Americana 1900- The Complete Presentation

James G.

Well-Known Member
Original Poster


With a mighty blast of dissonant, almost painfully dark music he plays a deafening, malevolent chord and the riders are suddenly pulled away from him, the ride vehicle spinning with a blast of wind and sudden darkness broken only by a few flickers of light as it is sucked into the organ itself!


Huge organ pipes surround the riders as they are carried into the sound chamber of this now-diabolical instrument. Giant bellows rise and fall, providing the air that powers this gigantic machine and that buffets the riders; huge mallets hit the drums, cymbals and woodblocks that produce so many of the special sounds that a Mighty Wurlitzer could produce, but that now seem intent on smashing the riders; massive shutters open and close to control the volume of the sounds produced, but now threaten to crush the poor moviegoers who happened to stumble across the Phantom and his maniacal plan to win his leading lady's love and understanding. The ride vehicle turns and twists through this nightmarish scene of musical mechanics gone mad, narrowly avoiding the destruction of itself and its riders, and finally escapes from the infernal machine via giant bellows. The ride vehicle is blown out of the theater into the back alley, where tattered theater flats, racks of abandoned, rotting costumes and the wreckage of a smashed chandelier lie scattered on the ground and against the crumbling building. Only the distant sound of the Mighty Wurlitzer theatre organ, still playing its haunting music, can be heard.


Riders exit their theater seats and enter the back door of the Keystone Commissary, a shop located between the Mack Sennett Theater and the Studio Deli. (See the section of this presentation titled “Merchandise” for a complete description).


Speedy- The Car Chase Through New York (AAP)


The car chase is one of the earliest and most enduring scenes in the history of early motion pictures. Whether it be robbers trying to escape from the cops, a romantic couple trying to elope and elude the bride's father or a comic scene of a car being chased by its owner as it rolls down a hill, the car chase has been seen in films since its earliest days. The fact that these scenes were done without the use of computer graphics makes the split-second timing of the drivers all the more amazing.


Speedy- the Car Chase Through New York is located on Silver Oak Street directly adjacent to Chaplin Square. It takes riders on one of these madcap car chases, through a setting of narrow streets, blind alleys and hairpin curves. Riders board vehicles designed to look like either four-seater 1920s-era cars or taxis, or six-seater buses and begin a wild race through the streets of New York City circa 1928 (the year that "Speedy", a classic film starring Harold Lloyd) was released. The vehicles speed through New York City, narrowly missing collisions with other cars as they race past buildings, down alleys, around blind curves, dodging other vehicles, swerving down side streets and passing each other at a breathtaking speed.

This is a colorized scene from the original film, to give you a good idea of what this attraction is based on. There is also an original black-and-white version of this on YouTube if you want to watch it in the original format. Regardless, it’s lots of fun to watch. Enjoy!

For an interesting video that will give readers an idea of what this attraction would be like in real life, I found a YouTube video of a game from 1968 that will roughly show how the cars will chase each other in this attraction. It’s a board game called the DX Getaway Chase Game, and was only available from a DX Gas Station (with an 8 gallon purchase). It only uses two cars, a police car and a getaway car, while “Speedy- the Car Chase Through New York” will involve at least a dozen cars on the track at one time. Still, it gives a general idea of the movements of the cars in the attraction, constantly changing lanes, turns, near-misses of other cars, etc.

In “Speedy- The Car Chase Through New York,” the cars are computer-controlled and their locations are carefully plotted so that there are no collisions- each car has a driver with a steering wheel, but the wheel is strictly for show (and fun). Cars and drivers are dispatched only when another car returns to the station, so that there is an ever-changing mix of vehicles racing through the attraction. After a two-minute thirty-second chase, the cars return to the ride building and the riders exit the cars thrilled, excited and with a new appreciation for the stunt drivers that created the wild car chases of these early films.


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Well-Known Member
Speedy- the Car Chase Through New York is located on Silver Oak Street directly adjacent to Chaplin Square. It takes riders on one of these madcap car chases, through a setting of narrow streets, blind alleys and hairpin curves. Riders board vehicles designed to look like either four-seater 1920s-era cars or taxis, or six-seater buses and begin a wild race through the streets of New York City circa 1928 (the year that "Speedy", a classic film starring Harold Lloyd) was released. The vehicles speed through New York City, narrowly missing collisions with other cars as they race past buildings, down alleys, around blind curves, dodging other vehicles, swerving down side streets and passing each other at a breathtaking speed.


That sounds cool, it reminds me of the never built attraction "Dick Tracy's Crime-Stoppers". It was supposed to go in MGM Studios, but the film tanked. The ride system was eventually used though for "Indiana Jones Adventure" and "Dinosaur".
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James G.

Well-Known Member
Original Poster

That sounds cool, it reminds me of the never built attraction "Dick Tracy's Crime-Stoppers". It was supposed to go in MGM Studios, but the film tanked. The ride system was eventually used though for "Indiana Jones Adventure" and "Dinosaur".
I never heard of that never built attraction. It sounds like it would be a great experience, and at least the ride system entered the Disney experience. Thanks for sharing this with me!

James G.

Well-Known Member
Original Poster

Roll ‘em!- How to Make a Movie!


Located in Studio A on Glendale Blvd., Roll 'em! How to Make a Movie! is a popular combination of audience participation and filmed show, and is presented in two identical adjacent theaters entered from a shared lobby/queue area. During the preshow waiting time, "casting directors'' will choose several guests to become actors in a "new'' film being shot that day in the studio. The chosen actors/guests will be taken backstage, fitted with costumes, have appropriate make-up applied, and prepared for their big break in the movie about to be filmed.

Several different films will be used in this attraction, so guests can revisit it and see a different movie being filmed. The films used are actual movies of the era, each lasting only about five or six minutes at the most. This was the normal length for many of the films of the era. The movies would have a small cast, perhaps only three or four actors, and would often be filmed on only one or two sets. Since the electric lights of the era didn't produce a bright enough light for the cameras available, many movies were filmed either outdoors or in studios with glass roofs or no roof at all, to allow the bright natural sunlight to flood the set.


Occasionally white cloth sheets covering the ceiling would be used to diffuse and soften the light. Studio A will have a roof, but the ceiling will be illuminated and covered with white cloth sheets to mimic the appearance of the softened natural sunlight.


(the photograph above shows the use of white cloth sheets on the open-air ceiling of the studio to soften the direct sunlight)

The audience will enter one of the movie studios and take their seats in a grandstand setting that offers excellent sightlines, and the relatively small studio will bring them close to the action. The "director" of the film will come out, introduce himself and explain that the audience is about to witness the actual filming of a movie with the newly-discovered performers that the casting director found. The "actors" (who have been briefed a bit about what is expected of them) will be brought out in their costumes and make-up and will be introduced to the audience. The director will explain briefly who the members of the film crew are, then it is time to get to work.

A Quick History Lesson

Although rare, there were female movie directors in the earliest days of film production. The first and probably most famous was Alice Guy-Blanche, a French woman who worked with her husband Herbert Blanche for Gaumont et Cie, a French film corporation, and began working on film production probably before 1907. Alice was not only a director, but also produced, wrote, taught other directors in the craft, and even designed costumes.

Now back to the show…


The director will actually be directing the filming of a recreation of the movie being featured, trying as much as possible to help the actors mimic the performances of their film counterparts. Since there will not be any sound used, the actors don't need to remember any lines- cue cards out of the camera’s sight can be used so that the actors say the lines that will appear on the dialogue cards in the movie- and the director can talk them through each scene as much as he feels is necessary. While scenes are being reset or rehearsed, different crew members such as the gaffer, best boy, grips and cameraman explain to the audience what their jobs are. This keeps the action running and educates the audience about the process, all the time remembering that this is entertainment.

Soon the filming is completed and the actors are taken backstage to get their makeup off and the costumes returned. While this is occurring, the lights in the studio will dim and a curtain will open to reveal a movie screen above the movie set. The director tells the audience that they will be seeing the original movie that the version they just saw being filmed was based on. The movie is shown to the audience, then after it is over spotlights focus on a doorway and the actors return to the studio to applause and are directed to a group of director’s chairs sitting in front of the set, facing the screen, so that they can have front row seats for the world premiere of their version of the movie. During the showing of the original film, editors are quickly recreating it using the new footage shot with the audience actors, including all the "intertitles" (sometimes called dialog cards, the cards with written dialogue, explanation, etc. so common in movies of the era).

