May 8, 2009

Drag Races and Such at Dorney


Dorney Park is celebrating it's 125th Anniversary, as noted by The Morning Call and Remember*, by blogger Andrew Kleiner. A landmark that old, has provided memories for five generations. As a teenager in the 1960's, friday nights at Castle Rock, a dance hall from the twenties, were literally a Freddy Cannon moment. Park admission was free, and there were many attractions which no longer exist, most victim to fire. In addition to the dance hall, there was also a roller skating ring and a stock car race track. The picture above was part of a large neon sign on Hamilton Blvd., on the northwest corner with Cedar Crest Blvd.

In 2007 John Travolta,dressed in drag, portrayed Hollywood's version of Hairspray, initially made by campy underground film maker John Waters, and shot at Dorney Park in 1988. Travolta's part was originally played by a less wholesome, real life female impersonator named Devine, who died shortly after the movie was released.

In my father's time, you could get the trolley at 8th and Hamilton and take it to Dorney Park. Through the 1980's, you could still drive on the road which went right through the middle of the park. Now, combined with a water park, Dorney has become a regional attraction. Busloads of children and families come from New York and elsewhere, but it will always remain a rite of passage for local youngsters.

* rememberkleiner.blogspot.com

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

MM these last few posts have great! I've learned a a lot about the city in the past few, and smiled at remembering Dorney Park when I was a kid...the big event for our little league baseball team was a night at the races after the season. First swung a golf club at the range and chip/putt. The original wooden coaster was a REALLY big deal. I could go on for awhile...

Good times indeed.

The Banker

michael molovinsky said...

in my era, one of the hoots at the park was the enormous penny arcade, with its vintage machines, dating back well into the 20's. There were machines which tested your courage by actually giving you a increasing shock until you let go. cast iron boxers where you had to hit your opponent's man on the jaw. punching bags which measured how hard you hit the bag, and fortune machines which issued cards. the park had a sense of nostalgia, which according to a web site i read today, is largely gone.

bill weber said...

WOW! I had tons of fun in the penny arcade with those cast iron boxer machines. Does anyone remember the BEARS? Dorney Park had LIVE bears in concrete cages. Also, they had live peacocks that strutted around loose.

Katie Bee said...

It certainly is a local right of passage - I remember middle school, when EVERYONE had a season pass and if you didn't, well, you weren't very cool.

I usually get forced to go once per season, it's not as much fun as it used to be when we were just packs of roving teenagers. I'm sure everyone else LOVED us.

Anonymous said...

That roller coaster WAS the DEAL!!! I can remember getting off that thing, full of bruises, but what a ride!!! Get off, go back in line and grab another thrill!! Glad I got to experience the park back then. Haven't stepped foot since a visit with my daughter to the water park. The "single mothers" were taking this kids BACK to the wave pool to use as a bathroom.

Anonymous said...

P.S. There was another movie filmed at Dorney Park, starred Susan St. James, that was in the 60's I believe.

Semi Old Timer said...

I still have 25 cent ride tickets from Dorney that say "redeamable any season". I often wonder if they would have to deduct the price off the admission if I turned them in. I'll just hold onto them for the memmories.

Anonymous said...

I sure remember Freddie Cannon and his song, Tallahassi Lassie. Prez Prado with "Priscilla" was big then too. I remember my buddy who drove me there, left me stranded and I started to walk all the way back to Northampton when a policeman picked me up near Fullerton and drove me home in the early hours of the morning 51 years ago. Great memories!