Thursday, March 31, 2011

Pipe organs, brass rings... and Sazerac Slings.

Oh, wow. Just wow. It doesn't get much better than this.

We'll soon begin our maiden voyage to the Crescent City and our visit is shaping up to be splendid. Carousel Gardens Amusement Park in the afternoon, Muriel's for dinner, and drinks at the Carousel Bar at the Hotel Monteleone, a carousel-themed old school classic. Read the following article to learn a bit more about the bar. And its haunting.

Seriously -- for me an amusement park in a haunted, historical city and a finely-crafted Ramos Fizz to top off the evening, while my wonderful hubby enjoys a Pimm's Cup? Heaven.

Oh yeah. The bar revolves. So not too many Ramos Fizzes for yours truly.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Wisdom of Don Draper

Soemtimes people ask me why a book about vintage amusement parks means so much to me and what's the hook, what will the general public get out of it? Recently a fellow voice actor actually came right out with this undelicate phrase: "A book about vintage amusement parks? But what would be your audience? Why would I want this book?"

Perhaps "Mad Men's" Don Draper puts it best. "Nostalgia. It's delicate... but potent":

Watch and learn.

PS Ironic that this is entitled "The Carousel" and I'll be visitng Carousel Gardens in New Orleans and putting back an Old-fashioned at the Hotel Monteleone's Carousel Bar, a vintage bar originally installed in 1949, during the infancy of Mid-Century Modernism.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Mom works in mysterious ways

So yesterday was the 10th anniversary of my Mom's passing. From time to time, Mom loves to show up and remind me that she's never far away. So on this auspicious occasion, I knew Mom would show up in her usual subtle way: a cardinal in the tree just outside my window, meeting a gentle dog while walking Ivy. That sort of thing. Well, apparently Mom really wanted to make sure that she knows I think about her everyday because yesterday was jam-packed with her subtle and not-so-subtle messages. And they came in a set of three. Mom used to show herself aftger her passing by having things happen in "threes". But as the months and then years went by, Mom would simply show up once in a while. But for this anniversary, Mom let 'er roll.

1. While writing yesterday's blogpost, two songs came on the radio: "In My Life" and "Golden Slumbers" (a lullaby version). Both very evocative of my Mom's energy, about remembering those you've lost, about maternal love. Subtle and very "Mom".

2. Ivy never takes her toys into her bed. It's just not her thing. But yesterday, when Ben threw her toy and she ran to get it, she took it straight to her bed and curled up with it. What is this toy, you ask? Her bee. Sounds suspiciously like Mom's name, Bea. So you've got that.

But Number Three on the list is the one I'm particularly moved by. And shocked and thrilled with. Because you can chalk it up to happenstance, but then you'd be narrow-minded and just plain wrong.

3. Decided to hit Youtube in search of an elusive video from Fairyland Park. I venture there every so often, about every month or so, in search of the super-rare, nearly impossible to find Super 8 movie-transferred to video-uploaded to Youtube. Expecting to find nothing, I did this later in the evening, so I'd be ready to sign off and toddle to bed. But after entering in "Fairyland Park, Lyons, IL" into the search engine, up popped the Holy Grail:

A family film taken back in 1974, toward the end of Fairyland's reign of the southwestern suburbs. Features some of the kiddie rides which lived under the canopy of the open air building which housed my carousel. Footage of the Ferris wheel (my Ferris wheel). And the octopus (not mine, because I got sick on it once), with MY beloved Paratrooper ride in the background.

Mom, this time you outdid yourself.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sunday on the Blog with Photos!

10 years ago, my Mom left us. I'm sure she's keeping pretty busy in heaven, taking care of small, sweet beagles, enjoying all the chocolate she wants, and teaching the angels how to make The Perfect Daiquiri.

Last month we visited Disneyland to celebrate the 40th anniversary of my trip there with my Mom. We had the honor/privilege of dining at the ultra-exclusive Club 33. I ordered a daiquiri there, in her honor, placing the order the way I remembered she would: "I'd like a daiquiri made with fresh limes - no lime juice."