The results are almost guaranteed to either be hilarious or impressive, depending on the acting abilities of the audience actors, but comparing the original film to the newly-created version will be both entertaining to the audience and informative, showing just how hard making a good quality film of the era could be. The audience actors will be given a copy of their film to keep and enjoy.
"Roll 'Em!..." is one of the most popular shows in all of Americana 1900.


James G.

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Don’t Try This at Home


Studio B on Glendale Blvd., located directly opposite Studio A, is the location of Don't Try This at Home, a live show demonstrating how many of the remarkable and often dangerous stunts were first created and filmed for the early movie industry. This was a time before computers or CGI was even dreamed of, and all stunts had to be physically created so that they could be performed safely and be filmed using the technology of the time.

Many of the stunts created for these early films incorporated "tricks" still used today. "Glass" bottles made from sugar or gelatin can be safely broken over an actor's head. Chairs, tables and even bricks can be crafted of balsa wood and constructed to disintegrate on impact. Careful timing, planning and practice are integral to making these stunts appear realistic, and all of these are demonstrated in this informative and entertaining twenty-minute show presented twice an hour in what has been named the "Buster Keaton Studio".


Buster Keaton, one of the most famous actors of the early film era, was known for his amazing physical humor. He used both carefully practiced physical stunts and carefully designed props and scenery to create some of the most famous scenes in early movie history. "Don't Try This at Home" shows many of these scenes on screen, then demonstrates how they were created. One scene shows a two-story storefront that weighed over two tons falling on him- the only thing that saved him was a carefully placed window- if he had not been standing in the exact spot where the window landed he would have been killed.


Other famous stunts, including those performed by the brilliant comedic actor Harold Lloyd hanging from the hands of a clock on a skyscraper high above moving traffic, are explained and demonstrated as shown in the video below.


The above video demonstrates the simple yet brilliant methods that the cinematographers and directors of these early films created special effects that still entertain and in some cases dazzle audiences to this day.

"Don't Try This at Home" shows how some of the greatest special effects ever caught on film were created, not with the use of computers, but with talent, skill and ingenuity.



James G.

Well-Known Member
Original Poster




New York was the home of some of the first motion pictures studios. Vitagraph Studios in Brooklyn and Edison Studios in the Bronx were both major producers of films in the early 1900s. The cast and crew members had to eat lunch somewhere, so what would be more appropriate in a film studio like Keystone Studios than a New York deli? The Studio Deli, located on Chaplin Square, is a counter service restaurant offering traditional New York delicatessen sandwiches, sides and baked goods in a traditional New York setting- slightly crowded, noisy and exciting. A choice of deli sandwiches named after early film stars include:


This is just a small selection of the traditional deli sandwiches available. Each is piled high with a heaping amount of meat and choices of cheeses and toppings, all custom-made for the customer. Also available are side dishes such as potato salad, coleslaw, noodle pudding, potato pancakes, Matzo ball soup and desserts like blintzes and New York cheesecake.


Keystone Food Patio


Located adjacent to Studio A is the Keystone Food Patio, an open-air food court featuring several quick-service food stands and dozens of shaded dining tables. The food stands sell a variety of popular fast-food items such as burgers, hot dogs, chicken strips, wraps and pizza, and a complete selection of soft drinks, flavored waters and other non-alcoholic beverages.




On the corner of Chaplin Square, directly adjacent to Studio A, is Wings, a counter service restaurant featuring exactly what its name says- wings.


Named for the film "Wings", the first and only silent film to win the Academy Award for Best Picture, this restaurant offers hearty helpings of chicken wings in nearly twenty flavors, from basic roasted to five-alarm spicy, from sweet barbeque to exotic Thai. Prices vary, based on the number of wings and the number of different sauces. Sides and beverages are extra, and there are daily specials. Several video monitors masked as ornate picture frames show the film "Wings" continuously to diners while they enjoy their meals of wings and things.

James G.

Well-Known Member
Original Poster

Keystone Commissary
Riders exiting the Mack Sennett Theater and “The Phantom of the Wurlitzer” pass through the Keystone Commissary, a shop that houses the attraction’s Family Album location, and where riders can also find a variety of unusual gifts, books, mementos and copies of many of the film versions, both silent and talkie, of "The Phantom of the Opera" that have thrilled audiences for nearly one hundred years.

This small shop, located between the Mack Sennett Theater and the Studio Deli, also sells a variety of souvenirs, shirts and other apparel with the “Phantom” and other Keystone Studios attractions logos, the Keystone Studios or Americana 1900 logos, packaged snacks and bottled soft drinks, and other items that Studio visitors might wish to purchase.



The Back Lot
Across Silver Oak Street from Studio D is a tall wooden fence with signs identifying it as the Back Lot, where the 1925 film "The Big Parade'' is being filmed on a "closed set". This is actually the backstage storage and staging area for the remarkable parade that winds its way through the streets of Americana 1900 every day, a parade also called (appropriately) "The Big Parade.'' Beautiful floats, marching bands (including visiting bands from schools all over the nation), equestrian units and drill teams combine to recreate a stirring spectacle of patriotism celebrating the history of America and Americana 1900. As is almost traditional, holes have been cut in this fence at different levels to allow curious visitors to peek through and see the preparations and planning needed to stage a major parade such as this.
The Big Parade will be discussed later in this presentation.

Restrooms for the general public are found in Studio D. There are also smaller restrooms for guests at Wings, the Studio Deli, and Keystone Food Patio. These restrooms are decorated with movie posters advertising films created by the original Keystone Studios from 1912 until reopened at Americana 1900.


Lighting in Keystone Studios is probably the most “modern” in all of Americana 1900. Electric lights were commonplace by the time Mack Sennett was filming here, and outdoor electric street lights are used to illuminate the Township. Neon was also just becoming commonplace, and many of the smaller businesses in the studio use it to advertise their goods and services. Backlit signs, such as were commonplace on theater marquees, is also a familiar sight in Keystone Studios.

The most distinctive lighting feature in Keystone Studios is the use of rotating Klieg lights, the intensely-bright carbon-arc lights used so much in early filmmaking. These lights have become synonymous with movie premiers. They are projected from permanent locations on the roofs of several of the studio buildings, and when night falls and the brilliant beams of light are seen piercing the sky above Keystone Studios, there is no doubt this is a place where movies reign supreme.


Keystone Studios is presented as a working production studio, a business, and as such floral decoration was not a major concern to Mack Sennett, but there is one place where artistic and floral beauty is found. In the center of Chaplin Square is a raised brick floral garden, surrounded by welcoming park benches and supporting a beautiful grouping of bronze statues showing Charlie Chaplin (in his “Little Tramp” persona) with his frequent co-star Mabel Normand, being directed by Mack Sennett (kneeling in his traditional director’s pose while holding a megaphone), and being filmed by Frank D. Williams (one of the finest cinematographers of the early film era), standing behind his tripod camera. This statuary group, called, Making Movies, is one of the most photographed scenes in all of Americana 1900.


That’s not to say that the rest of Keystone Studios is dull and drab. Many of the buildings are painted in warm, pastel colors, to remind its original performers and technical crew of their original studio back in California, and the beautifully-painted signage shows that they were created by the same talented artists that created the sets for the movies filmed inside the studios. Most of the decorative touches are in an early art-deco style, and the streets are unusual in Americana 1900 in that they are concrete, as opposed to brick or cobblestone, to facilitate easier movement of set pieces and cameras around the studio. Waste receptacles and drinking fountains are all basic, utilitarian, yet slightly artistic in design.

Horses are not permitted in Keystone Studios, except for those appearing in the Big Parade. By the time that Keystone Studios was functioning, horses had mostly been replaced with automobiles and motorized trucks. None of the horse-drawn vehicles used in Americana 1900 are permitted to enter either studio gate except as part of the Big Parade.



James G.

Well-Known Member
Original Poster

Keystone Picture Studios created movies for less than ten years, and none of the nearly eighty films it produced went on to be considered masterpieces of the early film industry. Mostly, it created light-weight comedies- silly, slapstick movies whose greatest contribution to film-making was probably the “pie fight.” That isn’t to say that many of the performers in these films didn’t have a major impact for decades on the movie industry.


Harold Lloyd, a master of physical humor and comic timing.


Marie Dressler, winner of the Academy Award for Best Actress in 1930.


Mabel Normand, called the “female Chaplin” and the first person to receive a pie in the face.


Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle, a controversial actor who was the first person to hit Mabel Normand with a pie, and who was also the director who discovered Buster Keaton and Bob Hope.


