Saturday, August 13, 2011

Will It Go Round In Circles

Here's another postcard that I picked up at the antiques store on Monday:

It shows the Cedar Point midway as it looked circa 1963.

That's about the time of my first visit.

I can distinctly recall going on The Rotor ride that can be seen just to the right of center in this photo. It was basically a big round barrel of a room that required riders to stand up against the inside wall of. The wall seems to have had the brown color and slightly rough texture of the back of a pegboard. Once everyone was in place the door was closed and the room began to spin clockwise (as seen from above). Once it got up to speed (maybe one complete revolution every 5 seconds) the floor dropped a foot or so and you were left stuck in place thanks to centrifugal force. Soon the floor came back up, the ride slowed, and you were free to go.

It was one of the few rides I looked forward to riding as a young child and I seem to have thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Part of the fun involved climbing up a set of stairs to an observation balcony and watching others being spun around while you waited your turn. The stairs and balcony had a distinct back stage feel - shadowy and abandoned. I can remember stopping midway along, looking around at the dull blue/gray walls and floor, and wondering if we were really where we were supposed to be. It was an odd space to find in the middle of a sunny amusement park. (Apparently the ride had exterior side walls that are absent in this photo.) I guess we must have taken another set of stairs down to the entrance door but I can't remember those.

What I do clearly recall is that a giggly young farmgirl-type with a straw hat was on the ride directly opposite me and once the ride got up to speed her hat went flying to the center of the spinning room. She seems to have gone out and retrieved it before the room stopped spinning. I wondered if she would be punished for this obvious violation of the rules. Of course she wasn't (and probably went on to a life of increasingly reckless activities as a result).

As the antique dealer sold me this postcard he shared the story of how he'd been on The Rotor years ago and gotten violently ill as a result. According to him, they got rid of the ride soon after this.

This prompted me to tell my story of how I'd gone back to ride it in 1973 expecting to relive the great time I had as a child and ended up with a terrible headache instead.

It turns out that our bad experiences may have occurred on a different version of the ride than existed during my initial visit. I'm told that the first version lasted from 1961 to 1964 and a second version lasted from 1967 to 1984.

According to David W. Francis's history of Cedar Point, The Rotor was created in 1948 by a German inventor by the name of Ernst Hoffmeister. I shudder to think what Ernst might have been inventing instead had the Germans not lost World War II by then.

Is it possible that Hoffmeister and his Rotor are responsible for my damaged inner ear and the extreme bouts of vertigo that I've been experiencing in recent years (and described in some detail in an entry I posted last October 29th)?

I don't know.

I doubt it.

But the thought did cross my mind yesterday after I suffered my first drop attack of the year.

Was there really a time when I thought that the sensation of being spun around was entertaining?

I guess being able to stop the spinning after a minute or two makes all the difference in the world....


  1. I remember a spinning round room like that. I remember the round wall surface being nubbed and rubbery like a ping pong paddle.
    I remember trying to turn my head to look to the side. I guess there wasn't a farmgirl to watch directly opposite.
    I remember getting violently dizzy as I moved my head and vowing never to do that again.
    Did going eight months without a droppy attack make you hope you might be done with them?
    The captcha is dietent. I wonder if that's what Ernst Hoffmeister would have invented if the German death machine hadn't been stopped.

  2. Is there a version of the spinning rubber room ride that tilts about 30° after it gets the passengers up to speed so they're going up and down as well as round and round?
    The captcha is sacko. I love that captcha.

  3. I remember that same kind of ride! Although I remember it was called the Round-Up when I rode it. I'd never ever be able to remember some other rider on it, though. Gee... now I am remembering other favorite rides, mainly the swings, and the teacups and the roller coaster!

    And... I shudder to mention I just yesterday had a severe but very quick attack of vertigo...although I didn't fall down. I was scared of driving after that... but drove home slowly. I had a much less severe episode today. There are so many things listed as causing dizziness that I have NO idea what might be the cause....