And that's what I got. With a Disney twist. Which I know my Mom would've appreciated. Because, as you can see, they're FRESH limes.

Love you, Mom (who just showed up,by the way. As I'm writing this, "In My Life" started playing on the radio. Followed by "Golden Slumbers")

Friday, March 25, 2011

New Orleans' Carousel Gardens

Click on this link to learn about how Katrina affected New Orleans City Park and its amusement park, Carousel Gardens. Cuz I could write about it right now, but my words don't have the gravity pictures do.

Go to the Hurricane Katrina Inside Guide and then to the two-year pictorial review.

Carousel Gardens was severely damaged by the hurricane. Now, I knew this from some prior research, but I didn't investigate far enough to find this Inside Guide with the terrible photos that tell the whole story.

New Orleans is truly a miracle city. We'll be paying a visit in a week or so and I simply can't wait to take it in and to honor the park that rose up from the destruction.

A plaque recognizing the donors to the reconstruction of the amusement park, dedicated August 25, 2007.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

More from "American Pickers"

This is why "American Pickers" is my favorite of all the reality/antique dealer/"let's find and sell old stuff" shows out there; it's got heart. And it's got an appreciation for vintage parks. Last year, Frank and Mike visited the Bushkill Amusement Park, which was basically wiped out by a flood. The owner is trying to get it back up and running, but it's been a tough road. Watch this video and learn more about the Bushkill pick. Way to go, Frank and Mike!!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Ack! I want them all!!!!!!!

In honor of the 40th birthday of Walt Disney World, they're rolling out the swag -- and it's beeyouteefull!!! Technically, we visited WDW last year and it wasn't quite yet 40, but I'll still make mention of it in my book (without it being one of the forty parks visited for the book). But I AM making mention of the swag right now. Oh it's so wonderfully retro-cool!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sunday on the Blog with Photos!

Spring has sprung today and makes its presence known with cascades of rain and pelts of hail. During my Roadtrip I've had a number of visits to parks that would, by most people, have been considered a wash out due to the weather. But no fear; any vintage park will undoubtedly have its share of activities and rides that face inclement weather and say, "Just TRY messing around with MY fun. Can't do it. No sir. Sucker..."

For instance, a dark ride or funhouse is a perfect respite from the storm. Case in point: the Pirate's Cove funhouse at Erie, PA's Waldameer Park.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

"When Irish Eyes are Smilin'"

When Irish hearts are happy,
All the world seems bright and gay.
And when Irish eyes are smiling,
Sure, they steal your heart away.

My love, best pal, and hubby (I'm very lucky) Ben Dooley, who makes every day (including every mile of the Roadtrip) as happy as St. Pat's Day (but normally with far less beer. Normally.)

Photographed at Idlewild Park, Ligonier, PA.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Vintage Disneyland Rides! On Video!!! Hurry!!!!!!!!

In an effort to being you only the choicest morsels of vintage Disneyana, I give you this splendid collection of videos of rides that have sadly gone on to Yesterland. Enjoy!!!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

It gives one pause.

I'm having a really difficult time keeping on topic these days. It's been five days now since I've written much at all, save for a small blog post here and there.

The above photo is from the Santa Cruz Boardwalk, taken last November. It was slick and murky, but we still had a blast, taking in the Haunted Mansion (perfect for a rainy day) and a deep-fried Twinkie, to name but a few things that occupied our afternoon.

Beyond that horizon is Japan. Back in November, it was "only Japan", a large island country where Hondas come from and where Disney Sea is (the only other Indiana Jones ride lives there).

Now the people of Japan are struggling for their existence. Besides the tsunami that ripped apart cities, swirling together a heartbreaking mix of water, mud, cars, trees, and people in a twisting soup, now a sinister haze is settling over the area, with dangerous radiation threatening all forms of life.

So,no. I haven't written much in the last few days. That'll change soon, I'm sure, and I'll return back to my regularly-scheduled silliness. But not right now. Not while there's so much sadness beyond this horizon.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Nordstrom features Mary Blair "It's a Small World" designs!

