Thursday, October 27, 2016

Vintage Postcards - Midway Mania 2

As promised, here is the second installment of Ken Martinez's vintage postcard article....

Midway Mania! - More Classic Carnival Rides Part 2

Here we are back again at the midway. I've got five more cards to show today.

"Tilt-A-Whirl" is probably the most famous midway ride in flat ride history and it also happens to be my favorite. I always loved the red half-dome top, yellow crescent moons, white clown heads and blue tilting flooring. Lots of primary color! I've seen different color variations but this is my favorite because it's the classic look. It was built by Sellner Manufacturing. The location for this postcard is Seaside Heights, New Jersey.

Here is a pair of rides manufactured by Chance Rides; the black and yellow "Yo-Yo" (a swing ride) and another midway classic, the "Zipper". I rode the Zipper once and it felt like it was going to fall apart so I never rode it again. Those traveling shows could be scary. I did love to watch the mechanics of the Zipper in action which I found fascinating.

The "Round Up" was another I used to love to ride. Now I couldn't make it through most of these rides. Spinning and rising Do not appeal to the body these days.

In this postcard we get four flat rides for the price of one. From top to bottom we have a "Roto-Jet" similar to Disneyland's Astro-Jets, another "Spider" ride, the "Scrambler" manufactured by Eli Bridge Company (of Ferris Wheel fame) and a Chance "Trabant".

Here we have two more Chance Rides; the "Toboggan" and the "Sky Diver". I always love seeing these two in action at the midway, especially watching the Toboggans spiral down the cylindrical tower. I rode these attractions just over ten year ago and I felt really claustrophobic when I rode them. I guess in my kid-sized body it felt like lots of space in the ride vehicle when I was young. As an older adult I couldn't wait to get out.

Hope you all enjoyed the return visit to the midway today.

Information Source material: The Flat Joint -

THANK YOU so much to Ken Martinez!


TokyoMagic! said...

I have fond memories of almost all of these rides! The exception here would be the Zipper. While I was willing to try almost any ride once, that ride always seemed a little TOO much, so I skipped it. Didn't Michael Jackson have a Zipper (no pun intended!) on his property and didn't Gregory Peck ride it, even though he was pretty far up there in age?

I'm loving these carnival ride postcards, Ken! I hope there are many more parts to this series! As always, thanks for sharing!

Matt said...

For the toboggan ride, how would you get up? Elevator in the center? It looks fun!

Thanks as always

Scott Lane said...

Matt: I remember these. Yes, the elevator was in the center.

Thanks again Ken and Major for this trip down Memory Lane.(no relation)
Trying to figure out which Wildwood pier that overhead shot was on. I'm thinking Sportland in North Wildwood, but could have been what's not called Adventure Pier on the south end.

Alonzo P Hawk said...

Great collection, thanks for sharing. When I was a kid I used to love riding these (sometimes rickety) thrill rides. And I agree, now not so much.
After just returning from a weekend at Knott's and daring the thrill coasters/rides (except two)with my kids it's a little tougher to handle the older you get. I have a theory, the older you get the brain shrinks and sloshes around in your mellon more than it did as a kid. I stepped off a couple of those rides and had spins for a good 30 seconds before I could stumble off the platform. Good times.
It always amazing to me that many of the rides (shown here) travel and are set up/torn down weekly in the traveling carnivals. Safety first!

Anonymous said...

Is that some kind of monorail track in the second photo? I don't see a train but the rail and pylons have the look.

Unknown said...

Lovely work, Ken. For a bit of movie trivia: a Tilt-A-Whirl car is the basis for the spaceship that the kids build in the film "Explorers". There's just so much cool detail in these shots. time to do some exploring of my own.

Clyde Hughes said...

Beautiful, beautiful cards, Ken! Thanks so much.
I, too, love the Tilt-A-Whirl in that original paint scheme. It just looks so cool with the red, those moons and clowns. It adds greatly to the character.
In the top card, it looks like a "Whip" ride, just to the top right of the Tilt-A-Whirl. Those 'kiddie' rides (if they were called that) on the far end of the pier look so much fun. On the left, I see the edge of the 'bucket' thingy ride. Not sure what the name of it was. Seems like you would spin and lift, etc. I wonder if there was a caterpillar (like the one still at Idlewild Park) at this park?

Yes, that Zipper is ferocious... the cars or 'gondolas' can't be controlled in their flipping, so you get lots of bang for the buck. Like you, I find it more interesting by observing the mechanisms. Indeed, many rides are just fascinating to watch, as well - kind of like the Eyerly Aircraft rides you shared recently. The Roll-o-Plane came in 2 variations, I think. One went just up and down, while another version added a horizonal axis to the ride.


Chuck said...

Ken, I can't add anything to what's already been said other than my personal thanks. I really appreciate your continued efforts to share these with us.

