Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Palisades Park and the Batman Slide


Let me tell you all a little about Kennywood Amusement Park. Wedged somewhat uncomfortably into the Homestead area of the greater Pittsburgh region, Kennywood is nevertheless a premiere amusement park for Western Pennsylvania. With more than 120 years of history, Kennywood has roller coasters both old and new, from wooden rides like the Jackrabbit and the Thunderbolt to steel coasters like the Phantom's Revenge and the Sky Rocket. And, like any self-respecting Pittsburgh-area institution, there's also a healthy Steelers presence in the new-ish Steel Curtain ride. It's a destination attraction for the area, and a great mid-level amusement park all around.

When I moved from Pittsburgh to the eastern side of the state a few years ago, I knew that I wanted to visit some of the nearby New York City-area amusement parks, namely Luna Park at Coney Island and Palisades Park. I had Coney Island in mind because it's a world-famous park and a real slice of Americana; why not visit somewhere that's been immortalized in different forms of media over the last several decades?

I've since checked that off my list. I've rode the Cyclone and enjoyed it, though I've yet to ride the Wonder Wheel. It's a park that's quaint and quite overpriced, though it's a place I'd recommend seeing at least once, and it's directly off of NYC's most popular beach, south of Brooklyn. I bought a hot dog there! I got the whole experience.

Palisades, New Jersey is located near the George Washington Bridge, across the river from northern Manhattan. It's definitely a town for people who want to live in the city but don't want to pay a million dollars to get a condo there. The commute across the bridge is a relatively easy one.

There were two reasons I wanted to check out Palisades Park: the first is, okay, the 1962 Freddy Cannon pop bubblegum hit of the same name:

Can I just say that "I gave that girl a hug/In the tunnel of love" is a pretty awkward attempt at a rhyme? Anyway, the second reason is that I've gotten used to seeing the following ad in old copies of certain DC Comics:

Any amusement park that's good enough for Superman is good enough for me, right? So I thought that the park would be fun to check out.

This particular ad comes from 1967's Green Lantern #56, which features the second appearance of Charlie Vicker, the actor who played Green Lantern on TV and was deputized as a real GL when his brother was killed (revenge being a central tenant to wielding the ring). This half-page ad also comes with a coupon for the park to (gasp) cut out and use for a free admission:

The coupon was also good for one trip on the Batman slide! Now, one might wonder why Superman is the only figure in this ad and not Batman, if the ride was named after the Dark Knight, especially since the extremely popular Adam West Batman show was on the air at this point. But I suppose you just have to accept that Superman is a world-renowned character and just go with it.

One thing I learned while planning a trip to the semi-world-famous Palisades Parks is that...it's been closed since 1971. Over 50 years! In its place now sits, would you believe it, a high-rise apartment complex, which, okay, now that I type it, I can very much believe it. I'm sure it remains prime real estate.

So what WAS the Batman Slide at the forever-closed Palisades Park? From the information you can find online, it seems like it was a pretty standard slide tower, rising to heights of about 20 feet; kids would take a burlap mat up a flight of stairs and slide down while riding it, just like...you know...just like Batman. I found a video that briefly shows the slide, complete with the Batman logo. Here's a grainy screenshot!

I suppose my dream of riding the Batman slide has been forever dashed by the fact that this park closed down before I was born. To be honest, though, they probably wouldn't have accepted my coupon, anyway.

Interestingly enough, right after I snapped the picture of the ad, I sat down to read a copy of Marvel's Sleepwalker #1, a new and possibly masochistic purchase. Where does Rick and his best girl go on date night? To Coney Island, of course. Let me know if the Wonder Wheel is worth it, Rick.