Friday, March 14, 2014

Farewell Mr. Rogers Neighborhood at Idlewild

I did not include all of my photos of the "Mr. Rogers Neighborhood" ride in the book because I did not want to spoil the surprise for folks that had not rode it yet but I guess I can let the cat out of the bag. This news was disappointing for me in that Mr. Roger is one of my all time heroes and someone who really helped to sculpt my childhood. I realize there comes a time for a change. Mr. Rogers is hardly played, if at all, on Public Television anymore and a new generation of kids is out there now who does not know who he is.

The ride's props are being replaced with those from a current kid's show that is made by the same company that produced the Mr. Roger's Neighborhood TV Show. Changes occur and this is a children's park. I do think some things are timeless such as cute characters on a ride through or walk through thing, but it all comes down to things that are popular for the kids these days. I understand the need for change and Jeff from Idlewild explained it perfectly at Coasterbash this weekend. 

The Mr. Roger's Neighborhood ride is honestly the only ride I can say that brought me to tears of happiness. It was so wonderful and a look back into my childhood.
The station and entrance
We approach our first stop on the journey, King Friday's Castle. The characters on this charming journey all had the original voices done mostly by Mr. Rogers. 
King Friday invites us to his royal "Hug and Song Party" and asks us to invite everyone else to the royal gathering. The entire journey occurs in the beautiful backwoods of Idlewild.
X the Owl was "on vacation" according to our narrator. I would assume that one of the reasons why this attraction is being replaced is because several of the characters had gone into disrepair.
Daniel the Tiger's residence!
Blurry shot in motion. Lady Elaine Fairchild's place of residence. 
The residence of the Platypus Family
I lost it at this scene. I had tears of joy in my eyes when it got to the end. It reminded me so much of childhood. I hope they can find a way to preserve some of this in a little display as a tribute or something. This was designed with the input of Mr. Rogers. We talked with Rick Sebak during the creation of our book about working with Mr. Rogers and he talked about the joy creating this attraction brought to Fred, a man who touched the lives of millions of young folks during his time creating the show. The world needs more folks like Fred Rogers that do not just serve as entertainment on television, but as an extension of parents and teachers. This was the beautiful goal that Fred Rogers dedicated his life to. His goal was to inform and give children an example of how to act in a civil way and to help learn basic skills when it comes to managing your life as you grow up and ways to handle feelings and emotions in a more mature way. Mr Rogers did not just create a TV show, he almost created another classroom and served as both another teacher and another parent. The work he did is unparalleled and TV shows for children need to get back to the example he set. 

It is is disappointing to me to find out that the Mr. Rogers attraction is heading out and that fans of the ride did not get a warning it was going, but there always comes a time for a change. "Daniel the Tiger" is an extension of Mr. Rogers and hopefully the new attraction will bring the same joy to children today "Mr. Rogers" has for earlier generations.

Check out the e-book version of our new book "Great Pennsylvania Amusement Parks Road Trip," available for only $9.99 at Amazon and Lulu using the following links:
Print versions are also still available using the dropdown menu on our page, through visiting any of the fine stores that carry our book and through Amazon. With any purchase I will send a free ticket to ride the Conneaut Blue Streak or Lakemont Leap the Dips since a portion of the proceeds go to help those parks. If you purchase the print book on our page I will send a ticket with the book. If you purchase the print book somewhere else, send me a scanned copy of your receipt and your mailing address and I will send you a free ticket. 

1 comment:

  1. I had visited Idlewild in 2004 and again in July 2013, and both times I did not have enough time at the park to ride this. Finally in September 2013 my husband and I made a return visit to Pittsburgh to use a rain check we'd gotten at Kennywood in July, and we also returned to Idlewild. That's when I finally rode this ride for the first time -- and now I find it was the last time too.

    I'm very glad that I did ride it and rather dismayed that they didn't warn anyone about this. Incidentally, though I had heard that characters were often "on vacation," all were operational during my ride, though they did not always work very well (I remember at least one character had a lazy eye, which was a bit creepy).

    I was really sad to hear about this. I think the part that bothers me the most is losing Fred Rogers's original voice work, which seems like a real piece of history.