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.
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)
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.
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...