It was the perfect spot for a new dark ride, almost directly across the midway from the R.E. Chambers-designed Laff In The Dark, near the area where the PTC Magic Carpet had stood, and within sight of the Pirate's Cove funhouse.
      It was the off-season of 1970 and several attractions, including a Roto-Jet,  had been removed, leaving an open parcel of land.  Peter Trahanas, who owned Laff In The Dark and other Playland amusements, jumped on the opportunity, leasing the vacant parcel.
      Peter was impressed by a new model dark ride, “Witches Mill”, created by the Italian-based firm Pinfari.  It was a portable ride, engineered to be frequently relocated, as were most European rides that traveled the overseas fair circuit. Peter’s plan was to bring it to Playland where it would become a permanent structure.
      The building was erected during the late fall of 1970 into early 1971...

Peter’s son Nick Trahanas recalls one Italian worker swinging from beam to beam during construction. The ride’s three floors were inhabited by about a dozen fiberglass-molded stunts animated by rotary motors. Every stunt had it’s own transistorized sound bite, amplified by small bullhorns. Stunts included "Sexi Death" , a female ghoul who flashed her scantily clad skeletal frame. "The Magician" tipped his top hat, and his head, to passing patrons. And the "Brigande" (pirate) took aim at riders with a dueling pistol. Other gags included a guillotine execution and tipping barrels.




The track was unique in that it was tubular and the high-torque powered cars took riders to the third floor without need of a lift chain. Due to a factory error, the original cars had one bench rather than the two bench, four-seaters that Peter had ordered. The building façade featured a windmill, an ape grinding his teeth (similar to the display at Coney Island’s former Hell Hole) and of course, the witch herself, “flying” on her broomstick. For that reason, park patrons called the ride Flying Witch, although its official name was Haunted Mansion. The ride was warmly embraced by park-goers its first year. It was different from other dark rides in that much of the ride was just that - dark. The stunts were strategically dispersed throughout the tightly sealed building, allowing for a suspenseful experience. The sound bites: Chirping, sirens, and buzzers, had little or no relevance to the stunts they accompanied, adding even more confusion to the mix.


Pinfari Ride Car Chassis
and Brake System



Interior view of drive system showing motor, drive belts, gearbox, coupling and transmission.

 




View of open end of motor with brake assembly attached to rear armature shaft. As the speed of a car descending an incline increases, the brakes are thrown outward against the internal drum surface of the motor housing, slowing the car. Originally equipped by Pinfari with Fiat brake shoes, the motors were modified at the Trahanas machine shop to accept standard Toyota Corolla brake shoes.