Pop’s Top 10: Literary Amusement Park Rides

moby dick ride_2To each their own thrills, be it the humble log flume (Dr. Dana) or the insane 128mph coaster that basically turns your face inside out (Katie). Inspired by my Moby Dick sighting on the Wildwood, New Jersey boardwalk, Katie and I had a lot of fun researching this post. The only criteria was that each ride had to be physical, not a virtual, IMAX, or 3D experience. So strap in…here are our Top 10 literary-themed amusement park rides!


#10 MAD TEA PARTY

Image courtesy of Wikipedia, photo by Ellen Levy Finch

Perhaps the most classic is Mad Tea Party, an Alice in Wonderland spinning tea cup bonanza at multiple Disneyland parks across the globe. Whimsical and charming, it also gained significant notoriety for being voted “most likely to make you hurl” by unfortunate family members on a grand day out.


#9 SWISS FAMILY TREEHOUSE

Image courtesy of ITM

Also in Disneyland is the amazing Swiss Family Treehouse walk-through attraction based on the famous novel J.D. WyssHmmmm. I wonder how long it would take them to actually discover me living in it à la Claudia Kincaid?


#8 SUPERMAN ESCAPE

Image courtesy of Wikipedia, by Chensiyuan

Leaping briefly over to comics, we have this awesome accelerator coaster at Warner Bros. Movie World in Queensland, Australia. It goes from 0-62mph in 2 seconds. Not quite faster then a speeding bullet, but WOOOOOOOOOOOSH!


#7 PETER RABBIT HIPPITY HOP

Image courtesy of Alton Towers

Located in Staffordshire, England in the Alton Towers theme park, this Peter Rabbit ride is just flat out adorable. Though the prospect of being taken “high into the sky” in a tiny plastic seat with my children and suddenly dropped is exactly the type of thing to give me nightmares 10 years on.


#6 VOYAGE TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH

Image courtesy of Water World

A clear nod to Journey to the Centre of the Earth, this watery dark ride resides in Water World, Denver, Colorado. It’s got inflatable rafts, animatronic dinosaurs, and the thrill rating is “high.” What could possibly go wrong, Professor Lidenbrock?


#5 A DAY OUT WITH THOMAS

Image courtesy of Strasberg Railroad

This one’s for my son! He’s now a teenager, but back in the day he was a massive Thomas the Tank Engine foamer. Considering the ride is just over in Strasberg, Pennsylvania, I might take him there for his next birthday. Seriously. He might be game.


#4 TOM AND HUCK’S RIVERBLAST

Image courtesy of Silver Dollar City

More water fun! Mark Twain’s iconic rascals get their day at Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri. Riverblast boasts 80 super soakers placed in strategic locations along the 567-ft river channel, making it “America’s Biggest Water Battle!”. Katie, game on!


#3 THE WIZARDING WORLD OF HARRY POTTER

Image courtesy of Wikipedia, by Rstoplabe14

Couldn’t leave THIS off the list! The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at the Universal Resort in Orlando, Florida has an inverted coaster, a steel coaster, 2 dark rides, AND a full scale replica of the Hogwart’s Express. Plus butterbeer for later!


#2 DON QUIXOTE FERRIS WHEEL

Image courtesy of GaiJinPot Travel

OK, this one’s a bit of a stretch, but it’s SO cool we had to include it! The only ovular Ferris wheel in the world, patrons of the Don Quixote store in Osaka, Japan can enjoy a ride up and down the side of the building!


#1 DICKENS WORLD

Courtesy of Design You Trust

Before you get too excited, the Dickens World theme park in Kent, England closed in 2016. Here, you could watch live-action re-enactments of famous scenes, go through an interactive haunted house, take a Great Expectations boat ride, or turn the kiddos loose in the “Fagin’s Den” playground. Which, given Fagin’s role in the famous novel is, to say, rather…twisted.

The Best of the West

Recently, I was delighted to connect with writer and musician, Mifflin Lowe. His latest children’s book, The True West (Bushel & Peck, 2020), is a journey to the American West and focuses on the individuals often left out of the popular narratives. Here we meet African American, Latino, Asian, and American Indian soldiers, inventors, workers, pioneers, cowboys…AND cowgirls! Filled with historic photos, amazing facts, helpful definitions, and illustrations by Wiliam Luong, it’s a fantastic, fascinating, and dynamic resource. I lassoed Mifflin for a few questions about his work…

How did this project come to be?

I wrote a picture book and an animated film called The Awesome, Amazing, Occasionally Incredible Adventures of Cowboy Howie, about a mixed race boy from New York City who dreamed of being a cowboy. In his imagination the city’s canyons turned into the Grand Canyon, dogs became wolves, pigeons became eagles etc.

What was the research like for the book? Did you, for example, get a hankering to visit some Western locations? Saddle up Old Paint?

Research was fascinating. I did it mostly online and I learned a ton about the people and the life in the West. The people were all tough and I mean that in the best possible way — the were incredibly resilient from Calamity Jane to Stagecoach Mary Fields to Fox Hastings to Bass Reeves.

Mary Fields

Who was your favorite person to research?

Well maybe Annie Oakley – she was under 5 foot tall and could shoot a dime thrown in the air at 20 paces, and shoot while standing on the back of a galloping horse. Also, Bass Reeves who was a Black lawman who arrested over 3,000 criminals — more than Wild Bill Hickok and Wyatt Earp put together. Bass is supposedly the person the Lone Ranger was based on. Bass always left silver dollar at the scene of a crime he’d solved — like the Lone Ranger did with his silver bullets. Also, Jackson Sundown, the Native American rodeo rider who was probably the best ever and Mamie Hafely who used to jump off a five story tower on the back of her horse into a pool of water

Jackson Sundown

What’s one thing that surprised you when working on this book?

How strong, determined and hard working all these people were. They never gave up and never gave in.

Chinese Railroad Workers

In the Calamity Jane chapter, you mention the “flat-out cool’ nicknames from the Wild West. What would your nickname be?

Mr. Smartypants, maybe? Naw, I don’t know… maybe Muffin… like Mifflin…people sometimes make the mistake.

Muffin Lowe


Images courtesy of Mifflin Lowe and Bushel & Peck Books. Illustrations by Wiliwam Luong.

Say Cheese!

next-stop-cannes

Since childhood, there have been a few craft projects that have proved elusive to fabrication…umbrellas that stay open, a conveyer belt that moves, and life-sized fake cotton candy that still looks yummy. The cotton candy is ESPECIALLY difficult. Tulle fabric looks weird, and cotton balls just clump! They. Just. Clump.

Cameras used to be one of those elusive craft projects, but I’m happy to report that we’ve managed to create several fun versions complete with lenses, shutter clicks, and Polaroids! So today, in honor of National Camera Day, we will be sharing our favorite camera projects. Starting with the one pictured above. A handheld camera with color changing lenses!

Shutter clicks go hand in hand with camera, be they physical or digital. I never was able to quite nail the sound until I stumbled upon these bug clickers. They really add dimension to this snazzy tea tin camera, modeled here by a penguin…

say freeze

Polaroid cameras were a thing of my youth, and attempts to recreate them were met with various degrees of success. I felt I reached my zenith, however, with this OCuSOFT box turned Polaroid camera. We also turned the photos into a nifty little story time matching game!

canyon photos

Finally, go BIG with an entire film crew, complete with handheld mic, camera, and a boom mic! We’veve used this set up a number of times (from science interviews to cooking shows), and it’s always fab-u-lous!

a star is born