Long before Walt Disney World opened--and later closed—an elaborately themed entertainment district, there was a Pleasure Island. Before Six Flags operated a hillside full of thrill rides in Southern California, there was a Magic Mountain. These theme parks were nothing like their contemporary namesakes and their lifespans were frustratingly short. But, along with their often-forgotten sister park, Freedomland in New York, they hold a special place in theme park history and provide a direct line connecting the game-changer that was Disneyland with Universal, Six Flags, Disney and other popular theme parks of today.
In March, historian Todd Pierce was my guest in the Lounge and he told us about C.V. Wood, the colorful entrepreneur who was instrumental in the design and development of Disneyland. My guest today, Robert McLaughlin, picks up where Todd left off. Because, after departing Disney, it was C.V. Wood and his company that designed the Disneyland-wannabe parks of Magic Mountain in Colorado, Pleasure Island near Boston and Freedomland in New York. They were ideas that looked great on paper, but fell short dramatically when it came to financing and attendance. They were pretty good for what they were, but they were no Disneyland.
Bob has written books about all three of these theme parks and his latest, Magic Mountain, was just released by Arcadia Publishing. Please welcome Bob McLaughlin, my guest today in The Mouse Castle Lounge.