Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Amusement Park Maps

The high point of the summer vacation, for many a kid, was an all-day trip to the nearest amusement park. Roller coasters, getting wet on the log ride, sometimes a cartoon character not named Mickey, and junk food on the midway trying to win stuffed bear. As a very young child growing up near Detroit, the park of choice was Boblo Island. Operating 1898 to 1993, boarding the SS Columbia or SS Ste. Clair riverboat ferries for the 18-mile trip downriver to the island park was always an adventure.

Later, my parents got more adventurous and were willing to make the 4-hour drive to Ceder Point, on Lake Erie, in Sandusky, Ohio. Being a young cartophile, the first thing I always did upon entering the park was purchase a map. Then carefully plan a course through the park that would most efficiently get me on all my favorite rides.

The amusement park aficionados at Theme Park Brochurs have pulled together maps and brochures from amusement parks all over the country. Their earliest map is from 1931! Unfortunately, they do not have a Cedar Point map from the late 1960s or early 1970s which would have been the first time I was there. Here is a map from 1980 (as a teen and young adult, being able to drive to Cedar Point with my buddies (or even better, a girl!) was a special kind of independence.)

Click map to enlarge

I first visited Kings Island, near Cincinnati, sometime around 1972 (the date for this map):

Click map to enlarge

It wasn't until I moved down here with my children that we visited regularly. I think I enjoyed it as much (if not more) then them. For a couple years we purchased season passes, and sometimes I would even sneak down on my own, without the kids, to ride some of the roller coasters that they were to small ride themselves. Every year, amusement parks try to top each other with the most thrilling hi-tech ride, but my favorites are still the old wooden roller coasters like the Blue Streak at Cedar Point or The Beast at Kings Island.

Of the two maps above, I still prefer the "cartoon" style of the 1972 Kings Island map. That is the style I remember and loved from my first visits to Cedar Point. The map from 1980 may have been clearer, and more accurate, but it certainly lacks charm. The single map from Boblo Island (1987) is so ugly, I cannot bring myself to reprint it here.

Also, here is an opportunity to pimp my friend Pat's blog, wherein he documents his amazing feat last summer, 12 Parks. 69 new coasters. 14 days in his Blog of Unintended Consequences.

Via Boing Boing

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At Wednesday, November 11, 2009 , Blogger Tony said...

love that Kings Island map! There was a time when that faux Eifel tower thrilled the heck out of me! If you come across something like this for the old Coney Island in Cincinnati, please let me know! Tony

At Thursday, November 12, 2009 , Blogger Greg said...

There's another site devoted entirely to Cedar Point's history; as a Northern Ohioan, I'm fascinated by it.

That link points to a wealth of historical brochures, although the ones from around 1970 appear to have no maps. Still great information on that page and elsewhere on the site.

At Thursday, November 12, 2009 , Blogger Shawna Gambol Woodard said...

There are some postcards of three little local amusement parks in Dayton on the Dayton Metro Library website.
1. Lakeside Park
2. White City Park
3. Fairview Park
None are maps, however.

At Friday, November 13, 2009 , Anonymous Mark said...

For some reason this reminded me of the map we had in our town centre when I was young (early 70's). It was one of those with push buttons on the index that caused a little light to illuminate and show you where something was.

My first experience of GIS?!

I thought those days were over, but now Vancouver airport has one of these exact things at the new observation area.

Check out:


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