austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

Where is the crescent moon

So our first ride was the carousel. It probably would have been in any case, because it's the most historically interesting ride there. Also they had the brass-ring dispenser working, always worth the attention. bunny_hugger and I both got outer row horses, with a bit of luck, since the ride was packed. And it happened that they extended the brass ring's arm and started loading rings into the set just in time for me to make the first grab at a ring. With my experience at Knoebels, and what I knew about how to grab rings --- the secret is to reach out into the wooden arm and not mind that your fingers are going to hurt --- I went on to: do lousy. Missed altogether the first couple go-rounds, and only came up with two or three steel rings after all. bunny_hugger did much better, getting five or six steel rings, out of about seven chances to grab something.

The dark ride was a fine one, although maybe I'm just always partial to haunted house dark rides. My recollection is that this one was built recently, but by people who were serious fans of haunted-house-dark-ride master Bill Tracey and so they worked as many of the master's tricks in as they could. To give some idea how it's decorated, they have a full skeleton climbing across the roof of the 'house', where some kind of freakish bird is posed, mid-scream, at it.

The roller coasters were fine enough, though placing the Runaway Train Coaster right next to the Giant Ferris Wheel made the ride seem smaller. We also worried a little whether we'd be able to fit together in it. It's a small ride with narrow cars, but we didn't have to take it single-seated. Which was good for the crowd, since there was a fairly good crowd. Not packed like Playland Castaway Cove was, but enough that there was a reasonable line. The Wacky Worm, we did have to take each of us to one seat, but that had fewer people waiting anyway. And coming back from the Wacky Worm we discovered ... that water-shooting ``Pirate Blasta'' game, just as we had seen at Story Book Land earlier in the day. It's weird how stuff creeps up on us like that.

I wanted to ride the Monorail, which as an elevated ride seemed to offer the chance to get a great view of the park, and to see things from above. On the way up we discovered an animatronic band that looked kind of like it might be leftover Chuck E Cheese performers, possibly reskinned. I gave in to the temptation and saw what they played. There was some patter, and then they played John Denver's ``Take Me Home, Country Roads'', and there was some more patter. I forget if there was another song. bunny_hugger worried we would inspire hatred from the operators of the Monorail and whichever other attraction was up there.

The monorail had a sign proclaiming 'Southbound: Waterwonderland .2 miles; Ft Lauderdale 1163 Miles', inspiring me to joke that this seemed like a very Michigan city-distance sign. Apparently at the north end of US 23 in Michigan there's a sign reading, 'Miami 2310 Miles' or whatever the correct number is. Anyway, the ride was just as I'd hoped: a lot of great above-the-ride views of everything on the pier, inside and out, including views down onto the carousel. Any time you can get a view down onto a carousel it's worth it. The ride also gave us a good view of some of the upper-level rides that weren't running that day, even though it was a Saturday evening just before the 4th of July. No idea what the story there was.

We had a couple of tickets left, just enough for a ride on the Musik Express (always a reliable attraction for us), and then one last turn on the carousel. It was getting near the park's closing hour --- they had pulled some of the doors of the castle closed --- and we didn't quite get the last ride of the night in. But we were late enough they weren't running the brass ring anymore, probably to make do with fewer staff. Maybe to free staff up for something else.

(Here's an oddity, by the way. My pictures of the last ride and all that are timestamped 10:45. That's a weird hour for stuff to close. 10, sure. 11, sure. 10:30, maybe. 10:45? I have to guess the official closing was 10:30 and they'd run things for a reasonable while after as long as the crowds justified. Well, we walked out, enjoying the view of the pier nestled in for the night, and of the attractions and minigolf places and arcades as they closed up for the night.

Oh yeah, arcades. I peeked in one and saw: they had pinball. So that changed our let's-go-home plans. More, they had interesting pinballs. Well, some interesting pinballs. They also had Family Guy. But they had some we couldn't resist playing. The modern Stern Indiana Jones, for example, which we had heard of as a thing that existed but never seen. And the Data East Batman, the existence of which is reportedly responsible for the accidentally-Zootopia-themed Police Force.

Stern's Indiana Jones has a reputation of being a bit of a boring game, certainly compared to the all-time stone-cold classic of Williams's 90s table. But in this, my first experience of the game ... well, I have no complaints: I had an outstanding game. Beginner's luck, surely, but I had one of those games that just would not end, and kept turning up great stuff. I think there's four major multiball modes in it, and I got to all of them. I think I left my initials on the high score table, although at this remove, who could say, except by checking the pinball scores app I have on my iPod Touch that's literally ten feet away from me right now. I didn't have as record-setting a game of Data East's Batman, but bunny_hugger did.

We might have played longer, but it was late, and we'd been going a very long time, and three amusement parks in a day is a lot. And, well, we could play Simpsons Pinball Party anywhere, and Spider-Man near enough to home, and while the Data East Star Wars is rare in our parts it's also not that good a game. We were going to enjoy our triumphant games, enjoy the atmosphere, and go back to our hotel home.

Trivia: Gustav de Laval, pioneer of steam turbine design, was brought to that field in trying to solve the problems of producing high enough rotary speeds for his centrifugal cream separator. Source: A History of Mechanical Inventions, Abbott Payson Usher.

Currently Reading: The Vulgar Tongue: Green's History of Slang, Jonathon Green.


PS: More at the Merry-Go-Round Museum.

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Wolf mount, with a mouse sneaking up on him, at the Merry-Go-Round Museum.


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Close-up of the 'blanket' on a carved horse to show off the M C Illions signature on the lovely, bejewelled piece.


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One of the horses on display beside the Euclid Beach Park ticket window and price sign. There's a lot of miscellaneous stuff like this at the Merry-Go-Round Museum, although rumor is that the next time we get there --- which should be this month --- there'll be some big changes in the exhibited pieces. Which is why I took so very many pictures of what they had right then. Don't worry. You'll see it all.


Tags: fifth anniversary trip, gillian's wonderland pier, halloweekends, merry-go-round museum, new jersey
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