past 70 years, Dorney Park in Allentown, Pennsylvania
featured a series of very popular dark attractions fondly
remembered by many of you. Let's take a look back
... starting with
building in which the Devil’s Cave was installed was originally
used for basketball games. It had a hardwood tongue and groove
floor. It was a novelty then and was screened with fencing,
so they tell me. It was before my time. People used to stand
before the fencing and watch basketball. The next thing it was
used for was an arcade - at that time a penny arcade.
Outside the Devil’s Cave was
Laffing Sal. It was real humorous when this fat lady was out
there laughing, and she kept jiggling because of the mechanism.
At that time we used 78-rpm records, as we didn’t have tapes
in those days. So we’d stack six or seven 78-rpm records on
a repeat turntable. And people would stand around watching Laffing
Sal. You couldn’t help laugh when you heard Laffing Sal laugh,
which was what it was all about.
As you got inside Devil’s Cave
Pretzel, you went through a labyrinth with gadgets and scenes
along the way. One scene was an outhouse with a scarecrow sitting
on a john. People would get a kick out of it. Once there was
a special party staying at the hotel and as usual, we’d take
them from one ride to another at the park for the evening. So
this woman’s riding the Pretzel and she’s coming around the
corner and she screams, “Hey, that's my John in there!” Unknown
to her, her husband had sneaked up ahead of them and sat on
the outhouse seat!
heartbreaking is that you’d fix up those scenes and be happy
with them and a certain type of person would vandalize them.
We'd have to put screening or a plastic front up so that people
couldn't get in and smash the scenery. There was a fellow working
in the park named Warren Yeakel. He was quite a bird. He took
care of the gadgets in Devil’s Cave. He used to get provoked
by vandals. So one day he goes inside the Devil’s Cave with
a rubber hose and stands there like a mannequin. And when a
kid reaches out for him, whack, he smacks him with the rubber
hose. I don’t think we’d get away with that in these days. But
I'll bet that kid didn’t go back on that ride again.
Philadelphia Toboggan made many
of the gadgets in Devil’s Cave. They were very simple. They
had a pipe arrangement sticking up next to where the car came
along. The car would hit a lever and it pushed an old wire carpet
beater against a sheet of steel. That made a hell of a racket.
It was very simple and never wore out.
Later on, as you can imagine,
when Bill Tracy came along, we put in a lot of electronic gadgets
and bright lights, black lights, and Day-Glo colors. The art
of Bill Tracy really made it when we went from Devil’s Cave
to Pirates Cove and ultimately to Bucket O’ Blood. He did a
real great job and we were well satisfied with it. The Pretzel
spinning cars were put into Bucket O' Blood around 1956, but
we stopped them from spinning soon afterward. Incidentally,
when we changed the theme to Pirates Cove and Bucket O’ Blood,
we dressed Laughing Sal up as a pirate - with a pirate hat,
a long sash, a sword and a patch over one eye.
and Henry Morgan. The first scene was an old harbor - the faint
sound of gulls could be heard in the background as you passed
other ships heading out to sea. Suddenly, a storm breaks out
- an illusion created by white-capped waves along the track,
flashing lights and the sound of thunder and lighting. Tracy’s
famous “seasick pirate” - a shiphand heaving off the deck -
makes an appearance during this storm scene. Many of the stunts
from Bucket also were found in Tracy’s other nautical theme
rides such as the Pirates Coves walkthroughs and the Ghost Ship
dark rides. Among those in Bucket O’ Blood were a drunken pirate
and pirate skeletons. However, there were others custom made
for this Dorney Park ride such as an octopus, a pirate attacking
a sailor with a sword, sailors in stockades, and of course,
a few execution hanging scenes. As in most of Tracy’s dark rides,
Bucket had very subtle sound effects, as not to divert attention
from the visuals.