The  first dark  ride at the park was called  "Laff In The Dark". It was running for the "New Mountain Park" opening in 1953. It was a single-level ride with Pretzel cars. The design reflected that of similar rides at other amusement parks. The lettering had an "Art Deco" look to it, with a crescent moon placed between "The Dark". The ride remained for seven years. In 1960, renovations began of "Laff In The Dark".  An upper level was created. Six new cars were purchased. The transmissions of the new cars were modified to allow a swift and sure climb to the top. Each car had a differential gear in the rear axle and a lot of torque. They came with what appeared to be a colorful primitive ritual mask molded into their front in fiberglass. The ride was themed as an African jungle and was called "Mystery Ride".

The  letters on the building were placed on motorized shafts and rocked back and forth. Below the letters was the upper level, which featured a brief U-turn over the loading station. On each side of that were two odd looking figures with large ears and noses and gum-stick bodies that rocked back and forth. Below that was the station. On the walls next to the entrance and the exit doors were six brightly-painted masks, all different and sporting hideous grins.

The masks also rocked back and forth. The clash of colors, the stylized paintings of jungle foliage and animals, the constant movement all over the building-it was a tour-de-force for Mr. Spadola and a feast for the eyes. For the interior, Spadola created a wide variety of three-dimensional  fantastical scenes, from Hell to stereotypical African natives. The "Mystery Ride" didn't last long however. Spadola had other plans for it.

 A rare view of Spadola at work!
 The African theme persists inside and out!

Let's go to the Dino Den

EDITORS NOTES: Mountain Park Memories 1 & 2 -- About the Author


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