Friday, February 12, 2010

The World of Sid & Marty Krofft

Here's something for my good pal Will. It's an old article from some magazine (don't ask which, because I honestly do not recall.) on Sid and Marty Krofft's short-lived theme park. Only in the Seventies could this acid-fueled creation exist. Bell-bottoms, feathered hair and sex without condoms. Throw in that talking flute and you've got it all. Too bad Reagan had to come along and ruin everything.

You gonna eat that?

Sid and Marty spend a Day in the Park

"It was ahead of its time."

Oftentimes that phrase serves as rationalization for a flop, but Sid Krofft might be on to something when he eulogizes the short life of the World of Sid & Marty Krofft, a spectacular indoor amusement park.

Located in an Atlanta high rise, the Omni International magnastructure, the park opened for business in 1976 and literally was one of a kind.

Says Far Out Space Nuts star Bob Denver, who attended the gala opening: "The best thing was this enormous pinball machine where you could ride around inside the ball. It was amazing. I mean, they had stuff that nobody else would ever dream up."

Like Delta's Flight of Fantasy. A highfalutin name for the escalator that carried parkgoers to the entrance, right? Well, not once you consider that this one-span escalator — which took people nine stories up until, as Sid puts it, "they ended up in the clouds" — was verified by the Guiness Book of World Records as the world's longest escalator.

Or like the Crystal Carousel, a three-tiered mythological carousel, made entirely out of crystal. "It was so beautiful," Sid says. "And you wouldn't believe what people did. They would want to take their clothes off and ride on it."

The park cost about $16 million to build. Remarkably, it didn't seem to hamper the Krofft empire in any way, with Land of the Lost in its third year of production, Donny & Marie in its second year and The Krofft Supershow about to launch.

"It was a crazy time," Sid says. "I remember I used to just drop in on the set of one of the shows and, boom, I'd have to go over to the next one or tend to something that had to do with our park. But we had great crews and, once a show starts running, it's like a Broadway show. You don't have to be there every minute of every day. It runs itself."

Some who visited the World of Sid & Marty Krofft complained that there weren't enough thrill rides, but it's safe to say that no one would call the place boring.

"There was entertainment everywhere," Sid says. "It was like a renaissance fair. And there was the Pufnstuf ride, dark rides and shows everywhere. We had a little Lilliput show. That's where little Patty Maloney had her own show. It was called 'The Lilliput Follies.' And there was a puppet theater where we had one of our puppet shows. It was awesome. It was the most awesome, innovative place ever."

And it also was a colossal money loser that closed its doors before a year had passed.

"Do you know why it didn't last?" Sid says. "The city had promised us to clean up downtown. We were right in the bottom of downtown, which was not the best part of town at that time, and people were afraid to go there. It was very dangerous. The Omni, which is now CNN, and the Omni Forum, where they have concerts and stuff, it's at the bottom of downtown. And it was just being developed at that time. And the city just didn't clean it up and we couldn't hold out.

"We weren't doing the business. We had a hotel in the building. We had an ice-skating rink at the bottom and shops and restaurants. Restaurants weren't even making it down there. Beautiful, beautiful restaurants. People were scared.

"Now it's a smash. Well, now it's CNN. That's where their headquarters are. But we couldn't hold out. It was like it was too soon. It was before its time."
Damn, I'd have loved to have visited. I wonder what happened to all the decor. I bet it rotted in some junk heap, shat on by rats. Shame, that. Ah, well, there's always Disneyland.


  1. I did get to visit as an 11 year old kid. It was a lot of fun, but didn't last long enough once you used your tickets.

    I have vivid memories of the spider lady in the circus side show, and the pinball machine ride. There was also a cardboard cutout maze someone had set up on a column that you could roll a ball down.

    That same trip we got to stay at the brand new Peachtree Plaza hotel. There was a remote control robot named "Peachy" who rolled the lobby. He backed into a mirrored glass wall and broke a few tiles right in front of my brother and I.

    Now I live in Georgia and work in Atlanta. My office has a view of the CNN Center and the Westin hotel. Memories.

  2. I went here on my sixth birthday. It was spectacular. It was like being in a wonderland. And my dad worked at the Omni International. But not for long because things went downhill really fast.

  3. I was only six or seven at the time, but I also remember the pinball ride best and that cardboard maze for the ball. I think you'd turn a crank and it would carry the ball up a chute and then drop it into the "maze" and you tried to guess which hole it would pop out down at the bottom. I have a picture of me on the carousel and one of the stage shows. I never realized how short a life it had until I started looking it up out of curiousity.

    1. Would you be willing to share those pictures? I'm making a presentation about the theme park this weekend at Dragon*Con in Atlanta and I'm still looking for real images of the park. My presentation is titled "The Atlanta Legacy of Sid & Marty Krofft" and it'll be viewed by an enormous room full of dedicated fans.
      If you have scanned copies of those photos and you'd be willing to share, (not asking much, am I? LOL!) you can send them to me at spcglider(at)aol(dot)com
      Thanks for any help! :)