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Posts tagged “carousel

Carousel Columbia at California’s Great America is a part of Hollywood

Carousel Columbia is a stunning park icon. It’s taller than Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle by 33 feet!

But, has it been living a lie for nearly four decades? No, it really is the tallest carousel in the world (by one foot).

You see, since Marriott’s Great America opened up back in 1976, its been considered fact that the base of the ornate spire on the roof is actually a potbellied stove from the 1938 film, “Marie Antoinette” while the column caps are from “The Swan” in 1956.

So, having no social life on a Saturday night, I decided to see if I could spot the future carousel bits in some photos or video online. That’s when my jaw hit the floor – which if you know me well, is ACTUALLY a possibility.

Check out these screengrabs from the Swan’s theatrical trailer, via YouTube:

While we see what looks like the column caps in the sketch here:

Carousel Top 2

 

Look what also shows up in the actual film:

Carousel Pinnacle The Swan

 

Need a better angle? Here you go:

Carousel Top 3

Now, for a comparison – here’s two shots from this week (2014) thanks to the magic of a 400mm lens with a 1.4x crop sensor:

Photo by Kris Rowberry

The pot bellied stove that sits atop Carousel Columbia

Photo by Kris Rowberry

The two Hollywood props that make up the ornate detail of Carousel Columbia.

Then, I was able to find a clip of “Marie Antoinette” and saw this, what appeared to be the capstone of the columns, but not quite:

Can you spot one of the caps from Carousel Columbia in the background?

That being said, has the park been getting it wrong for nearly 40 years?

Well, that’s where it gets tough. Hollywood is notorious for re-using props and sets. It’s very possible that the props could have been used and recycled in both films. Considering the artistry that went into building them, wouldn’t YOU want to recycle them to lower costs?

So, did the park get it wrong 40 years ago – what do YOU think? Watch the trailers and check out the photos for yourself – see if you can spot a piece of Carousel Columbia!

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North Korea’s Great America?

Imitation is the highest form of flattery, right? Well, sometimes it’s not flattering – it’s just blatantly ripping off. Case in point: Kaeson Youth park in North Korea. Now, I’m pretty familiar with both entrances to the two Great America’s here in the United States (they were built as twin parks after all, back in the mid 1970’s…) They both feature a unique, double-decker carousel, which is actually just one carousel with two individual decks.

World's Tallest Carousels

Santa Clara’s (left) and Gurnee’s (right) nearly twin carousels. Santa Clara’s is a foot higher, but the perspective is off due to non-matching focal lengths. Photos © 2008 & 2013, Kris Rowberry.

And apparently, someone who was allowed to make decisions in North Korea was familiar with the (almost) twin carousels, too. So much so, they decided to pluck it . The similarities are just uncanny – and with the worn-down look of the Korean park, it’s downright EERIE:

Kaeson Youth Park Carousel Columbia

This is why knock-offs are never better than the original – no matter what the price!

Kaeson Youth Park Carousel Columbia

At least they got the staircases right – albeit, they put them in the front instead of the rear…wait – where IS the front?!?

This just goes to show the impact of Randall Duell’s design – a ride as iconic as Carousel Columbia was actually copied (albeit badly) thousands of miles away. Just don’t get me started on the abnormally long first drop of the coaster next to it – that’ll be for another post!


Reaching for the Brass Ring

Odds are, you’ve heard the phrase, “reach for the brass ring” at least a few times in your life. Heck, there’s even a website with the same theme.

But, I’m willing to bet a Fast Pass that you probably don’t know where the phrase originated – turns out, it’s amusement park related and it’s also one of the greatest pieces of nearly lost Americana.

In fact, according to the National Carousel Museum, there are only 12 places left in the United States where you can still, “reach for the brass ring.”

A carousel brass ring machine is similar to a lottery – catch the lucky ring on your ride, and you usually got a free re-ride. Only come up with a steel or iron ring? Just toss it into the (insert open mouth item here).

