It’s the summer of 1995. Inside The Haunted House, something is waiting; something ushering in a new era; ushering a new sense of fear. That summer, any soul who had thought they had seen it all inside the seaside manor thought wrong. Rounding a bend on the upper floor, one with past knowledge of the ride would expect to see Bill Tracy’s Birthday Party; instead, a shocking surprise would be waiting; The Electric Chair.

After being issued by Distortions Unlimited, the life-like gag began popping up in dark rides all over the country. The thrashing man with his startling, rapid movement became a new dark ride staple; much in the same respect as Bill Tracy’s quirky gags were staples at one point in the industry. Within a changing world though, many people’s tastes change. Tracy’s artistic props were facing riders with more sophisticated minds. Many average riders had little to no appreciation for ride’s prime components of the past 31 years. They found little value in the Rats, Old Mill, Knit Witt, Head slinger, Last Drop, and Crab; and never seemed to be afraid to show their distaste through vandalism. So, in changing with the times, The Haunted House welcomed a new guest.

A ride on The Haunted House in 1995 would seem the same as it had been since 1988 from the start. No major changes seemed apparent since the merge with the Ocean Playland's Ghost Ship. The cars would crawl across the balcony, under the watchful eye of Tracy’s Giant Bat. But as the cars burst through the crash doors, they became cloaked in a mist of foggy darkness. Maybe it’s just a fog machine? Maybe a fire; is it smoke? Is it something more? A quick turn in the track would lead to the source of the smoke.

Out of the misty veil of unknowing blackness came a terrifying yelp of excruciating pain and suffering. Through the flashing of strobes, the figure of man strapped into an Electric Chair could be seen. The man was flailing at an uncanny pace, which through the light of the strobes was blur to the human eye. After a few hair-raising seconds, the encounter with the fighting new member of The Haunted House was over, even though it felt like it was longer. The man seemed out of place inside The Haunted House, but then again, so did the Train. Maybe it could fit in just fine.

To any enthusiast’s relief, the old Birthday Party was luckily still there. While recuperating from the surprising encounter, they barely had time to notice that brand new shelf-like structure over the decline toward the first floor, were Tracy’s Pirate Clowns were having a good old time. The impact of The Electric Chair would soon dethrone the Clowns from this area.
Soon, little by little, the Bill Tracy gags would move out, and newer props would take their place. Additions like the Gallows Hanging Man would come at the expense of the Birthday Party. Each new addition begged for a sort of belonging as a member of The Haunted House. To an enthusiast, the removal of any old favorites over the winter became a nerve-racking nightmare. Was last year the final season for the Old Mill? Will the Headslinger still be there next year? Questions like this could nag you all year. It felt as though the Wine Cellar, Crab, Headslinger, and others were gone too soon. The Electric Chair was proving to be more than just a new face, but one whose impact seemed to be leading an army of Scare factory and Distortions monsters in a take-over of The Haunted House.

Years would come to pass; just like the old Birthday party, The Electric Chair man forced to move out of his own position to the decline following the Upside-Down Room. As the Clowns partied across the hall, the man who spent years in the electric chair was now sitting in an old wooden chair; stationary and quite un-noticed. After ushering in a new era of fear for The Haunted House, the unlikely occurred. The prop responsible for forcing the fates of gags like the Clowns and the Mermaid, was now just one of them; handless, out of the way, and almost unnoticed by riders. After all those years, it seemed it was finally right to say that The Electric Chair is an official stunt in The Haunted House. After years of being tortured by the static death device, it was time for a new guy to take his place in the chair.

The Electric Chair’s story in The Haunted House history book could almost be a something seen in a child’s fable; Lesson of the day being “What goes around Comes around”. The only problem is, most children’s stories don’t feature death by electrocution, women being sliced in half by buzz saws, and clown who top there cakes with severed heads...maybe we shouldn’t send “The Haunted House: Tales of Life Lessons and Imagination” to the publisher.

So next time you visit The Haunted House, make sure to try and spot the old guy from the electric chair. After all, he‘s just another member of the family.

Trimper's Haunted House Online - Copyright © 2007-2012 Brandon Seidl
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