Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Curiouser and Curiouser...

I'm curious: Just how many tea cup rides are there in the world? When Disney's "Alice in Wonderland" was released back in 1951, it was one of the films in the Disney arsenal which inspired many a Disneyland ride and attraction: the "Alice" dark ride (which, at that time, also included the "Upside Down" room, now long gone. Notice next time during the first half of the ride; you'll see that the track splits off at one point and a phantom track leads to nowhere),a small portion of the Storybook Land canal boat ride (you know - you board your mini seafaring vessel, drift through Monstro's open maw (which frightens the kiddies and a certain 40-something author of a vintage amusement park book) and float by the teensy structures and the tiny topiaries), and the time-honored favorite, the Mad Tea Party tea cup ride.

While Road Tripping, I've encountered a number of tea cup ride impersonators, but none with the swagger to actually summon up the source material in its welcome sign. Knoebel's comes right out and boldly announces its similarity with Disney. And I think that's just fine -- because imitation is often a most sincere form of flattery. And the tea cup ride is a swirling, spinning vessel of fun, bringing families around its central spinning hub for decades, creating millions of laughs and whoops, cementing memories (albeit often a number of queasy ones) that are shared in stories and home movies for years later.

Lewis Carroll must be sipping a cream tea somewhere, and quoting himself: "Oh, 'tis love, 'tis love that makes the world go round." And sometimes what goes 'round and 'round helps to add to the love.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Since Halloween's only a bit more than a month away...

I've decided to sift through my photo files and find the bizarre, the strange, and the nearly upsetting. Or, at the very least, the images that make you go, "What the???"

Here's a clear example of a "What the???" from Seabreeze Amusement Park in Upstate New York. I found him looming about the hand-carved carousel, amongst the bits of vintage amusement park ephemera.

You tell me -- what do YOU think his story is?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

It's just a hunka hunka rolling coaster!

Up in northern Wisconsin, an historic coaster with rock and roll roots will soon have a new home and thrill the next generation of coaster enthusiasts. The Zippin Pippin was once Elvis Presley's favorite coaster (wow -- now THAT would be quite an interview for my book! Perhaps I can have someone channel him... Hello, Elvis? How many times did you ride it? Ever ride it while eating one of those peanut butter, bacon and banana sandwiches?) and it's to be resurrected from the original blueprints up at the small Green Bay park.

Viva Las Bay Beach!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Happy First Day of Autumn! Let's begin with some exciting kiddie park news!,0,2309903.story

Check out this story in the Trib about a new park coming to the area. The former Santa's Village site will be transformed into Azoosment Park, a half zoo, half kiddie-themed park. And rides will; eventually be incorporated by next year. Hopefully this will fill the sad void left behind by the closing of Kiddieland.

Kaloo! A park geared toward the little ones, featuring gentle animals and a modest price point. I'm so excited by this!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Catch me on the radio or live streaming audio online!

I'll be interviewed on "The Jack Evans Show" on WMBS-590 AM out of Uniontown, PA today. I was on last month, but the show was pre-empted by a lousy Cubs baseball game (can you tell I'm a Southside White Sox fan?), so Jack offered to interview me again and for the full 45 minutes! I'm all a flutter. Catch the interview if you can!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Happiness is a Warm Puppy. And sometimes a wooden one.

Carousel animals come in all shapes, sizes and phylums. If you visit the vintage carousel animals found in the Knoebel's Carousel Museum you'll see a vast array of not only ponies, but ostriches, goats, and this perky beagle. Or is it a harrier? In any case, it's an example of the merry-go-round diversity.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sunday on the Blog with Photos!

Nope, no rollercoasters in this pic. When I'm not Roadtripping, I act. Or as my hubby says, I have fun "on the playground."

It's me from a publicity still for the show I'm currently in, "The Drowsy Chaperone". If you live in the Greater Chicagoland area, please do drop on by. Here's the link for tickets. You'll have a ball -- cheers!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Next Park on the Roadtrip Confirmed!

I've officially locked in the next park and date in mid-October for the 23rd "Cotton Candy Roadtrip" destination! I'll crank up that airplane and set flight westward to Oakland, California where I'll be visiting Children's Fairyland, a storybook-themed park teeming with vintage structures, Mother Goose characters, vintage rides and puppet theatre. A far cry from roller coasters and dark rides, but vintage parks span a wide variety of types and sizes, and I willingly embrace them all!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Ghoster Coaster!!

So you're traipsing through western Pennsylvania during a particularly crisp Autumn weekend, wondering what to do with yourself? Look no further than the links provided above: Conneaut Lake Park has some exciting special events lined up for the next few months, including their Oktoberfest, Pumpkin Fest, and Ghost Lake (for those brave souls who like getting the pudding scared out of them!). It boasts 8 levels of terror; they advise allowing at least one and half hours to make your way through all the attractions, including the haunted (for real) Hotel Conneaut. Extra-cool bonus: you can ride the newly-restored Blue Streak rollercoaster! You know you SO want to do that! And get this: for Ghost Lake, they've renamed it "the Ghoster Coaster". Can I hear a "squeeeee!"?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

While in the San Fran area...

another park I hope to visit is Children's Fairyland, which is celebrating its 60th anniversary! I must now include a photo from its website which I find particuarly charming:

It's a shame there aren't many places like Fairyland still around. I'm glad I've visited Storybook Gardens in Wisconsin Dells, which I believe has a similar vibe. And then there's the storybook section of Idlewild, but we unfortunately got there just as they closed the section for the day. I actually saw Little Bo Peep walking away...and then it started to rain.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Dark ride geeks...unite!!

