Sunday, April 19, 2009
Phantasia at the Old Towne Mall
If you scaled down Disneyland's Main Street U.S.A. and added a low ceiling, you'd have the long-vanished Old Towne Mall. I spent a lot of time there when I was little. Instead of the staples of most 1970s malls (the organ store, the fashion shops, the record store etc...) it had gift and hobby shops, a double decker carousel and two dark rides.
The dark rides were The Castle* and Phantasia. The former was a spookhouse ride ( which I rode twice, with my eyes shut). Phantasia was kid friendly. A chairlift took you through fairy tale scenes. The climax was a glowing green spinning tunnel. People who were older at the time remember the ride as "cheesy" and "cheap." My second-grade self thought otherwise. It was a ride! It took you into another world!
I'm not sure what went wrong. Maybe bored teenagers broke things. Maybe the mall (which had trouble staying afloat) couldn't afford to maintain it. Possibly both. Phantasia began to fall apart.
I was too little to understand why anyone could neglect or damage a ride. I was still in the It's another world! mode....
...and my other world was getting creepy! Why was it falling apart? Why was the main character in the scene slumped over his window like he was dead? It spooked me. I couldn't get the "dead guy" out of my head for a long time.
*Possibly Dracula's Castle or Count Dracula's Castle.