Wednesday, November 20, 2013

16 Things That Are Awesomely Hidden at Disneyland!! (a.k.a. I'm having a FREAK OUT!!)

Back in 2011, yours truly getting ready to leave for her Disneyland visit for the book,
holding the Mickey doll bought for her by her Mom back in 1972.

First of all, full thanks to Peggy Wang at Buzzfeed for assembling this magnificent collection of gems.  Click the link above to see the whole story.  Nicely done!

And now: the freak out ...

You can get a death certificate at the Haunted Mansion??

Take a ride in the Lilly Belle train car???

Get a free map of the Jungle Cruise?????

I pride myself in knowing all the details of what makes Disneyland THE most magical amusement park of them all (and remember: I visited a boatload for the book).  It's the original; there would be no Disney World, Disney Paris, Disney Tokyo or China or the other one I keep forgetting, if it wasn't for the first one built by Walt himself in 1955.  I worship at the altar of Madame Leota (and still get freaked out by Little Leota, but that's another story).  I genuflect at the light emanating from the second story of the firehouse, telling all that the magic and the story lives on.  Point being: I KNOW my Disneyland lore.  I KNOW "my" park.

But I did not know a BUNCH of these gems.  And it makes me mad.  Because I won't be back at Disneyland until March.

Yeah, I know, I know.  You're saying, "Oh, you have to wait a full three months plus, poor baby.  Here's my tiny violin playing 'My Heart Bleeds for You'".  But when a class A Disneyfanatic learns about things hidden at the park she owns tons of books about, has visited countless times, and owns a PIECE of (two chunks of one of the Mary Blair Tomorrowland murals, savagely ripped apart to make stuff that isn't half as charming or memorable), she needs to revisit and she needs to do so NOW.

I'll be in southern California for a class in March (nothing having to do with Disney whatsoever), but then, well, I'll just HAVE to swing on by the park.  And now, I've got an agenda.

I knew about most of these little-known gems at the park, but certainly not all (and I must thank my friend Melissa for posting this link on Facebook in the first place).  When I spent my birthday at the park in 2003, I was thrilled to be gifted with an honorary Disneyland citizen certificate (which you KNOW I have framed and in clear view, so I can remind myself of my elevated status on a daily basis).  During my birthday visit this February, I was knocked to my knees by the rare treat of visiting Walt's firehouse apartment (the post where he'd sit and watch all the happy folks enter his park).  And I knew that you can ride up in the front of the monorail if you ask nicely; the last time (truly last) we took my Dad there, he got to do this and was giddy like a three-year-old).

But to fancy a ride in the Lilly Belle train car, the one named after Walt's wife, the one decorated in fancy red velvet, the one you can sometimes take a meager glimpse of?  I'm blown away.

To come home with a map of the Jungle Cruise is to remind my Dad of that last trip he took there, when he chortled about the hippos' wiggling ears and got a kick out of the tour guide's snappy monologue.

And, the piece de resistance: to actually have a Haunted Mansion "death certificate".  For, as you know (or should), upon leaving your Doom Buggy, Little Leota will remind you to "hurry baaaack" and to be sure to "bring your death certificate" the next time you visit.  Boom!  You can actually DO this now, without the muss and fuss of actually having to die.  Bonus!

I tell you, I am jazzed.  And I'm saving up my pennies for Spring.  Because the Lilly Belle awaits ...

Friday, November 8, 2013

A blog post from Yesterland about the new Mid-Century-themed hotel at Universal Studios!!

Feast your eyes!  My dreams have come true!  A new, fresh modern hotel done in the style of Mid-Century motels!!  I'm so giddy!!

Kudos to the folks at Yesterland, one of my most favorite sites, for exploring this and finding some great photos of what promises to be a GrOoVy undertaking!!!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Book review from the blog of Suzanne Rowe Ogren - check it out!

It's always a pleasure to hear from fans of the book, to learn how it's affected them, how it allows them to take a trip back to simpler times, how it moves them spiritually - or generates inside them the deep desire to take off on their own vintage amusement park road trips!  So it was delightful to learn my friend, fellow author and actor Suzanne Rowe Ogren, wrote a lovely review of my book on her blog.

Take some time and visit Suzanne's site and get to her know her!  She's a fascinating lady, with many wonderful stories of her own to tell.  And, as a vintage amusement park superfan, you can imagine how thrilled I was to learn about her past at Walt Disney World, where she worked for many years, as costumed characters, inside the Haunted Mansion - the list goes on and on.  Her husband, R.J. Ogren, worked there as an Imagineer - are these folks cool or what?

