Friday, December 2, 2011

Amusement Parks as Movie Sets: Part 1

I’m trying something different this time. Let’s analyze some parks that served as filming locations for various movies through the decades. There are so many, so count on this being an ongoing series. Many sites list these locations, but my goal was to be a bit more in-depth.

Closed For the Season-2008

This first one is an indie movie shot at my local Chippewa Lake Park in Medina, Ohio. The park had been sitting in ruins since 1978 and was about to be torn down. The director asked if he could have the site to film a horror movie on the spot before demolition. This was a great idea since the location was very ominous and creepy looking. The remains of the fun house (and former bath house), the old cuddle bug, and Cyclone coaster could be seen here for years. After the film was shot, the site was finally cleared. Today, the ferris wheel still remains, no doubt due to its large size. Check out the trailer and be sure to check out these sites for some great photos of the Chippewa ghost town:

KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park-1978

One of my favorite camp films was shot at Magic Mountain, and so much of the park is shown that this movie really acts as a nice time capsule. The history of the film itself is a thrill ride of its own, and if you’re interested in low budget disasters, I urge you to read up on it.

The concert scenes were filmed in the parking lot. Admission to Magic Mountain included a free KISS concert at night so that the filmmakers could get some crowd footage. What a deal! I can ride Goliath AND see one of the biggest rock bands of the time AND become an extra in a movie!? I’m in! The nightly fireworks that followed the show were also in the movie. Here’s an 88mmfilm one of the crowd members filmed:

I can’t say for certain if the “animatronics” on the midway were actually park of the park or just made for the movie. Doubtful they were already there. However, Goliath and Colossus were used throughout the film. Colossus was still under construction during this season, but it was used regardless. Cars going up the Goliath lift hill are visible in the opening scene. Colossus was used consistently throughout. It’s the coaster that the giant-sized Gene Simmons stands over in the opening credits. It’s also where the fight with the flying monkey-type villains was shot. Furthermore, there’s a part early on when the manager walks under the support beams of the ride, giving the viewer a very clear view of how it looked at the time.

You may also notice that the park manager mentions the mascot character signage of Freddy the Fox was removed without his approval. You may also notice various animal characters decorating the park. Now, I’m not sure if these were ever really there or if they were made for the film. In the early 70’s, Magic Mountain had the Troll mascots. Later, they would use the Loony Tunes during the Six Flags years. 

Not sure what hippie on the Magic Mountain board came up with these "Trolls."

Revolution is also visible in the film, and the band members ride in the Scrambler in the opening musical sequence.

Final Destination 3-2006

The coaster of death and mayhem was Corkscrew, a steel  sit-down coaster at Playland Park in north-east British Columbia. The giant devil in front of the queue line was made for the film, so don’t expect to see him at the ride.


Here’s another campy classic about a bomb threat at an amusement park. The locations in this film were chosen by a group of candidates. First, we have Virginia’s Ocean View Park:

In the movie, the park’s main coaster is called The Rocket. In real life, this known as The Southern Belle.

Quite a few landmarks from King’s Dominion are visible. Here’s the iconic Eiffel Tower:

Since this was the era when the park’s children’s area was themed to Hanna-Barbara, some of the characters can be spotted. Here’s a shot with Fleegle from the Banana Splits in the background:

The Singing Magic Mushrooms can also be seen. Only in the 70’s…

Here’s the old Safari Monorail that was torn down during the Paramount years:

The finale of the movie takes place at Magic Mountain! Wow, that place had a lot of exposure to the Grindhouse audience.

Many rides are seen in the film at MM such as the Shenandoah Lumber Co. The bomber even tries to blow up Rebel Yell! The finale takes place at the then-still new Revolution, the first coaster to have a complete 360 degree vertical loop. In fact, the ride has a commemorative plaque outside the queue commemorating the spot where the filming took place.

Here’s the trailer to the film.

I'll have more soon as well as some new features.

**Special thanks to MiceChat for some of the pics.


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