The 1983 Dorney Park fire

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The 1983 Dorney Park fire

Postby coastermatt » Thu Jan 06, 2005 5:42 pm

I do not have alot of knowledge of DP (like I do of Hershey) because I live an extra hour or two away then Hershey which is about 45 min. from me.

Anyways getting back to this topic, I see alot of you mention about a fire in Sept. of 1983 (I was born the month before on Aug. 14th!). What caused this? I can't imagine a park like this burning. You said several rides were lost in it. I can't believe rides like the Whip and Thunderhawk survived this. I just puzzles me to know the cause.
coastermatt
 

Postby insaneaboutdorney » Fri Jan 07, 2005 12:03 am

I believe the fire started in one of the food stands. (help me out here guys) and spread quickly! Dorney lost there antique carousel,flying bobs, bucket of blood dark ride, lots of buildings, etc.... I know you can still probably get a copy of it threw the allentown newspaper! I know here in pottstown It was on the front page of the pottstown mercury!!! I was fourteen years old! I think it hit alot of local newspapers! It was a really big thing!
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Postby coastermatt » Fri Jan 07, 2005 11:16 am

Then I'm assuming it was a barbeque or grill unttended (poor staff or maintenance possibly). I just can't imagine this. Any pictures?
coastermatt
 

Postby HERCULESLOVER » Fri Jan 07, 2005 12:52 pm

The fire was an electrical fire. It occured in a food stand. It was due to improper maintenance of the equipment.
HERCULESLOVER
 

Postby insaneaboutdorney » Fri Jan 07, 2005 3:51 pm

The park was closed for the season at the time of the fire! The pictures are hard to find. There isnt to many floating around! I remember seeing the pictures in the paper and I remember half of the flying bobs missing! Someone mentioned about the whip and zephyr , but it didnt spread that far, but darn close to the whip! If you contact the newspaper people sometimes you can get old newspaper copys made from any dates. Also About a year ago someone had pictures on e bay for sale of the fire.I lost the bidding war for them, but intend to win next time!
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Posts: 382
Joined: Sat Apr 10, 2004 6:35 pm
Location: pottstown pa.

Postby rwk » Mon Jan 10, 2005 12:26 am

I have the newspaper article! The Morning Call Sept 28, 1983. It explains everything that happened and has rare after-fire photos showing the ruins of the carousel which was near the whip since 1932 and totally lost that day. DP got the Chance Carousel in 1986 and didn't have an antique carousel again until the Cedar Point carousel arrived in 1995. Oh, in 1984 for the 100th anniv. the park brought out their 1901 carousel out of storage and operated it, and in 1985 I'm not sure what carousel was there, the 85 brochure I have shows that there was a carousel there, but Harris Weinstein, new owner at that time sold the 1901 carousel in 1985 broken up. Bob Ott retired after 1984 after running the park since 1967 after the Plarr's, Robert L. and Stephen. Ott was president until 1980, then chairman of the board from 80 through 84, and his son Robert S. Ott was president in the early 80's, and Robert W. Plarr, son of Robert L. Plarr was Executive Vice President. I'm surprised the Iceberg survived the fire. The Bucket O' Blood was the first dark ride I ever rode. It was unique, and I still miss it. Also, the Grande Carrousel was unique, inside the wooden building with the band organ.
rwk
 

Postby coastermatt » Mon Jan 10, 2005 10:25 am

Could you send a scan of that article? I would like to see it.
coastermatt
 

Postby maeryk » Thu Feb 10, 2005 12:01 pm

Okay.. the fire _theoretically_ started in the "belgian waffle" stand that was right next to the old PTC carousel. (The one that was entirely inside a building, and had at least two nickelodeons and the old Chanticleer animals in it).

It ate the courousel (but what is funny, is if you check the photos in the MC article, there are no charred lumps of horse on the carousel.. just the upper crank arms!), the building it was in, and a couple of other buildings in the area.

(if you walk straight uphill, with the stage on your right, the carousel was on the right when you get in front of the huge barn thing on the left, where the haunted ghost mine was).

The next year they added Enterprise, apollo2000, music express, and a couple of other rides if I remember correctly.

Dorney is no stranger to "fires". The chanticleer was consumed by fire many years before (another "unique" carousel) and a fire was used as the excuse by CF to remove Journey/scooter and the old enclosed loading platform and tunnel for Thunderhawk.

I know the Bucket of Blood was theoretically damaged in that fire as well, which was sortof odd, because the park layout at the time meant the fire had to jump at least one building to get to it.

Maeryk
(who has been going to Dorney since there was only _ONE_ coaster, and remembers going to the zoo there)
maeryk
 

Postby maeryk » Thu Feb 10, 2005 12:09 pm

The park was closed for the season at the time of the fire! The pictures are hard to find. There isnt to many floating around! I remember seeing the pictures in the paper and I remember half of the flying bobs missing! Someone mentioned about the whip and zephyr , but it didnt spread that far, but darn close to the whip! If you contact the newspaper people sometimes you can get old newspaper copys made from any dates. Also About a year ago someone had pictures on e bay for sale of the fire.I lost the bidding war for them, but intend to win next time!