But don't let me ruin the surprises.  Give her blog a read and find out for yourself!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Kiddieland Carousel Goes Up For Auction November 16, 2013

I keep telling folks, "When I win the Powerball, I have a lot of plans".  First will be paying off the mortgage and other Serious Adult Things That Need Attention.  Then there's taking Daddy for a trip of a lifetime to Vegas, where he'll stay in a high roller suite and eat lobster, and drink red wine that sells for $300 a bottle.

Then, I'll start saving all the amusement parks and all the classic, historic rides.  Like this one:

A carousel from Kiddieland Amusement Park. (Credit: Donley Auction Services.)
A carousel from Kiddieland Amusement Park. (Credit: Donley Auction Services.)

As many of you know, Kiddieland was the first park I visited for the book - and its closing was the impetus for my committing to write the book, to get the word out about vintage parks and their historic significance.
Give this article a gander.  You'll learn about the age of this amazing carousel, and what makes it a special amusement park collectible.
The auction house says it could fetch a pretty penny.  Well, if I win that Powerball by November 16 (I WILL win, just don't know when ...), I'll be throwing a whole bunch of pretty pennies at this one.  And, should I win it, I'll be donating it to a deserving park that will house it well and take good care of it.  That is my pledge and promise - you read it here, folks!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Join me at Nest Vintage Modern for a Spooky Book Reading/Storytelling Evening

Check it out!

On October 24, I'll be reading a spooky chapter from my book, and telling ghost stories and, oh, just might lead folks in some ghost hunting!  Head on over to Nest Vintage Modern for this FREE event on October 24, from 7 to 9 P.M.

The Flying Witch Dark Ride at Rye Playland

Here's a link to Nest and the event:

Friday, October 4, 2013

Ghost Lake at Conneaut Lake Park!! It would be crazy-spooky NOT to go!!


My beloved Conneaut Lake Park is at again, assembling a top-drawer haunted attraction for Halloween!  If you're in the greater Pittsburgh or Erie areas, you'd best head on out to CLP for their Ghost Lake super-colossal horror extravaganza!

From their website:

Check with your cardiologist before attempting the 13 LEVELS OF FEAR. The Longest and scariest Halloween attraction in the world. Over 160 live creatures who want to scare you like you've never been scared before. Ambulance standing by for those that get too frightened.

Among the attractions are Clown Town (Come on. Fess up.  Who ISN'T creeped-out even just a little by clowns?), the 3D Fun House of Fears, and something referred to as "The Fog".

The gatekeeper to the Devil's Den, circa 2009

CLP was the only park I visited multiple times for my book (three, in fact).  Although I haven't been to Ghost Lake, I can vouch for a couple of the attractions, like the Devil's Den (a classic Pretzel dark ride from the 60s) and the Blue Streak coaster as being the real, old-fashioned, scary-but-fun deal.

And let's not forget that the Hotel Conneaut is haunted.  For reals:  It's also part of the Ghost Lake experience.

So what are you waiting for?  Oh, yeah.  that visit to the cardiologist ...


Thursday, October 3, 2013

Disneyland's Court of Angels - why it shouldn't close.

"Hey, come this way.  I want to show you one of my favorite parts of Disneyland."

I led my group of fellow birthday revelers from the New Orleans Square train stop to the Court of Angels, a quiet, tucked-away stairwell.

I welcomed the explosion of "ooh"s and "aah"s, and the outpouring of excited comments, recalling they were quite similar to those I had years ago upon encountering the Court for the first time:

"It's beautiful!"

"See?  THIS is why I love Disney so much!  Because they work hard to respect their history!  BOOM!"

"It's spooky and magical and I love it!"

"NOW I feel like I'm back in NOLA."

The Court des Anges is a quiet, contemplative area that's tucked away in a pocket of New Orleans Square.  Legend says it was built to be an entrance to an exclusive jazz club that Walt had envisioned for the area, just before his death.  Since then, it's been a meeting place, the setting for many a family photo, the backdrop for hundreds of marriage proposals, and, for me, a spiritual center, a place where I can truly connect with the beautiful spirits that have traversed through over the decades - including Walt himself.

