Thursday, September 17, 2020

Pleasure Island

We believe the things that were always there in our childhood were somehow there long before.  There was an amusement park in Wakefield, MA, Pleasure Island that I went to with day camp every year.  I don't think I ever went with family, because that would have meant going with my cousins who lived the next town over and I don't recall that.  There is still Canobie Lake Park in NH, once more like this but upgrading steadily over the years.

The Wreck of the Hesperus plunked you in one of those four-seater carts on a track and dragged you through a dark ride, one of those things that was supposed to scare you and had sound effects of a ship in a gale, with the ghost of some old salt cackling about something as you were all about to go under. There were thunky sharp turns, and you could hear the rest of the ride in the background wherever you went, including the ghost, repeating his cackle and sentence every ten seconds or so. There was a Chisholm Trail ride, I think entirely outdoors, and the usual carousels, go-karts, and many places to buy overpriced junk food over souvenirs. Did everyone have them or were they mostly a New England thing? This particular one had some Disney connections, which I did not know at the time.

I thought it had been there for decades, or at least since right after the war.  It only existed between 1959-1969, just about my conscious childhood.  There are those who still remember, the Friends of Pleasure Island, with lots of pictures and descriptions of all the attractions. I had forgotten about Friends Baked Beans, one of the major local brands at the time. In Massachusetts back in the day, beans could be part of an amusement park.

I had not realised that the Saloon had been rescued by Clark's Trading Post, a northern NH tourist attraction. Clark's has the Wolfman, who shoots at you as your train goes by.  What is a felony offense in Massachusetts is a tourist attraction in NH.


Sponge-headed ScienceMan said...

That's often a job most NH Governors apply for once they finish their 2-year terms in the Statehouse - Wolfman at Clark's. Pay is better.

Aggie said...

I remember Pleasure Island!

Christopher B said...

There was something similar about 90 miles west of my hometown in Iowa called Arnolds Park. It sits on Lake Okoboji, one of several large lakes in the NW corner of the state. I don't think it had any rides quite that elaborate but it might have earlier in the 20th Century. There was also a tour boat on the lake. We didn't go there but did frequent the larger more Disney like parks that were built in the later 1970s in the midwest. Adventureland near Des Moines was one. Arnolds Park had something of a revival in the early 2000s and I did visit once as an adult, mostly to ride the original wooden roller coaster that was restored to operation.

Korora said...

Pleasure Island? Wasn't that the name of a trap Pinocchio got lured into?

Galen said...

Off topic: Mondo Duplantis!

Grim said...

Gatlinburg used to have a more strictly Oldtimey/Old West themed place called Silver Dollar City. I think it’s Dollywood now, but I haven’t been to see it.

This video gives the sense of it — ham & beans shop there too! — but it lacks the amazing documentary quality of yours. I can’t decide if I’m more taken by the political incorrectness of the Native American impersonation, or the conception of protected wetlands as “useless marshes” whose transformation into huge parking lots was a fit bragging point.