Even though it's the post Labor Day season on the boardwalk of Ocean City, Maryland, there are plenty of tourists strolling about and stopping to indulge in food, games and attractions on this early September evening. The lure of the sand and beach have given way to a vast variety of nightlife, souvenir shops, arcades, cafes,
and entertainment.
  

Just a few buildings down from the end of the boardwalk is The Haunted House, operated by Granville Trimper. Behind it is his amusement park, Trimper Rides, a family-owned landmark in this famous resort city for over a hundred years.

Tourists stop in their tracks as they approach The Haunted House. They're bewildered by the crooked clapboard, the giant bat on the balcony, and the animated headless "barker" from Sally Corporation. As the barker gives his spiel on the merits of riding, an unseen organ (actually a digital sound repeater) plays funeral procession music. How appropriate, since the 11 ride car fleet consists of coffins on wheels!

 

As most of you know, this ride was designed by Bill Tracy for the 1962 season. But what you probably didn't know is that it originated as a one-story ride and ran that way until 1988 when Mr. Trimper acquired another Tracy ride, the Ghost Ship, from the defunct Playland Park, a few miles north.
In early 1988, he and his staff completed the "merger" by removing the stunts and track from The Haunted House, leveling the building, and installed a new two-story ride, incorporating the track, three ride cars and most of the stunts they salvaged from the Ghost Ship. The nautical-theme stunts, combined with the ride's original figures, make this attraction a true spooky seaside home. Mr. Trimper himself designed the new floor plan for the reborn Haunted House. But to truly appreciate the legacy of The Haunted House, let's go back prior to 1962 when it was the Windsor Theater. Granville

Mr. Granville Trimper, patriarch of the Trimper Family, owners of Trimper's Rides and Amusements
in Ocean City, Maryland since 1890 and recipient of
Laff In The Dark's 2nd Laff Achievement Award.

Trimper ran the movie projector back then. After the movie house closed, the building became the site of the Gay 90s nightclub and later a roller skating rink. But Mr. Trimper's 1961 visit to Maryland's former Glen Echo Park would spark a new beginning for this boardwalk building.

The "Whacky Shack" architecture of Bill Tracy abounds inside and outside the Haunted House.

Left: Ornately carved wooden 'Coffin Cars' lined up in the main entry.


Distorted wall decor and demonic portraits adorn the left wall of the lobby.

More Tracy interior design is evident around the main car queue area.


The inside of the ticket booth window affords a skewed view of the boardwalk and ocean front.
"I rode a dark ride up there and I was so impressed, I just had to have one for my park," recalls Mr. Trimper. So he went to that fall's IAAPA Convention seeking a dark ride designer. He found Bill Tracy, not at a booth, but on the convention floor, carrying photos of floats he had created. "His company (at that time) was called the Tracy Parade Company and he had these great photos of floats he'd made for Macys and other parades," recalls Mr. Trimper. "He said he also did dark rides, so I was interested."

Mr. Trimper recalls meeting Tracy again to seal the deal at a New Jersey office just across the river from New York City. Tracy later came to Ocean City in late February 1964 to participate in and supervise installation of The Haunted House. He was on site for about two weeks.

The one-story Haunted House was an immediate success, and when Playland's Ghost Ship became available 16 years later, Mr. Trimper jumped at the chance to expand his ride. Mr. Trimper uses three former Ghost Ship cars in his fleet, restyled to match the other wooden coffin cars from their original one-piece fibreglass bodies.
  Above: Builder's or inspection plate stamped "Tracy 1962" is affixed to entry wall.