Part 1 : Hell n Back

But wait...... you didn’t think that we would be going directly to the classic and "Top-Ten of all Time" Pretzel Dark Ride, the "Haunted Castle" without some history of those past rides at the Palace now did you? Don’t worry, you will take a ride on Haunted Castle real, real soon, but first, a timeline of sorts, to pay homage of the past and vanished dark Rides that used to grace the Palace . . .

The first Dark Ride in the palace was simply known as "Ghost Town". This ride was located in the old building, near the site of the Twister ride, and on the other side of the Ferris Wheel. It was thought that both the classic Pretzel cars and track were taken from an earlier Dark Ride located at the defunct Asbury Park Steeplechase Amusement Park, formerly located between 3rd. Ave. and 2nd. Ave. with Ocean Avenue on the side. Ralph Lopez Sr. helped to both design this Amusement Park as well to work in the more better known park of the same namesake, Steeplechase Park, Coney Island NY. This ride isn’t well know, besides the fact that a rather bad fire happened in the palace in the 1940’s, that harmed the carousel badly besides the "Ghost Town" Dark Ride. This first of the legand’s at Asbury had a facade designed by Mr. Nickels that had a large, standing and "Animated Horse" along with a "Western Cow Girl" that stood up front. The ride followed the former Steeplechase Park "Mill Chute path in the area it consumed. The ride was removed after the fire, and the apartment that Mr. Nickels lived in was also removed, and a new ride, "The Donkey", a tumbling sort of "Whip" type of ride, built by the great Pretzel Ride Company, that featured "Bucking Jack-Asses" was placed in the Palace, as well as a new arcade ( A Palace favorite through the years) in addition to a new "Dodgem" Bumper Car ride, built again, in a new section of the building, that was then renovated. The walls of the new "Dodgem" were painted in very funny cartoons of " Popeye" comic strip characters, with cars crashing into them! The "Donkey" was removed after a very short time, due to many mechanical problems, although parts of this ride would, in the future, find its way into various Dark Ride props.

The next Dark Ride to be built in the Palace was known as "The Haunted Caves". This ride was located near where the Palace office and bathroom hallway was in the later years, inside the older building. After the Palace expansion of the 1950’s, this ride (in a newer rehash) ran way back, into the newer building to where the Wax Museum was, and right under the Fun House, on a long, straight run, all uphill! The ride’s facade featured some large "Ghosts" as well as the " Funny, Fat Devil" poking a guy into a fiery death! There was also a rented Old King Cole "Laffing Man" that lead to even more "Ballyhoo" on the outside! It also had giant "Ghost" that waved into the air. There were large, animated "Heads with Fishbowl Eyes" that were made from defunct Donkey Ride parts. Some of the stunts included: A creepy "Witch" that was suspended by a wire, a "Guy and Coffin", and lastly, a "Giant Octopus", the last prop, that was to be used in later Dark Rides as well. In the mid-1950’s, a "rehashed version" of the "Haunted Caves" was to be seen in the remake, now called "Hell N' Back", right before the addition of the newer Palace building. The facade was largely kept, as well as the props inside. Strangely, enough, the "Laffing Man" was replaced by yet another Old King Cole prop, the "Giggling Gertie". This facade was, much like the Caves, not built in-house for reasons yet to be explained, but both of these facades were done by an outside source, an artist from N.Y. City. Ralph Lopez Jr. commented that both facades of the "Haunted Caves" as well as the "Hell N’ Back" Dark Ride, which had the same base rock look, didn’t make any sense as they were both strange and didn’t have a central theme. Ralph Lopez Sr. did most of the stunts inside this ride, including an Palace Fan Favorite, the classic Lizzie Tish" figure as well as the "Sadie Blunt" figure and prop. Many of these stunts were based upon Western Cow Boy and Indians films, with namesakes form the wild west! "Hell N’ Back" also contained an " Amusement Displays Creators " "Space Monster" figure. This well known prop was, at times, bought by Pretzel for inclusion in there own rides. Known remaining examples of this stunt still reside in the beloved Sylvan Beach NY, "Laff Land". The Palace had this as well as a PTC "Dead Dan" coffin type of prop and a ADC "WItch Head" (That would find its way to the Casino Fun House in later years) too. Rounding out the props was a "Dead Man Hanging" that was suspended from the rides ceiling. After this, was "The Jungle Ride". This facade was built in-house by Ralph Lopez Sr., not much is known about the ride, besides the fact that it has a jungle theme. There was a large "Gorilla face" that spread across one end of the facade. The "Snakes" are thought to have made their way to the "Orient Express" Dark Ride later on.



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