Thursday, March 24, 2011

March 23, 2011 Off Season Park Tour

Yesterday, Wednesday we had the chance to go out to the park and shoot some photos of the construction, and happenings at WOF-land. Originally the plan was the go out Tuesday, but weather reports LOOKED so bad.... then what happens? Its beautiful and Wednesday is cloudy and blustery... oh well. So definite progress is being made on the three additions for 2011. Lets get on with the photos.

The new Festaus, what we are looking at is directly down the hill from the walkway into the park. This used to be the Orient Express picnic area, and funny enough it is going back to its original designation. Already it looks about a million times better then it did. If we remember this area used to be filled with weedy trees, bushes and gravel.

A look down the side, this is one pretty amazing retaining wall!

They raised the roof on Wednesday so here we have the structure for the new carousel barn. Those are metal structure poles, not wood, which is good from a maintenance perspective.

Moving on the Planet Snoopy, there is a quite a bit of work going on there! Each existing ride is not only be refurbished (as we have seen on the Hot Air Blog), but each existing ride pad is being replaced as well with new concrete structures. Here we see the Red Baron.

In fact almost the entire section is receiving new concrete, here we are looking up the hill towards Scrambler. To the right is the original Camp Snoopy fountain, which will be retained, minus canoe.

The original Bear Country structure is finally getting some significant exterior remodeling to make it look less "bear country-like"

The new pad for the new Snoopy Bounce structure (same place as before). Unlike the previous incarnation the new Snoopy Bounce will have a walk-around path for parents to watch their kids.

Looking south towards Mamba and Peanuts Playhouse. The structure in the center used to be where Sally's Dance Studio was (I believe the structure itself might be the same), this will be the new station for the 4X4's/Peanuts Road Rally.

The opposite side of the midway, for those that remember this used to be where Woodstock's Airmail was. This will be the new station for Snoopy's Rocket Express. Behind the Rocket Express supports you can see the area that will be home to the Samba Tower/Flying Ace Balloon Race. Also to give an idea of scale of the Samba Tower (which is 40 feet tall), if you go back to the previous photo, the Samba Tower will be approximately 10 feet taller.

Located directly to the left of the Peanuts Playhouse are the finished concrete supports for the Rockin' Tug/Lucy's Tugboat

Look the falling apart fence is being replaced!

The inner guts of Charlie Brown's Windup, with a new concrete pad. Directly behind it will be Sally's Swing Set/Happy Swing

Just outside of Planet Snoopy is the old Blue Bronco/Battle Creek BBQ is receiving some love, right now in the way of new windows...

Some more of Snoopy's Rocket Express.... It does sort of look like roller coaster track just a bit... but supposedly the ride only runs 4MPH or so.

The balloons have arrived! Under all that shrink wrap are a few of the balloon cars for the Samba Tower/Balloon Race.

More photos of the Carousel barn construction

More photos of Planet Snoopy construction

Check back soon for Part II of the March 23 , 2011 Off Season Park Tour

A tour of the Worlds of Fun Greenhouses

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

It's A FINE Shrubbery.... A tour of the WOF Greenhouses

Welcome back... to Part II of the March 23, 2011 Off Season Tour. For some this part is going to seem dreadfully boring, almost like "Living with the Land" at the EPCOT pavilion at Disney World. Some think its the most boring ride ever conceived... Some like Jeff and I ... love it. Some have absolutely NO IDEA what I am talking about. :)

If you do then you know whats coming up. If you don't .... well if you ever get down to WDW in Florida, then you will have a taste of what the ride is like. Worlds of Fun since day one, has had a large selection of plants, many tropicals, many annuals, many everything else in between. Of course we know over the preceding years that landscaping at Worlds of Fun just isn't what it used to be. HOWEVER, that being said its still pretty nice I think. Really you have to appreciate a group of people that can grow Elephant Plants and Sago Palms as big as we will see here in just a minute. Seriously.

With that being said for years I have wanted to voyage into the WOF greenhouses. After all we all walk by them on the walkway to the gate from the back lots. They are right there on your right. As a plant lover I have always wondered exactly what it looks like in the winter with all the plants all cooped up. Well folks for those still interested we are going to show you.

Of course I can't really "show" you the 80ish degrees, with 100% humidity, rain forest feeling, but just imagine a day in June, and you will get the idea.