Gloria Swanson, the original and probably the greatest Norma Desmond in “Sunset Boulevard.”


And Charlie Chaplin.

The modern film industry would not be what it is today without the brave inventiveness, ingenuity, guts, luck and talent that these early movie pioneers brought to this new art form. Keystone Studios celebrates these actors, directors, and skilled cinematic craftsmen who invented a new way for America and the world to dream, and invites all visitors to Americana 1900 to discover the magic of the movies that they created, not with computers and modern technology, but with their brilliant minds and incredible talents.



James G.

Well-Known Member
Original Poster




History meets fantasy in Century Plaza, where guests can find lush gardens, carefully manicured lawns and some of the most unusual attractions to be found in any park in the world. A huge “compass rose” over four hundred feet in diameter divides the plaza into four quadrants, each of which features an attraction that blends a traditional amusement ride with spectacular theming, cutting-edge technology carefully wrapped in elegant period details, and just a touch of whimsy. Every Township is accessible from one of the roads that cross Century Plaza, making it truly the heart and soul of Americana 1900.
But there’s something missing.

A backstory.

What?! No backstory!! How can the creator and Founder of Americana 1900 not have a backstory for the most centrally-located Township in his park? All right, here it is- but this is not a typical backstory. It’s the story of how Century Plaza was conceived by the creator and Founder of Americana 1900, Jack Cahill, out of desperation and with the guidance of his personal assistant...and a file full of abandoned ideas.

It’s also longer than most backstories, so I’ll present it in two parts, one today and one tomorrow, but I hope that once you begin to read it, you’ll understand why Century Plaza is so different from every other Township in Americana 1900. Get comfortable. Get a cup of coffee, or tea, or a mug of ginger beer, or root beer, get the idea. Now join me as I invite you into Jack Cahill’s office as he creates the heart of Americana 1900.

A few names you’re going to need to know, some whom you’ve already met, and some new to the narrative:

  • Jack Cahill- Creator and Founder of Americana 1900...but you’ve met him before.
  • Alex Chambers- Jack’s personal assistant (P.A.). Former Army sergeant who seems to spend most of his time keeping Jack on time for meetings and from getting distracted by his own imagination.
  • Sid (Graumann III)- Senior Designer of Americana.
  • Blaine Hinkley- Member and de facto leader of the design team (after Sid). Architect and artist.
  • Charles (Cambridge)- Chairman of the Board of the Americana Land Company and financier of Americana 1900. Somewhere between the third and fourth richest person in America (depending on the day)
  • David Branson- Member of the design team. A personal friend of Jack’s for years.
  • Lorrayne Mack- Member of the design team, from Germany, and an expert in coaster design.

Note: There are several places where certain words are censored by this site. I decided not to rewrite the story and alter the words to something that is considered more "correct." There are times when no other word will convey the meaning that the author wants. I will leave it up to you, my respected reader, to fill in the *** with whatever word you feel best completes the sentence.


The ‘ding’ on Jack’s computer broke his reminiscing. The prompt said that he had an email coming in from Sid.

“Jack, Sorry to be rushing you, but we’ve got to get moving on whatever is going into the middle of the park. The engineering team we’ve got working on the infrastructure is riding my to get something finalized. They can’t get the sewer, power, roads, anything designed without knowing what’s in the center of the park. I’m going to tell you this before Charles does- you’ve got to get moving on this. We’re running out of time.


Jack sat back in his chair and sighed. Alex looked up from the file cabinet he was trying in vain to get organized, the file cabinet that Jack insisted he needed regardless of how much more efficient using his computer would have been.

“Everything ok?” Alex asked.

Jack sighed again, then in exasperation gestured to the monitor where the email from Sid was still displayed.

“I can’t even get mad at the son-of-a-, because he’s right!” Jack practically hollered in frustration. “I haven’t got any idea what to put in the center of the park. I don’t have an icon, I don’t have a theme, I don’t even have a name for it- all I do have is a big empty field.” He stood up and began pacing back and forth like a caged animal. Alex put the file he’d been sorting through back in the cabinet
and walked over to Jack’s desk. He read the email from Sid, then went over to the small office fridge in the corner of the office. He pulled out a Diet Coke for himself and flavored seltzer water for Jack, who by this time had stopped pacing and was watching Alex. He’d never seen Alex get himself something to drink.

“Boss, sit down.” Jack was a bit taken aback by what almost sounded like an order, but he didn’t have any better idea what to do. After taking the water from Alex, he sat down in the same chair he’d sat in when he interviewed Alex for the job of being Jack’s personal assistant just a few months earlier. Alex sat down across from Jack on the sofa, carefully placed his beverage on a coaster on the side table, then looked at Jack for a moment. Jack knew that Alex was thinking about what to say and how to say it.

“Boss, we need to analyze the situation. I think I know you well enough to know that you’ve got the answer somewhere in the back of your mind, but you’ve got so much else cluttering it up right now that it can’t get out. Do you mind if I help you with that?”

“You sound like you’re trying to use that psychology class you probably had to take in college,” Jack said. “Sure,” he said, almost laughing. “If you can help me figure out what to do, go for it. I’m not having any luck.”

“OK, do you want to figure out the Township’s name first or the theme first?” Alex asked.

“Sounds like the chicken or the egg problem,” Jack said.

“Ok, I’ll choose,” Alex said, sounding more and more like he was taking charge of the situation, even if a bit hesitantly. “Let’s figure out a name first, even if it’s just a working title. We can always change it later to something better. Do you have any ideas, even bad ones?”

“Not really. I even asked David once. He suggested Death Valley. Then he just did that giggle he does, and I knew he didn’t have any serious ideas either.”

“Would you like a suggestion from me?” Alex asked.

“Well, sure, yes!” Jack said, then added, “It’s better than Death Valley, isn’t it?”

“I think so,” Alex said, then he began to look concerned, as if he’d overstepped his boundaries. “This is just something I was thinking about, and if you don’t like it you won’t hurt my feelings.”

“Alex, please, just talk to me.”

Alex took a deep breath, then said, “I’ve been listening to you and the rest of the design team for weeks now, and one word comes up so often that when I’m typing up the minutes of your meetings my computer autosuggests it after I type in the first two letters.”

“What’s the word?” Jack asked curiously.

“Century. Everyone is always talking about the 19th century, the 20th century, the turn of the century, how everything we’re doing is based on life over a century ago. To me, that word ‘century’ is the key. I don’t think you need another Township that replicates a specific place in America a century ago- its location right in the middle of the park says that it needs to be a…” Alex paused as he searched for the right description… “a generic Township, one that every other Township can relate to and that can tie all the other Townships together.”

Jack thought for a moment, then mused, “Like the Hub in Disneyland or Magic Kingdom…”

“I don’t know about that,” Alex said. “I’ve never been to a Disney park.”

“It’s where all the different lands come together. It’s right in the middle of the park, like where we’re talking about with Americana. The Hub is right in front of the Castle- whenever you see a picture of a Disney Castle, it’s usually taken from the Hub. It’s not a land per se- there’s nothing in it other than some gardens and a statue of Walt Disney and the Black Rat.”

Alex snickered briefly at the playfully-derogatory insult toward Disney that Jack often used, then said, “Let me get my laptop.” He stood up and headed to his office. “Think about that word ‘Century’,” he told Jack.

As he left the room, Jack jokingly said to himself, ‘Yes, sir!’ Alex returned, sat back down and started searching for something on his computer. While he was looking for whatever he was searching for, Jack did what he was told- he thought about the word ‘Century.’ ‘Century Crossroads; Century Gardens- humm, not too bad; Century Park; Century Square- no, it’s right next to Courthouse Square; Century something. Century..Century Plaza...yes...YES!’

“The Hub in Magic Kingdom isn’t really very big, is it?” Alex said, obviously having found what he was looking for.

“The one in Disneyland is even smaller,” Jack said. “Century Plaza is a lot bigger than either Hub.” He wondered if Alex would notice his comment.

He did. He looked up at Jack, smiled, and said, “Good choice. Is this official?”

“I don’t know. Which do you like better- Century Plaza or Century Gardens?”

“Century Plaza,” Alex said after a very brief consideration of the two choices. “Century Gardens sounds like it needs to be just gardens. Century Plaza opens it up to a lot more possibilities.”

Jack thought for a moment, then declared a definite, “Yes. I agree. Unless somebody can come up with a better one and can change my mind, Century Plaza is the new name for the Township at the heart of Americana 1900.”