The whip has been where it is the whole time. The "carousel" that burned was not that close to it. The huge barn/arcade is the closest thing to where the carousel was, if you stood on the front porch of that thing, facing in the direction of Dominator, the carousel would have been ahead and slightly to the left. All the way to the left was the shooting gallery (Which is now the stuffed animal gift shop) and directly behind it (wehre the lockers are now) was the Paratrooper. Up and around, about where they are now, was the tilt-a-whirl, and that midway was always there.

The Musik Express was about the back edge of the original carousel building, and I think it was just plants where APollo 2000 is. and straight up __that_ midway (towards the park entrance) was the Flying Bobs and the "old west" looking skee-ball. (the bobs were where the Sea Dragon was). I cannot remember if the Ranger occupied the upper right corner (now pavilions) or if the wave swinger was there first.. I know they were both there at one time, and, of course, originally the Dutchman was at the top of that hill, but I _THINK_ it was gone by the time of the fire. I cannot remember.

That was the very beginning of the _HUGE_ expansion of DOrney.. that included Hercules, "top gun" and the "flight deck" (where Meteor and stuff are.. the "end" of the park used to be the upper edge of TCM, above that was the Dorney Race Track).

Ghods I'm old!

Maeryk
maeryk
 

Postby rwk » Thu Feb 10, 2005 3:04 pm

Where the patio pizza is was the Iceberg/Meteorite- Iceberg through 1988-Meteorite through 93, then removed by 94. Funny that it survived the fire. That was another old ride on CF's 'hit list' due to it's age and safety and fire concerns. Bucket O' Blood was located just up the hill from the Iceberg, next to the Tilt-A-Whirl, about where the Musik Express is. laffinthedark.com has photos of the Iceberg and Bucket of Blood in the Dorney article.
rwk
 

Postby maeryk » Thu Feb 10, 2005 3:11 pm

laffinthedark.com has photos of the Iceberg and Bucket of Blood in the Dorney article.


Heh.. I have a picture of me at about 4 years old on the helicopters (pull bar back to go up, push forward to go down!) when they used to be up across from the B'O'B with the huge pirate in the background. (before the major rework of the facade).

Incidentally, there is still a twin to that operating called (I think) the "pirates cove".

Maeryk
maeryk
 

Postby dannerman » Fri Feb 11, 2005 7:49 am

maeryk, they didn't take out Journey/etc. because of a fire - they took it out to prevent another fire since it was, in their opinion, a fire hazard. As far as I know there weren't any major fires resulting in property loss @ Dorney under CF's ownership.

Also, the Flying Dutchman was there during the fire ('88 was its last year). They removed it in '89, replacing it with Hercules (coaster wise, not on the same land). That was also the year that they added the Ferris Wheel (aka "Skyscraper" before the Skyscraper came in 2000) on the same land that was formerly occupied by the Flying Dutchman.
dannerman
 

Postby maeryk » Fri Feb 11, 2005 8:12 am

No.. there was a fire at the Journey entrance that they used as justification for removal. It wasnt major, nor did it destroy it entirely, but it was a great excuse for CF to remove the ride.

I'm trying to find the article.. but since the Morning Call has gone subscription for archived articles, that may be tough.

Maeryk

*There is no need to quote the previous post!*
maeryk
 

Postby dannerman » Fri Feb 11, 2005 9:09 am

If there was a fire, it was most likely before Cedar Fair's ownership. CF bought the park in July of '92, and in the offseason was when they got rid of it. However, I don't remember hearing about a fire at Journey.
dannerman
 

Postby rwk » Sat Feb 12, 2005 4:27 am

then explain Kennywood's Old Mill (now Garfield's Nightmare) and Rye Playland's Old Mill as well as the Mill Chute at Lake Winnie in Georgia-the last one in the US with a lift and drop (like Dorney's). How were those able to be preserved? The one at Playland was actually renovated a few years ago by the Sally Corp. and it has a Historic Landmark status so they can't tear it down. It's the closest thing to Journey today. If you want an old mill in the dark, then drive 100 miles to Playland. Also, Wildwood, NJ had an old mill built in 1919. The Castle Dracula was built over it in 1976, both were lost in the 2002 fire. Dorney and Wildwood were once dark ride meccas, now because of fires and NJ's stricter codes, Wildwood has a lot less than it did 25 years ago. Also Kennywood is the only park in the US with a Noah's Ark-most parks especially corporate would consider an attraction like that a "liability". Bushkill in Easton has one of the last funhouses, they lost the haunted pretzel to the flood last year. William's Grove past Harrisburg is another old park with a funhouse and haunted ride. I keep hearing rumors that some of these smaller family parks are struggling and in danger of closing. Why? Don't people like the smaller parks anymore as they head to Hershey, Dorney or Six Flags?
rwk
 

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