Now, there's word that this area will be closed off to the public, engulfed in a refurb for the members' only Club 33.  And I'm fitfully angry and near tears.  Club 33 already has their own exclusive area.  Why should this lovely space be off-limits to the general public, the park goers who come back again and again to Disneyland, many of whom look for spaces that truly typify the "real" Disneyland, the less-commercial, more magical and thoughtful places?

Here's a link to my blog post about our mystical visit to the Court: 

Please, Disneyland Powers That Be.  Please don't cordon off this truly special area to only an elite few.  Thank you.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Conneaut Lake Park - the amusement park equivalent of "The Little Engine That Could"

Photo by David Lepley

I visited Conneaut Lake Park three times during the writing of my book, and saw its slow resurgence from a shambles which was closed for two years, to a truly viable, snazzy little amusement park.  So when I learned of its latest troubles, I was floored and felt like I lost a friend - or at least have a friend on life support.

In case you haven't heard, Conneaut Lake Park had yet another setback this past week, when the 78-year-old Beach Club was burned to the ground (the reason has yet to be disclosed).  This was on the heels of, just a few days later, a grand party to celebrate a rehab done to the park by a production company who hopes to sell the show to the Travel Channel.  So many people were so very hopeful, but then, the fire broke out and levelled the space where many folks would come out to enjoy a brew and a rock band, maybe play some volleyball.  And those who visited the Beach Club quite often also patronized the park.  Another tragedy in a long history.

I'm giving full credit to the poet, Terri Nye Kindervater, for this whimsical-yet-poignant summation of the park's woes, told from the point of view of CLP itself.

by Terri Nye Kindervater

I’m Conneaut Lake Park and I’m in the news today.
I’m old and I’m tired and I have something to say.
You know those directors that are always looking out for me.
Gee whiz, give them some credit – the board works for free.

Yes, I’ve suffered many trials and tribulations through all of my years.
And through it all my followers have shed so many tears.
While the roof from the Beach Club fire comes down and crashes.
I am like the mighty phoenix that rises from the ashes.

My buildings are falling because of age and disrepair.
The fires are alarming. They’re giving lots of us a scare.
I’ve been robbed and I’ve been swindled – oh the stories I could tell.
Some have gone to prison and some are sitting well.

The ballroom in this hotel of mine remembers each prom and wedding.
Little girls dream of being beautiful brides with my picturesque setting.
Some say our stately hotel is haunted and that they’ve seen Elizabeth the ghost.
I think it only adds to the intrigue – come on, we’re a gracious host!

The Blue Streak runs through me, near the train that whistles around.
And I still have the Tumble Bug – a worthy challenge to keep running sound.
The Wild Mouse is gone now and many rides have changed - The Fun House became the Ultimate Trip and now the building lies to rest.
But buildings can be rebuilt – you see, change is often for the best.

I’ve made kids laugh and holler while their parents watch and smile.
At the same time I’m a place for grandparents to just ponder for a while.
When you look back through all of my old photos, the buildings no longer exist.
But the nostalgia keeps growing greater because the history will still persist.

The historic ferry boats that have driven past me have come and gone.
And many people that used to visit me have now passed on.
But you see the one thing that is still with me – the thing that can not be denied.
Is that the lake that I have watched daily has not left my side.

Gracious people have helped me, volunteering their time and skills.
And others are supportive if only in prayers to pay our bills.
I’d like to thank my friends and followers and the one way that would work so well.
Is for me to succeed anew and tell the negative people – please, go to ... Cedar Point.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Our upcoming East Coast trip! Knoebels, here we come!!!

When I first met my friend Kozmo, back in 2010

You know what they say about the best-laid plans.  Due to weather considerations, lodging logistics, and a particular secret squirrel project I've got in the works, our original East Coast plans have been changed.  First of all, to get you up-to-date ...

My heart was absolutely yearning to revisit the parks which were affected by Hurricane Sandy, namely Rye Playland, Coney Island (Deno's Wonder Wheel Park and the historic Coney Island U.S.A. museum and sideshow), and Keansburg in N.J. (which was literally mowed down by the hurricane, and miraculously rebuilt!).  But due to the above events, we've decided to revisit another glorious park instead, the one which made it to the topper-most of my Top 5 Parks in the book, Knoebels in Elysburg, P.A.

I can't wait to see what they've done with the park since 2010, when last we wandered about the hallowed grounds.  I know they've opened a new dark ride, a mine car-themed jobby that promises to be non-stop thrills.  And I'm already salivating about the cornucopia of foodstuffs they offer; Knoebels has received the Golden Ticket award numerous times for their awesome offerings.

