Thursday, October 26, 2023

From Spaceship Simulator To Sky Slide - At Knoebels

The Spaceship Simulator opened at Knoebels in 1958

 Riders would take a seat inside the rocket and watch a film on space exploration. As the rocket in the film was about to blast off the rocket ride would tilt upward to simulate a launch.

 "The unique ride received widespread publicity as the first of its kind in the amusement park industry.....The rocket ship was intended to give occupants the illusion of what space travel would be like. Riders viewed the blastoff and floating through space for the long trip to the moon through a film shown on a movie screen in front of the cabin. Alex Habersgaw of Captain Video television series, a popular program of that era, produced the movie especially for Knoebels." - From Knoebels, An Amusement Park with a Heart,

The ride was built at Knoebels, and used  old bus seats inside. It rocked on a pivot point using a hydraulic lift from an old dump truck.  Similar rides appeared at Dutch Wonderland and Coney Island, in the late 1950s and 60s.

When interest waned, the ride was repurposed, as the  Sky Slide, in 1964.

"In the late 1950s Americas was fascinated with the space race. In 1957 Knoebels responded with a primitive simulator attraction, more than 20 years before these were available elsewhere." Amusement Parks of Pennsylvania by Jim Futrell.  [Not quite accurate, similar rides were in other parks in the late 1950s]

Using a custom-built rocket ship body, seats obtained from an old bus, a hydraulic lift salvaged from a scrapped dump truck, and a custom-made film to watch, the rocket was able to rise and simulate a blast-off. 

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