Our fascination with amusement park signs is a sign of these times.
Whether it’s the lighted sign from Rocky Point’s Skydiver above, or a simple directional sign to the Rocky Point midway below, an amusement park sign is a sign from Heaven to park enthusiasts.
To put this trend in perspective, I offer Exhibit A: generic, Pepsi-sponsored “Free Parking” directional sign in the ruins of Rocky Point, years after it closed. If you thought this sign is nothing special, you thought wrong! This was one of the most converted items in the abandoned amusement park, and all its would-be owners were beside themselves when it mysteriously vanished one day.
Of course, most would agree that these signs collected by Rocky Point super-fan Sean McCarthy would top anybody’s list.
Fans of all ages just can’t get enough of Sean’s signs when he displays them summers at Rocky Point State Park events.
And with his superior knowledge of Rocky Point signage, combined with his artistic talent, Sean has actually re-created park signs including these for the 2016 BoldrDash event at Rocky Point State Park, and a Freefall ride sign.
And to some, just having a letter from a sign is golden, as is the case with Jake Tasho and his Rocky Point House of Horrors letter…
…or Tina Stoico Saggio’s letter “R” from a Rocky Point sign.
While many park signs are proudly displayed in homes or at events, some have taken on second lifes at other venues, such as this one at Snookers in Providence.
Even the air-brushed signs from Rocky Point’s later years are considered treasures.
Here’s a bunch of others from Rocky Point, from various collections.
As you see, signs of all kinds are held sacred, if they were on the sacred grounds of a favorite amusement park.
Across the Bay at Crescent Park in Riverside, there are some park signs on display inside the Carousel building; the Carousel being the only surviving ride of the park’s 1978 demise. Among them is this Showboat ticket sign, which is what the park renamed the Riverboat dark ride in its later years.
So, all this said, you’re probably asking, “George, do YOU have any former park signs?”
My answer is: I have a sign that was formerly used on a ride that still operates…and at a park, Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, that’s still running strong. My sign is below!
Is it a circus sign? A sideshow sign? Nope, it’s actually a sign from Coney Island’s iconic Spookarama dark ride in Brooklyn, NY. It dates back to the ride’s 1955 debut at Coney. Can you see my sign to the far right?
You can see it here too, far right!
I was honored to receive it as a gift in 2005 from the owners of Spookarama and Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park. In a ceremony in front of the dark ride, the website I’m editor of, laffinthedark.com, gave them our preservation award in conjunction with the ride’s 50th anniversary. In turn, me and site creative director Bill Luca were gifted with two of the ride’s original signs from the owners.
When it debuted in 1955, Spookarama was billed as “world’s longest dark ride”, as carts travelled through two buildings separated by a courtyard. I’ve circled the courtyard in blue in a frame grab from a 1973 movie below. You can see the carts travelling on the track. The building my sign was mounted on was on the far left. It was called “Building One.”
In the early 1980s, the owners eliminated Building One, and later on the courtyard, and all the Building One signage was put in storage. The dark ride currently utilizes the larger of the buildings, “Building Two”. To experience Spookarama today, go to 2:22 here. If you want to read more about Spookarama, go here.
So there you have it…the signs of good things THAT CAME. If you have former park signage, tell us about it in the comment section below.
That’s it for now. Watch your head when you exit!
Seth Kaufman/Coney Island USA
Tina Stoico Saggio