During the off-season following the 1960 season, Dom Spadola and Ed Leis teamed up to create a completely different experience in the Laff In the Dark building. The two East Providence, Rhode Island residents worked under the guise of National Amusement Devices (NAD). Leis was already an established coaster builder, having designed and built Crescent Park’s Zephyr coaster in 1939 and he built Lincoln Park’s Comet coaster in 1946, working off a Vernon Keenan design. The Laff track and plywood cutout displays were removed and any walls inside the building were torn apart and sometimes recycled. A short section of an overhead floor was erected towards the front of the building and an overhang was connected to that top level. The new cars had tribal warrior masks on the front and were equipped with enough torque to make a spiral climb to the second floor without the assist of a lift chain.
In between construction, Dom spent some quality time in his workshop, crafting figures for the new dark ride. Seen below is a gooney bird being created using papier mache.
Below is an assortment of uncompleted figures that would leave any workshop visitors scratching their heads wondering what kind of dark ride
was in development Everything was still a…mystery!
Dom salvaged his devil scene from Laff and introduced more devils and victims.
Finally, on Easter Sunday 1961, the big reveal. Those entering the park from the main parking lot were serenaded by screeching jungle birds, the pounding of native warriors drums and the roaring of lions. Behold Mystery Ride! How appropriate!
Flanking either ends of the façade were dual witch doctors, gyrating on rotary crank motors.
In the center (above) were two native warriors who lunged forward as the car passed them.
Those in line would marvel at the first floor center cutout:
An elaborate animated scene showing three African native women laughing and scrubbing newly shrunken heads on washboards while a warrior impatiently sat and waited!
But what mysteries lurked inside this noisy, colorful and intriguing ride?
You’ll ride in rhythm to the Congo in Part III.
To be continued!
To hear the soundtrack for the Mystery Ride, go here:
Members of Things That Aren’t There Anymore: Southeastern Massachusetts Edition