2013, Haunted Attractions, Oni's Life, Rants, Theme Parks

Pretzel Rides, Spook Houses, Haunted Houses, and vintage theme parks – how did we get to this point?

To say that I am devastated about the loss of Keansburg, New Jersey’s vintage Pretzel Spook House ride is an understatement. I am inconsolable.

There are not many of these rides left and because of that less and less people are exposed to them. Less and less people “get it”.

The Pretzel Amusement Ride Company was a famous Dark Ride manufacturer from about 1929 to 1980ish. They made a lot of those ride-through haunted houses that featured a track that was entwined upon itself like a pretzel.

In realty, it was probably the best company ever to exist in the history of the world. There is a reason that driving over 5 hours to see one of the rare, remaining 2 story Pretzel Haunted Attractions is a completely legitimate set of circumstances for us.

I grew up in Pittsburgh near Kennywood Park when they had Le Cachot. this is another Pretzel-manufactured ride. I was 5 when I went through Le Cachot with my parents. As I got older I was able to sense the history in the walls, the prop design, and the simple form of it. These people had no computers and limited resources – but they built all of this in ways people today just don’t do anymore.

Generations before have made their rite of passage on that ride. Times change, but the family fun remains the same. The laughs and the scares are constant.

The most offensive thing in the world to me is watching vintage theme park after theme park being bulldozed to put up apartment complexes that no one wants and no one can afford to live in.

I am not referring to faceless metal parks with soulless behemoths. I like those too, but emotionally there is not much there for me. The parks that were built by families, painted by hand, and done in ways that were so far from corporate are truly great relics of time.

Its insulting to see an apartment complex sit empty on the property where a once-majestic family-owned park used to be. They put a carousel horse in the front lobby of the empty apartment building where Whalom Park used to be. It was one of only 2 family-owned parks that still had a carousel that had the rings you could collect as you rode. The only remaining one today is Knoebels Park near Philadelphia, PA.

I daresay that the more polite thing to do would be to put a giant sculpture of an ass in the wall.

The fact that Hurricane Sandy just took the oldest remaining Pretzel ride from us feels like murder to me.

I see the dwindling state of Pretzel rides today as a symptom of the erosion of our culture as the emphasis is taken away from creativity, the arts, and family fun. How did we get to this point? It repulses every bit of me and I hate it.

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