Reaching for the brass ring at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.

Reaching for the brass ring at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.

Once a staple of every carousel (just like a live band organ), the ring machine slowly feel out of favor with most parks.

Ring machines are generally a pain – literally. Anyone caught not paying attention could be in for a nasty surprise if they leaned outward at the wrong time. Plus, there’s the toll the rings take on the horses, themselves. Ring throwers aren’t always the most accurate – and ricochets also take their toll on the wooden carvings.

In addition, while brass is certainly beautiful, it has one minor flaw – it’s incredibly malleable. (Easy to bend and shape). So, while it’s great for making rings, it’s even better at jamming ring machines when they eventually deform from wear and tear.

With higher insurance premiums, threats of litigation and soaring maintenance costs – most parks opted to remove the finicky machines in order to cut costs.

Even the Santa Cruz Boardwalk , seen today as a champion for amusement history and preservation, removed its ring machine back in the 1970’s. As a result, ridership plummeted 50%.  Needless to say, the ring machine was back up faster than you could say, “Welcome back, riders.”

But, for the parks that have kept this great tradition alive – it’s worth the sacrifice. For the riders, it’s just another reason to visit these traditional parks.


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Photo of the Day: Looff Carousel Ring Machine

As the last of the great seaside amusement parks, visiting the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is like literally stepping back in time. It is home to not one, but TWO national historic landmarks (The 1911 Looff Carousel and 1924 Giant Dipper roller coaster.) Both of these federal landmarks are unique, in that people can actually ride them, rather than admire them from a distance.

This shot was one of my first forays with the stunning Canon 5D Mark III – and the results were simply spectacular. Look for the cut on the finger from the previous pass at the ring machine…now THAT’S dedication!

Looff Carousel at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Photo (c) copyright 2013 - Great American Thrills and Kris Rowberry

The 1911 Looff Carousel at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is one of only 5 left in the world with an operating ring machine.

As always, a big thanks to my friends at BorrowLenses for allowing me to capture such beautiful photos with their gear.

Interested in purchasing / using some of my photos? Check out my 500px: http://500px.com/GreatAmericanThrills

View my videos on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/GreatAmericanThrills

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Photo of the Day: Carousel Columbia at “Blue Hour”

Carousel Columbia at California's Great America. Photo (c) copyright 2013 - Great American Thrills and Kris Rowberry

Quite simply, this is one of the best long exposures I’ve ever taken. Done with a Nikon D7100, 24-70mm lens and NO tripod – just stayed as still as possible. Columbia is still the World’s Tallest Carousel as recognized by Guinness World Records at just over 101 feet tall.

Carousel Columbia at California's Great America. Photo (c) copyright 2013 - Great American Thrills and Kris Rowberry

Still the tallest carousel in the world, Carousel Columbia makes for a stunning subject at night. Now, if only all the accent lighting were working…

As always, a big thanks to my friends at BorrowLenses for allowing me to capture such beautiful photos with their gear.

Interested in purchasing / using some of my photos? Check out my 500px: http://500px.com/GreatAmericanThrills

View my videos on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/GreatAmericanThrills

Follow me on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/GreatAmericanThrills

Tweet me on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/krowberry

+1 me on Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/1/115502587437263155125/posts

Follow me on Instagram: http://instagram.com/krowberry


Featured Post on BorrowLenses Blog

Hey everybody!

I was just featured on the BorrowLenses.com blog, giving away some of my Top Ten Amusement Park Photo Tips. (Hint – use a nice camera and have tons of patience!)

You can find the link to the blog post by clicking here:

Featured Story on BL Blog

Or using this hyperlink:

http://www.borrowlenses.com/blog/2013/04/top-ten-tips-for-amazing-amusement-park-photography/


GAT Introduction Video!

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you our first compilation video – welcome to the introduction to the concept of Great American Thrills!

Hope you enjoy it!