I don’t know when my fascination with theme parks started. Perhaps it was during childhood, when my parents traumatized my younger sister and me by putting us through Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin and Snow White’s Scary Adventures and Indiana Jones Adventure (we never made it past the queue; something about the sludge-like walls of the temple — not to mention the spears and skulls — brought us both to the verge of hysterics).
Maybe it had something to do with my burgeoning interest in roller coasters as a teenager. In college, I remember shelling out wrinkled dollar bills for tickets to the Giant Dipper coaster perched atop the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, eager for the creaky climb to the top of the first hill and the subsequent rush of the drop, even as the turns gave me (and whomever I had cajoled into joining me) a mild form of whiplash.
Or, more likely, it can be traced back to my rediscovery of the Disney Parks in 2014 when, in the middle of my lunch hour at a desk job I despised, I realized I was old enough (though still not quite rich enough) to take myself on a vacation to Disneyland.
Whatever the underlying reason, I now find myself endlessly enthralled with the minutiae of theme parks: their histories, their immersive environments, the way they experiment with new technologies and forms of storytelling. They’re such a uniquely weird part of American culture, from the way one man’s playground became known as the “Happiest Place on Earth” to the elaborate code of pretending embedded in the entire experience of visiting an intricately-themed park like Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter or Disney’s soon-to-be-opened Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge theme park.
This particular brand of nerdiness isn’t confined to my theme park vacations, much as my family and friends may wish that were the case. It spills into my life in the Bay Area, too, which is what helped inspire this week’s post at Theme Park Tourist.
Here, I take a look at a few unexpected places you might find discarded theme park attraction vehicles and props… in other words, places and sights that will soon be going on my travel bucket list.
Ever wonder what happens to the discarded ride vehicles and Audio-Animatronics of defunct theme park attractions? Some may find a home in the recycling bin, while more iconic pieces might be sold to collectors or shipped off to the studio’s archives for cataloguing and preservation. Still others, like the unfortunate Audio-Animatronics of America Sings, are stripped down to their nuts and bolts in order to be repurposed for current or future attractions.
Relatively few pieces of theme park history ever make it beyond the berms of Disneyland and Walt Disney World, but there are a few remote places where you can find genuine articles from days gone by…
Check out the list of “hidden” theme park props at Theme Park Tourist here.