‘Good,’ Alex thought to himself. ‘One down, one to go.’ “Now,” he said out loud, “what are you going to put in it?”

“You were right when you said it needs to have a generic theme,” Jack said, “something unifying to tie all the Townships together. That term ‘generic’ isn’t bad- in this case it’s almost liberating. It frees us up from being too specific. Century Plaza’s theme has to be something that’s ubiquitous with the turn of the century- the 19th going into the 20th century. Something entertaining. Something exciting. It can’t all be just pretty gardens and paved areas for people to stand on. It needs something that people will be drawn to, something that people will look at and say, ‘WOW!’ Look at that! It needs...movement. It needs energy.” He stood up and declared, “It needs an icon.” Jack began to pace again, but this time it was a pacing full of energy, of drive and thinking. “An icon that moves!” he blurted out, then suddenly rushed over and reread Sid’s email.

Alex was rather enjoying watching Jack brainstorming. It was an interesting process to watch, and Jack’s excitement was contagious. ‘What was he looking for in Sid’s email?’ he wondered.

“Sid didn’t know it, but he told me in his email what I needed for Century Plaza. Come here,” Jack said excitedly, gesturing for Alex to come around the desk so that he could see the email himself. Alex did so, and as he looked at the email with Jack, his boss pointed to different words in the message. “Rushing, moving, working, running...this is what Century Plaza needs- it doesn’t need a specific historic theme. It doesn’t need to recreate anything specific. It needs movement, energy, motion. It needs to be beautiful and impressive and exciting!” Jack was almost giddy as his mind raced with the possibilities.

“You left out, ‘riding’,” Alex pointed out.

“What?” Jack asked, almost sounding like Alex was intruding on his reverie.

“Right here, where Sid says that the infrastructure team is ‘riding my ’,” Alex said with just a hint of a smirk, pointing to the phrase in the email. Jack looked at it, at Alex, then laughed out loud.

“Fine! We’ll put a donkey ride in it!” They both laughed at that vision. “Ok, not really, but now we know what Century Plaza needs- beauty, motion, excitement- and an icon!”

“And you already have a list of potential attractions that could be perfect for Century Plaza,” Alex stated.

“I do?” Jack asked, suddenly confused. Alex walked back to the filing cabinet that he’d been sorting through earlier, reached into the top drawer and pulled out a thick, overstuffed file labeled “The Attic.”

Up to now, it was the place where ideas for attractions went to die.

Jack looked at it, and in a eureka moment practically hollered, “YES!” He grabbed the file and all the loose papers that had once been carefully misfiled in it, ran over to the conference table, tossed the file and the papers onto its surface and as he began to sort through the thick, disorganized stack, asked Alex, “Well? What are you waiting for? Get over here and help me!” he practically demanded. “It was your idea to get these files organized!”

Alex smiled inwardly at this. Being Jack’s personal assistant was many things, but it certainly wasn’t dull.



James G.

Well-Known Member
Original Poster

“The Attic” was a file that Jack created to store all of his rejected ideas for rides and attractions. Many of them were concepts from his original contest proposal that he’d removed from Americana as he reworked it before Charles began his crazy idea to actually build Jack’s park, and a few of them were so early that they actually predated his final proposal in the theme park website contest. Others were more recent rejects- ideas that he liked, but that nobody else did and that he’d been convinced- or occasionally badgered- into removing from consideration for Americana. Some were carefully described rides, with photos of similar attractions, sketches and even rough blueprints that Jack or someone on the rapidly-growing support staff of the design team had created.

A few were little more than notes scribbled on the back of a piece of scrap paper, and some were so poorly written that Jack himself couldn’t translate his writing. Those might have been middle-of-the-night brainstorms that he woke up from, jotted the idea down so that he wouldn’t forget it, then went back to sleep. The next morning, he had no idea what the scribbled note meant. He hoped it wasn’t a brilliant idea that would never come to fruition because he couldn’t read his own late-night chicken-scratching or didn’t remember what sleep-obscured idea the apparently random words were intended to trigger.

Jack secretly admitted to himself that there really was no organization to The Attic file. He usually just stuffed the ideas in the front of the file with the intention of going through them and getting them sorted out in a logical manner. Perhaps the fact that the ideas and concepts at the back of the file were the oldest ideas was as close to organization as it would ever have achieved- that is if Alex hadn’t chosen today as the day to try and organize Jack’s filing cabinet, and Sid hadn’t chosen that moment to send his email demanding that Jack decide what would be going into the middle of Americana 1900.


Two hours later the Attic file had been carefully organized- and Century Plaza had been created. Jack and Alex had turned the disorganized mess of papers, photographs and drawings into five distinct piles. One pile was for ideas that were just plain untranslatable. They consisted of those random or illegible words that Jack had scribbled down but for some reason had relegated to the Attic; the second pile was for ideas and concepts that were just plain bad ideas, either completely impractical, impossible, or blatant copies of other attractions at other parks. They even discovered three instances where Jack had created the same bad idea for a ride over and over, and Jack had no memory of any of them. “That might have been when I had the flu,” he tried to claim as an excuse. The third stack was for concepts that weren’t necessarily bad, but wouldn’t fit into a Township where the overriding theme was visual movement and kinetic energy. At the beginning of their creation of Century Plaza, Jack and Alex agreed that every ride and attraction had to be a primarily outdoor experience. It had to have movement that was visible to everyone strolling through the Township, and such historically important attractions as Laff-in-the-Dark or the Tunnel of Love were, by their very nature, indoor dark rides. There might be a place for them somewhere else in the park, possibly sometime in the future, but not right then and not in Century Plaza.

The fourth stack was what Jack and Alex began calling the “second string” attractions. These were rides that could work in Century Plaza, but they weren’t the best fit. Perhaps they could be rethought, improved somehow, but they weren’t Jack's first choice. One attraction in this group caused more contention between Jack and Alex than any other ride in the Attic file- the Scenic Spiral Wheel, also called “The Top.” This was a strange, unique roller coaster that, as far as they could find doing any sort of research, only existed at Coney Island in New York for a few years. It rotated and rolled around on a circular track, like a spinning dime just before it stopped spinning. It looked exciting, terrifying...and according to what little documentation was available, was also not popular with the crowds, and nobody would ever say why. Jack wanted it, but Alex insisted that there must be a reason why it was not popular and didn’t feel that they were in a position to experiment with something that might have a hidden flaw in its design or experience. He wanted to put it in the third pile, the “maybe someday” pile. Jack wanted it in the final stack, the “definitely include” stack. They compromised and put it on the “second string” list, but Jack insisted that it go on the top of that list.

The final stack contained the attractions that they both felt were perfect for Century Plaza. They didn’t want to overfill the Township with ‘stuff.” They wanted it to look impressive, exciting, visually magnificent, elegant- they actually made a list of words that were important to remember as they turned this vast, empty space, surrounded by every other Township in Americana 1900, into the heart and soul of the park. The sketch they finally scribbled onto a sheet of printer paper, as rough and amateurish as it was, told them that they had created just such a place.

Rising from the center of the Township, and thus standing in the middle of Americana 1900, was the elusive icon that Jack had been searching for- the three-hundred-foot tall Americana Wonder Wheel, a cross between the original Ferris Wheel from the 1893 Chicago world’s fair and the Coney Island Wonder Wheel, an “eccentric” Ferris Wheel where some of the cabins slide on tracks between the rim of the wheel and the central hub. It would be, in essence, two rides in one- the sedate cabins on the rim, which would offer breathtaking views of the surrounding park countryside, while the “sliders” would provide a thrilling experience as they slid back and forth as the massive wheel rotated.

“This kills two birds with one stone,” Jack said.

“How?” Alex asked.

“Originally I was going to have the Chicago wheel in the middle of The Pike, but everyone said it was too big and would block the view of the buildings. I wanted the Wonder Wheel in the middle of State Fair, but it took up too much room and we’d have to scrap having a lot of other rides in that space, so they both ended up in the Attic file.”

“Plus you’d have had two big Ferris wheels basically side-by-side,” Alex observed. “This way you get to have both, and you get your icon as a bonus.”

Four other rides surrounded the wheel, one in each of the four quadrants that Century Plaza would be divided into by wide pedestrian walkways. The southeast quadrant would be totally occupied by the Virginia Reel, which was a once-popular style of roller coaster very similar to a wild mouse, with round cars that rotated as they traversed the back-and-forth track down an artificial hillside. After reaching the bottom, they disappeared inside the framework of the ride, into a dark-ride portion that held some sort of scary scene that would make the Virginia Reel a completely unique ride experience, unlike anything else in the world.

