Cassidy was here!
man who invented the single-rail dark ride was here.
The man who forever changed the amusement park industry
stood where I'm standing.
Leon Cassidy, the founder of the Pretzel Amusement
Ride Company, was here, in 1931 ---
at Keansburg Amusement Park in Keansburg, New Jersey.
Leon installed the ride I'm about to see, Spook House;
possibly the world's oldest operating Pretzel installation.
The loading area, with four first generation Pretzel
cars, is behind the garage door.
I can't wait for the ride superintendent to open it.
Demontreux, centert, at the helm of Keansburg’s Mystery
Ride in the late 1940s. The Mystery Ride was owned and
operated by the Demontreux family until 1952 when Clarence
Recht purchased the ride and renamed it Spook House.
courtesy of Ernie Demontreux Jr.
cries of low-flying seagulls pierce the hot, humid air
on this early August morning. It's 10:30 a.m., and several
early arrivals are scurrying about the park. But I'm
staying put, waiting for that garage door to open. And
slowly it rises, its old hardware squealing in unison
with the seagulls. With a clunk, it reaches the top,
revealing the treasures it has concealed. I am awestruck.
me are Pretzel "Model A" cars queued up on the loading
area. With the flashy detailing which includes flames
and skulls, they look like entrants in a soap box derby
race. But I know better. I know that they date back
to 1928, and were among the first line of Pretzel cars
to navigate the s-curves of the world's first dark rides.
Anybody who thinks these cars look old and tacky, be
damned. They are sacred relics.
the cars is Phantom of the Opera-type character playing the
piano. In an earlier life, he was a Wild West saloon pianist
- a target in a Bonanza shooting gallery once owned by the Spook
House's current owner, Al Recht. The Spook House façade resembles
a haunted cave, with fabricated multi-colored rock formations
extending from the exit to the entrance. To the left of entrance
is the sign, "Danger, Spooks Ahead." And indeed there are two
guarding the entrance: A giant bat perched overhead and a illustration
of "Friday the 13th"'s hockey masked serial killer
Jason Voorhees on the double doors.