Friday, June 15, 2012

My First & Favorite Haunt

   I know, I know. You were all expecting at post comparing and contrasting the Disneyland and Walt Disney World Mansions in place of this. Well, until I patch up my Dell Laptop, you more than likely will not see that particular post. Because I want the post to be visually interesting, I'm stuck waiting til I can access my ginormous mansion picture library on it's hard drive. I knew I'd be kicking myself for not moving that and my Mansion music library to my spare hard drive at some point. Okay, explanation over and out. Time to look at today's topic:

  What is this odd building above, you say? I know that some of my readers will know exactly what it is. But for those of you who don't know where this particular spook-house sits, and what it means to me; this is a post I'm hoping you'll read. This ride right here; it's the reason Strange & Frightening Sounds exists. It's the reason I'm obsessed with amusement parks and dark rides in general. If this ride wasn't in my past, I doubt I'd be as attached to Disney's Mansion, or any attraction anywhere as I am today. This ride above bit me with the amusement park bug at a young age. It fueled my interest in all things scary. This ride is know simply as The Haunted House; it's owned and operated by Trimper's Rides and Amusements in Ocean City Maryland. This is how it all began.

  If you grow up living in Maryland, there's a good chance you're going to be a frequent visitor of a town know as Ocean City during the summer. If your a frequent visitor to Ocean City, than you've probably taken a stroll on the boardwalk a few times at least. And if so, there is a good chance you've wandered down to the south end of the boardwalk; past first street and down towards the inlet. If you have, then you've probably seen for yourself a bizarre looking facade with crooked clapboard, a twisted chimney, and an ominously pointed gable among the many ordinary looking facades down this way.

  During the early to mid 1990's, I could frequently be seen on summer nights standing to the mid-left of the facade, looking into the lobby of this early 1960's Bill Tracy Dark Ride. What I was looking at was a headless man named Count Wolf Von Vinderstine. This animated barker character had been added merely months before my first memories of seeing the attraction, and he intrigued me. I was a bit to scared to actual hop into one of the eleven "Coffin Carriages" at the time, but that wouldn't stop me for spending hours on end watching the ride from outside. The facade alone is enough to look at. Bill Tracy pulled out all the stops when he designed it. There's not a single building on the boardwalk that can match this one for pure artistry and originality. If you don't know who Bill Tracy is, you'd better start reading here! He's on the same level with many of the Disney Imagineers who created our Mansion.

"Ah-ha! More Visitors! I am Count Wolf Von Vinderstine, and this is my home. Do you feel a chill of foreboding, or was that just a... passing ghost?"

  The Count (see left) could hold my attention for hours, even though his three and a half minute spiel about rooms that would turn upside down, and dreary dungeons would just loop over and over. I'd watch cars come in and out of the ride; crossing the balcony above, passing Bill Tracy's giant bat. There was something about this eerie facade and whatever mysteries awaited inside that had me hooked at four or five years old. I'd make my own Haunted Houses out of toys and action figures at home. I'd draw Haunted Houses, and even decorated the basement staircase in our house with paper cut-outs I would draw of crooked clap-board signs and even a pint-sized 2 foot paper version of the Count. It wasn't until the year 1999 or 2000 that I actually got on the ride for my first time. And after that fateful ride on my birthday of that year, I didn't ride it again until summer of 2009. That's all because of one or two gags that scared that bajesus out of me at that age; most notably a recently added modern gag featuring a man thrashing and screaming in an electric chair from distortions unlimited. (see bellow right)

  Even after that first ride on my birthday, I was still intrigued by the ride. If the Haunted House wasn't open, there wasn't any reason for me to be on the boardwalk. It was my connection with this ride that caused my fascination with the Disney Haunted Mansion years before I actually got to experience it first hand. Had I not been seduced by the dark side via Trimper's magnificent ride, I doubt the Mansion would have been my favorite ride at Walt Disney World. At that young age, I also had a love for pirates, fueled mostly by watching the Disney Animated classic Peter Pan. Captain Hook and the Crocodile where always my favorite parts. At that same age, I was just as excited to hear that Disney also had a ride based completely around Pirates! Watching a sing-along-songs video with "Yo-Ho, A Pirate's life for Me" on it; featuring footage from Disney's World of Color special from the 1960's was enough to get me excited about a pirate ride. (This explains my distaste for the recent movies and the change they brought to the ride. Look how long I've been a fan of the ride for!) The Mansion wouldn't have probably mattered as much to me if I hadn't been so interested in Haunted Houses and the scary, supernatural stuff.

  We can fast-forward to 2007 or so, when I discovered a fan-based website for my childhood changing ride. Turns out I wasn't the only one who had been influenced by this boardwalk staple. This sprung me back into the world of dark rides from which I had been disconnected for so long. After years of being to timid to ride again, I finally got back into a coffin carriage in 2009. One ride lead to another, and than another, and than I began to loose count. (Thank heavens for wrist-bands!)

  When I told my S&FS followers that Disney's Haunted Mansion wasn't my favorite dark ride, I had a feeling you were all aghast. The website's main subject wasn't the list topper? Well, there's always been a good reason behind that. Had it not been for what many out there would call a "Cheesy old carnival style spook-house" on the boardwalk at Ocean City all those years ago, I doubt I'd have such an interest in Haunted Mansions and stuff of that nature. The ride changed my life, and I owe it to the Haunted House to keep it at #1 in my lists purely because it's had such an affect on me. For more information on this ride that has played a huge part in my interests, please go check out my friend Brandon's website; it covers just about everything you'd ever want to know about the ride. It's like the equivalent of a Doombuggies.com for the Ocean City haunt. Bellow is a video I shot in May 2012 of the Haunted House. Please note that the ride isn't the same as what you see in the video today. An extensive renovation has taken place, and the ride looks better than ever now:


Still the best $4.00 you can spend on the boardwalk!

I'll see you all a little later...

S&FS

6 comments:

  1. I really enjoyed reading this post. Thank you for sharing your favorite dark ride and memories with us.

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  2. I thought it was $3. But I enjoyed it.

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    1. They just raised the price a week ago. Last time it was raised was in 2002. With all the rehab they did on the ride, I'm surprised they didn't raise the price all the way to $5.00; it's still the best money you can spend on the boardwalk.

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  3. Great video I love Trimpers Haunted House its a tradition for me to ride every summer

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  4. Seems I got there just in time, before the price change!

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  5. Hi there!
    My name is Jane and I'm with Dwellable.
    I was looking for blogs about haunted places in Ocean City to share on our site and I came across your post...If you're open to it, shoot me an email at jane(at)dwellable(dot)com.
    Hope to hear from you soon!
    Jane

    ReplyDelete