As Carl Hughes recalled: "When changed to Le Cachot, a rear addition 10 feet deep was added. The track was increased to occupy this, as well as reconfigured somewhat. "
With the s-curves and black box stunts, Le Cachot was a throwback to the earlier days of Pretzel. But the façade motif reflected the "hip" 1970s. The warrior was replaced by one skeleton playing a guitar and another riding a chopper motorcycle.


The loading platform backdrop featured several "prisoners" trying to escape from the castle dungeon.
For even more dramatic effect, Laffin' Sal, who once graced Kennywood's Laff In The Dark façade, was resurrected for the Le Cachot boarding area, cackling at those who dared queue up for the ride.

     
      But some real-life drama unfolded even before Le Cachot opened to the public. Recalls Hughes: "As my good friend Bob Freed of Lagoon reminded me when I complained about Tracy's habit of delivering late, 'Carl, he's made a lot of money for a lot of people.'"
         "When we made the deal for Le Cachot it was agreed that I would go to Cape May when he (Tracy) had a substantial portion done," continues Hughes. "Then if satisfied, I'd go the local bank and release a portion of the money we put in escrow. I made three trips that winter to the deserted beach town, staying in the only motel still open. Each time Bill got a third of the escrow - that represented about half the contract. Smug in the notion that we beat him at his own game, I awaited delivery. The trucks arrived but the driver would not unlock them. 'This is collect," they said. "No money and we leave.' My boss, Carl Henninger, had a big laugh. 'You'll have to pay them, C.O., he got ya.'"

 

        
         Fast forward to 1997: my first visit to Kennywood. (I should have gotten out of the house more often!) My first impression of Le Cachot was the noise of the Pretzel cars - that wonderful clicking and seemingly straining motor. I could hear it waiting in line. I could hear it along the left-hand side of the building, even as the Thunderbolt coaster was whipping around its "Spaghetti Bowl" segment. It's a noise I first heard in April 1957 when I took my first Pretzel ride at Riverside, Rhode Island's Crescent Park. I'll remember it until the day I die.
    
 As I boarded the Le Cachot car, I noticed another familiar Pretzel sight: A ride operator with grease-coated sneakers - comes with the preferred option of stopping and pushing the car with your legs. " Nice sneakers," I remarked. "Fashion statement," she replied. With that, she pushed the start button on the control panel and I was off.


 

 

The first stunt I recall seeing is an evil sentry peering over the castle wall. His helmet reminded me a bit of the one worn by the "Marvin the Martian" Warner Brothers cartoon character. But unlike the bumbling Marvin, this little guy looked confident and assured. I'm not sure Le Cachot had a storyline, but if asked to interpret one, I'd say that that sentry orchestrated a takeover of the castle and put its inhabitants into the dungeon.

 

 

 


 

At one point during the ride two bats circled overhead on thin wires - probably animated by a ceiling fan motor. Ten years earlier, Tracy had created a similar bat stunt in Crescent Park's Riverboat dark ride which also featured a Voodoo priestess stirring a head in a pot, very similar to Le Cachot's sorcerer.

Throughout his career, Tracy had a knack for throwing riders off guard. In the aforementioned Riverboat, he had an eight-foot gorilla attack you on New Orleans' Bourbon Street. In Le Cachot, he had two offbeat gags: a Greek god bearing a chalice and grapes; a bloodhound under his banquet table, and the ride's grand finale: a 180-degree turn through a flashing strobe lit concourse. How either gag was relevant to a castle is anybody's guess. But both were vintage Tracy.
"That (the strobe room) was a Bill Tracy addition," remarks Hughes.



 

For instance, there's a stunt of what appears to be a prince with red boots and later in the ride, this figure is bound up in chains. There was also a woman, who also appeared to be of royalty, in shackles.

Of course, the dungeon prisoners were surrounded by haunts; including a vulture guarding her nest , a snake coiled and ready to strike , a sorcerer stirring a head in a pot , a gargoyle , and a blue ghost.

 


The stunts were complimented by some great illustrations including one of a purple "devil dog."


After the 1998 season, Kennywood closed the doors on Le Cachot. The stunts were sold off and the Pretzel cars went to Bushkill Park in Easton, PA, where they now carry riders through that park's very old Haunted Pretzel ride.

Kennywood still has three superb classic dark attractions: the Old Mill, built in 1901; the last remaining Noah's Ark fun house in the United States; and one of the world's most underrated dark rides the Gold Rusher, built in 1981. One of few dark rides built in the 1980s, Gold Rusher is throwback to the Tracy's diorama rides of the 1960s, even though the stunts were created by Academy Award-winning special effects artist Maurice Ayers.

Acknowledgements

The author would like to thank:
Carl O. Hughes for sharing his memories and historic information for this article.
Mr. Hughes began his Kennywood career in 1947 and served in a number of managerial positions, including president. Carl's current position is Chairman of Kennywood Entertainment Inc. He also is a past president of the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) He is the first living recipient of the IAAPA Hall of Fame award.

Mary Lou Rosemeyer, Kennywood's publicity director (and Carl's daughter).

Marie Riles, of Mary Lou's staff, for furnishing photographs
from Kennywood's archives for this article.

Photo Credits:
Kennywood Park, William Frisk, Vic Kleman, Bill Luca
©2003 Laff In The Dark/www.laffinthedark.com