Nanook said...


'Wild days at Wildwood' - I see the 4th card is from Wildwood. Undoubtedly I walked that very asphalt - probably avoiding most of these rides, in favor of the coasters. I'm trying to remember if I ever got to Shaheen's Park in Salisbury Beach. I don't believe so. The image doesn't bring back any memories.

Thanks, Ken, for sharing these terrific images.

K. Martinez said...

TokyoMagic!, I'm sure the Zipper is fine and safe, but I did not like the sensation as it really felt out of control which I don't care for. Another intense ride I only rode once was the Chance "Turbo".

Matt & Scott Lane, Actually it was a straight-up lift inside the central tubular tower. The coaster vehicles would climb straight upward with the riders looking straight up on their backs. Visually it was one of my favorite midway carnival rides. I always remember it being at the County Fair.

Alonzo P. Hawk, you and me both. I used to not understand why my parents enthusiasm was low for these types of rides. As I get older, I now know what they meant when they said it just doesn't sit well with them.

Patrick Devlin, Thanks for that bit of information. I actually watched "Explorers" just for the fact that it had a Tilt-A-Whirl" vehicle used for the spaceship. It was also featured on the movie poster in theaters.

Clyde Hughes, I love the mechanics of the Zipper ride. It always fascinated me and I wondered how strong those cables were that traveled around the two end wheels at each and still manage to keep the vehicles to roll along the track and stay on.

Chuck, I'm glad you enjoyed.

Nanook, I usually ignored these types of rides too in favor of the coasters unless there was one I hadn't experienced before. I knew most of these would show up at the local carnival or county fair. Also most of these attractions I already experienced in my youth probably from age 8-13 before venturing off to travel across the country as an adult to visit the great amusement and theme parks. But these do keep many of those very early amusement memories alive.

TokyoMagic! said...

There was an episode of the Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys Mysteries where Nancy goes on the Zipper at a local carnival. My memory is a little fuzzy of exactly what happened after that. Either the bad guy leaves her in it and runs it at full speed, or he removes the locking pin from the door so that it will open mid-ride and she will fly out....or both! Does anyone else remember that episode? Michael Jackson and Gregory Peck might have been riding in the vehicle with her. Seriously though, after that episode, I remember checking out the Zipper at the L.A. County Fair and realizing that the door to the car is connected to the safety bar and that the door is in front of the riders instead of on the side like the Rock-O-Plane. All it would take is for that locking pin/clip that the ride operators attach by hand, to accidentally fall out and that door would open and you'd be toast. That is another reason why I passed on riding the Zipper!

JG said...

I think I rode one like the Round-Up once at the fair, it's interesting how your viewpoint becomes fixed within the wheel. I have to admit, I've never been a fan of these wild rides.

My tastes didn't run much beyond the Matterhorn or Goofy's Sky School until my kids cajoled me into the big coaster in CA Adventure.

That was pretty enjoyable and prompted me to finally ride the Giant Dipper in Santa Cruz. Glad I did that, but not in a hurry to do it again.

Ken, thank you for these fun pictures, I do remember the midways with fondness even though I didn't ride them much.


Nanook said...

@ TM!-

No need to have a "rickety" carny ride for thrills - how about an out-of-control carousel-? (Just ask Farley Granger in Strangers On a Train).

TokyoMagic! said...

Nanook, I love that movie. Criss-cross!!!

Nanook said...

@ TM!-

I may have to look at that film again this weekend. Along with Shadow of a Doubt, they're among my favorite Hitchcock films.

Melissa said...

Thank you, Ken!

I've always wanted to go to an amusement park right by the seaside; I think the ocean smell and sound would add to the overall excitement.

I want to ride the Yo-Yo and soar over the Photo Barn! I promise not to drop stuff on them. The Round-Up and the Zipper are a little rough for my bones, too. But I'd ride with Gregory Peck if he was still around. The Tilt-a-Whirlmakes me think of Carousel from Logan's Run.

The Scrambler, though, is always a favorite.

I've always said, if you're going to have an o-rama, it might as well be a fun one. I've never seen a ride like the Toboggan; I reeally want to try it!

I read that the scene in Strangers on a Train where the old carny crawls under the speeding carousel was done without any trick photography - the actor made that dangerous crawl just as it appears. Hitchcock said he regretted it and would never put an actor in that kind of danger again. Love all the carnival scenes in that movie.

Anonymous said...

@Nanook, re "Shadow"... once or twice a year, I walk by the Santa Rosa train station, (which still looks just as it did in the film) and practice my Joseph Cotton profile. There's a farmers market on Sunday in that little park, all just like the film.

There's a spot downtown about 2 minutes walk from my office where Hitchcock stood on the corner in his cameo. It's fun to stand right there too. Downtown looks a little different, but many buildings are still recognizable from the film.