A First Impression

It was big, and scary and I stood mesmerized and fascinated, staring up and trying to summon courage.  I didn’t really understand what I was looking at.  It was the late 60’s, so I was 4 or 5 years old.  It was my first time to Miracle Strip Amusement Park, my first amusement park; and I was searching for courage to ride The Haunted House dark ride.  

There were all sorts of grand and outlandish sculptures that could captivate a child’s attention that were common to a Florida tourist destination of the 60’s and 70’s.  Panama City Beach had more than its fair share.  The best remaining examples of such structures can be found at the still successful Goofy Golf.  Petticoat Junction and Miracle Strip Amusement Park had several of the more celebrated—all now gone.

For me the Haunted House will stand out as that first and most enduring of memories of those iconic structures, from its big, misshapen, dead tree and distorted face to the old dilapidated castle facade.  Maybe it was the groans and screams and weird music coming from within that held me spellbound.  I’m fairly certain I chickened-out and didn’t ride on that first visit.  But I do distinctly remember, I was determined to someday gain the courage to ride.  I don’t remember much about my first or subsequent rides. I don’t remember ever being particularly scared while on the Haunted House ride, but I do remember the balance of fear and intrigue that very first sighting, just standing there staring up, entranced, and bewildered—a wide-eyed child.

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