I recently reread the article I wrote about my Amusement Park and figured it was time for an update. I can’t believe how much it has changed since its debut at Brickworld Fort Wayne in 2013. The others in the club are to blame for its growth. Their praise, encouragement, and suggestions have made it what it is today. It seems Park fever is catching as other members have added sections. I want to thank John for his ever growing presence in the park and to Paul for his future contribution. I’m also going to take a moment for a little public shaming. Geoffrey and Rich, I’m still waiting on the mini golf course…… I don’t want to hear excuses; I want to see windmills and putters.
So what is new? Well let’s start with what has disappeared. After several successful shows, the Orbit has bought the farm. There was a major malfunction in the mechanism that lifts the arm. The ride had to be so far disassembled to get at what went wrong I decided to scrap the ride. I am hoping one day to resurrect this fantastic ride from my childhood. The fountain behind the picnic area also has been retired. I’m hoping to find a place for it again. It was one of my earliest side street creations.
A proper place for it might be in front of the Carousel. Those with a keen eye may notice it has put on a bit of weight. At a show a fellow KLUGer suggested I build another level to the Carousel. “You know, like Six Flags Great America has”, just over the border in Illinois. Thanks Mr. Helpy-pants. Now I have to build it. So far I have been very lucky. The original set lent itself well to being raised as the ring where a person would stand fit perfectly into the upper mechanical ring. The whole thing now can spin and the horses on both levels move up and down. Powering this heavyweight is going to be another story though. Look for more on this in the coming months.
Another big change is the Bumper Cars. After many shows of watching parents lift their kids so they can see into the bumper car house I decided to improve the visibility. With the addition of huge clear curved panels it was necessary to rework the shape a bit. I could not be happier with the results. The view into the building is better than I could have hoped for. The view had to be improved as now the cars spin, move, and bump into each other. Once again the nagging of my friends had forced me to motorize the bumper cars. Can you guess how we did it without putting slots in the floor?
Four additional rides have been added. There is a super slide, pony ride tent, an arcade, and Top Spin. The super slide is made from black and dark pink slide pieces from a theme from the 80s, Fabuland. There are 5 lanes so figures can race their friends to the bottom. My lovely wife has been bugging me for pony rides for some time now so we added a dark red stable and a tent to keep the ponies out of the sun. I was playing with some lime and white pieces and they became the building that houses the arcade. The arcade started as an experiment with color and texture and turned into a building I really liked. Then I found some great minifigure scale arcade machines on Ebay complete with custom stickers. It was exactly what I was looking for. Now the building had a purpose. A couple rows of pinball machines have been added to the arcade games, again with custom stickers off Ebay. The Topspin is another ride I have wanted to recreate in Lego. It is a yellow and dark pink behemoth. I first rode this at Six Flags Great America in Gurnee Illinois. The Topspin taught me sometimes I need to scale back a ride to make it work. It is the second to use the Mindstorms robotics brick. It allows me to stop and start the ride and make it move just like the real ride. Mindstorms was also added to the Ferris Wheel. Now it will stop at each carriage to simulate a loading sequence. Then it will run forward for three complete turns, backwards for another three complete turns, and then go back into the loading sequence.
The last new ride arose from the ashes of the Orbit. I have wanted to build a pendulum type ride for a long time. The base from the Orbit was a perfect starting point. The purple and lime tile job was just too cool to take apart. My favorite part of this ride is not the height or the mechanics involved, but that my wife programmed it. I was playing around with the Mindstorms program, trying to get the ride to run as it does in real life. Lisa was watching and asked how the programming works. I showed her the basics, which is all I know. In the time it took me to pack our work lunches she had the ride spinning and flipping like crazy. It was perfect! We named the ride program Lisa and I have used it since. She was the one to name the new ride Mindstorm.
With all the new rides, I had to build more side streets. As I am a stickler for symmetry I needed to keep the “3 baseplates of ride and one baseplate of side street” theme going. Added to the park was an indoor skydiving area, additional snack vendors, park security headquarters with Segway charging stations, and a clinic for those minifigures that could not handle the Mindstorm. A third monorail station was added to help break up the travel distance around the park. The station with the park entrance was moved front and center and a new side station was built. The monorail train itself also received a makeover. A tram was adapted from the official city set #8404 to run on the monorail track. The park shuttle is now a size that fits better with the rest of the layout.
The last new addition to the park isn’t part of the park at all. The park use to be 25 inches wide and sat on a single row of tables. That put the monorail front and center. It also put it in harm’s way as excited parents and kids pointed to their favorite attraction. Needless to say the monorail took more than its share of tumbles. To solve this I added a 2 lane boulevard in front of the park. It gave the park a setting to be in. It was a simple addition but the effect has been more than I could have asked for. The monorail has never been safer. The center of the boulevard was a perfect place to run train tracks. It also turned out to be a place for me to make a few smaller builds. The street lights and traffic signals were a blast to build. I am hoping that the road will also allow me to connect to other member’s displays.
So that’s it in a nutshell. Well, maybe a big, long winded nutshell. The park now spans almost 30 feet long and is 5 feet deep. That’s 150 square feet!! Thankfully it still fits on one vehicle with some careful packing. Set up time has grown to over 8 hours if I’m on my own. Lisa and I have become pros at tear down though. In an hour and a half we can have the park from running to in the car.
What will be added to the park next? I’m not sure just yet, but I can’t wait to get started. All I need is a good suggestion from a fan. Then it’s time to hit the bricks. Stay tuned.