September 21st, 2014

krazy koati

Memories are bringing you joy

Well of course we got in, and we did some walking about to take in the scenery first because it's a lovely old-fashioned park. When we visited last time we were also with bunny_hugger's brother and a friend of his, so we felt a little constrained against the kind of lingering and staring and wandering about we might otherwise have done; this time, it was just us and if we wanted to poke into the kiddieland and see what was there, we were perfectly free to. They have a quite small wooden roller coaster there, which dates to either 1927 or 1928 (sources conflict) and therefore is even older than the Dragon Coaster. It's sadly too small for us to ride, but it feels good just being around something that old. The Roller Coaster Database says the original construction cost was a mere $2,537, which seems inexpensive even for being 1927 or 28 and not intimidatingly high. It makes those occasional projects where a madman builds a roller coaster in his backyard seem the more reasonable and attractive, doesn't it?

The kiddieland's got some other rides, of course, little versions of a Himalaya for example, or a kid's model Caterpillar that apparently had been removed for a couple years and returned just this season. It's got also a handful of nursery rhyme dioramas, though it seems to me too few of them. They don't seem to move but I can't rule out that they might have at one point. Maybe they're the survivors of decades of life eating away older attractions.

There are a couple of arcades at Playland and for the first time we went looking specifically to see if they had pinball machines. At one that's beside their antique carousel they had three machines: a Twilight Zone that was turned off, a World Cup Soccer, and a Bugs Bunny's Birthday Bash that someone was playing four games of, rather intently. We played a bit of World Cup Soccer, doing worse than we do on our home machine, and then went to the carousel when the guy playing Bugs Bunny was nowhere near done.

Theirs is a good-looking carousel, certainly. Particularly catching my eye this time was one of those things that tends to be overlooked when people talk about carousels: the chariots. You know, the fixed seats where people who don't feel up to mounting a horse, or don't want that excitement of going up and down some, or can't get on one of the mounts goes. Theirs was decorated as a rather long Chinese-style dragon, with front and back wings, and several secondary figures like serpents coiled around a tree branch beside it. It made an attractive figure.

After the ride Bugs Bunny was free. I hadn't played this since I was an undergraduate, when one of the student centers on another campus had it, so I never quite got the hang of the game and thought of it as well-meant but kind of mediocre and certainly not worth the bother of going to another campus to see, which is also the opinion I formed about Deep Space Nine back in the day. Having played it anew, with generally better skills, yeah, it's still kind of mediocre but I get the flow of the game better. I also learned why it's a game unsuitable for serious tournament play, though: among the generally well-integrated bits of cartoon theme, on your last ball, Bugs offers you a prize, that you can keep or pass to a competitor. The prize might be something great, like, an extra ball or big points. Or it might be something mischievous, like, an explosion. Or it might be potentially value-neutral, like, swapping your score with your opponent's, which is what I ended up with the first game we played. You can see where that's fun when clowning around with your friends, but also where it would really screw up pinball as a skill game.

There's another arcade on the far end of the midway, and that turned out to have The Flintstones, a mediocre game based on the awful live-action movie of the 90s. This caused me to dimly remember things about the movie's plot, which I think centered on Fred discovering concrete. At least ``Concrete'' is used in some way to start multiball. The arcade also had Cyclone, the carnival/amusement-park-themed game they used to have at your pizza place, and it was just too perfect to not play that while at an amusement park. Even better, I had a great game on that, managing to snag the Cyclone Jackpot for four million plus points, and so got to put my name in on the high score table at number three.

If there's more pinball at Playland than that we didn't find it; it's hard to figure where it might be. But it's been a good summer for finding pinball machines at amusement parks.

Trivia: In 1947 the HMS Vanguard suffered a power failure, losing its gyrocompasses. As it lacked magnetic compasses (due to an Admiralty decision the previous year) the ship had to resort to steering by the stars. King George VI happened to be aboard. Source: Compass: A Story of Exploration and Innovation, Alan Gurney.

Currently Reading: Mathematics And The Unexpected, Ivar Ekeland.