Ben and some fried dough.  Really EXCELLENT fried dough.

So, the Universe likes to play some wicked games sometimes.  But this time, it seems like the Mercury retrograde-infused changes may be JUST what this amusement park fan ordered.

The Grand Carousel.  Looking great at 100!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Join me at "Carousel for a Cause", June 13th at Santa's Village Azoosment Park!!/events/523507984351436/

Cover Photo

I couldn't be more honored, pleased and humbled.  On June 13th, I'll be part of the festivities at "Carousel for a Cause", a benefit for a variety of charitable organizations, being held at Santa's Village Azoosment Park in East Dundee, Illinois.

From the Facebook event page:

"Join Santa's Village Azoosment Park on June 13 for a special reveal of the thirty unique and antique carousel horses re-painted by resident artist, Dutch Akers, and six historical replicas decorated by local, not-for-profit organizations. Each organization participating has a connection with either children or animals, which are both such a vital part of the park.

Organizations participating in this artistic event include: Andersen Animal Shelter (South Elgin), Boys & Girls Club of Rockford (Rockford), Clearbrook (Arlington Heights) March of Dimes Northeast Division (Joliet), Operation North Pole (Des Plaines) and Willowbrook Wildlife Center (Glen Ellyn).

We hope to see you at the celebration, and be sure to check out the event photo album for more information on each of the charitable organizations!"

What's really nifty about my participation is that I'll be signing copies of my book there and be donating half of all proceeds to the above organizations.

Please get your tickets NOW! It should be a magical, memorable event.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

5 Awesome Vintage Amusement Parks to Visit on Memorial Day (that won't break the budget and aren't mega-sized).

You've got lots of options this summer for big fun.  Might I suggest the following?:

Visit a vintage amusement park!  Or two or three!  Heck, make a road trip out of it!!!

Yes, I'm talking to you.  I know you; you're cost-conscious, yet a thrill-seeker.  You want something unique and memorable to do with your family.  But sometimes when you think about amusement parks, what comes to mind are the super-duper megaparks, crawling with just too many people and not enough space to rest, to enjoy a meal, to breathe.  Well, I'm hear to tell you there are other parks out there, really great ones, some family-owned and operated, that are much more manageable in scope, but still packed with everything you could possibly need or want for a great, old-fashioned time.

Behold my top 5 parks from my book, "The Cotton Candy Road Trip" specifically picked for you if  you're fixing to have a great time, without losing the kids in a crowd (or your patience within the first five minutes).  They're all user-friendly in size, full of charm and history, and, for those adrenaline junkies out there, each has a very noteworthy roller coaster:

1.  Knoebels, Elysburg, PA: Plenty of trees to rest under, some of the best park food you'll ever taste, and an impressive parade of vintage rides that will please every age range.  What sets Knoebels apart is the way they keep up and constantly improve the collection of the vintage rides, sometimes rescuing rides from other parks (like the astounding Phoenix roller coaster).  They're actually working on a Flying Turns ride, patterned after an attraction from the fabeled past of Chicago's Riverview park.  Be sure to check out their on-premises carousel museum!

Knoebels' carousel

2.  Santa Cruz Boardwalk, Santa Cruz, CA: Right on the Pacific Ocean, the park boasts an amazing arcade, scrumptious boardwalk food (yes, you will want the chocolate-covered bacon), an excellent haunted dark ride, the Big Dipper coaster, and a skyride, which allows you to take in the breathtaking ocean view.

Gargoyles guarding the haunted dark ride

3.  Lakeside Amusement Park, Denver, CO: At night, this park becomes an astounding jewel box of neon signage.  Antique ride signs have been lovingly preserved; you will not find such a collection at any other park.  Thrill as you ride the Vettel rollercoaster, one of only a few which still remain in operation.

Seriously.  It doesn't get better than this.

4.  Arnolds Park, Arnolds Park, IA: Ride the Legend rollercoaster, go for a picturesque boat ride on the lake, blow your wad shopping, visit the Rock and Roll museum, get lost in the mirror maze, go shopping again, take in the park's historical museum, then round out your visit with a Nutty Bar (trust me on this).  And there's a concert series to boot.  If you run out of things to do at Arnolds, you're just hopeless.

The Legend.  And it IS.

