive an award from ACE (American Coaster Enthusiasts) which may save the ride.

Here's sending good wishes to the Dania Beach Hurricane. When I win Powerball, I'll make sure you get the help you need.