It's just this little chromium switch, here... (derspatchel) wrote,
It's just this little chromium switch, here...


I've been a fan of the dark ride fansite Laff In The Dark ever since they started around 1999 or so. Their articles on dark rides and funhouses (disappeared, disappearing and legendary) have evolved from personal recollections to well-researched photoessays, done up with a beautiful eye for layout and design. Of course, some of their features evoke more personal reactions than others -- Jay Ducharme's writeup on the attractions of Mountain Park is not only maddeningly thorough, but also personal, as Jay ran the rides near the end of the park's life, and, well, I rode 'em. He probably yelled at me, the impetuous twelve-year-old that I was, to stop running around the queue from the exit to the entrance so I could ride again.

LitD's latest article, just recently put up, is another personal one for me. It's all about Whalom Park's funhouse. The article's highlights are what makes Laff in the Dark such an enjoyable read for me: not only are there historical pictures showing what the place used to look like, but there's also photos of the place after its last renovation (to "Monster Motel") as well as pictures of what the place looks like today, after the park's closure.

The most recent pictures were actually taken in 2001, but we're told the building is still in good condition. Which just means the vandals and arsonists, who ruined the park's beautiful Ballroom building, haven't gotten to it yet.

Most interesting is the funhouse's mid-90s incarnation as "The Prism," where different rooms and stunts were painted and themed around various colors of the rainbow. Sadly there's no pictures of that incarnation in the article, save for a few shots of the rainbow-colored exterior.

I was also intrigued by the fact that many of the funhouse's original stunt mechanisms remained intact after a renovation got rid of the centralized "Arcade" atmosphere and concentrated on an in-and-out walkthrough layout. The rotating disc mechanism still exists underneath the thing, though it hasn't been used in decades. The inner workings of the rotating barrel are shown in the article, and mention is made of the Controller, an employee who lurked in the building's second story with a commanding view of the entire place, operating the stunts like the rotating disc as well as the airholes that'd blow air up women's skirts. (The last time I saw these blowholes was on a travelling funhouse at the Tri-County Fair around 1995 or 1996. The lurid stunt fell out of favor in the 50s and 60s, mostly due to the fact that women were no longer exclusively wearing skirts. Oh, and there's also that whole harassment thing too.)

It's a damn dirty shame what happened to Whalom Park. And I don't hold out hope that either the coaster or the funhouse will ever be relocated to an appreciative and loving park. But I'm glad the mythos of such attractions are kept and preserved by sites like Laff in the Dark.

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