5.  Rye Playland, Rye, NY: With three dark rides, the iconic Dragon roller coaster, the historic Derby Racer, and a well-stocked kiddieland, there's more than enough delights for kids of all ages.  What's unique and wonderful about Rye Playland is that it still has the same layout it had on opening day back in 1928, when park planners thoughtfully plotted out green spaces and restful, tree-lined areas.  Rye Playland weathered Hurricane Sandy and is still standing.  This season, it needs your support and patronage so that it doesn't get severely "edited" by the powers that be who wish to wipe out about a third of the rides.  Don't let that happen.  Visit Rye Playland and visit often.

View of a portion of Playland from the park's Ferris wheel
Pack the sunscreen and get moving!  Summer hasn't even officially begun but it's already a'wastin'!


Friday, May 17, 2013

Listen to My Most Recent Radio Interview on WCNS THIS Saturday morning ONLINE!!!

The jaunty chef guy who oversees the making of the Potato Patch fries at Kennywood

Mike Krcil is a rock star (figuratively speaking), an award-winning broadcaster, and a really great guy.  What makes him a rock star is that he asked to interview me for my book, helping to get the word out about it in the Greater Pittsburgh area (where a chunk of the parks I visited reside) and hopefully getting folks interested in doing their own vintage amusement park road trips.

So make a nice latte, cozy up to your computer, and give the interview a listen THIS SATURDAY (that's tomorrow, May 18) at 9:30 Eastern.  You can do so by clicking on this link at the appropriate time:

It's part of the Saturday Talk Block on 1480 WCNS.  Mike and I chat about Western Pennsylvania parks like Kennywood and Idlewild, and I also give some hints about parks to visit in other regions of the U.S.  And at the very end of the 30-minute interview, I give out a holler about how YOU can help save a vintage park in peril, the awesomely historic Rye Playland.

Take some time and tune in tomorrow!!!  Your soul will smile.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Keansburg Amusement Park re-opens THIS SATURDAY!

Miracles are afoot in Keansburg.  Months after being devastated by Hurricane Sandy, this stalwart little vintage park, the jewel of the town, is set to re-open to much fanfare this very Saturday.  I'm so excited for them and my heart aches that I can't be at the ribbon-cutting ceremony, but I'm out in Chicago and can't make it there, so I'll be living vicariously through Facebook updates and news posts online.

Here are a few from my 2011 visit to the park.  This July, I'll be updating them when I finally get to re-visit this park that embodies the phrase "Jersey Strong".

Spook House vehicle sporting a groovy-scary paint job.
Arcade game.  Very "Danny and Sandy" from "Grease"
Caterpillar kiddie ride

The carousel.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Holy Mary Blair! Check out the "It's a Small World" Android app!!

This ardent Mary Blair fan just got a boost to her soul on this fine Thursday morning.  Never mind that she'll be recording a NEW interview for her book on a Pittsburgh-area radio station - THIS may have topped it!!!

At the left you'll find a screen shot for the new "It's a Small World" Android app! My fingers are actually ITCHY this very moment because I know I need to write at least this teaser blog post about it FIRST before I can actually download the app.  But I'm definitely going to review it in an upcoming blog post.

Imagine me, the ultimate Mary Blair fan, carrying around a part of one of my favorite rides from any Disney park along with me wherever I go?!

It's a Small Blair!!!! 

From the app's website: Enter this delightful world filled with vibrant settings, and meet fantastical friends along the way. Travel through the Snowy Alps, dusty plains, calm seas, and more as you tour different regions around the world. From beloved Disney characters to toy soldiers and mermaids, encounter new and familiar faces throughout your travels. With so much to see, start your joyful journey today!

Friday, May 3, 2013

It's rainy and cold in Chicago. I want a margarita. And I know which one I want. Hint: Mexican pavilion in Epcot.

Sometimes it's really very simple.  You wake up, it's cold and damp and rainy outside, it's only 48 degrees.  You are shivering.  You turn on the TV and your local news has some guy who's a mixologist on and he's concocting a margarita in honor of Cinco De Mayo on Sunday.  You notice it's a basic margarita recipe, save for the inclusion of vanilla bean-infused triple sec (which you think is a very good idea).  You talk to our hubby about what you've just watched and you plot a way to make such a margarita over the weekend.

