Historic Dorney building demolished

Posted Thursday, November 17, 2005 12:02 AM | Contributed by dannerman

Dorney Park's oldest building, the former Mansion House Hotel & Restaurant, was demolished Wednesday. Park management had considered renovating the structure but its age and condition made the work too expensive.

Read more from The Morning Call.

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Thursday, November 17, 2005 12:12 AM
I really have to say that I am sad to see one of the last pieces of Dorney fall. To me the park really needs some charm. It would have been nice to see the park renovate instead of demolish.
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Thursday, November 17, 2005 1:14 AM
That building definitely stood out. I had no idea it was historic. I guess they did a really good job of hiding it. The thing that amazes me is that they were allowed to bulldoze it. Many people know about the mansion at SFA near the Batman Stunt Show that can't be demolished.
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Thursday, November 17, 2005 2:08 AM
Phoenix, while I would have preferred they renovate it (I have too many memories of that building.. including the former Attitudes gift shop. :) ) They did mention in the article that they first looked to renovating the building, but due to the condition it would have been too expensive.

Is it really only going to be a Subway and plaza in that space for next year? What about the arcade (which was the only one during Halloweekends), or the cheesesteak and chicken&shrimp place?

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Thursday, November 17, 2005 2:34 AM
With them tearing this building down it will be as though most of the original park will be gone. At least what I remember from the park on my 1st visit. That is the bad thing about Cedar Fair taking this park over.

I first heard of Dorney because they used to have a dance show there(Anyone remember the name?) It was the first major waterpark in the region. I was able to coax my parents into taking us.

I like Dorney now don't get me wrong, but it used to be a park that was comparable to Kennywood or Knoebels with blacktop. Since Cedar Fair took over the park it has lost pretty much all of its charm. Its sad to see.

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Thursday, November 17, 2005 9:25 AM
Sad news but not at all unexpected. All Cedar Fair has to do is get rid of the Whip and old Dorney will be completely dead and buried.

I'm having a hard time figuring out what building this is... anyone have pictures or a map that points it out?

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Thursday, November 17, 2005 11:16 AM
I know the building they're talking about, and I had no idea it was historic. Like the article says, it was covered in layers of fake brick and siding. Old stuff that is not well-constructed gets torn down eventually. That's just the way it is, unfortunately.
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Thursday, November 17, 2005 11:22 AM
Don't forget The Coaster (aka Thunderhawk).

Actually, as far as I can recall, these are the rides remaining from before CF bought the park in '92:

  • Apollo 2000 (1984)
  • Balloon Race (1988)
  • Camp Snoopy's Whirlybirds (1963.. formerly in Tot Spot)
  • Chance Carousel (1986)
  • Dragon Coaster (1988)
  • Enterprise (1984)
  • Ferris Wheel (1989)
  • Laser (1986)
  • Musik Express (1984)
  • Scrambler (1970)
  • Sea Dragon (1980)
  • Thunder Creek Mountain (1982)
  • Thunderhawk (1924.. aka 'The Coaster')
  • Tot Spot's Antique Cars (1972)
  • Tot Spot's Dune Buggy (1978)
  • Tot Spot's Kiddie Merry-Go-Round (1988)
  • Tot Spot's Little Laser (1991)
  • Tot Spot's Mini Jet (1988)
  • Tot Spot's Space Age (1961)
  • Wave Swinger (1985)
  • Whip (1920)
  • Zephyr (1935)
  • most of WWK except for the 10 slides installed in 2003, Island Water Works in 1998, and the speed slides which were replaced in 1999.

I don't mention the Tilt-A-Whirl since it was completely replaced with a new model, and the Silly Shack in tot spot was moved and renovated several times in CF's ownership of the park so I left that out as well.

This building is the one between Center Stage and Thunder Creek Mountain, next to the Burger Barn. It housed the Subway, Dippin' Dots, Village Cheesesteaks, and Village Chicken & Shrimp food stands as well as the place you could get wood signs, and the Gold Mine Arcade.

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Thursday, November 17, 2005 12:58 PM
I still don't get the 'sadness' when the old is removed for the sake of progress. It was a old building that was uglied up long ago and would've been a PITA to fix.

TAER IT DOWN!!1!11!!1

Dick Kinzel told us that Dorney is the 3rd most profitable park in the chain and specifically answered with Dorney to the question of which park he thought they had made the most of.

Admittedly, when I lived in Allentown, I heard a fair share of people echoing the "it's not the same" mantra, but obviously there's a hell of a lot of people out there who don't seem to care.

I don't think CF has 'ruined' Dorney at all, they've improved it and clearly the people with the $$$ agree.

I say tear down the unfixable eyesore and build some nice new sparkling structures. Hell, I've been to Dorney Park almost 40 times and had no idea what building they were talking about even after reading the article and the first 6 posts of this thread. It wasn't until Dannerman's post that it finally made sense.

Nostalgia and sentimental memory are best left to the handful of niche parks that do it well. The vast majority of the industry profits when they move forward.

*** This post was edited by Lord Gonchar 11/17/2005 1:30:47 PM ***

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Thursday, November 17, 2005 1:05 PM
Chances are that Cedar Fair and Dorney management evaluated what to do with that building for years because of its history. That isn't a decision you make overnight and was still probably very difficult for them to make.
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Thursday, November 17, 2005 5:25 PM
I agree with Gonchar. There are tough decisions that need to be made to allow progress. While the building was historic, it was just a shadow of what it used to be a long time ago. In recent times, it added no historic value to the park, instead, it became more of an eyesore with a mis-mash of different things crammed into one building.
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Thursday, November 17, 2005 5:34 PM
Ugly? Unfixable eyesore? Adds no value to the park? Not well constructed? Tear it down?

