Dark Rides

several transformations from the Old Mill to Fairyland Floats, then the Panama Canal, then the Rapids Gorge before returning to Fairyland Floats and back to the Old Mill. In the 1970s, Kennywood changed the ride into Hardheaded Harold’s Horrendously Humorous Haunted Hideaway but it again made it back to its Old Mill roots in the ’90s. It eventually became boring except for couples needing some dark and quiet time, so went through yet another redesign as Garfield’s Nightmare debuted in 2004. Designed by Halloween Productions, it featured Day-Glo paint and 3D effects.

Easter Eggs Now, the Nightmare has ended. Today’s Old Mill has reverted to its classic retro Western theme, but the park has new features to appeal to younger riders. “We went very retro with the ride,” notes Ruby, “so the effects are classic air and mechanical props.” The eye-popping new design and humourous

story told through ten separate scenes were developed, built and installed by the creative team at ScareHouse, Pittsburgh’s legendary haunted-house attraction, which is regularly ranked as one of the best haunted attractions in the country. Scott Simmons was the creative director and is co-owner of ScareHouse. Nicole Danielle Coniff was the art director. “ScareHouse is a very intense haunted attraction designed to terrify teenagers and adults,” recalls Simmons. “It’s a hard PG-13 experience featuring adult actors, disturbing imagery, and nightmares brought to fiendish life... but it’s also known for being highly detailed and cinematic. We strove to bring that same level of production sophistication to this project but while creating scenes that were considerably more family friendly and cartoonish.” “The Old Mill means a great deal to me,” he

continues. “It was the very first dark ride I ever experienced when I was a child in the ‘70s. Summers at Kennywood led to my life-long fascination with dark rides and ultimately a career as an attraction designer. I wanted our team to pay tribute to the classic spooky western theming that so many folks my age remember while also adding new elements to thrill the next generation.”


“Guests will enjoy it for many different reasons,”

Ruby believes. “Although it is a dark ride, we want it to be a family ride, so it is not scary. The scenes are comical and family-friendly. We have also hidden ‘Easter eggs’ throughout that pay homage to Kennywood’s history. To catch all these hidden treasures, you would need to ride it a few times. My favorite part is catching all the Easter eggs. The ScareHouse team added them and won’t tell me where all of them are, so I am still discovering new ones! My favourite scene is the Saloon. This is a remake of the classic Saloon scene from the Old Mill I grew up with.”

Stink up For ScareHouse, the first task was to create a theme and storyline. Simmons was quick to acknowledge that “The Old Mill has undergone many themes in its long history but I think most remember it most fondly as a series of disconnected western scenes featuring skeletons and ghostly figures that dates back to 1974.” To celebrate the ride’s fabled history, Old Mill has

been completely re-imagined – and features the appearance of “Hard Headed Harold,” the previously unseen namesake for the Old Mill from 1974 to 1993. Harold was once a big-hearted but bone- headed bandit in the Wild West. Now, he’s a skeleton with piercing blue eyes, but he hasn’t lost his penchant for mischief. Surrounded by creatures of the wild like opossums, snakes and coyotes, riders follow Harold as he hitches a ride on a train looking for trouble – which he finds in the form of a sneaky skunk. In a series of misadventures, Harold and the skunk join forces to rob a bank, leading to a “stink up.” Can they stay out of trouble long enough to make a clean getaway to their hideaway? Ruby reveals that many guests had been asking for

the re-theming. “I am sure they will be pleased. A ride like this isn’t necessarily a major driver of attendance, certainly not like a roller coaster, but it helps the character of the park and definitely fits with what our market and audience love and appreciate about Kennywood. We have already received a nice amount

31 You will be

going on a comical journey into the Old West following the story of cowboy Harold and all the bad luck he is having along the way... now he's a skeleton with piercing blue eyes, but he hasn't lost his penchant for mischief.

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