First lets start with some annuals. Lots and LOTS and LOTS of annuals. I believe these are pansy's. Here is a link for what they look like with color. Worlds of Fun still starts all of their annuals from seed. From what I have been told, today that process is exceptionally rare, and is in many ways a lost art.

The pansy's have some unidentifiable friends here on the other side of the greenhouse.

Moving on, we have more future flowers being started. In this case some Cannas. Here is a photo of what they will look like when full grown. Worlds of Fun used to use more of these but they have recently been replacing them with bushes...

Ever wondered what happened to all those potted palms, and hibiscus? If you look to the far left you can see the annuals we just looked at. If you look to the far right you can see some of the park's hanging baskets.

Here is a closer look at some of those hanging baskets. This is just SOME of them.

A "few" topiary pots, and if you look to the right you can see a MASSIVE Elephant Foot plant. There are actually two of them side by side. These are usually in the African section. I personally have never seen one anywhere outside WOF as big as these, and supposedly neither has any of the other WOF landscapers. This is what they USUALLY look like. Behind the elephant plants are two Tequila plants. These are usually in Americana near (appropriately enough) the Blue Bronco. Yes folks Tequila plants are really used to make Tequila alcohol.

Some more tropicals. In this photo we have a few palms at front, several banana trees behind them, and to the far left the park's collection of rubber tree plants. I am still trying to figure out WHY I can't grow them that big at home.

Welcome to Cacti-land. Last year the park did a nice cactus garden over by the Icee Stand/Custer's Last Stand. Some cactus here you probably won't ever see in the park though. Especially the tall one's, supposedly they are worth quite a bit, and we all know how long they would last... Not ... Very.... Long.

I have no idea what this plant is specifically. If anyone knows let me know. Its pretty cool though.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

P is for Pandamonium

About two months ago we went back to 1978, to look at the first expansion into the world that today, 2011 we now call Planet Snoopy. Then it was known as Aerodrome. 9 years later, in 1987 it would make its second transition from the flight oriented, Aerodrome, to kid friendly Pandamonium!

Pandamonium opened the same year Worlds of Fun celebrated its 15th Anniversary.

It wasn't to be Worlds of Fun's most costly addition, it wouldn't even cost even half of what Planet Snoopy today is costing the park. Only $1.5 million in 1987 dollars, that's roughly $3 million in today's dollars. It would add four new rides, Too Too Train (still there as Woodstock's Express), Turn Tyke (still there), Swing-A-Ling (still there as Charlie Brown's Wind-up) and Either Oar (removed in 2001 for the addition of Camp Snoopy).

Either Oar, a staple at Pandamonium and then Bear Country. It was removed when Camp Snoopy was added in 2001. As an added addition, this ride was an absolute pain in the posterior to work in the hot summer months as those stupid plastic boats leaked!

Ah Kiddieopolis. It didn't last very long as you might be able to figure. But it was great fun while it lasted. My favorite part? The giant plastic balls you had to "try" to walk across. Emphasis on the TRY.

Pandamonium shoudn't be confused as the parks first kids area, that tribute goes to Humpty's Haven in Scandinavia. In fact at the time, not every kids ride was migrated immediately to Pandamonium, but most did. Notably Viking Veel (Head over Wheels) and Tot's Yachts made the move over. However, Micro Moto Bahn, one of the two rides removed permanently at the end of the 2010 season, stayed in Scandinavia until 1997!

Micro Moto Bahn in Scandinavia. In 1997, it was moved to Kiddy Kingdom & Bearenstain Bear Country were it became Road Rally. It was removed at the end of the 2010 season.

Though I have been fascinated for quite a long time (over 15 years now) with all of Worlds of Fun's history, Pandamonium and the years that surrounded its addition are the most special and memorable for me personally. I was there the year Pandamonium opened as a 10 year old. And just like today I awaited the newest Worlds of Fun commercials of the year. When Pandamonium was announced I went about, in my 10 year old way, trying to recreated PJ Panda's costume... it didn't work out so well. But it proves even then, 10 years old I was already hooked.

So what was Pandamonium like all those years ago? Really what was the PARK like all those years ago? Girls of those days came in dressed in the 1980's style sundress, thirsty kids down'd one of the park's many Soda Sippers, usually themed after one of the park's mascots (though the juice itself really didn't taste that great we all wanted the bottle!), and at the end of the day, most of us all left with one of those famous tissue paper flowers.