The northeast quadrant would have two features- a restaurant overlooking some beautiful gardens, and a ride that resembled a carousel, but instead of having beautifully-carved horses it would be filled with a collection of steampunk-inspired mechanical transportation devices- airplanes with propellers powered by foot pedals operated by the passengers, steel hot-air balloons with man-powered wings, submarines that moved through the air like fish- all inspired by a unique French carousel ride that Jim saw in a video. Alex even discovered a name for the ride, the “Turn of the Century,” scribbled on a scrap piece of paper mixed in with a totally different proposal in the file.

“Ford’s Model-T Road Rally,” filled the northwest quadrant. A traditional drive-it-yourself car track, but with a variety of Model-T cars and other period Ford vehicles that would be driven by guests through a model town of 1900 and the surrounding countryside. The thing that would make this attraction unique from other similar driving rides is that the cars would be as close to their original size as possible, and almost every car would be from a different model year, different style and different color. The only modifications would be that there would be extensions for the foot pedals and raised seats for younger, shorter drivers- and seat belts would be required to keep the insurance people happy. Computer controls would also be used, to prevent accidental (or intentional) rear-end collisions from occurring.

“Why specifically Ford?” Alex asked.

“Because Charles told me- in confidence- that he’s working on getting Ford as a corporate sponsor. Nothing official yet, if you know what I mean.”

“I understand, Boss.”

The fourth attraction was probably Jack’s least favorite, but he had to admit that it would add a truly unique form of kinetic energy to the Township. At first they didn’t have a name for it, but it would be similar to the Dumbo ride at Disneyland, which Jack told Alex was called an “aerial carousel”, something that Alex wondered if Jack had just made up. It would be similar, but instead of flying elephants, it would have actual historically-inspired airplanes for “pilots” to operate as they spun around a central column. Alex suggested that the planes be able to not only fly around and move up and down, but also piston towards and away from the central column, possibly turn slightly and even roll a bit, just like a real airplane.

Jack thought about Alex’s suggestion for a moment, then said, “You’re right. It needs to have something to make it different from other airplane spinner rides- or flying elephants or flying dinosaurs like they have at Disney World.”

“Pterodactyls flew,” Alex stated, not really being sure what Jack was talking about.

“Yea, but Triceratops didn’t, and that’s what Disney used in Animal Kingdom,” Jack said with obvious distaste.

“Flying Triceratops,” Alex said, sharing his disgust. “That’s just not right.” At that moment, Alex and Jack looked at each other, and they both got the same idea. Alex grabbed his computer, searched for “Wright airplanes” and discovered that there were several different designs by the Wright brothers, not just the first, most famous “Wright Flyer” that hangs in the Smithsonian. They could have a variety of Wright brothers-designed flyers for guests to pilot, and thus the “Wright Flyers” in Century Plaza got its name.

One last feature that Jack was excited to be able to include was a massive floral clock, inspired by one he discovered in photographs from the St. Louis World’s Fair of 1904. He commented that along with the clock having massive hands that would tell the time of day, there would be a floral display showing the date and month of the year that would be changed daily- but that the year would always be “1900.”

“Nice touch, boss,” Alex said. He then looked at the crudely-drawn map and said, “I see a problem.”

“What’s that?” Jack said.

“The Ferris Wheel stands right in the middle of everything, and people trying to go between Maple Grove and Courthouse Square on Maple Grove Road will have to walk all the way around the wheel. It’ll be a bottleneck.”

Jack looked at it for a few moments, then said, “Not if we build a pedestrian underpass beneath the wheel so that they can just walk underneath it.”

“Great idea!” Alex said as Jack drew an arrow with a label on the map indicating the underpass under the Americana Wonder Wheel. They looked at the map, examining everything they’d added, looking for something major that they’d missed. They knew that there would be lots of details to be added- park benches, locations of flowerbeds and lawns, trashcans, but those details were for different people to decide. There were already dozens of skilled artists, technicians, craftspeople and designers that were creating the blueprints needed to support the work of the senior design team. This poorly-sketched map before them was just the linchpin, the keystone needed to tie the rest of the park together.

“It’s missing something,” Jack said, looking at the map. Alex was almost afraid to ask, but he did.

“What’s missing?”

Jack looked at the map, then at a rough map of the rest of Americana 1900 that they’d been referring to often, mostly to be sure that they had all the roads connecting to each other.

“Can you resize our map so that it fits inside the rest of the park?” Jack asked.

“Sure, give me a minute.” Alex took their sketch and the other map and went out to his office. In a few minutes he came back with a scanned version of their map that would fit into the empty space in the center of the master plan for the rest of the park. He laid it in place, and before them they saw the complete design of Americana 1900, with the central Township, Century Plaza, now in place. Jack stood over it in silence. He examined it, turned it around so that he had looked at it from all directions, then rushed over to his desk computer. He typed something into it, but Alex couldn’t see what he was looking for, or what he quickly found.

“Yes! That’s it,” he said almost proudly, then came back to the conference table and, picking up a pencil that they'd used to add details to the map, drew four long, skinny triangles away from the wonder wheel, one pointing down each street. He drew an “N,” “S,” “E” and “W” at the point of each triangle.

“That’s what it needed,” Jack said proudly. “A compass rose.”

Alex looked at it, smiled a bit, nodded his head, then said, “There’s one problem.”

“What?” Jack asked, looking confused and a bit surprised that Alex wasn’t bowled over by his brilliant addition.

“You put the wrong directions on the map,” he said. “You were looking at the map upside down.”

Jack looked at it again, quietly and disgustedly said, “damn” and erased the letters, putting them in the right place. He showed the map to Alex and almost challengingly said, “There. Happy?”

“Yes, boss,” Alex said calmly, “I’m happy. Charles and Sid will be, too. It’d suck if we built the entire park backward.”

Jack looked at him for a moment, stunned, then they both broke out in laughter.

When they stopped laughing, Jack said, “Now, get one of those hot-shot architects to draw this up properly. He’s got until tomorrow afternoon to get it done so I can show it off to Sid and the rest of the team. It doesn’t have to be perfect, and there will probably be lots of details changed before we start building, but I need something to show off to the others.”

“Will do, Boss, and don’t worry. I’ll make sure you get a chance to proofread it before the meeting. I’ll also get some copies made of this in case someone accidentally dumps their coffee on it.”

“Don’t give them the original!” Jack said.

“Boss,” Alex said, sounding almost hurt, “I know better than that. The originals always get archived. We never know- Americana 1900 might end up being important someday,” and with a wink, Alex took the original rough, heavily-erased and corrected sketch of Century Plaza into his office to get the copies made.

Jack wondered if Alex was teasing him or being serious.


Century Plaza was a hit with everyone on the design team, especially with Lorrayne. Some of it she dismissed as adequate, if still entertaining, but the Virginia Reel and the Turn of the Century captivated her. She was familiar with the elaborate mechanical carousels in France that had inspired the Turn of the Century, and the Virginia Reel’s integration of a nearly-forgotten type of coaster with a dark ride sparked her imagination. When David saw the Century Plaza concept, he also expressed interest in working on the Virginia Reel. Lorrayne was at first almost protective of the concept, but when David offered both imaginative ideas for the dark ride portion and a willingness to learn from her about the unique side-friction coaster technology required (he admitted he’d never heard of side-friction before), she decided to take him on as “her apprentice,” as she worded it. David didn’t really care what she called him- he just wanted to learn about this new/old type of coaster and to work on it with her.

Sid noticed a problem that Jack hadn’t expected.

“Do you want to use true north or magnetic north?” he asked Jack.

“Oh, no,” Jack almost moaned. “Why?”

“Because right now, based on where we've been planning on building the park, your compass rose is about seventeen degrees off, give or take a few degrees.”

“You mean the park is crooked?” Jack asked.

“It will be, unless we turn it seventeen degrees,” Sid said.

“Give or take a few degrees,” David said, trying not to chuckle at this strange problem. “Well, Jack,” he said, trying to sound serious but failing, “you have a major decision to make. Do you want to use true north or magnetic north? Boy Scouts around the world are waiting for you to decide.”

“Not to mention cartographers,” Blaine tossed in drily, which got everyone chuckling a bit.

“Go ahead and laugh,” Jack said, snickering a bit himself at this unexpected problem. “Sid, can we turn the park so that the points face the right direction?”

“Probably,” he said. “They haven’t started any ground preparation other than clearing some brush and trees, but you’d better decide now before they start digging the sewers.”

