Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The Mister Rogers Theme Park Ride

At Idlewild Amusement Park in Ligonier Pennsylvania there is a most interesting ride. It's the Mister Rogers' Neighborhood of Make Believe attraction. The ride is a one of a kind experience that opened in 1989.

I loved Fred Rogers. I found him to be such a genuine "good guy" that I thoroughly enjoy watching his old show whenever I flip past it.

So, I made a trip Idlewild. A rather tame park, one would certainly find it more "idle" than "wild."

Forgive me as I pause to admire my own wittiness.


Anyhoo, the park is an enjoyable place to spend a day. The highlight for me was, as expected, Mister Rogers' Neighborhood of Make Believe.

Outside the ride, a sign shows pictures of the set construction and information regarding Fred Rogers and his input on the attraction:

If you would like to read the sign click here.

The ride starts aboard a full size "trolley"

You go through the tunnel into the Neighborhood of Make Believe. On the walls of the tunnel you can see "hello" written in many languages (similar to It's a Small World.)

Our first stop is at the castle where we are greeted by King Friday the XIII.

Friday and the other characters are animatronic, and not exactly state of the art. Sorta like Chuck E. Cheese's band, only they don't rock to "Pepperoni in Paradise" every 30 minutes. But they would like to.

And, honestly, who wouldn't.

The King greets the Trolley, us and our guide. She interacts with him timing her voice to the playback of Fred Rogers' recorded voice.

King Friday invites us to a "Hug and Song" party where we will sing and hug.

I look around the Trolley and to my delight there are at least a dozen HOT SINGLE MOMS on the Trolley.

The Trolley of Love.

I can't wait for the Hug and Song.

Friday then instructs us to invite everyone else.

Wouldn't it be funny if I meant JOE Friday, rather than King Friday.

"This is the neighborhood, the neighborhood of Make Believe. My name is Friday, I wear a badge."

Our next stop is Cornflake S. Pecially's shop.

I hated Corny as a kid. I have no idea why, but he irritated the heck out of me.

Even today I harbor a bit of a grudge. So I scowl at him as he tells us about his rocking chairs and says he will come to the "Hug and Song."

I make a mental note not to hug him.

Next we visit Dr. Bill Platypus and Elsie Jean Platypus. They seem to live in the Trash Heap from Fraggle Rock. I didn't remember that growing up.

What kind of college give a doctorate to a Platypus anyway? I doubt even the smartest platypus could make it through medical school.

Unless he has a degree in podiatry. That would make more sense.

They agree to come. So we move on to Lady Elaine Fairchilde at the Museum Go Round.

Lady Elaine was also not a favorite of Lil' Sweetie. Still, I didn't mind her as much as Corney because her "Museum Go Round" reminded me of the Carousel of Progress at Walt Disney World.

Elaine is playing with her "boomerang toomerang soomerang." She says she might be "too busy" to come to the party. Deep down inside I am overjoyed.

Another stop takes us to X the Owl and Henrietta Pussycat. Sorry, but I could not get a picture before they went back into their doors.

Trust me they were there.

"My name is Friday, I wear a badge. Where were the Owl and the Pussycat last seen? Is there any connection between them and that Barbara Streisand movie?"

Daniel Striped Tiger is next:

He is so cute that he garnered an "awww" from the guests after almost each line he spoke.

Daniel is glad to be invited and says he will take "a shortcut" and meet us there. The shortcut line is clever, because as a kid I remembered other rides where characters appeared twice with no explanation as to how they PASSED our vehicle without us seeing them. Great touch.

The final stop before we get to the party is the castle's playground. Here Prince Tuesday is hanging out with Ana Platypus.

The kid next to me asked his mom if Tuesday and Ana are "boyfriend and girlfriend."

She said yes.

He then said "A person can date a duck?"

Mom said "Sure."

I smiled. I am definitely hugging this chick at the Hug and Song. She is up for ANYTHING!

After leaving the new power couple I call "Anasday" we head to the castle.

Finally, we get to party! Everyone is here...

OH MY GOD! Lady Elaine never showed! She spurned the King's royal invite! What a BIT-

Never mind.

She was just late.

King Friday announces that we can hug "whomever we want to hug" as we sing "It's such a good feeling."

