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This is my HO scale carnival, amusement park, fair and zoo site.

Fun Mountain

Posted by Dave on November 22, 2009

Fun Mountain Theme Park

How did I come up with the name Fun Mountain? Before I even conceived of building a HO scale theme park I was just collecting carnival rides they where mostly IHC rides then I added Faller, Vollmer and Preiser. As my collection grew I made the decision to build a theme park. At first I wanted the name to be a cross between Disneyland and Magic Mountain Magicland came to mind, but because magic does not play a roll in the basic design of the park like it did in the pre-SixFlags Magic Mountain. I did not fell comfortable with that name. Here in the Pacific Northwest there is a major carnival company called Funtastic Shows. I like this carnival! They’re a fixture here in the PNW. Since my collection was made-up of mostly carnival type rides I decided to use Fun as part of my name. As for the Mountain I chose it for a number of reasons first of course is Magic Mountain. The second is because I live in the PNW and well we have lots of mountains. But the main reason was I wanted to have my scenes rise up as they went back so the viewing public could see every detail and I needed a backdrop and a mountain range worked well for that. So the name Fun Mountain fit perfectly.

Fun Mountain amusement park is divided into three sections;

  1. The Main Street section.
  2. The Theme Park section.
  3. The Roller coaster section.

Note: Many of the scenes that make up Fun Mountain were first made as a diorama. Then the dioramas were assembled to make a larger scene. I enjoy building dioramas they are like little scenes of the real world. Some of my dioramas never make it on to a display.

The origin of a Theme Park

The first attraction I designed was the Miniature Golf diorama. I built it long before I decided to build a theme park it was not originally intended to be for the purpose of a theme park. It was actually designed to be a roadside attraction for my model railroad. I built it on a cardboard base using the Merten mini-golf set. I also added a Woodland Scenic gazebo and a Faller kiosk.

The Main Street.

With the success of the mini-gulf I made the decision to create a theme park. I had working on ant completed a Main Street diorama. It is very Disneyesque style main street walk with a main entrance and Train Station at one end and a Castle at the other end. Though my Main Street will look similar to Disney’s main street my Main Street will not be styled after my hometown like The Magic Kingdom’s was after Walt’s hometown. Instead mine was constructed from readily available kits from IHC-Heljen and other structures I kit bashed. The castle was made from tunnel portals and plastic brick sheets as well as towers from Faller. The castle also differs from that at The Magic Kingdom. Their castle is a fairytale castle in the French renaissance style were as mine is a medieval knight’s siege castle. So why build a medieval castle and not a fairytale castle? That’s simple I am a knight not a fairy-princess. The entrance to Main Street has a train station like the Magic Kingdom with two tunnels going under the tracks leading into the park. Like the Magic Kingdom visitors will take paths leading off of Main Street square to the rest of the park but because of the limiting depth of the display I only have two paths one to the left to the coaster park and one to the right to the theme park sections. The Main Street was first assembled as a diorama in two parts the castle was first then the main street itself was added. The whole section did not get added to the final display until much later. This diorama took some time to complete but the end result was worth it.

The Themepark – Western Frontier

The next diorama that I made was a western fort. It was handmade from dowels and some western buildings I had collected. The final structure was then painted and stained. I then started collecting figures and wagons to complete the scene.

The next thing I did was to build a western town to be added next to the fort. I used Walthers Instant Buildings, Old West Frontier as a backdrop. I then added some old west buildings in the foreground. The two dioramas where then joined together. This section was inspired from Knox Berry Farm and years of watching John Wayne movies with my dad. Like Disney I wanted to build my park like a movie set. I call this section; The Western Frontier. I plan on adding an Indian village next.

The Themepark – Jungle Ride

The next diorama was a Disney type jungle ride this was my favorite ride in my youth. That is until Disney opened the Pirates of the Caribbean. I used Merten and Preiser circus/zoo animals and some small boats that I found. I then made a wondering river painted the scene then added the animals and trees. At first I was just going to use resin for the water but then I decided to wait and see if I could some how motorize it. So the jungle ride was put on hold. I continued to collect zoo type animals and before long I had enough to make a small zoo. I have not entirely abandoned the idea of a jungle ride all together but it is defiantly on the back burner.

The Themepark – Tree House

The most recent attraction I made for the Theme park was The Tree House. The Tree House was made with a wire frame covered with epoxy resin. I used various plastic windows, doors and stairs; woodland scenic cast metal pieces; balsa wood starch build pieces and scale rope. The end result is too hard to describe.

The Themepark – The Initial Layout

With the three dioramas I had so far- The Main Street, The Western Frontier, The MiniGolf and the Jungle Ride. It was time to consider making bench work to hold them. At the time I did not consider width restrictions so the width or depth of the bench work was set by the depth of Main Street. The bench work was made 5 ft. deep and 6 ft long. I now know that these dimensions are not at all the best. The intent was to make 2 such modules and have the Theme park on the right hand side module and the carnival rides on the left hand module. After building the first bench work I then mounted the Main Street diorama to the far left of this first module. Next to that in the back of the display I mounted the Western Frontier. In font of the Western Frontier and behind the buildings of Main Street was the Jungle Ride with the MiniGolf right next to it.

Now it was time to decide what to do with the remainder of the real-estate. I wanted a water scene. Most amusement parks use water for its relaxing properties and because it adds moisture to the air lowering the ambient air temperature. So I made a lake next to the MiniGolf. The lake has a pirate ship and there will be canoes and other small water craft.

Behind the lake is an area I call; Enchanted Forest. It was inspired after a number of things. First and foremost is a park just south of Salem of the same name. They had a long slide built into the hillside and a cave maze.