“Ok, then let’s turn it to face true north,” Jack said. “I know that magnetic north moves around over time.”

“Are you sure you don’t want to consult feng shui before you make your final decision?” Lorrayne asked sarcastically.

“Feng Shui? Who’s that?” Jack asked innocently.

He had no idea why everyone in the room was laughing.



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James G.

Well-Known Member
Original Poster

(optional atmospheric music for Century Plaza)

The Americana Wonder Wheel


The iconic centerpiece of both Century Plaza and the entire park is the Americana Wonder Wheel, a masterpiece of design and beauty. It is a combination of two of the most famous and important Ferris Wheels ever created- the Great Ferris Wheel of 1893, constructed for the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, and the Coney Island Wonder Wheel, constructed in 1920 and one of the few eccentric Ferris Wheels still in existence. The best features of these two legendary attractions have been combined in this soaring three-hundred-foot-tall work of engineering genius. Forty cabins, each capable of seating six people comfortably, are affixed to the rim of the wheel, as in traditional Ferris Wheels. An additional forty cabins are called "sliders" and slide back and forth on oval tracks between the rim and the hub of the Wonder Wheel. Separate loading platforms allow guests to choose which type of car they wish to ride, and each ride takes approximately fifteen minutes including loading, unloading and several non-stop revolutions.


Riders are offered an amazing view of Americana 1900 and the surrounding countryside, plus those in the sliders experience the thrilling adventure of sliding back and forth through the structure as it rotates. The Americana Wonder Wheel is so large that Maple Grove Road passes through a pedestrian tunnel under the structure, allowing guests to walk from Maple Grove, through the tunnel underneath the wheel and proceed the rest of the way down Maple Grove Road into Courthouse Square. Whether riding it for the view, for the thrill, or just sitting on one of the many park benches found throughout Century Plaza and admiring the beauty of its design and movement, guests to Americana 1900 will long carry the memories of this iconic structure with them as a highlight of their visit.



Ford Model T Road Rally


Sponsored by the Ford Motor Company, in conjunction with The Henry Ford (formerly known as the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village) in Dearborn, Michigan, the Ford Model T Road Rally is a tribute to the transportation revolution that Henry Ford inspired with his introduction of mass production of an automobile that the American middle class could afford. Unlike many similar self-driving car attractions at other theme parks, where the vehicles are ¾ scale, these cars are full-sized, and what is even more surprising (and historically accurate), they are not all black. For the first five years they were sold, from 1908 to 1913, Model T Fords were only available in gray, green, blue and red. In 1914, and continuing until 1925, black was the only color available (possibly because of Henry Ford’s unfounded belief that the black paint of the era dried faster than other colors, thus increasing manufacturing efficiency). After 1925, and until the final Model T was driven off the line by Henry and his son Edsel Ford in 1927, colors had returned, and customers could have their new “Tin Lizzie” in Royal Maroon, Phoenix or Moleskin Brown, Midnight or Gunmetal Blue, Fawn Gray, or one of four shades of green (Channel, Drake, Commercial or Highland). Black was also still an option, but not just any black. Nearly fifty different shades of black were used throughout the years of production, depending on what part of the automobile was being painted.


Model Ts from every year and every color are represented in the Ford Model T Road Rally, one of the largest attractions in Americana 1900. “Prospective purchasers” enter the Edmondson Ford Dealership building, located just northwest of the Americana Wonder Wheel, and board one of the latest vehicles from the Ford Motor Company of Dearborn, Michigan. Guests can drive these carefully- detailed beauties on a landscaped route through a park-like setting of lawns, trees, flowers and elegant statuary, then enter a small town of the early 1900s. The cars, driven by the driver but guided by a rail to keep them on the road, pass several elegant homes, then enter the business district and drive down the Main Street of the town. Upon returning to the dealership building where their test drive began, visitors exit their vehicles and can view original Ford Model T automobiles, beautifully restored and on display (unfortunately not for sale at their original price in 1910 of $900).



James G.

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
The Turn of the Century (AAP)


The Turn of the Century is probably the most fantasy-inspired attraction in all of Americana 1900. Part carousel, part hands-on fun house drenched in detailed theming and whimsy (with just a touch of steampunk), this one-of-a-kind attraction provides a unique experience for each rider. Thirty ride vehicles on two levels carry between one and four riders each, depending on the vehicle design. No two vehicles are identical, although each is designed to complement the other vehicles while maintaining their own unique identity. The vehicles on the upper level are accessed from a balcony with individual "gangways" that extend to them for loading or unloading, then retract to allow full motion of all vehicles on both levels.

The following video shows a similar fantasy-themed carousel in Belgium.

The theme of The Turn of the Century is “Transportation” and how it allowed people to discover their world. Riders climb onto some of the vehicles and inside others, where they discover the unique and eclectic features of their experience. On a bicycle-built-for-two, riders will discover that when they pedal, wings extend from between the riders and slowly begin to flap, as though their bicycle can fly (which it does on this remarkable ride). Riders in a small submarine turn cranks that cause the propeller in the back to rotate, while other passengers operate pumps that make it dive and rise to the "surface". A locomotive's wheels will turn faster and faster as its "engineer" pulls back and forth on its throttle, and a paddlewheel steamship will be able to turn its paddle not by steam but by human power spinning wheels in the cabin. Even a horse will be powered not by horsepower, but by human power, since bicycle-like pedals will be found in place of stirrups on each side of the mechanical-inspired creature. As they are pedaled by the rider, the horse begins to run in a surprisingly realistic fashion. Some of the vehicles are more animated than others- for riders who would rather just go "along for the ride" there are carriages being pulled by animated horses that do nothing more than follow their mechanized lead horse, or perhaps a rowboat that carries four riders where just one rider can "man the oars" and take the riders on a gently moving boat ride- while actually controlling three more sets of oars along the side of the rowboat.


The Turn of the Century merges the imagination and elegance of the Gilded Age with the technological innovation of the Industrial Age to create an attraction unlike anything to be found in any theme park in America. Is it "period-appropriate" to Americana 1900? Probably not- but who cares? It is one of the most unique, memorable and enjoyable attractions to be found in this or any park anywhere in the nation.

Note: Fans of the Turn of the Century have developed a challenge where they attempt to ride every one of the different devices, and call it “accomplishing the Turnament of the Century.” Americana 1900 has decided to support this endeavor, and has created a special “Turnament (yes, spelled “Turnament”) of the Century” Card, a punch card where riders get their cards officially punched to verify their having ridden each device. “Turnament” champions receive a special commemorative pin, and every few months Americana 1900 offers a special “Dawn of History” ride time for people attempting to complete their sweep of the ride.



James G.

Well-Known Member
Original Poster

The Virginia Reel (AAP)


The southeast quadrant of Century Plaza is completely occupied by one of the most unique designs of roller coasters ever created, the Virginia Reel. A predecessor of the modern spinning wild mouse, it was introduced in 1908 by Henry Elmer Riehl at Luna Park in Coney Island, New York and was named after his daughter, Luna Virginia Riehl. Riders board tub-shaped cars with seats facing the center of the tub, which then climbs up a chain lift hill to the top of the ride. Unlike the original Virginia Reel design, which used a wooden-framed flat-bottomed side-friction track that resembled a trench, the Americana Virginia Reel has a steel-frame track for safety and smoothness. The tub revolves freely on its chassis as it descends down a series of banked turns and multiple switchbacks, accelerating with every curve.

The track carries riders down a rocky hillside around boulders, past scraggly trees and over a cascading mountain stream. The riders pass animatronic mountain goats grazing on bushes and mountain wildflowers, and narrowly escape from a mountain lion reaching for them with its massive, scythe-like claws. They suddenly emerge from this series of ever-tightening turns and enter a large valley near the bottom of the hill, soaring around a curve in the track that hugs the edge of the valley’s lip, then suddenly descend into the pitch-black gaping mouth of a rocky cave and are engulfed by total darkness.

The tubs slow down, carrying the disoriented riders deeper into the inky blackness of the hillside, not knowing exactly where they are or what will happen next.

Then it happens.

Red eyes, hundreds of red, malevolent-looking eyes are everywhere around them- overhead, on each side of the tunnel they are in, eyes that disappear far off into the distance. Then a noise starts, the high-pitched squeaking of bats overhead, then the flapping of wings. The eyes began to move, swirl around beside them and overhead, then they began to feel something in their hair. Is it the wind from the hundreds of wings? Is it the claws of the bats as they flew past them, catching their hair in their tiny bat nails? Nobody can see each other in the darkness- each person reacts in their own way, expressing their terror by screaming, or trying to brush the flying rodents away, or ducking down and trying to cover their heads with their hands.