Check out the link above to learn more about the NEW Haunted Castle Ride at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk (the next park on my Road Trip!). The Boardwalk has hosted dark rides since 1931 - the Haunted Castle ride is a mix of new technology and vintage pieces. As I'm not the very best on a roller coaster or spinny-spinny ride, I look forward to parks with dark rides - although I spend most of the journey with my eyes scrunched so I view it through a haze of eyelashes.

Monday, September 13, 2010

More "Legend", less filler!

Yesterday's post spoke about the "Point of No Return" sign at the top of the Legend roller coaster in Arnold's Park, IA. Today, if you get out your magnifying glass, you can find my sweet hubby riding the Legend, enjoying some exquisite "airtime".

Sunday, September 12, 2010

"The Point of No Return"

The last park I visited this year was Iowa's Arnold's Park. Arnold's has withstood many a setback in its long, illustrious history, from storms to impending bulldozers. But it's valiantly faced them head on, helped in great part by its neighboring fans who demanded their park not be trifled with. So it's only fitting that at the top of the first dip of its roller coaster, "The Legend", you encounter an ominous sign with this foreboding phrase: The Point of No Return". Because that's exactly where you're at, where you're going, and there truly is no turning back now. It boldly declares that it's reached a point of bravura, almost of swagger. It's earned it.

What made me think of this sign at this moment in time? Well, today is the first day of production week for my play "The Drowsy Chaperone". From this point on, we can't turn back, we can only, as my character might say, "bumble our way through life's (or the play's) crazy labyrinth"(Oh, Arnold's has a labyrinth, too - I just remembered). But right now, as I'm strapped in, safety bar pulled down toward my lap, I'm curiously at ease, more so than at any time in my theatrical past. Maybe it's because theatre is part of my life now, but not the only part. These parks have also become a part of my landscape, an important piece of popular culture to champion. My book writing journey has filled out my horizons, so "points of no return" aren't as threatening; they're just another hill to climb to get to a place of discovery and play.

Interestingly, Arnold's Park withstood another storm in July. A few rides were closed down temporarily, but only a few things were lost. One of those things was the ubiquitous sign. Has it been replaced? Not sure -- but bring it on! I'm now more than up to the challenge.

Friday, September 10, 2010

A new moon, new energy and outlook

Here's wishing everyone a peaceful weekend, with lots of time to focus on love and closeness. I know I'm sounding pretty hazy daisy and "dawning of the age of Aquarius" when I say these things, but more and more I'm realizing that time with loved ones, time in quiet contemplation, and joyful recreation, (like when you visit a vintage amusement park -- hint, hint), is what makes life worthwhile. It's where God abides. It's where all that is positive and life-affirming lives. And it's especially important as we come upon the ninth anniversary of 9/11 that we focus on peacefulness and understanding, compassion and open-heartedness.

that's all that I've got. That's all we should have.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Prayers for a peaceful, beautiful place

A place that I've adopted as one of a small number of "homes away from current home." Boulder, CO is in peril. Wildfires of unknown origin (a car plowed into a tanker??) are ripping through this town, destroying homes and corrupting lives. Boulder sits in the lap of the Rockies and is inhabited by some of the most peaceful, creative souls I've been blessed to have met.

Prayers and white light, please, for the land, the animals, the people, and the businesses.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Where it all began...

Yesterday I had the honor of being interviewed about my book on "The Jack Evans Show" out of Uniontown, PA. He asked me how I came up with the idea and I brought up the tragedy of Kiddieland's closing last year and the profound effect it had on me. The heaviness/lightness of an Irish wake permeated the air on the last day as I walked through the grounds, taking in the folks attempting to squeeze out one last laugh on the Scrambler, one last "squee!" on the Little Dipper -- while fighting back the tears.

Kiddieland, I'll do my best to help other parks dodge your fate. Rest in peace, my treasured friend.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A great way to start the month!

I just finished being interviewed on "The Jack Evans Show" on WMBS - CBS 590 AM out of Uniontown, PA. My interview was prempted a bit by the Cubs vs. Pittsburgh game (solidifying yet again why I'm a White Sox fan), but Jack had me on solid for twenty-five minutes - which went by like five and twenty seconds. A gracious host, he let me explain the title of my book, what prpted me to write it, and even tell a few stories that I've culled for the book. I'm also elated that I was ableo help Conneaut Lake Park get the word out about their highly-likely reopening of the Blue Streak coaster this weekend!

I like it when months start with a broad grin...