Second the hedge maze in my Enchanted Forest was inspired by a picnic park in southern Washington as well as movies like The Shining and of course The Labyrinth. The picnic park in Washington had an overlook tower so parents could see their children navigate the maze.

Third is my Toadstool Theater which was inspired from the former Portland Zoo. The zoo had a mushroom shaped building which they used as a storyteller room. When they remodeled the zoo and changed its name to the Oregon Zoo that building was torn down. The trees in the forest are right out of The Wizard of OZ. Less their leaves. I hand made the trees with wire armatures covered in epoxy resin.

The Themepark – The Bench Work

With the all of the new information and ideas I have acquired over the years I have decided to totally revamp the module for the Theme Park. Since the Coaster Park never got built there is no resin to rebuild it, just build anew. The main bench work needs to be restricted 30 inches wide. This will allow the whole display to be broken down in to sections capable of fitting through a standard door.

I have decided to build four main modules the Theme Park and Main Street will be on two 30”x72” modules and the Coaster Park will be on two 30”x72” modules for a total length of 24 feet.

In addition to the four main modules there will also have four front module sections at 14”x72”. These front sections will be added to the front of the park sections and will contain two mainline railroad lines, a street and the monorail system. It will also house the main entrance to the park and the narrow gage railroad. This front section will make the overall depth of the display 44 inches deep.

The Roller Coaster Park

Originally the left hand side display of Fun Mountain was to be full of carnival rides with a kiddy area in the front and a midway down the middle. I would have the Farris wheels and the larger rides in the back. Back when I started collecting rides I want to have an HO scale roller coaster but at the time no manufacture made an HO coaster. So my plan was to leave a space in the carnival park for a coaster.

I even to turn to the internet to do some research on what it would take to build an HO scale roller coaster. My optimistic-self said… “Really how hard could it be.” Then my model-making-self chimed in… “We can’t just make it out of dowels and popsicle sticks.” Then after doing some extensive research my pessimistic-self said… “There is no way we could do it we just don’t have that kind of time.” My model-making-self agreed on the bases that in order to do it right and to scale it would take far too much time. Yet my optimistic-self stayed optimistic and encouraged the others not to abandon the idea completely.
Writers note: It’s ok to have mutable personalities as long as you only appoint one spokesperson.

All of this self evaluation ended when Faller released their first coaster The Big Dipper. Finely we had an HO coaster. It took me sometime to save up the money to buy the ride but as soon as I got the coaster I went right to work assembling it. One of the things I like about the Faller rides over the IHC rides is how well they work. I was sure that in no time I would be enjoying my new model coaster. Yet sadly after several months I could not get the little train to complete a circuit. Either it went too slow and stopped halfway down or it went too fast and flew off of the track. The engineers thought that if we added people to the cars it might increase the overall weight enough to keep the train on the track. The insurance underwriters recommended that I stop all further testing and for god’s sake do not let anyone ride that death trap. They were afraid that if we did we would have a line of tiny HO scale lawyers lined up at the gate.

It was around this time when the chairman of the board recommended that I close the whole park and spend more time with the family. I took her advice and closed down the park. I did continue to collect rides I even acquired a Faller Wild Mouse roller coaster but these new rides stayed in their crates (boxes).

Now that kids are all grown. Not necessarily grownup, but grown. I decided to reopen the park. In fact that is why I started this site.

So what inspired me to revisit the world of carnival model building was CoasterDynamix’s Comet HO scale wooden roller coaster. Finally someone has made a real working roller coaster.

Now that I have three roller coasters and hopefully more will be available form CD. I have my heart set on a steel coaster. I can now at last erect a coaster park. It will be on the left hand side of Fun Mountain replacing the former carnival.

So does this mean I have given up the carnival and will be liquidating it all on ebay. NO! I will be building the carnival as a stand-alone park and with a park hopper, patrons will be able to go from park to park.

I will keep some of the carnival rides at the coaster park. Some of the kiddie rides like the carousel and the Faller teacups. The little tikes will need rides too. I may even build them their own area I will call Kinder Plots. I may even leave room for Faller’s new Go-Kart Race set. Though I am not sure if I want it in the Coaster Park or the Theme Park it would surly add some needed action to the right side display. Although, Faller is releasing two different sets I could just get both and have one in each.

In addition to the three park sections there will be a number of conveyances to move people within the park and to and from the parks.

The in-park conveyance is a narrow gage railroad. It will circle the park including the coaster park. It will have a stop at Main Street, a stop at The Western Frontier, a hidden stop behind the castle and a stop to the far left of the coaster park. The stop behind the castle will have a longer delay then the other stops. This will give the illusion that the train went somewhere. In model railroading it’s all about the illusion. The train will also pass through the mountains behind the Enchanted Forest. Stops and tunnels are an important because they allow the viewing publics eyes to wonder from the action of the train to other points of interest. Trains that just run around in an open circle have a hypnotic effect. The spectators would just watch the train and miss the rest of the scenery. Children are most susceptible to this phenomenon though some dads have been known to fall victim to this hypnotic affect. Moms on the other hand are completely immune to this affect. They are use to watching things run around aimlessly in circles.

For park to park conveyance, patrons con chouse the monorail which will have a transit stop to the right of the main entrance. This stop will have two separate tracks one leading left and the other right. It will also have a connecting stop with the railroad at a station at the left front of the display. The mono rail system will eventually service all of my parks.

The other conveyance will be Faller Car System City Tourist Mini-Train this train will transport patrons to and from the parking lots and the main gate.

All of the parks will also be serviced by dally rail service.

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