After what seems like forever, but is actually less than a minute, the tub emerges once again into daylight, further down in the valley they had entered earlier, and circles a small, tranquil-looking mountain lake, only to begin a hair-raising descent down an ever steeper series of helices before plunging down into another even more sinister-looking cave with jagged edges that makes it look like something powerful had blasted out through the hillside. Once again the tub is momentarily engulfed in darkness, but quickly the darkness gives way to a faint light, a strange, eerie reddish-orange glow that starts to emanate from the walls of the tunnel. These are not the sharp, jagged walls of the tunnel entrance. They begin to look like they had recently been melted by some sort of intense heat. The walls look as though they consist of nearly-molten stone, just barely below the temperature of lava.

Heat begins to blast the riders as if they are heading into the heart of a volcano, and if they didn’t already realize it, the faint smell of sulfur warns them that they are entering a place of danger and evil. The tunnel curves to the left, and suddenly the riders find themselves entering a vast cavern, a hellish-red subterranean chamber deep underground, a chamber where the track carries their tub around the perimeter of a bubbling, glowing, smoking pool of viscous lava. The heat of the chamber feels more intense due to the sounds of flames crackling somewhere unseen. The molten rock in the pool slightly bubbles with a sick gurgling and an occasional jet of sulfurous-smelling smoke bursts from fumaroles around the far edge of the molten lake.


The center of the lake begins to bubble, at first slowly, then increasingly furiously, as though something is rising to the surface- and then it appears. A molten creature rises from the center of the deadly lake, a creature appearing to be composed of nothing but glowing liquid stone, of living magma. Its vaguely humanoid outline rises from the depths of the boiling liquid, climbing to a height of twenty feet, and focuses its white-hot eyes on the still-moving tub and its transfixed riders. It tilts its molten head backward, opens its gaping pit of a mouth, and flames erupt from the mouth. An earth-shaking roar shakes the cavern as the living lava creature demonstrates its anger for having its home invaded by the riders. It returns its gaze to the riders, then begins to reach out one of its red-hot arms towards them to stop their escape.


Just before the tub and its riders are grabbed and certainly incinerated by the heat of its deadly grasp, the tub reaches the far side of the cavern and escapes into another tunnel, leaving behind the intense heat and the frustrated, furious roar of the molten inhabitant of the cavern deep under the hillside of the Virginia Reel.

The riders, having narrowly escaped the monster's fiery claws and its deadly lair, return safely to the loading station. The wildly-spinning tub, the back-and-forth path of the switchbacks, the surge of speed as the tub starts through the helices and the sudden plunges into the terrifying monster-filled caves make this one of the most unusual and disorienting coaster experiences to be found anywhere. The Virginia Reel is not a coaster to be ridden by the weak of heart or on a full stomach!


James G.

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
The Wright Flyers


Just as the northwest quadrant of Century Plaza and the Ford Model T Road Rally recognizes the influence of the automobile on early 20th Century life, the southwest quadrant celebrates the impact of powered flight. Here is found the Wright Flyers, where riders can "fly" aeroplanes inspired by the original Wright Flyer and other, more advanced planes the Wright Brothers developed after their first successful controlled flight in 1903. It is an aerial carousel-type ride with sixteen "aeroplanes'', each of which can carry one pilot and one passenger.


The pilots can fly their aeroplanes in three different ways, depending on how they operate the controls. As the planes begin to rotate around the ride’s central axis and rise into the air, they can be controlled by the pilot to fly higher or lower, can fly in closer to the center of the ride or further out, and can actually roll slightly from side to side.



James G.

Well-Known Member
Original Poster



The Plaza Vista Restaurant (HDP)


The Plaza Vista Restaurant, located on State Fair Road in the northeast quadrant of Century Plaza, is a full-service restaurant that features sandwiches, salads and soups in a setting that offers one of the most beautifully scenic views of any in Americana. Floor-to-ceiling windows and a large open-air patio overlooks Century Plaza, giving diners an ever-changing vista of the Wonder Wheel turning, the Turn of the Century revolving, the Virginia Reel tubs weaving down the hillside, and the gardens of the Plaza spreading out in a riot of color and gentle movement in the breeze.


The freshest ingredients are used in the sandwiches, including artisan-baked breads, and the freshest fruits and vegetables (some direct from the fields and gardens of Morrison Farm) can be found in the extremely popular salad bar. An award-winning selection of microbrewery beers, wines and fruit ciders, both hard and sweet, lets diners discover new flavors being created by some of the region's best brewers, vintners and cidermakers.

Food Wagons and Carts


There are also several food wagons and snack carts to be found throughout Century Plaza. They offer light snacks and beverages for guests to enjoy while strolling through the gardens or just sitting and basking in the warm sun surrounded by the beauty and excitement of this uniquely elegant Township.

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James G.

Well-Known Member
Original Poster

The Floral Clock and Floral Calendar


In the triangle of lawns and gardens between Century Lane West, Railroad Street and Green Springs Road is a unique if occasionally overlooked feature of Century Plaza, a spectacular tribute to the elegant era that Americana 1900 is dedicated to- the Floral Clock and Floral Calendar. This is a recreation of the floral clock that stood before the Palace of Agriculture at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition of 1904 in St. Louis. One hundred twelve feet in diameter, its minute hand is seventy-four feet long, weighs one hundred twenty-five pounds and moves five feet every minute. As in the original, with the exception of the hands themselves, the entire clock face consists of living greenery and flowers. The central portion is verbena, the groundwork of the outer circle is centaurea and the hour numbers, which are fifteen feet high, are planted with coleus. The clock rests on a slightly inclined hillside and can be observed at ground level from a path at its base, running between Railroad Street and Century Lane West, or from a slightly-raised platform running parallel to this path, between the clock and the Floral Calendar.


The Floral Calendar, like the clock above it, faces towards the center of Century Plaza, and is changed by Americana’s gardeners daily to reflect the correct month and date. The month and date are also all in flowers and live greenery, but one thing never changes- the year is always 1900.

The Time Capsules
Directly beneath the Americana Wonder Wheel, in the center of the massive compass rose whose points radiate from beneath the wheel to indicate the compass points of the park, visitors will notice a beautiful bronze plaque, a recreation of the Americana Compass Rose emblem of the park. However, instead of saying “Americana 1900,” the plaque says “The Americana Time Capsules.” Buried twenty feet below the plaque are two stainless steel alloy spheres.


The first time capsule contains objects and information from and about the year 1900, to establish what America and the world were like in that year. Historians from across the nation collaborated to provide an unsanitized picture of the nation, with all of its flaws and greatness. The other time capsule contains a complete history of the founding of Americana 1900, how it was conceived, designed and constructed. Every one hundred years a new time capsule will be added to the collection, a time capsule containing a complete examination of Americana 1900 as it has changed since the previous time capsule was buried.


As was mentioned in the story about the creation of this Township, it was briefly considered calling it Century Gardens, and this name would not have been inappropriate. Much of the open spaces surrounding the attractions are covered with verdant green lawns and beautiful gardens, carefully manicured hedges and tall, shady trees. A large portion of the northeast quadrant is occupied by a magnificent rose garden, featuring heirloom varieties of roses discovered and replanted from across the nation.


Many of these varieties were found in abandoned gardens, cemeteries and homesteads, and have been brought to the Americana Rose Garden to be preserved and reintroduced to the organic heirloom gardeners that are making Americana one of the nation’s most influential historic garden centers. All plants, trees, flowers and shrubs in Century Plaza are native to North America, and as in the Rose Garden are heirloom varieties (as often as possible). Wrought iron fencing lines these gardens to keep visitors from entering these important horticultural heritage sites. Lawns and gardens open to the general public are indicated by appropriate signage.


The restrooms servicing Century Plaza are located in the Courthouse Square buildings housing the Last National Bank and Mary Mac’s Tea Room, at the south end of Century Plaza where South Maple Grove Road enters Courthouse Square. There are also restrooms for guests of the Plaza Vista Restaurant.

Waste receptacles and drinking fountains, identical to those found in The Pike, are sculptural creations and are appropriately marked.
Dramatically whimsical park benches are found throughout Century Plaza.


