Monday, January 10, 2011

A is for Aerodrome

A few weeks ago a long time friend of mine facebook'd me about the Aerodrome, and its evolution to Planet Snoopy... It got me thinking about how fascinating the five different variations on the 3 acres located in the southwest corner of Worlds of Fun have been and how many might be wondering, just slightly, what had once been.

So over the past week I have been digging around and scanning a few photos and graphics from the original 1978 Aerodrome, and figured I might share just a little bit of history with you.

The Aerodrome opened at Worlds of Fun for the 1978 season, as a 3 acre addition to the park. It was the park's first attempt at a "6th world" and unlike the variations that would follow, The Aerodrome was set up to appeal to all ages, from thrill seekers to small children.

After studying various park history's for the last decade one aspect of park history that intrigues me is the "why". Why did the park build a section entirely themed to flying? My personal only has to look as far as Knott's Berry Farm (KBF). In 1975, KBF built Corkscrew, then in 1976, Worlds of Fun added Screamroller, the 5th version of the same Corkscrew roller coaster. In 1976, KBF added the Roaring 20's Airfield... themed to... flight. with a 100 foot skyjump. In 1978 Worlds of Fun adds the Aerodrome... Hmmm... Coincidental? I don't think so.

The Barnstormer! Also in the photo is Cockpit Coolers in the foreground, Lucky Lindy's in the background left, and Flying Circus is in the background right.

Aerodrome would set itself apart though, with a one of a kind (at the time) Bradley and Kaye creation known as The Barnstormer. The Barnstormer, I have found is a highly remembered ride, that surprised me, especially when you consider it only operated 6 seasons! Riders would board one of the 12 bi-planes, be lifted up in the air, circle a central hub, and then dive, up to 60 feet down!

Lamar Hunt said it best "The Barnstormer is one of the most innovative rides to be designed in recent years"

The give you an idea of the entire park layout. Here is the Sky Hi (another one of my favorites), The barn seen here is the red/white games barn currently. We are looking at it as if we were standing near the Icee stand today, looking south. The Barnstormer can be seen in the background.

Barnstormer was removed after the 1983 season, it and the winds 100 feet up never came to terms with each other. Octopus, one the most moved rides in the park (four moves total it is another blog post in and of itself), moved to its place and became known as the Tailspinner.

Other features of the Aerodrome would live on in other lifetimes throughout the next 30 years. Lucky Lindy's Lunch, a restaurant featuring a tall airfield tower, and themed menu items including the Solo Burger with Lindburgh cheese. Lucky Lindy's would live on into Pandemonium where it would be known as Kid's Stuff, in the 1990's its tower was removed and Lucky Lindy's would become the park's Ambassador break area (AmBam). It is now the Magical House on Boo Hill. Minus tall airtower.

Located at the entrance to the Aerodrome was The Great Waldo Crankshaft's Prop Shop, a gift boutique. In 1987 with the debut of Pandamonium Great Waldo would become PJ Panda Clubhouse, and then in 1996 The Launchpad Giftshop. In 2011 it will live on as its newest incarnation as the Family/Baby center.

Probably one of my favorite attractions was one that I only remember from its Pandamonium incarnation, Cockpit Coolers. A tiny snack stand located opposite the Red Baron. Cockpit Coolers served drinks and small snacks and was in the same league as the other WoF Tiny/Hexagon snack stands, Pagoda Soda, Lamar's Libations, Wet Your Whistle, and The Icicle (I miss that!) in Scandinavia. It was shaped like a small airfield tower, and overflowed with the cuteness factor. You can see Cockpit Coolers in the photo below of the Red Baron.

If you click on the photo for a larger version you will see a photo of the Wing Ding. In the background is Great Waldo's Crankshaft (Launchpad)

Other rides called Aerodrome home besides Barnstormer and later the Tailspinner (Octopus), these include the Wing Ding, and the Red Baron. Wing Ding was an incredibly rare Eyerly Fly-O-Plane, it was also the shortest lived Worlds of Fun attraction operating only 2 years at the park from 1978-1979. It was replaced in 1981 by the beloved Incred-O-Dome, a yellow dome, featuring the state of the art Cinema 180 screen. Many of us from the 80's remember camping out on the carpeted floor watching movies of coasters, planes, and more pass in front of eyes. And who could forget the smell... :) It was the precedessor of the IMAX, and was amazing at the time. In 1997 Incred-O-Dome was removed and Scrambler was added in its place.

An artist conception of the Incred-O-Dome. Why oh why I didn't take pictures of it before they tore it down???

Looks pretty much the same, except the background has changed considerably. If you click on the photo to zoom you can see cockpit coolers on the far left center.

The Red Baron was the last ride found in the Aerodrome, it also has the unique distinction of being located in the SAME location with the SAME name (part of the time) since 1978. The Red Baron today, was the Red Baron then. Or for those of us in the know... The Red Bacon.

The Flying Circus Theater and Delores Hadley's Marionette Show

The last major attraction in the Aerodrome had probably the most unique fate, in that it does and doesn't still exist, in addition to having probably over a half a dozen different names in its lifetime. Originally know as the Flying Circus Theater, it was host to Delores Hadley's Marionettes in the daytime (another WOF attraction that quite literally needs its own flow chart to follow its movement) and an more adult nightclub at night.... Hey I was only 6 at the time I don't remember that!

Over the years Flying Circus was known under a variety of different names, Shirt Tales Hollow, Cabbage Patch Playhouse, Panda Pavilion... In 1997 when Bearenstain Bear Country came to town, Flying Circus had a serious rehab, to a point it was virtually unrecognizable from its original structure. From my understanding the primary theater structure remained, so that the structure that was once home to puppets is now known as Campground Theater.

Aerodrome slowely faded out thru the early 80's until the 3 acres was given a re-birth in 1987 as Pandamonium! Tune in soon as I continue our look at this ever evolving patch of earth.

Makes you wonder what crystal ball the advertisement designers where looking into... I also always wondered if they actually sold Zingers in the park (think Zambezi Zinger), looks like they did. Pretty neat stuff. (advertisement from the 1978 version of Fun Times)


Michael said...

This article is great, look at those photos! I hope this wasn't your way of shutting me up LOL.
I think the catalyst for this was when I was at WOF back in September, I was up by the scrambler and noticed that the bathrooms had never been remodeled much. It still resembles an airplane hangar. The area has been remodeled and expanded and changed over the years, but those hangar bathrooms stand there as the lone relic of Aerodrome. I had only experienced it during its last 3 seasons.

Jennifer said...

Yes Mike... Shut Up! :)

Seriously though, I think we are of one mindset I always think of the Aerodrome too when I head up to the hanger-themed bathrooms! You know they are the best bathrooms in the park.

Michael said...

I need to try and take a trip through planet snoopy when it opens. I actually haven't seen that area since Pandamonium was removed, with the sole exception of one ill fated trip through BBC, and I was horrified. The Barnstormer/Tailspinner pad was an IDEAL family ride location, in the fact that it was the best view of the park in the post-skyhi pre-detonator days, and seeing the tree house there was disheartening. The thing didn't even have real windows LOL. The snoopy bounce was a little better though.

Erin said...

When I managed that gift shop it was called Pandarama. I managed it two different seasons. If memory serves me correctly it started as PJ Panda Clubhouse then was changed to Pandarama after the first year of Pandamonium. I liked that shop a lot! Lots of toys and plush. I remember the year we added Playmobile toys and had demo play area, parents couldn't get kids out of there! We even had a playmobile train on the ledge area! Quarter candy also started there! Ah the memories. :)