Happy Memorial Day from Kiddieland!

MemorialDay

Memorial day marks the beginning of summer, and the opening day of many parks and attractions in the US.

We hope that you hit the road and got out to your favorite boardwalk, amusement park, mini golf course, or tourist trap this weekend to enjoy some food and fun with loved ones. Where did you spend your holiday?

Happy Memorial Day from Enchanted Kiddieland!

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Hump-Day Dumpty Week 9

Ok, I wouldn’t lie to you. A photo of a grocery store does not belong on this blog…or does it? I couldn’t resist sharing this photo of my local Wegman’s signage, which is definitely feeling the Kiddieland spirit with this display!  I do see a missed opportunity though, since this is hanging over a candy display…not the eggs. Go figure.

Happy Hump-day! (and don’t forget to pick up a dozen eggs before you come home!)

Wegman's Humpty

Whacky Pirate’s Treasure-The Bill Tracy Dark Rides of Waldameer Park

Anyone who visits a lot of vintage parks has probably seen something touched by the legendary Bill Tracy.  Bill Tracy had a hand in creating dark ride and walk through funhouse attractions at over 50 parks during his lifetime, leaving behind some of the most memorable buildings and gags amusement riders would ever experience.

On the east coast we are fortunate to have several Tracy attractions still operating today, and lucky visitors to Waldameer Park in Erie, PA can visit two standing side by side.  Waldameer opened in 1896 and remains a popular stop for families in northeastern PA due to its history, its world class thrill rides like Ravine Flyer, and the park’s free admission.WhackyShackSign

In 1970, the Bill Tracy Company installed a Whacky Shack to replace an existing pretzel dark ride called “Fun-In-The-Dark” The building is equal parts intimidating and whimsical to riders, featuring a silly face roof with animal print chimneys, and spiders crawling around the walls below. The angles and lines contradict everything you thought you knew about construction bringing resulting in a surreal, Seussian appearance. Featuring a ride-through cart, riders start outside on the first floor, and enter the house, coming out on the second floor and returning outside for a dip before re-entering on the second floor. Everything about this ride is classic Tracy, right down to the hushpuppy cars, and it comes highly recommended if you are in the Erie Area. You can read more about the ride’s history and the specific stunts inside at Laff in the Dark.Fotor0518220023

 

No photo will ever do this attraction justice, so I recommend watching this ridethrough video to truly experience the zaniness

A few years later in 1972, a second Tracy attraction was erected right next door. PiratesCoveEK

Standing perpendicular to the Whacky Shack, The Pirates Cove features a near duplicate facade to the 1971 Pirate’s Cove found at Trimper’s Amusements in Ocean City, MD (Which is walking distance from a fantastic 1964 Tracy Haunted Mansion on the Ocean City Boardwalk!) Here are the two Pirate’s Coves side by side. On the left is the Trimper’s facade, and on the right, is Waldameer.

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This is one of 3 remaining Bill Tracy walk through attractions, and includes several familiar figures and themes, as well as some very effective gags that still work to disorient and startle guests today. Since I was too busy being afraid to trip over something to take shots inside, you can see some interior photos at Laff in the Dark!

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A walkthrough of the Pirates Cove Attraction can be viewed here:

Bill Tracy was truly one of the amusement greats. After building these two attractions, he was only with us for a few more years, passing away in 1974. Many of his rides have vanished as smaller parks close and they are lost to time, so if you have the opportunity to see some original Tracy attractions in your travels, you be sure to should take the time to visit and appreciate his legacy.

If you’re looking for the best history on the subject, you should click on over to the Bill Tracy Project and read up!

Welcome-Mr. Normand Jefferson Frost to Santa’s Village

Santa’s Village in Jefferson, NH has recently called upon its fans to find a name for their beloved iconic snowman, and the fans came through!

Known to guests for decades as  simply “Frosty” the park reached out to its fans on Facebook  in April to give the snowman a proper name. This week a winner was named-Valerie Clouter came up with”Mr. Normand Jefferson Frost ” to pay tribute to the founder, the town where the park has been for over 60 years, and the unofficial nickname given by guests-with a little nod to NH born poet, Robert Frost thrown in for good measure!

Normand DuBois founded the park on Father’s day in 1953 with his wife Cecile, and the Snowman statue has been a popular photo spot for as long as he’s stood. For decades, children have climbed into his mitten and gotten a photo. Surely generations of New England Children have experienced this rite of passage, and I’m sure he’s been on more than a few family Christmas cards in his time! 