Century Plaza at night becomes a glittering wonderland of warm, gentle illumination, of classic street lamps softly bathing the streets and lighting the paths for guests as they explore Americana 1900 after the sun sets. Many of the decorative lights are in shades of gold, silver and bronze, and the Americana Wonder Wheel glows with a constantly yet subtly changing light show of beautiful lacy patterns. Carefully recessed and hidden floodlights make the buildings in and around the Township seem to glow like sepia masterpieces, and dozens of garden lights illuminate the gardens and flowerbeds. The headlights of the Ford Model Ts lighting the streets and lanes of the Road Rally, and the spinning lights on the Wright Flyers and the Turn of the Century make Century Plaza a place of glittering elegance, the sparkling central jewel in the crown that is Americana 1900.



James G.

Well-Known Member
Original Poster

The Big Parade


What time is the two o’clock parade? That depends on where you are in Americana 1900, but wherever you watch it from, The Big Parade is worth the wait. The parade’s name comes from the 1925 film drama of the same name, a film that is considered one of the greatest silent film depictions of the Great War and the effects it had on soldiers. The big parade it refers to is a patriotic parade in the film that encouraged its main male character to enlist and fight in France, and the experiences that followed him.


The Big Parade combines all the fun and excitement of an old-fashioned American parade with today’s modern technology to create both an entertainment event that the entire family can enjoy and memories they can treasure for years. Its inspiration comes from the childhood memories of Americana 1900’s founder, when he would head downtown with his family to watch the three parades his hometown would stage every year- Memorial Day, Halloween and Christmas. When he got older, he found himself marching in those parades as a member of his high school band, and the fun, excitement and simple small-town pageantry of those parades became some of his most treasured hometown memories.


This is the theme of The Big Parade, or perhaps more correctly, the “anti-theme” of the parade. There is no one overarching theme to it, any more than there were official “themes” to the parades the founder remembered as a child. If there was a theme, it was that the parades were a celebration of all of the individual pieces that make up the crazy quilt of small-town American life. The floats were sponsored and constructed by individual service organizations, school clubs or private companies, or sometimes by churches or scout troops. Every school band in the area marched proudly, every baton school showed off their talents, and every person with an antique classic car drove down the street in their carefully detailed vehicle, showing off to the crowds and often tossing candy to the kids. Every volunteer fire department brought out their fanciest equipment, and if this sounds a bit haphazard, perhaps that is where the charm of these parades comes from. Some of these parades were long, some short, but every parade was memorable, and watching to see if you knew anyone marching in the school band, or riding and waving in one of the old cars, or tossing candy from one of the self-made floats was part of the fun. Communities came together when it was time for a parade.

Note: The following announcement is made to visitors as the parade approaches:

“Ladies and Gentlemen. The flag of the United States of America is approaching. Please rise. Gentlemen, please remove your hats.”

The Big Parade

Order of Participants

June 14, 1900
(Remember, it’s always 1900 in Americana!)

1. Honor Guard


The Big Parade is always led by an honor guard carrying American flags, with the current fifty-star flag leading the way. Accompanying it is the Flag of Alabama and the flag of Americana 1900. Following these flags are every United States flag, from the first flag adopted in 1777 to the present, with a special place of honor for the forty-five-star flag that would have flown over Americana in 1900.

2. Honor Band from Anthony Wayne High School in Waterville, Ohio


The “Generals” from Anthony Wayne High School is an award-winning brass marching band, wearing uniforms inspired by those worn by American troops in the War of 1812.

3. Courthouse Square Float


Pulled by an antique truck decorated to look like the bullet-shaped rocket ship from “A Trip to the Moon,” the popular dark ride now showing in the Americana Theater, the float features the famous Man in the Moon with the rocket stuck in its eye. Surrounding it are animatronic “Astronomers” and “Selenites” (moon men) attacking each other in a field of strange alien mushrooms. Several live performers dressed like the astronomers and moon people run around the float, chasing each other as in the film and sometimes pretending to go after the parade watchers. Sometimes a few lucky watchers will be handed a special treat by the Selenites- a Moon Pie snack cake!

4. Mane Event 4-H Horse Club from Sarasota County, Florida


4-H Clubs have always been active in community parades throughout the nation, and Mane Event 4-H Horse Club is honored to be making its first appearance in The Big Parade. Several of its members will be displaying their accomplishments in dressage, the training of their horses to perform specialized movements, gaits and patterns.

5. Maple Grove Float


A team of massive draft horses pulls the float representing Maple Grove. It features a reproduction of the Village Green with the Maple Grove bandstand in the center. The Americana Brass Band plays a variety of John Phillip Sousa marches.

6. A Kid Again


A magnificently-restored Hunter Green 1929 Ford Model A Phaeton carries a family representing A Kid Again, an organization that provides recreational therapy to improve the lives of children with life-threatening conditions and their families.

James G.

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
7. Keystone Studios Float


A recreation of one of the most famous scenes in silent films, Keystone Studios presents a steam locomotive bearing down on a beautiful young lady tied to the train tracks by her evil landlord while the hero tries to rescue her. This is one of the few floats that is self-propelled, and rides on the locomotive’s wheels.

8. Rough Riders Equestrian Unit


The Rough Riders are composed of Americana Townsfolk and area horse enthusiasts who want to feature a part of American history that is often overlooked, the Spanish-American War. Along with their participation in The Big Parade, they also appear in many area community parades, present educational programs in area schools, and have evolved into a service organization active in the care and rehabilitation of abandoned and neglected horses.

9. Morrison Farm Float


The Barnyard from Morrison Farm is recreated in this whimsical collection of the farm animals that call it home. This heavily-animated float is pulled by a 1925 John Deere tractor, and features a barn cat crouched on a fence while a field mouse runs around and around the barnyard, passing just out of reach of the cat. Several pigs from the Hog Jam are dressed up and square dancing in their finest dancing outfits, while a vulture circles around overhead, watching the silly scene beneath.

10. Revolutionary War Equestrian Honor Guard


This equestrian team is composed of six Quarter Horses being ridden by riders wearing uniforms based on those worn by soldiers and officers in the American Revolutionary War. This honor guard traditionally escorts the Grand Marshall of the parade.

11. Grand Marshall


A beautiful Royal Maroon 1927 Ford Touring automobile carries the Grand Marshall for the Big Parade. Today’s Grand Marshall is:

Mrs. Marie Rao, widow of Biagio Rocco Rao, the founder of Biagio’s Restaurant in The Pike.

12. Green Springs Float


A 1917 Ford Model T truck pulls the float from Green Springs, a replica of the Winter Garden, surrounded by lush gardens and constantly changing fountains.

13. Model T Fleet


A procession of vintage Model Ts, from the first year of production in 1908 to the final year of 1927, process down the streets of Americana 1900 in chronological order. The years and models presented in each Big Parade vary due to the fact that many of the automobiles are privately owned and are making a special appearance in today’s parade.
The years and models being presented today are:

1909 Roadster
1912 Torpedo Runabout
1916 Touring
1923 Runabout
1925 Touring
1926 Runabout

14. The University of Alabama at Birmingham “Marching Blazers” Marching Band


The Marching Blazers are the Official Marching Band of the Big Parade. Many of their precision dance moves and original arrangements are created by band members as part of their university curriculum. Today they are scheduled to perform “I Didn’t Raise My Boy to Be a Soldier” (1915) by Morton Harvey.

15. State Fair Float


A rare 1918 “Joe Dain” John Deere all-wheel-drive tractor pulls the float representing State Fair. A “Tin Lizzie” with a flat tire is being explored by a dozen animated Fearsome Critters. A Roperite has wrapped its rope-like beak around the front bumper, trying to pull the car forward while a Hodag is trying to repair the flat tire by replacing it with an obliging Hoop Snake. A Teakettler is sitting on the hood, whistling “The Fearsome Critter Hoedown” while a Ball-tailed Cat sits on the roof, swatting off the back of it at a Wampus Cat. An Axe-handled Hound has climbed into the back seat, sticking his head out of the window anxious for a ride. Several other Fearsome Critters are watching this spectacle, enjoying the sight...much more than the unfortunate human couple in the front seat, holding onto each other in terror as they are surrounded by Fearsome Critters!

16. Americana Velocipede Club


Technically, a velocipede is any sort of human-powered vehicle with wheels that are pedaled, but the term has evolved over the years to refer to a bicycle that has a large front tire that is pedaled directly by the rider, with a smaller rear wheel. The Americana Velocipede Club demonstrates a variety of different designs of these historic means of transportation, including some of which have front wheels nearly sixty inches in diameter.
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