by Jay Ducharme
(All text and images copyright Jay Ducharme 2021.)

BACK TO BUILDINGS


It was a toss-up as to which of the remaining four buildings I would tackle next. I knew that for the Dinosaur Den, Pirates Den and Out of This World, I would have to use a combination of my usual cardboard structures along with 3D printed sections. I initially wasn't sure if that would work, but the cardboard roof on top of the 3D printed coaster station seemed to look okay.

The building I had been avoiding was the office, which was actually a complex of four buildings that over the years had been grafted together. The sections on the north and south ends (the Action arcade and the Novelty game) were built in 1929. An office area was eventually added behind the Novelty game and a sort of warehouse was added behind Action. In between them was an alcove with benches for the "Lost Children" area. There was a door on the left that led to Jay Collins' office. At the back left was the dutch door to the business office where employees would check in. On the right was the door to the warehouse.

The construction challenge was the roof, which was actually a combination of different roof lines that had been grafted together over the different buildings. The Action roof was especially ornate, with its gracefully scalloped front. While I could create the boxy buildings easily enough, I couldn't imagine how I was going to recreate those roof lines. So I decided to turn to 3D printing, as I did for the coaster station.

The overall footprint was easy to create. I checked with my friend and park co-worker Tim about some of the building details I couldn't remember, like the exact location of the doors. I evolved the design over several days until I was pretty sure I had it right. I even added little SkeeBall machines to the Action buildings, as well as the cigarette machine and the prize cabinet.

I still wasn't sure about the roof. I was thinking I could use cardboard for that, though the facade of the Action game could be difficult. It took a few months of mulling over the problem before I decided to go all-in with 3D printing. Rather than scallop the Action roof, I simply angled the roof sections toward the top and added the arch over the action sign. I looked carefully at one of the park arials to get the other rooflines correct. The back section over the offices and the warehouse was a simple sloped structure. The roofs over the novelty game and the front of the warehouse were simple gable structures that butted up against the office roofline. Between them, over the alcove, was a roof section that sloped toward the midway. I added that section to the 3D print. I decided to make the other pieces out of card stock. The new print of the three sections didn't look too bad.

I still had the problem of how to work the card stock pieces into the rest of the building. Gluing cardboard onto plastic probably wasn't going to hold up over time. So I went back to Blender and within a few minutes had created the roofs over the Novelty game, the office alcove and the warehouse. I was able to add the architectural details on each side of the novelty game sign, something that would have been tricky with cardboard. I tried printing the entire building in one go, but the interiors ended up filled in with plastic. So I separated out the roofs for printing. When the entire complex was printed, it looked pretty convincing. It was just a tad larger in scale than the surrounding buildings, although it was smaller than the footprint on the base of the model. The real test was going to be how it looked when it was painted. The plastic had a glossy finish that needed to be dulled down. Unlike rides, buildings usually aren't shiny.

By that point, my model paints had all dried up so I had to order a new set (which wasn't cheap). And this time I ordered a wider range of colors in a flat finish, which would look better for painting the remaining buildings. With just three more to go to complete the model, it seemed like designing them in 3D was a better option, especially given how visually complex the other buildings were.

While I waited to paint the office, I decided to tackle the Pirate's Den. The building itself wasn't too complicated; it was essentially a basic rectangle. There was also small building attached to the back right that used to be a tilted room for the ride's previous incarnation as a walk-thru fun house. The biggest challenge for me was the ride's "ballyhoo", the elaborate scenery attached to an overhang above the ride station, a pirate ship spanning the length of the building with a giant pirate head looming ominously above the roofline.

It took only a few hours to design the basic structure. Something I hadn't realized is that the front corners of the building were curved. The front of the ride also had a wall containing four large garage-door-style windows. That was to appease the insurance companies that didn't like insuring dark rides. So in Mountain Park's case, the Pirate's Den was a light ride. All four bays would be open during operation, and in the daytime light streamed inside and revealed the simple painted plywood walls, track and other cars riding on it. It was probably the least terrifying dark ride ever built. At night with the blacklights on inside, it did look pretty cool though.

It took me a few more days to flesh out the model. I wish I had a video camera back in the 1980s so that I could have created a ride-thru. At the least, I wish I had taken more still pictures of the whole interior. Trying to discern the location of everything from that one photo was difficult. Since I was creating the model with the front of the ride opened, I thought it would be fun to place one of the cars inside. So I quickly created a simplistic car with Blender. I hadn't realized before that the cars had a circular base; I always had thought they were oblong. Once I created the car, I decided that I should create the track on which I could place them. I could tell from the photo how some of the track was laid out. But for much of it, I had to guess. I ended up with a long straight run-out at the end, which I don't think the ride had. But without any more information to go on, that was about the best that I could do. I also added beefy columns to replicate the thin vertical pipes that provided bracing for the queue line railing.

I printed out the building, which took nearly a day. It looked remarkably good. When I showed it to Karen, she commented that it looked a bit large. So brought it over to the model base and set it in place. Sure enough, the building spilled over into the footprint of the Dinosaur Den. It did have the correct depth though. So I remeasured the Pirate's Den footprint. It was 105 mm wide. I checked my Blender model and discovered I had transposed the digits -- I made it 150 mm wide. So I had to shrink the building's footprint to the appropriate size, along with the roof sections, which then meant I had to completely redo most of the track. The more I examined that interior photo I had, the more I realized that the cars didn't go straight out at the end of the ride. There was a comical inflatable gorilla that jumped up in a cage just before the exit, and that had to be on the interior right wall. I could tell from the photo the track at that point was angling toward the front of the building, so I adjusted the course accordingly and came up with (probably) a more accurate layout. Finally the structure was completed. The next challenge was the facade on the top of the building. Most of it consisted of plywood cutouts nailed to a protruding box. The ship itself was somewhat 3-dimensional at the bow and stern. Above it all was that giant mean-looking pirate's head, made of Celastic. I tried various techniques for creating a 3D model of the ship. But that wasn't the best approach, since much of it was in reality 2-dimensional. I could probably have created the pirate's head in 3D, but at the tiny scale I was using, it probably wouldn't print very well (and also would have been nearly impossible to paint). So instead I went back to my card stock technique. I painstakingly cut out the ship and head from the exterior color image I had. Since it was taken in the winter and covered with snow, I had to digitally remove the snow along with a light post in the foreground. I also had to warp the image, since I had taken the photo at an angle and I needed the image to be head-on. Once I had that, it was a simple matter to print and cut it out at the correct scale. The only remaining details were the Pirate's Den sign on the left side of the facade and the illustrations that surrounded the windows and doors. I used the same technique. I had planned to paint most of the building structure. But for the Pirate's Den sign, I printed a facsimile of the lettering against the baby blue that could glue to the building. I did the same for the entrance and exit characters, and for the illustrations that adorned the openings.


Remaking Mountain Park