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Here he is today, with one of our friends from the “Elfabet“, Fournier. His earmuffs have become painted over as ears, and he’s had some updates to his hat, gloves, and scarf. Also looks like he’s given up the corncob pipe to keep up with today’s PC times.

Looking good (but we like your vintage paint job better). Hope you stand another 60 years, Normand!

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Have you ever gotten your photo taken in his mitten? If not, you should probably visit Santa’s Village today!

 

Hump-Day Dumpty Week 8

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Happy Hump Day! What? What’s the matter?

Ok, You caught me, This is not really a Humpty Dumpty…or is it? Regular readers might notice some similarities in this weird purple face. Why yes-He’s got the same sculpt as last week’s Humpty at Santa’s Land in Putney, VT! And this guy lives just down the lane in the same park! It looks to me like someone had a fit of inspiration and realized that instead of having 2 identical Humpty statues, they could re-paint one into some kind of nightmarish blueberry man! What appears to have started his life as an egg is now a work boot and scarf wearing berry monster, perched atop a cinched sack! I can only assume the gloves cover an his equally horrific missing hands.

So, you got me, He’s not really a Humpty Dumpty, but I think he fits the mold-don’t you?

Oh My Achin’ Back! The Crooked Men of Kiddieland

If you spend as much time walking around parks as I do, eventually your feet will get sore and your back will start to hurt. Make sure you’re taking breaks or you could end up like today’s featured character-The Crooked Man! Before we knew about things like spinal curvature disorders or sciatica, we were entertained as children with tales of Crooked Men, living in crooked houses with crooked cats chasing crooked mouses.Today we’ll celebrate the simpler times when back pain was the stuff of kid’s stories, and not a reality of our lives! First up the silly crooked man from Storybook Land in New Jersey. Here he lives in his little green house.  almost makes you smile, even though his contorted body appears to be in extreme pain!  He must have some good pain killers. Are they causing him to hallucinate? It that kitten wearing a top hat and coat? Moving on. CrookedManStorybookl   Next we’ll check in on our Friend from Storybook Forest in Ligionier, PA. This park is always very well taken care of, and as you can see from the our Crooked Man’s home,  no detail was forgotten, from his pastel painted abode with a crooked lamp post leading up to his crooked entrance way, to the real wood interiors with uneven windows, pictures, and furniture. Everything here is pretty much perfectly imperfect. CrookedManStorybookF Something interesting that I realized when reviewing my photos is that the old man appears to have moved between my two visits. He used to lean against a fence in 2009, but by 2012, he was practically sitting on a some slate in an overgrown patch. Maybe he finally toppled over? Or maybe he just needed to rest his aching back. Looks like his (pregnant?) cat might have also run off. CrookedMan20092012 When we’re looking for creepy representations of Mother Goose, The Magic Forest never disappoints. Just about everything seems “off” about this scene. From the strange dancing animals, to the demonic dead yellow eyes of our Crooked Man. The best thing about this is that his house is a full size gravity house, where you can walk through and get that disorienting sense of confusion (as if you didn’t already have it after seeing these figures)

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You might think that Storyland doesn’t have a crooked man, but look again! At the entrance he is hard at work as a park employee, building the entranceway! He even has a mailbox and his cat is helping direct the crowds!

CrookedManStoryland

Take note of the details here, because we think that the Crooked Man may have also helped out with building some of the signage in the park! StorylandSignCrooked

The Enchanted Forest in the Adirondack Mountains has a very old man, with a very sore back living in an extremely colorful house. Still, despite the bright colors, something about the man’s face is just very sad. I suppose I see why some of the other artists opted for a silly looking man in their interpretations of this story! CrookedManEnchForest

Recently, I learned is that many of these houses were frustrations to carpenters trained to build things at 90 degree angles. Some legends tell of contractors who walked off the job at kiddie parks when asked to build thing so structurally unstable. One such tale occurred in Maryland’s now defunct Enchanted Forest.  As Martha Anne Clark describes in her book “The Enchanted Forest, Memories of Maryland’s Storybook Park“One particular challenge was the Crooked Man’s house “A carpenter hired to complete the job walked off saying it was impossible to build. It was eventually completed in spite of the difficulty in finding carpenters who could build a house requiring them to go against all of their training”

 

Yet,thankfully-here they are, defying the laws of logic and the rules of building, Our crooked houses occupied by crooked men! EnchantedForestCrookedVintage We hope you enjoyed looking at our crooked houses!

 

Which one is your favorite?