Standing before a building he's known for most of his 91 years, Bill Cassidy looks out onto South Avenue in Bridgeton, New Jersey. He’s an elder statesman in the town these days, having been its wartime civil defense director, chief of police for a time in the fifties, tax assessor, and currently serving as zoning officer.
      That’s the old Pretzel Amusement Ride factory in the background, where Mr. Cassidy and his father manufactured the world's first and most well-known line of dark rides. Now the site of a bustling textile distribution company, the former trolley barn betrays no evidence of the unique industry once housed within its walls nor of the more than one thousand Pretzel rides that passed through its doors over a half- century.
     Three years after our last visit with him, Laff In the Dark made a return pilgrimage to Bridgeton in July of 2004 to enjoy the memories, legend and hospitality of Mr. Bill Cassidy. To understand our feelings about Mr. Cassidy, imagine a coaster buff being able to chat today with Herb Schmeck, John Allen or Harry Traver, or a carousel afficionado having the opportunity to listen to M.C. Illions or Daniel Mueller expound on the fine points of carving a wooden horse.
     For my colleague George LaCross and myself, it was the culmination of a journey back to the roots of our lifelong exploration of the traditional dark ride, a devotion that has spanned over 40 years for each of us. It began for George with the Pretzel Ride of his boyhood at Crescent Park, Rhode Island. For me, it was the Treasure Island ride at Revere Beach in Massachusetts. Both were classic examples of the pre-war product of Pretzel Amusement, and though they may be long gone, those rides stimulated a fascination in us that endures to the present day.
      We're pleased to present our chronicle of  Pretzel, literally the first name in dark rides, and Mr. Cassidy's personal anecdotes of a wonderful life spent building rides, giving pleasure to millions, and...

"Sending 'em out laffing".
 


Creative Director
Laff In The Dark