austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

It's a child's world of fun, playing care free under the sun

So back to Story Land. As mentioned one of its attractions is an antique carousel, a Heyn-made model from 1880. It had been in Bavaria originally, then the National Carousel Association has no idea, but it ended up at the Canadian National Expo for a couple of years in the 60s before coming to Story Land. It's got several dozen mounts, although they don't go up and down. They're fixed to the platform --- and I'm embarrassed I don't remember how fast the platform rotates; I want to say five rpm at its maximum.

But the mounts aren't stationary on the platform. They're all set on rocking bases, with swings. You give the ride a push and it bounces forward and back. Forward and back is a rarer motion on carousels than you might guess. It's fun, messing as it does with expectations. Also you can start doing something the moment the ride operator isn't looking, and keep it up until the operator insists people get off the ride. And if you control the speed of your rocking just right, at the start and the end, you can get these moments where you're stationary relative to the ground. There are some rocker-type mounts on modern carousels, especially those kinds that turn up at shopping malls, but I don't remember any being being or speedy enough for that to be fun. We got a couple of rides in on this and that was the day's other triumph, past Roar-O-Saurus time.

We were able to get lunch at the park, in the Friends Around The World Food Fair. They had vegetarian burgers, reinforcing just how much easier it's getting to eat vegetarian these days. We ate in the pavilion, watching what really, really looked like a storm trying to roll in and not making it. Despite plenty of chances the storm never did arrive, dashing our hopes that it would lighten the crowd.

At the pavilion though I did get engrossed by an odd spectacle. A couple of park workers kept going up to and measuring and making pencil marks on a blank piece of wall. And then they came back with what looked like paint, but stopped short of putting any on anything. Then they came up with appliques that again they held up to the wall and brought other people over to consult on, but never did anything with. I kept watching, through lunch, and even lingered just a bit but nothing actually got done besides holding plastic sheets up to the wall. At the day's end we walked over and there was a neat new ``Story Land'' logo on the wall, right there. Watched pots and park grounds crews, I suppose.

The crowds would stay fairly heavy until about 5:00, though. This put us off some attractive-looking rides like the Antique Cars. The Antique Cars were a popular ride, though, so popular that they closed the line to that about 45 minutes before the park closed. Also, !. We were put off Dr Geyser's Remarkable Raft Ride, despite its charming turn-of-the-century Americana/crazed inventor theme because that was way too wet a water ride. The theme is something about Dr Geyser who'd invented a rainmaking device and if it weren't enough of a rapids ride it even went under artificial waterfalls to make sure you came out soaked. Not us, not on a day too likely to rain.

More our speed and moisture level were the Huff Puff & Whistle Railroad, which circles around the park and which according to the announcements even makes one full circuit after the park closing hour. It runs at grade to the park, alongside walkways that don't have any kind of barrier and that felt strikingly dangerous for a miniature railroad ride. It whistles and alarms as it approached a spot, sure, but there's not even a loading station. And we rode the Cuckoo Clockenspiel, a spinning-tubs ride that goes through a giant cuckoo-clock house. That's charming to start with, and it's got a good and busy animatronic clockwork mess going on inside. Nice long ride, too.

As we got to the end of the day we went back to Roar-O-Saurus, figuring we could probably get one more ride in and if we were lucky the crowds would have evaporated enough we might get two in. We were extremely lucky.

The crowds had receded from the dinosaur area of the park, and we had just a short wait for our second ride. And it was no less delightful a ride its second time around. It's not a ride that wears off its thrills quickly. When that was done we walked back around to wait for a front-seat ride. And now the crowd was so light it was a walk-on. Not just a walk-on, but they were letting people re-ride. One kid sitting in the second row tried to move to the front and we had to tell him, no, we really were waiting for the front-seat ride. Well, we were. We'd be happy to swap seats with him the next time around, though.

But when we got back to the station nobody --- nobody! --- was waiting for the ride, and the operators said if anyone wanted to get off the ride that was fine but otherwise stay in your seats and we'd go around again. There's no turning that offer down. Nor was there any turning it down when we got back to the station and again nobody was waiting and they were offering a re-ride. We got back to the station at what was surely 6:00, the closing hour, and with nobody new at the station surely no more rides would go out. Except they released the brake just enough for us to roll forward a bit, moments before the station phone rang, I assume with the official ``day is done'' notice. And so we went out on one last ride, after an incredible string of re-rides on a most thrilling wooden roller coaster.

We did feel sorry for the kid who lost three front-seat rides in a row, although if we'd taken the time to swap around, it would've been only two, I suppose. And even second-row would be a great ride. I'm not sure it's possible to have a bad ride on Roar-O-Saurus.

So from that we made the long walk through the shuttered park, taking the long way around to get a last view of everything. For the third time in two days we were so happy to see a place more wonderful than we'd expected.

Trivia: Suggested recipes offered by United Fruit's home economics department around 1930 included ``bananas and bacon'' (banana chunks wrapped and served on a cocktail stick, ``guaranteed to start a conversation''). Source: Bananas: How The United Fruit Company Shaped The World, Peter Chapman.

Currently Reading: Overthrow: America's Century of Regime Change From Hawaii To Iraq, Stephen Kinzer.

Tags: amusement parks, new england parks tour, story land
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