Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Bell's: No News Is Bad News

I was just reading this article about Bell's Amusement Park's struggle to find a new location to reopen in when I realized - I haven't followed this story at all on NPN!

Bell's Amusement Park was located on the Tulsa, Oklahoma, County Fairgrounds for some 55 years. In 2006, amid rumors of crooked deals and political sabotage, the park's lease was not renewed and it was kicked off the Fairgrounds. Permanently.

Harsh, right? Well the owner's carefully took apart all the rides and attractions and placed them into storage and vowed to reopen the park in the future somewhere else in the greater Tulsa area.

A view of the park's location in the fairgrounds.

Now taking apart the rides and attractions wasn't an easy task. Bell's had grown into a full fledged amusement park during those 55 years of operations. The headlining attraction was the John Miller designed Zingo wooden roller coaster, which originally opened in 1968. The park actually carefully took the coaster apart with the hope that it would one day run again.

Thankfully the Bing aerials haven't been updated since this was all gutted.

The park also had some wet/dry water slides as well as a fun looking Log Flume. (you know me and the flumes!) It also had another real treat - an original Bill Tracy dark ride named Phantasmagoria.

The facade of the ride was classic Tracy, one of his 'typical' designs that is extremely similar to the one for Waldameer's Whacky Shack, among others. The two story ride (also like Waldameer's) took some 7 minutes to experience, and came complete with a giant rat. While many props and gags from the ride were saved by Bell's, enough of the actual ride was destroyed that even if they're reused it'll be quite different. Plus, the ride's facade was actually destroyed by a microburst before the park closed, anyway.

The Secret Fun Blog got a chance to talk a walk through the ride before it came down, and this story is a must-see for any classic darkride fan.

So three years have passed, the rides are still in storage, and now the name of the game is not only where to reopen the park, but also how to finance it. The family needs several million in order to build a proper park, and financing isn't so easy these days.

So will a new Bell's Amusement Park ever see the light of day? As always... stay tuned. Oh, and what did the Fairgrounds replace the amusement park with? A parking lot. Yes, a parking lot.