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December 3rd, 2006

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02:06 pm - Noaaaah is my naaaaaame...
I'm always glad to give a shout-out to Laff In The Dark, without a doubt the best-designed and most comprehensive website devoted to dark rides ("dock rides" if you're from New England) out there. Each update is a real treat to read, for the LitD gang not only tell of the history of famous dark rides and funhouses, but also often give you photo tours of the interior and other such goodies.

Their latest is an article on Blackpool's Noah's Ark attraction, one of only two left in the entire world (the second one resides at Kennywood in Pittsburgh and is a lot of fun, I can tell you.) This Biblical concept for a walk-through funhouse may sound odd nowadays, but these used to be a tried-and-true amusement park staple, and mostly secular to boot. The typical Noah's Ark walk-through involved a multi-level path winding in and around a large boat what rocks back and forth, festooned with all kinds of animals, Noah, his wife, the movie star, the Professor and Mary Ann, all that good stuff.

There were always silly obstacles to navigate (a set of "lily pads", which slightly rock under your weight, suspended over a basin of water) and stunts triggered as you stepped on a pressure plate. The Blackpool Ark, for instance, features a cow who lifts her tail and farts at you as you go by. A little blast of compressed air from the right spot really makes the effect.

Laff In The Dark's article has some superb historical pictures, including the first-ever Noah's Ark built in Venice, California, the original patent for the boat-rocking mechanism, and some old photos of the Blackpool ark from the 1930s when they replaced all the animals and figures with ones done up in a mad crazy Cubist style. (You really have to see the figures; they're incredible. We shall not see the likes of them ever again.) Then there's the photo tour of the ark itself. Some of the stuff inside is just terrific.

The last ark to be built was Kennywood's, all the way back in 1936. In 1998, Laff In The Dark ran an article on Kennywood's ark after its 1997 restoration, including great pictures of the interior, blueprints for the "new" ark, and the original boat rocking mechanism. Note that, as was the case with all Noah's Ark attractions, most of the action occurs in show buildings around the ark itself (which is really on the second story of the ride.)

Awesome stuff.

(4 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:December 3rd, 2006 08:03 pm (UTC)
You would love Blackpool. It's equal mix of Coney Island, pre-Diznified Time Square and the Wisconsin Dells. Seriously, ye-old-fudge shops side by side with adult book stores advertising "All your blow up doll needs." with sad, rotting wooden coasters backdropped against the sea. One of the more beautiful places I've been. Remember the scene in Pinoccio where he turns into an ass because he's smoking and gambling? That's Blackpool.
Date:December 3rd, 2006 08:46 pm (UTC)
Great photos in the links. Thanks!
[User Picture]
Date:December 3rd, 2006 09:52 pm (UTC)
coffee table book!
[User Picture]
Date:December 3rd, 2006 10:03 pm (UTC)
Thanks for posting this! I am actually a big fan of that website, as well as comparable sites ( mostly on "fairyland"/"storybook" amusement parks). They are finally tearing down the Gingerbread Castle in NJ this winter. I will really miss it. I'm trying to convince my parents to take me to the site on last time so I can photograph it before it goes away forever to rot in the woods, like my beloved Fairytale Forest has.... :(

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