If I hadn't read the title of the thread, I'd have thought people were talking about TTD. ;)

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Thursday, November 17, 2005 7:13 PM
I believe this was also the "haunted" building and had the walk thru dark ride years ago. I don't think that building had any thing of importance going for it like Abe Lincolin staying there or anything like that. Maybe a few make out sessions in a back room for employees but thats about it.

dannerman you forgot to add the Trout Pond and Fountain to that list. That is about the only thing other then Thunderhawk, Whip, and Zeypher that would upset me if they removed it.

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Friday, November 18, 2005 12:50 AM
Well, the Trout Pond and Fountain isn't exactly a ride, nor is it mentioned in the park literature. It's just something that's kinda there, and because of it's proximity to the stream and the revenue building, there wouldn't be any benefit space-wise for it's removal. A lot of people don't even realize it's there.

The building was, indeed, home to the old Gold Mine walkthrough (hence why the arcade was named the "Gold Mine Arcade". For those familiar with the park, the tables in front of the Dippin' Dots part of the building on the wooden floor were actually built over the old entrance.

Oh, and Abe Lincoln may never have stayed there, but at one time it was Solomon Dorney's home. Which, to put it in perspective, is about as important to Dorney Park's history as, for example, George Washington's house would be to the USA.

It'll be interesting to see just how different that section of the park looks without the building there. True, they may be building a subway, but I highly doubt it'll be near as tall. *trying to picture it in my mind, but can't because I'm so used to it being there*

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Friday, November 18, 2005 10:06 PM
Rob, there are pictures of the building off to the side in the newslink. It doesn't really look that ugly and in bad condition-- at least compared to other monstrosities I've seen in other parks.

Of course I don't know what the inside looks like or what condition the building's mechanical and electrical systems are in. But, still I'd have to say shame on Dorney and CF for letting the building deteriorate to that condition anyway.

I guess I'm in the minority who doesn't consider plopping down a Subway "progress." Then again, in the area in which I live, I've seen too many episodes where some old building is torn down in the name of "progress." More often than not, the more progressive replacement consists of little more than a square of asphalt with "reserved" parking signs placed on it.

So maybe this Subway and outdoor plaza will become the jewel of the park. Maybe Jason himself will show up and display his old pants. Who am I to question a decision by the upper brass of CF? (BTW, get the frickin' stock price up :) )

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Saturday, November 19, 2005 6:14 PM
RatherGoodBear, How can you blame CF automatically for letting it deteriorate when they have only been in possession of the building for 13 years? Or have you just decided to ignore the idea that it might have been deteriorating in the 120 some years that it existed before CF bought the park? If anything, I would say it would be all the previous owners of Dorney who didn't keep it maintained, after all Dorney was owned by many people before CF. We can put CF into the mix, but chances are they took a look at the building when they bought the park and knew then it was in bad condition. Does anyone know/remember if all the facades it had on it were put on by CF or was the building like that when they bought the park?

Btw RatherGoodBear, not trying to pick on you just trying to keep an open mind :)

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Saturday, November 19, 2005 6:34 PM
RGB, just for the record, they're not exactly "plopping down a Subway".. the old building had a Subway stand in it already - they're just tearing down the building, and rebuilding a structure so that the Subway can continue, and a plaza so that people can sit and eat while they watch the Center Stage shows. (Which I think is great because the seating area for that is considerably smaller than before they rebuilt it, and is often overcrowded even when the rest of the park is fairly empty.)
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Saturday, November 19, 2005 7:16 PM
DorneyMan, I did say Dorney and CF, meaning it was the fault of anyone in charge to let the building deteriorate to that point.

Dannerman, then I should revise my comment to say "plopping down a new building that happens to have a Subway in it." Right now, the building has 4 or 5 different food stands and the arcade. If a new structure is being built for a Subway only, they don't need much more than a building the size of a garden shed.

I agree, a plaza would be nice to provide more seating in the area of the stage, but if it isn't supported by more eating establishments, it might not get too full.

And they better put in some shade trees and vegetation and not just concrete and pavers.

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Sunday, November 20, 2005 3:01 PM
They already have Center Stage Foods (Hotdogs, Fries, etc.), Burger Barn, Patio Pizza, Funnel Cakes (yeah, not exactly main course, but still..), a lemonade stand in the area, with a soft-serve ice cream and gourmet pretzel stand not too far up the hill. So there are plenty of food stands to fill up the plaza. Plus, it's not necessarily just for people eating - but also a place for people to sit and watch the show so they're not standing on and blocking the midway. Dippin' Dots? I'd say it's about time to ditch that shop anyway. It was put in as the sole stand for Dippin' Dots - now they have little carts scattered around the park and that stand never has a line anyway. They don't need it. As for what is to come of the cheesesteaks? I do not know - perhaps they'll consolidate them into Center Stage Foods? Or perhaps there will be more to the building than just a Subway? It is possible that they only mentioned Subway because it's a brand name that people can associate with.

And you better realize that shade trees and vegetation take time to grow, so it most likely won't be apparent that they HAVE, in fact, planted some shade trees and vegetation for a couple years (case in point, the midway after the Zephyr tracks by the Monster/Tot Spot... it's starting to look fairly green and has some nice shade because the trees they planted back in 2000 have grown)

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Monday, November 21, 2005 5:34 PM
Yep, everytime I pass by the concrete plaza with a few saplings wilting in the 90 degree heat, I'll say to myself, yep come 2012 there'll start to be some shade around here. :)
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