I hugged the chick who was down with interspecies dating for about 25 seconds.

Then we all went back into the tunnel where the word "goodbye" is written in many languages.

In the language of the Love Trolley goodbye is spelled "I am leaving you for a Platypus. A rich platypus."

The ride was really well done. The animatronics weren't too impressive, but this was not a ride designed to "wow" you. It was definitely a healthy dose of nostalgia.

Afterward I headed into the gift shop where they had more Mister Rogers stuff than I have ever seen for sale anywhere.

I bought a Mister Rogers DVD and a Daniel Striped Tiger puppet. I should have gone with a platypus puppet. Babes really dig them I hear.


  1. As Henrietta would say "meow meow good ride meow!"

  2. That looks like a huge board for the game Twister under the place where the Platypus lives.

  3. Lady Elaine scares me. I think it's her voice.

  4. Yeah, she scared me too. She also has a red nose, and I think she might be a drunk.

    As for the Twister game, I thought that was odd, so I went home and checked out an episode (yes, I have Mister Rogers episodes on tape at home) and sure enough, a Twister (or Wonder Bread bag) path was there throughout the neighborhood!

    I just never noticed.

  5. Anonymous6/12/2006

    Gene Hackman is so cool a Trolley rides him!

  6. Anonymous6/13/2006

    I love this one. You know it was through the collaborative efforts of John Ford, Mervyn LeRoy, Joshua Logan and Henry Fonda that this version of Mister Rogers finally got made. As in Spartacus a lot of creative differences were aired and there was animosity, but the thing got made and got made well.

    Is it the subtle script? The complex, yet subtle plot? Or is it just the powerful screen presence of the one and only Kenny Rogers? Whatever the formula for this cinematic tour de force, the result is the same: sheer excellence. Kenny Rogers establishes himself as one of the premier actors of our, or any, lifetime. Like other great pieces of cinema ("Citizen Kane" and DeSica's "Bicycle Thief" spring to mind immediately) "The Gambler" portrays that range of emotions so special to the human experience. A masterpiece.

    Mister Rogers' Neighborhood in my opinion has been the best children's TV show on earth! I watch it sometimes on PBS during summer and holidays. My brothers like the show, too. The neighborhood of make-believe is fantastic in this awesome show. Mister Rogers' Neighborhood has been of the best excuses of this children's TV show.

    Mister Rogers is the adaptation of a play that ran on Broadway from 1948 to 1951 for 1157 performances. It was based on the novel written by Thomas Heggen and was directed by Joshua Logan. It marked a return to the stage for Henry Fonda who for the rest of his life shuttled back and forth between Broadway and Hollywood. Mister Rogers became his career signature part.

    According to the book In the Company of Heroes by Harry Carey, Jr., Henry Fonda because this was his signature part, the part that won him a Tony Award on Broadway, he had a certain proprietary interest in seeing a faithful adaptation was done for the screen.

    And what a boss they have. The role of the Captain is a very difficult part. Though there are certainly elements of comedy with the captain, James Cagney never allows the captain to become a figure of burlesque. It's a very difficult tightrope to walk, but Mr. Cagney brought over 30 years of professionalism to that part. During the scene of the cabin confrontation with Fonda, Cagney does go into his background, going to sea as a kid, doing a lot of menial jobs and rising through his own efforts in the Merchant Marine. We get to understand Cagney, but we never sympathize with him.

    Even though Mister Rogers is a military setting, the themes are universal and that is why I think it got the popular acclaim it did. I think most of us in our lives as workers have occasionally had to work in settings where the boss was a tin pot dictator, using and abusing his position of authority. And maybe we've also had immediate supervisors who did buffer between the employer and the workers. I'm sure that applied to just about anyone who ever had any kind of work history. Mister Rogers is the only film I know that ever made boredom a component of a successful production.

    Despite a difficult birthing, Mister Rogers has become an American classic and will be so as long as we have a planet.

    **** out of **** stars and 10 out of 10 stars overall.

  7. It's good to see you around Bomb. Glad you noticed the military setting of Mister Rogers.

  8. That's it im going! Somebody get me a cardigan.

  9. Will there be chicks there?

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