Rocky Point Park in Warwick, Rhode Island, has suffered its share of misfortune since it first opened to the public in 1847. Hurricane destruction, ownership changes, and ultimately, financial problems plagued the park. But if you were fortunate enough to visit Rocky Point in the early 1960s, you may have seen some of legendary designer Bill Tracy's best work.

Of course, Rocky Point, a scenic park on the shore of Narragansett Bay, was host to other rides in the dark before Tracy arrived on the scene. There was the Blue Beard's Palace walk-through in which patrons entered a wooden "palace" but soon found themselves in a dark cave inhabited by pirates. There was a standard-issue Old Mill which the park renamed Tunnels of Love.
The Fun in the Dark rounded out the park's dark ride line-up. Rocky Point also had some of the area's best roller coasters including the Philadelphia Toboggan Company's, Wildcat, as well as a Bartlett / Schmeck Flying Turns coaster and the Russian Toboggan coaster, which ended in a splash down similar to a log flume ride. All were leveled by the Great Hurricane of 1938, a violent storm that claimed hundreds of lives in the Ocean State.
With all but a handful of rides and structures destroyed by the storm, it took the park nearly 10 years to rebuild and reopen. One of the many attractions that debuted on the new Art Deco inspired midway was an R.E. Chambers dark ride with plywood cutout stunts. At the other end of the midway closest to the bay was the Kunyatsi's Fun House that was short on stunts but had plenty of distorted mirrors and glass. The Chambers ride, presumably a standard Laff In The Dark installation, was renamed the House of Horrors by the late 1950s and the façade was redecorated with a disembodied head clutched by a dragon, plus a laughing witch. A continuously playing sound cart sent shrieks, moaning and groaning across the midway. Inside, it was anything but horrors. The first plywood stunt was the Big Bad Wolf blowing the roof off the Three Little Pigs' house of straw, followed by Popeye battling his nemesis Brutus. There was the kicking mule scene, a staple in the R.E. Chambers dark rides. The closest stunt to being frightening was a wooden witch flying on her broomstick.
In a 1984 interview with the late Conrad Ferla, general manager of the park for 35 years, he explained that the Chambers ride was cost-efficient at the time and could utilize one of the park's few standing structures, which he believed to be a former pony stable. However, Chambers ride's days were numbered, as were those of the Fun House. In 1962, Rocky Point's competition across the Bay, Crescent Park, had launched Tracy's Riverboat, one of the first dark rides in Southern New England with a theme. The Riverboat featured life-size papier-mâché figures and scenery, enhanced by different sound effects for each set.
With the Riverboat dark ride attracting patrons by the thousands to Crescent Park, Rocky Point officials had to make their move. It commissioned Bill Tracy's company to convert its two dark attractions. During the summer and fall of 1962, park construction workers and Tracy began converting the single-story Fun House (which by then had been renamed Crystal Maze) into a double-decker macabre-looking castle across from Kiddie Land. Park goers watched in amazement as gothic-era towers sprang up.
Meanwhile, further down the midway, the House of Horrors kept chugging along until early fall 1962 when Tracy and crew went to work. It was here that Tracy reinforced his reputation as the Wizard of Worst Case Scenario as he created Jungle Land. All the plywood stunts were removed in favor of very realistic looking jungle creatures and African natives who tortured and attacked terrified safari-goers wearing pit helmets and khakis. The wooden Chambers cars were replaced by beige jeeps. The façade was strategically subtle, with silhouetted drawings of African warriors and jungle animals.
The ride was plagued by downtime in its 1963 debut season, probably because some of the stunt execution was unprecedented. With the kinks worked out, Jungle Land began operating in earnest in the summer of 1964. Riders plunged into the Dark Continent right after the double doors, encountering charging hippos, rhinos and water buffalo. They witnessed safari-goers being roasted over open flames: a scene that was completely blacked out in subsequent years. Next up was a giant snake rising out of a river. Incredibly, the jeep headed on a collision course with the huge reptile -- a trick achieved by painting an extension of the snake's body on a set of double doors.
Still riding along the riverbank, riders saw a safari couple embraced in a passionate kiss, unaware of the giant alligator opening his jaws behind them. Ahead, more Tracy dark humor - a confused gorilla scratching his head trying to decide what to do with the pit helmeted-explorer he was holding in his other hand. Suddenly, the landscape went dark and all that could be heard was the screeching of birds and monkeys. Suddenly a black light was activated, illuminating a tiger leaping from a tree. Just as its outstretched claws came within a foot of riders, the light went off, leaving folks covering their heads. Before they could breathe a sigh of relief, they were greeted by another ferocious feline - this time a lion - pouncing from a rock. Both stunts were so well orchestrated so that riders had no time to see the thin cables and tiny pulleys that made the beasts come to life.
Following the cat attack, riders again found themselves in total darkness. This proved to be the most chilling segment, featuring growls of wild animals, screaming humans and spider webs brushing riders' foreheads. It was downright scary since one never knew if something was going to leap out of the darkness. However, the jeep eventually entered a peaceful rain forest with chirping birds and what appeared to be a friendly chimp beckoning from a tree limb. Of course, in true Tracy fashion, the chimp took an angry swipe at riders as they passed. Leaving the rain forest, riders encountered a charging wild boar and completed the ride with what could have been a political statement from Tracy. In a short tree was a poacher firing his rifle at a large oncoming elephant. Just as the elephant was about to disembowel the poacher with his ivory tusks, the black light went off and one could hear the poacher's dying scream as the jeep emerged into the light of the unloading platform.
A few years later, the park renamed the ride to Jungle Terrors, placing a giant gorilla on top of the façade. Sadly, the terrors decreased inside as the stunts fell victim to neglect and vandals. In many cases, the black lighting was replaced by household light bulbs. The tiger and lion became entangled in their cables and pulleys, resembling over-sized stuffed animals hanging out to dry on a clothesline. The "river water" began to smell like sewer water and rays of sunlight began penetrating the venerable building. Perhaps the biggest farce was the last scene that became lit exclusively by daylight peeking through a large, gaping hole in the rear of the building. The hole was probably cut to remove jeeps for repair. Sometimes one would see disabled jeeps wheels lying up next to the elephant. In 1968, a chain link
fence was installed around the scene to keep riders from running out the hole. The sunlight exposed the steel track and wheels that the elephant "charged" on. The poacher had been removed from the tree and was now hanging from a noose. The stunt still worked but made no sense. In that 1984 interview, Ferla admitted that the building had started to show its age and that the stunts were simply too difficult to maintain. He added that Rocky Point was budgeting for expansion of the midway and Jungle Terrors didn't fit into the long-range plans. So the ride was demolished at the end of the 1969 season, as a new era evolved at Rocky Point. The hippos and several other jungle animals found a temporary home along the track of the park's train ride, but none were laminated for protection against the elements. Within a year, they were removed. By 1971, nothing remained of Jungle Land/Jungle Terrors except memories.