I can't believe I'm writing up a blog post about Nordstrom's. It's fairly expensive and I don't' always go there for necessities, let's just say. But once in a while I will drop in for something special. Now I want to adopt a kid so I can drop in and buy these!

To celebrate the 45th anniversary of "It's a Small World" Nordstrom's children's department is featuring Mary Blair designs on a line of clothing. From the website:

We've collaborated with Disney to celebrate the anniversary with a collection inspired by artist Mary Blair's original, delightful mid-century artwork and evoking Walt Disney's belief that we're united in our love for children and dreams of a better tomorrow. Japanese Spring, the first installment of this limited-edition collection, is now available online and at your local Nordstrom store.

Now to develop my magical stretching machine which will turn these into adult-sized items!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Prayers and white light.

Sending prayers and white light to all those affected by the earthquake and tsunami. Heard on the news that the West Coast will be affected, as far north as Oregon. Sending some extra prayers and light to all my pals at Santa Cruz Boardwalk, Santa Monica Pier's Pacfiic Park, and San Diego's Belmont Park.


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

I love this video.

I love it more than any video I've seen in eons. I love it more than cheese. I love it more than a good caberlot.

But I don't love it more than Disneyland. But darned near. Because it's about Disneyland, the Happiest Place on Earth. In fact, I'll go as far as calling it a love letter to the place. If you're a Walt fan, if you remember Disneyland from the 60s or 70s, you'll flip over the footage.


Sunday, March 6, 2011

Sunday on the Blog with Photos!

Lakemont Park's Choo Choo train, which winds around a peaceful pond, taking you back in time to a gentler place. The park got quieter, the colors seemed more vibrant. Truly one of the more magical mometns on my Roadtrip.

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Girl and the Mouse.

From the beginning of my Southern California chapter: Red felt pants with yellow patch buttons, stiff with age but fragile and barely able to hold themselves up. They stay in place because they formed around the tiny body they cover over the four decades. A robin’s egg blue bowtie stays shakily in place by a stretched out black band of elastic. Mickey Mouse, a vinyl doll version, bought on Main Street USA some forty years ago – he begged to join us on this leg of the Roadtrip and I almost acquiesced. But the fact that our clothing was packed tightly (one bag checked, one carried on, in an effort to save money i.e. That Elusive Thing) made the decision an easy one. It’s better to leave Mouse behind than to have Mouse get mangled by the baggage retrieval system at Orange County Airport (although I rarely worry about this particular airport, but you never know when the proverbial gorilla will kick the case across the floor and rap it against his cage bars). I can picture M. Mouse at my computer, watching for updates on Facebook, sipping from a little mug of black tea with milk.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Vintage Fortune Teller Machines: Face Time with Zoltar.

My hubby is 43 years old. Going on about 11. And he's the absolute best partner to have with me on my Roadtrips.

Whenever we come across the mechanical fortune tellers at vintage parks, I always have my picture taken with them, plunking in my quarter to receive my reading for the day. A few times the machine greedily eats up my coin and I never receive the fortune, even after shaking the aforementioned fortune teller, which probably doesn't set up the very best vintage amusement park karma. I picture a secret society of mechanical fortune tellers, with an annual fortune teller ball where they all meet up and swap stories. A throng of Estrellas, Esmereldas and Grandma Fortune Tellers converge on some seaside amusement park, settling into tight little groups, and chat about which tarot cards show up in their never-changing displays, how their mechanical parts need oiling and maintenance (but seldom get it), and compare notes on that peculiar woman with the cat eyeglasses and vintage sweaters who is at once thoroughly respectful of their history and supremely irritable when she doesn't receive her fortune card, shaking the whole fortune teller booth before walking away with a scowl.

Santa Monica's Pacific Park has an actual Zoltar machine.Although it was a slickery cold day, I made sure Ben had some alone time with the mystical seer, much like Tom Hanks' character in "Big" - a film which is not only one of Ben's favorites, but one Ben can often relate to, being a Very Tall Boy. For those of you who are curious, the amusement aprk used for the film is New York's Rye Playland, a park which will be visited later on for my Cotton Candy Roadtrip.

Oh -- I'm fortysomething going on 12 or so. A Very Tall Girl.