Sunday, November 14, 2010

A late breaking development...

Some that have been involved with Worlds of Fun and parks for awhile may remember our attempt at a website called Don't worry this post has pretty much nothing to do with that website (may it rest in peace). However our plan for was to create a for every park in the county. Ambitious... Yes. Completely impossible, Yes. Did we get thousands and thousands of photos from parks across the country. Yes.

That last part is the important part. We quite literally have a huge closet full of nothing but photo binders of parks across the country. Including Six Flags Worlds of Adventure, otherwise known as the park previously known as Six Flags Ohio, previously known as....

wait for it.

Geauga Lake

Yes, we have discovered hidden in a forest of amusement park photos, photos of the Geauga Lake carousel!

Wait a minute I don't hear the excitement?

I guess I shouldn't post the photos of the Geauga Lake carousel, the very carousel that is coming to Worlds of Fun, a carousel that until now has had no photos available anywhere on the internet. Yeah I looked.


Well I guess I will just post them anyway. So here we go.

That sign looks REALLY familiar... This photo is worth a click, the horse that's visible dead center is a gorgeous horse.

A few more horses. If you look closely (you will probably need to click on it) you can see the four seperate rows of horses. Also if you look at the floor of the carousel (those floors look familiar too...) you can see where the jumping poles enter the floor. I have it from a good source that not only is the 1926 Illions fast, in such a way as we are talking lateral g-force fast, but the horses also lean, intentionally. Now seeing the floor I can understand why. Looks like fun!

Such a beautiful sight.

Monday, November 8, 2010

A GRAND Addition

This is not a photo of the Worlds of Fun's "newest" attraction but it was carved by the same artist, M.C. Illions and gives readers an idea of the quality involved.

Back in 1972, when Worlds of Fun was originally designed, a large, elaborate carousel was one of the many focal points in the design of the park to be cut from the original plan. In 1977, the park added a Bradley and Kaye carousel to the Europa section of the park, and entitled it Le Carousel. While one of the better recreations in plexi-glass of the golden age of carousel art, it is still a recreation.

It would take the park 39 seasons before it would receive what is considered by many the crowning glory of any amusement park or theme park worth the name. A classic carousel.

Most classic carousels that one sees at amusement parks where originally manufactured by Philadelphia Toboggan Company, which manufactured over 100 hand carved carousels during the span of thirty years, Six Flags St. Louis is home to PTC #35.

Worlds of Fun's newest arrival won't be a PTC though.

Back in the hey day of carousel manufacturing, which spanned roughly from the turn of the century to about the early 1930's, there where three major types of carousel manufacturers. The Philadelphia style (PTC is the most widely known but there are others), Country Fair style (our Lawrence, KS hometown C.W. Parker was known for this style), and finally the Coney Island style. Philadelphia and Coney Island are relatively similar, both reaching for life-like realism, with Coney Island style being, no surprise, the more flamboyant of the two.

For more information on the Coney Island Style:

A Stinson band organ. Its unknown at this time whether it is operational or not. These unique music machines where the predecessor of every music device that followed it, the juke box, the boom box and even the ipod. Amazingly they weren't powered by electricity but instead by compressed air. They played by use of music rolls (think like a player piano) which orchestrated the dozens of different musical instruments (pipes) found within.

Charles Looff and Charles Carmel are two carvers and carousel manufacturer's that one often hears associated with the Coney Island style. M.C. Illions is the third. Very little is often heard of M.C. Illions since he produced very few carousels by himself (though he worked for many years with Charles Looff), but what he lacked for in numbers he more then made up for in quality. Illions came to the United States as a Russian emmigrant, a cabinet maker by trade (like so many carousel carvers) he was hired under Charles Looff, and went off later to form his own company. His reasoning for separation from Looff were quite simple, he appreciated the creativity and craftsmanship involved in the creation of each animal, and saw the future for carousel art headed down a mass produced road he did not want to follow.

Many familiar with Illions are also familiar with the fact that he raised and owned several real horses, allowing him a close familiarity with his subjects that few other carousel artists enjoyed. That experience, and Illions own talent made him into what is considered one of the top tier American carousel carvers. In fact it is due credit to Illions and his skill that even though fewer then a dozen of his carousels still exist, one, the 1927 supreme is one of the most duplicated carousels in existence. One of such copies is located at Gilroy Garden's in California.

It is probably due to the fact that Illions would not sacrifice quality that he produced as few carousels as he did. One of which a 1926 Supreme, has partially already made it to Worlds of Fun.

The center hub!

The Sweeps of the carousel, these support the upper half of the carousel and the cranking rods (or jumping mechanism). On the ends you can see the gears that connect to the rounding board.

The Ring gear, in two pieces. This is the center gear for the ride, that the sweeps and cranking rods all connect to.

Here is a great picture showing how everything comes together...

Though at this time we have no photos available of the horses from the 1926 Illions headed to Worlds of Fun here are some great photos from a similar Carousel in New York also carved by M.C. Illions.

The platform in sections, taken from E Lot.

Though the year can't be confirmed (the plaque states 1918 the National Carousel Associateion states 1926) it can be confirmed that this ornate carousel was one of a handful of supreme carousels created by the Illions shop. the term Supreme refers to the fact that it was the largest model that the Illions shop produced, boasting over 64 jumping horses, and 90 foot diameter base, making it one of the largest carousels operating in the United States.

The carousel's specific history starts in 1926 when it was originally produced for Philadelphia's celebration of the US Sesquicentennial, it then went on to spend the next 12 years in Birmingham, AL and found itself a permanent home at Geauga Lake park in Aurora, IL where it operated from 1937 until the park closed in 2007.

The Geauga Lake sign, which from what I have heard will be re-used.

Geauga Lake's story is one that is also over a century long, but one's who's story, atleast as a classic amusement park, has come to a sad ending. But Geauga Lake's story has not ended entirely. Many of its rides, even its classic Giant Dipper (which has of recent been saved), have found new homes. Geauga Lake's crown jewel though, its carousel was the final piece of the puzzle, its one that we know now for sure will live on, completely restored at a new home, waiting for new families to enjoy for hopefully another century to come.

New for 2011...

New for 2011! a gravel lot! Yes after your small tykes spend hours at the new Planet Snoopy they can stop by this amazing gravel lot for additional hours of fun!

Ok ok seriously. Worlds of Fun has one or two more tricks up their sleeve to spring on us enthusiasts for the 2011 season. But before we get to that, let's take a look at what's left. This was once the home of the blue and white tent once known as Festhaus, also previously this same spot was home to the Schussboomer roller coaster. With the complete demolition of the site, including the aged blue and white trellis entrance, it also marks the end to the final piece of Schussboomer (that blue and white trellis was the old queue line).

Courtesy of Jeff, are two panarama's of the old Festhaus Area. Be sure to click on the photos for a larger, full size version!

Here is another look at the site looking towards the Scandinavia shops.

What is it? Well its part of the REAL new attraction for 2011 (in addition to Planet Snoopy).