Three caballeros poster.png

Then you ponder other margaritas you've had in your young life and realize you may have had one of the most spectacular ones ever just about two years ago.  It was at Epcot in Disney World, in November, 2011.  You were happily ordering your dinner at the San Angel Inn, the nifty restaurant inside the Mexican pavilion, right near the Gran Fiesta tour boat ride featuring Donald Duck, Jose Carioca and Panchito. 

Then you saw the drink menu and something popped out like in a pop-up book and had you hooked.

The drink that haunts your waking moments on a cold, rainy Chicago day is the Orange Mango Fire Margarita and it is exactly what it says it is (from the menu online): El Mayor premium Tequila, ginger liqueur, orange juice, mango, fresh lime juice, a hint of tabasco sauce, served on the rocks with a Tajin chili powder rim.  It is $12.50 and you tabulate how may you could have for $100, but you don't order that many because one is sufficiently heady enough.

The Disney Food Blog (WHY DON'T I HAVE THIS JOB???) wrote about it back in 2010, when it was offered at the other World Showcase Mexican restaurant,  La Hacienda de San Angel (  Here is their photo of the drink:

This is all you want.  It is citrussy and spicy and packs a wallop.  This one drink has it all.

You do your level best to be back at Epcot within months.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Rye Playland Opening Day for 2013 is May 11! Special rates and a PARADE!!

Rye Playland is one of my favorite vintage parks, period.  If you're in the greater NYC area, DO plan on attending their 2013 season opening day on May 11!  It sure looks to be like a swell time!  There's a parade and entertainment and special rates!!

Here's a snap of yours truly with Ms. Zoltar, taken back in 2011 when Ben and I visited the park (and I fell completely in love with it):

Friday, April 26, 2013

Celebrate Arbor Day with a Visit to New Orleans' City Park and Carousel Gardens!

Thanks to my Facebook pals, I was reminded it is Arbor Day!  Which is super, because I'm going to have time today to work on our garden, prune the Ginkgo tree, and spruce things up in general (no, no spruces are involved, unfortunately).  But it got me thinking about the parks we visited for the book (which can be purchased directly from CreateSpace, because of course you want to do that: ) and I immediately was festooned with images of the beautiful-doesn't-fully-describe-it Carousel Gardens, part of New Orleans' magnificent City Park.

For those who've never been, City Park is huge, it contains all manner of entertainment and amusement, including an art museum, concerts, a dog park, recreational facilities of all sorts, and Carousel Gardens and Storyland.  Storyland is totally kiddie-sized, featuring various fairytale scenes and characters for kids to romp around in and around. 

Ben, my over-sized kid, making his way through the ACTUAL child-sized entrance to Storyland.

Mother Goose, herself. Avec goose.
Carousel Gardens is the amusement park, which contains wondrous things, like the ride it's named after, their gorgeous carousel, which battled the flooding from Hurricane Katrina, and WON.

The plaque, witnessing how the carousel WON.

Close-up of carousel horse.

There's also a miniature train ride, which circles the south end of the park, extending from the amusement park proper and into the "outside world" of picnickers and strolling couples and old folks settin' a spell under the magnificent oaks.

And about those oaks.  Here's my tribute to Arbor Day, thanks to the copious amount of photos taken at City Park.  Spanish moss drapes provocatively from nearly every branch, enveloping portions of the parks, providing cooling shade, and adding a touch of moodiness and magic.

Happy Arbor Day.  And if you're in the greater New Orleans area, now you know where to go.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Iconic Log Ride at Knott's Berry Farm Gets an Update!!,0,5696268.story

 Knott's Berry Farm

My memories of the Knott's Berry Farm log ride are from 1971, when my Mom and I rode it during the only "girls' only" vacation we ever took.  I recall the drop down at the end, the steepness of the flume, the splash of the water, the giggles of delight (from both of us).

It's heartening to know that Knott's will be re-furbishing this iconic ride, and utilizing some concept art from its early days.  This is a beautiful ride, considered by many to be THE best log flume ride out there.  I think I'd tend to agree.

When I visited Knott's in 2011 for my book, it was a blowy, cold day and I wasn't able to ride the log flume.  I actually became rather emotional about it, because I was planning to ride it in my Mom's memory.  But I think Mom would be proud of this great vintage park and its moving into the future, while embracing its past.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Santa's Village Azoosment Park 2013 Opening Day is Mother's Day!!!

