We are invited inside for a walking tour of the Spook House. I push open the doors, separating Jason's white mask. Now inside among the ghosts and goblins, I feel the presence of Leon Cassidy. I swear, I can. In this big open room, I can visualize Leon laying down the track more than 70 years ago. Before I look at the stunts, I examine the track. It's the typical Pretzel stock, twisted throughout the oddly configured building. And there is a section of the building where the incoming and outgoing rails are very close to one another. This will give riders the illusion of an oncoming collision. Of that I'm sure.

  I can't wait to ride, but first, I need to find my pal, that famous Pretzel stunt, Al E. Gator. The Spook House has one of two known remaining Gators; the other is in Sylvan Beach, New York's LaffLand.
Like LaffLand's Gator, the Spook House's rendition is also animated mechanically, by the weight of the car.
  I can easily make Al E. emerge and retreat into his black barrel by stepping on and off the metal floor pedal. He is flanked by Frankenstein's monster and what appears to be a dismembered bride next to a facsimile of Tor Johnson of Ed Wood movie fame.

Next, it's off to check out an equally famous Pretzel stunt, the Jersey Devil. This stunt exemplifies the Pretzel black box legacy: A papier mache devil head, suspended by a cable pulled to an opening in the box by the weight of the car.
Sylvan's LaffLand also has a Jersey Devil and I distinctly recall one in the Pretzel at my former hometown playground: Crescent Park in Riverside, Rhode Island. Another black box Pretzel stunt is a green goblin; his head turning from side-to-side, his palms facing outward as if to put a curse on you.

  Nearby is the "Giant" stunt created by the former Animated Display Creators company. This Giant looks like he played one too many football games at nearby Meadowlands. In reality, he once resided in a dark ride on Atlantic City's Steel Pier. Also rescued from the Steel Pier dark ride are four dazzling illustrations on plywood panels. They include a fearsome mantis and a sea creature.  

  A quick scan of the room reveals a host of other ghosts, most of them created by Al from mannequin parts. One of them, a ghoul in a blue windbreaker, has a disturbing resemblance to a former creepy next-door neighbor of mine. A trio of bloody victims is nearby.  


There's a rotund green ghost resembling the gluttonous spirit in the Ghostbusters movies. And there's a monster wearing an outfit flamboyant enough to embarrass Liberace. Underneath the creature is a rat feasting on assorted body parts.

Like the "Phantom" in the loading area, some other Spook House residents are retired targets from Al's Bonanza shooting gallery. They include a gooney bird, an owl, a woodpecker and skulls on a fence.
An alien holding her baby and a spider in a birdcage round out the cast.



The Spook House relies on the Pretzel's old floor-activated hardware for sound effects: The striking of a cymbal to produce the sound of broken glass and the tipping of an oblong box filled with pieces of metal to simulate the crashing of two cars.