In a house haunted by ghastly ghouls and other fiendish friends, it may be surprising to find a seasick pirate leaning over a balcony, sick with drunkenness and confusion. However, thanks to Ocean Playland’s defunct Ghost Ship, the Haunted House had the pleasure, for a short time, to include this classic stunt, along with the infamous Bartender (often confused with Tracy’s Scientist), in its virtual catalog of Bill Tracy stunts.
What makes Trimper’s Haunted House so unbelievable is its randomness; you never know what will be around the next corner, and just as you think you may be able to predict the next illusion, reality will prove you wrong. Although the Bartender and its drunken customer may seem out-of-place sitting across from the Torture Chamber, they both were proven assets in completing the irregular and kooky atmosphere within the ride for nearly 18 years.
Bill Tracy enjoyed with world of drunken silliness within his stunts, and this inclusion is evident in many of his famous attractions, most of which are no longer in existence. It would not be out of the ordinary to see a skeleton chugging a bottle of rum, a pirate laying in a cove completely under the influence, or illusions that may in fact make you feel like you have had one too many. Tracy’s innocent references to alcohol and the like were humorous and enjoyable by the general public in a time when this topic was somewhat accepted by ride-goers. In this day and age, it would seem that folks would rather not be exposed to this sort of humor; like the barely clad damsels in Trimper’s Haunted House, people were able to enjoy these stunts in a greater way 40 years ago because of the different status of society. While the true enthusiasts may still adore these kinds of stunts, you can bet that Distortions or Scarefactory will think twice about releasing something of this nature.
The Bartender as it appeared in 1996 with a red face. The face was later painted white in the late 90's before it was removed.
The Bartender, although somewhat of a simple stunt, is quite interesting nonetheless. Trimper’s version consisted of a man dressed in a green coat rocking slowly back and forth as his grin would penetrate your soul. For whatever reason, this character had no hair, but rather what looked to be a cap of some kind. If I had to guess, I would say that he had a full head of hair in his prime, but thanks to vandals, it was removed and never replaced. The counter or “bar” that he is attending is somewhat empty with the exception of a large cake on the right-hand-side with a skull protruding from the top. Tracy also used a cake as a crucial part of his Birthday Party stunt from Ghost Ship. Also on the counter was a coil of anchor chains similar to the ones hanging on the wall in the Crab stunt.
Scotty Hudson can be seen hiding out behind the Bartender while watching a car. I happened to give him a funny fright as I flashed a picture while my car creeped by. Picture taken in 2000.
The backdrop includes a cream-colored panel with painted bottles and two shelves which at one time held the bottles of booze that forced the pirate over the railing of the boat deck. The top shelf at one time also held a skull and one of Tracy’s giant rats. Tracy’s rats were also found in the Falling Barrels and in the Lady in the Cellar stunt, located at the base of the Mine Shaft. The backdrop also includes a section of stones peeking through the apparent broken plaster on the wall, suggesting this Bartender may in a basement or cellar of some sort.
The drunk, or seasick pirate, is even more classic than the Bartender; a disoriented pirate leaning over the fragile railing of a boat’s deck with the dry heaves! This stunt only shows the rear end of a pirate and his rubber boots as he gasps for air and mercy. The entire platform is rocking back and forth using a motorized cam as his beer bottle glides from left to right on the railing using the same method. The backdrop is painted with an air brushed night sky, and the boat deck is covered with fish netting and nautical carcasses.
Above: the Drunken Pirate as it appeared in the mid 90's.
Undoubtedly, this customer had way too much to drink on this particular night. The housing for this stunt was enormous as it operated in a diorama that was nearly 6 feet wide, 6 feet high and 2 feet deep. The most troubled area of this stunt was the bottle which moved left to right on the railing. It would always require maintenance to get it working properly, and on many occasions, it would be left broken for several seasons in a row. The bottle itself glided on a track of sorts, and if it were ever to get out of alignment, it would simply not operate. A picture of this original stunt as shown in Tracy's catalog can be seen to the right.
The Bartender remained somewhat untouched from its original state coming from Ghost Ship, however, in the late 90’s, the Drunken Pirate had a makeover. Its hard-shell fiberglass body was removed and replaced with a brand new foam underbody and new attire. Although the new version looked nice, it was vandalized within one season and because of its “soft” nature, it did not withstand abuse. This stunt was not recognizable when it was removed, and undoubtedly, the management recognized this.
Above: Video shot of the Bartender in late 90's. 6 seconds.
Perhaps in the Ghost ship, these two stunts were closer together resembling some sort of pattern or “story,” however, they served their purpose perfectly in their locations in Trimper’s Haunted House. Although these stunts were removed and replaced with mass-produced effects, they will always be remembered as true Tracy classics.
Video of the Drunken Pirate shot in the late 90's after it was revamped. 6 seconds.