No this isn't me, but its about as close as it will ever get. Curly hair, barrettes, sundress, paper flower and all. :)

Rainbow Brite stared in her own show at the Panda Pavilion, newly renamed but basically the same structure as the Flying Circus theater. Rainbow Brite was the BIG thing back then, but how dorky and 80's she is, looking back now!

I had a sudden realization after posting this blog that a lot of people have NO idea who Rainbow Brite is. Yep, mid-80's saturday morning cartoon star.

Just the following year in 1988, the Rainbow Pavilion, became the Cabbage Patch Playhouse, and for the next four years after that, the Pavilion was home to a meet and greet show with PJ Panda, and the other Worlds of Fun mascots (Sam Panda, Daniel Coon, etc). Think like Campground Karaoke at Camp Snoopy.

Sam, PJ, Daniel and an unusually short Gertrude get down with the kiddies at Panda Pavilion

PJ Panda was the new mascot for Pandamonium. A pint sized version of the older Sam Panda. From newspaper articles of the time, PJ panda was pint-sized to be less scary for the younger visitors to the park.

Unlike Planet Snoopy today where quite literally the entire section is being bulldozed and rebuilt from the bottom up. Pandamonium basically built on the Aerodrome's existing structures, and bumped the section out a bit land-wise to fit in the six new arrivals. (two existing rides and four new rides).

Yes, Pandamonium boundary's extended all the way down to near the Forum... This is where Detonator is now. Back in 1987 it was home to one of Pandamonium's relocated rides the Viking Veel/Head over Wheel.

As previously mentioned the Flying Circus Theater became the Panda Pavilion. Lucky Lindy's Lunch Counter became Kid's Stuff. Its iconic airfield tower? Re-themed to include brightly colored alphabet letters.

Amazingly as a friend of mine pointed out the nearby airfield themed bathroom stayed looking exactly the same, just as it does today even. So that 35 years later, one last vestige of the Aerodrome still remains.

The irresistibly cute Cockpit Coolers? Became Soda Sipper... serving what else? Soda sippers! Man I wish I had a photo of one of those. Talk about child-centered advertising at their best. If I remember right they were still around until the mid-90's?

One of the quintessential over-sized crayon decorations. In the background is Soda Sipper. Previously known as Cockpit Coolers.

Three existing major attractions would also stay, and two would become classics in their own ways. Tailspinner stayed on to be called Octopus once again. It sported several different color scheme's over the years... from the tried and true Worlds of Fun colors (pink, purple, lime green, etc), to its famous... or should I say infamous tomato plant color scheme.

The Octopus or Tailspinner, featuring its "iconic" red and black "tomato plant" color scheme.

Red Baron, the kiddie airplane ride located, it seems eternally, at the entrance to every new area variation, was given its second new name, PandAm Airlines. For those born in later years, the name gives credit to the popular airline at the time PanAm Airlines. Incred-O-Dome also stayed on, and would last until 1997. Incred-O-Dome lived out its useful lifespan, and had gone from state of the art, to a relic of the past when it was removed. We all have wonderful memories of it though!

PJ Panda, and you can even see the Panda Pavilion and Screamroller in the background!

Pandamonium would be with us for years to come, it had a cute and simple theme that wasn't directed at any specific commercial character (nothing against Snoopy), building blocks, giant crayons and bright colors, including the brightly painted light poles were characteristic of Pandamonium!

Unfortunately, its minimal infrastructure additions really hurt the area. In fact it seems the idea of a fresh coat of paint, instead of a whole overall overhaul seemed to trickle from Pandamonium down into the rest of the park, to cause the major demolitions that we would see about a decade later. In fact, I think its almost safe to say that this one small area in the park, throughout its various changes is almost a direct reflection of the future of the park at that time.

The REAL reason this blog update was delayed... The 1987 map. One "interesting" point is the almost overkill advertising of ride sponsorships. Maybe its just me but Mazda Orient Express? That just strikes me as odd. If you look at Pandamonium you will also notice that it appears the designers of the 1996 souvenir map probably took a page from the 1987 map. Pandamonium NEVER looked as interesting in real life as it did on the map.

One thing is true though in1997 Pandamonium's long run came to an end. Prompted by the purchase and change of ownership of the park to the Cedar Fair chain, the by that time dated Pandamonium would make way for the short lived Bearenstain Bear Country.

We will hopefully get a chance to look at it and Camp Snoopy one last time soon!

Check out more photos and discuss at's Facebook site!