Monday, April 02, 2007

Bell's Deconstructed

I've hesitated to comment on this for months, since it's had so much media exposure. But after visiting / taking pictures there this past week, I had to post it up. Besides...I realize LT has been dormant for too long and owe it to all of you to get something new online. Bell's Amusement Park is being forced out of it's location in mid-town Tulsa after 55 years of service. Only the Skyride will remain, as it has been sold to the County and will remain in operation during the State Fair. The owner, Robby Bell has until June 15th to have everything removed from the grounds.

This is particularly sad, since they had a better-than-ever Summer last year, after being closed for several weeks due to a extreme downdraft thunderstorm that demolished their antique ferris wheel and generally made a mess of things. They cleaned everything up and opened to record crowds for the remainder of the season. Also last Summer, they were finally cleared to add a modern steel roller coaster in the area of the miniature golf course, which had not been operational for several years. A new roller coaster had been protested by surrounding neighbors for years. Alas, their time was up and rather than renewing as expected, Tulsa County decided not to extend a new lease.

They are furiously busy at work, taking down all of the rides. Most of them, including the Zingo roller coaster will be put into storage until Mr. Bell can secure a suitable location to re-open. Sand Springs, Broken Arrow and Jenks have all expressed interest in having Bell's open in their towns. The Zingo (built 1968) is famous among wooden roller coaster lovers around the world. It's being numbered and disassembled piece by piece. What a painstaking process that must be! It's said that it will take 12 weeks to tear it down and 5 months to rebuild it. The log ride is similarly marked and is being slowly removed little by little. The areas farthest North, containing the Mind Meld, Himalaya and Phantasmagoria are all completely cleared now.

Check out the new Bell's Deconstructed photoset for some really depressing photos. Please help me identify some of the attractions that were located on the blank spots where they've already removed everything.

Here's some additional links (Thanks, Brewcaster!) related to the recently-demolished dark ride, Phantasmagoria:

Laff In The Dark - Photos and detailed history of the Phantasmagoria.

Secret Fun Spot - Flash animation honoring Phastasmagoria. Also visit their main site (Secret Fun Spot) for more info on Bell's as well as better photos of the destruction than I was able to take.

So glad to see this site updated. I emailed you a month or so ago asking about Bells. This is sad stuff. I guess life is full of change. I have a place in my heart for the Zingo, but even more I am sad to see the Phantasmagoria being shredded. I will remember that ride for the rest of my life. Have you seen this?:

Or even this?
trying with real links:

Awesome Flash movie about the ride

Facts about the ride
Here's a blog from the people who made that flash movie. Features some info about the park and some photos of destruction as well:
Tulsa blows it yet again. I love the city but how many times do they get to screw up and tear things down, move them and just not give a DAMN!?
There's a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. I didn't really want to see the pictures of the park in such a sad state, but I just had to. Robby Bell is my brother in law, and I have never met a harder working man in my life. That elected officials could just run the Bell family out of Tulsa on a whim makes me madder than hell. Senseless. I worked there for eight summers, and considered Bell's to be my second home. I dread going out there to see the empty lot of land when they get done with it. Thank you, though for posting this article and the pictures, it satisfied my morbid curiosity.

Ryan Glasspoole
Just got the word in L.A. over the weekend about the incredibly sad demise of Bell's-- and am truly heartsick over it. So many fond memories of the place, I don't know where to begin. I actually used to joke that if I ever found out I had a day left to live-- I'd have to spend at least an hour of it repeatedly riding the Zingo. Just cannot believe the place is gone.
Ryan, I understand how you feel. I also worked at Bell's for several seasons. I ended up selling tickets at the end of the Big Sky Ride during the Fair. It is so sad to see the pictures and hear about everything they're going through without being able to help. I know that they are going to find a great new site that's even better.
I'm not sure I mentioned it previously, but the Big Sky Ride was sold to Tulsa County, and will continue to be operated during the State Fair and possibly other events.
I was born in Tulsa in 1963. We moved to Florida in 71 and I haven't been back since. Some of my fondest memories were of going to Bells. It's sad to hear of its demise. I've been thinking of making a trip to Tulsa of late, but it seems everything I remember of the place of my birth is gone now.
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