Part of my job as a Vintage Amusement Park Maven includes trolling around Facebook throughout the day, lurking to find exciting information for my fellow vintage amusement park enthusiasts.  Well, here's a doozy for Northern Illinois park fans!  Copied from their Facebook page, the great folks at Santa's Village Azoosment Park say:

"2013 Grand Opening on Mother's Day May 12th ... Mothers on that day will be admitted FREE when accompanied by 2 full paid admissions. Hope to see all you Mothers out at the park on May 12th for a fun filled day to kick off our 2013 Season! ~ Jason & Don"

Folks, get yourselves out to this super East Dundee park!  The owners have been hard at work, adding even more rides and attractions in the past few months.  You recall the park was closed for years and sat dormant.  If you've been paying attention in the slightest to my mad ramblings, you also know this park has "adopted" a few of the iconic Kiddieland rides after that park closed.  All in all, Jason and Don are creating vintage park magic: bring back the nostalgic past and enriching the experience with the fresh and new.

It's not every day that a park essentially left for dead rises up again and comes back better than ever.  Santa's Village Azoosment Park is a miracle, incorporating rides, shows, animals, and attractions in one fun place!!

Harvest Fest Santa's Village Azoosment Park

A link to an article from last year I was proud to have been a part of:,0,

Friday, April 12, 2013

Witness the miracle of Keansburg Amusement Park!!

Never underestimate the power and drive of a little amusement park that won't stay down for the count!  Read this article and learn about what's NEW at Keansburg for the 2013 season!!

I'm so excited to announce that I'm planning to re-visit the park in July, adding some updates to my book.  The above article says there's a new spook house and a renovated game room.  I'll be curious to see them both; the originals, which I enjoyed in 2011, were my favorite parts of the park.  But also, the vintage kiddie rides.  And I hear they're back as well!

Keansburg's got a new coaster, too.  And improvements to their waterpark area.

Jersey Strong, indeed!!!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Hit the road and visit a vintage park this Spring Break!!

Can't wait until Memorial Day to visit an amusement park?  Well, have no fear: there are plenty of awesome parks open at this very moment!!  You can, of course, read all about these particular parks in my book, "The Cotton Candy Road Trip" , but here's a mini travelogue for a trio of great parks that are definitely worth a Spring Break journey!!:

Out in the great Northwest?  Sidle on down to Enchanted Forest in Salem, Oregon: .  Built by one man and his family, this park is super for all ages and boasts some of the most brazen uses of creativity on a shoestring you'll ever see.  Witness these photos and, remember: it was literally built by hand by one man and his family (with no prior art or Disney Imagineering experience):

The Hansel and Gretel witch house, covered in evil yumminess..

A psychedelic choo choo for the kiddies.

My hubby, who apparently was the "crooked man" they were looking for.

Now, if you're out near St. Louis, point yourself toward Branson to enter the rootin' tootin' world of Silver Dollar City.  A recipient of the Applause Award for "one of the world's best theme parks", Silver Dollar City is excited to announce a new coaster for this season, the daring wooden ride, Outlaw Run!  It's not too often that a park opens a new wooden coaster, so this is really a thrilling development.  Plus, a wooden coaster fits in well with the rustic, Western vibe of the park:
New In 2013 Outlaw Run - The World
From the park's website: feast your eyes on the awesomeness!!

My hubby and a potato swirl on a stick!  Silver Dollar City has inCREDible food!!
But maybe you're one of the lucky ones, out in Florida, or vacationing there and, by golly, you're interested in a little of vintage "Old Florida"?  Look no further than the Other Silver Park I highlighted in my book, Silver Springs in Ocala.  Part amusement park, part zoo, Silver Springs is famous for its crystal clear springs and glass-bottom boat rides.  Plus, various television shows and movies were filmed there, including the old Johnny Weismuller "Tarzan" flicks:

One of the park's friendly inhabitants.

The scenic view from the tippy top of the Lighthouse ride.
If you ever have any questions about a road trip, how to fashion one of your own, please feel free to contact me anytime.  I love answering queries about how to design a trip you and your family will cherish forever.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

NBC New York reports: Keansburg Park rebuilds and will re-open!!!/on-air/as-seen-on/Keansburg-Amusement-Park-Set-to-Reopen/199253171


Happy news from our friends at Keansburg Park in New Jersey!  They'll be re-opening this weekend!  NBC New York did this story just today and the work that's been done since Hurricane Sandy's devastation is truly remarkable!  Please watch!!

I hope to re-visit Keansburg this summer.  I'll keep you posted!!!