I got a twinge of puzzled nostalgia from this Seattle Times article on the late, lamented (?) Flight to Mars ride of the Seattle Center amusement park. I don't think I've been to ye olde Fun Forest in twenty years, but somehow I had not realized that the Flight to Mars was no more.
As haunted-house spook shows go, the best you could say of the Flight to Mars was that it was...eclectic. What was the deal, with the nodding mechanical alien-pirate-skull (with fedora!) that bobbed above the facade? I think I rode through in one of those little cars exactly once, on a trip with the Girl Scouts; I was completely petrified and spent most of the ride with my eyes screwed so tightly shut they nearly burst out the back of my head. I was a very timid child. Two gags have remained in my memory: a mechanical bat that swooped at your head, and a mineshaft-collapse faux timber that likewise veered at you from above. Neither of which would seem to have anything to do with intergalactic travel, unless I'm missing something. Maybe my eyes were closed for the Mars part.
I'm also bemused by Mike McCready's reminiscence of makeout dates in there. In the eighth grade?! Clearly I was both timid and somewhat backwards, because no such opportunities arose for me at 14.
Although actually I do have a very specific Grade 8 memory of the Fun Forest. My class was on an end-of-the-year trip to the Pacific Science Center; the teachers had basically turned us loose in there, and a dozen or so of us snuck out of the educational pavillions and down to the amusement park portion of the Center. We pooled our funds enough to buy a strip of tickets. Our ride of choice? The carousel. Yeah, that's right--we bad. But it was a beautiful day in May and I remember circling and laughing and shrieking, on a bejeweled painted pony while 80s pop blared overhead, and thinking I was the shit. It was probably the most subversive thing I'd ever done, at the time.
After the ride we ran to meet our buses; one teacher noted the non-scientific direction we were coming from and ticked off names on a clipboard as we sprinted past. Most of the kids were busted and had to do a week of lunchroom duty, slopping down trays and wiping tables...but I didn't get caught! Woohoo! Heh. It's a funny little slice of heaven now, an innocence so thorough I can hardly believe it.