The World of Sid and Marty Krofft

The World of Sid and Marty Krofft was an amusement park in Atlanta, Georgia. It was based on the various TV shows produced by the sibling duo Sid and Marty Krofft. It was notable for being the world's first entirely indoor amusement park.

Beginnings

The park was built in the Omni International complex. It opened with great fanfare in May 1976, and was featured prominently at the beginning of the Saturday morning program "Krofft Supershow". Still, it suffered from poor attendance, and was closed after just six months. The Kroffts partially blamed the park's failure on the fact that, at the time, downtown Atlanta was experiencing urban decay and generally was not considered a safe place for a family outing.

Park features

In keeping with the highly creative nature of its namesakes, the park featured elaborate attractions such as a large carousel adorned with crystals and a giant pinball machine themed ride in which the riders would sit inside large ball shaped pods and ricochet through the "machine." Visitors received a "ticket booklet" with four tickets, one for each area. Most started at the top floor by riding the world's longest freestanding escalator, working their way down through the four areas of the park. "Tranquility Terrace" occupied the top 3 levels out of 6, followed by "Uptown" on the next lowest level, "Lidsville" on the next, and "Living Island Adventure" on the bottom level.

Visitors entered the park at its uppermost level via a multi-story escalator, which was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest freestanding (supported only at its ends) escalator in the world. Moving down from the reception level was the first carnival level, presided over by a stilt-walking master of ceremonies, and featuring three circus trailers, each with a different performer. These shows were presented in circus 'trailers'; a performer in costume did a 2-3 minute show to a different narrator/performer's voice. The middle trailer featured Betty Broadbent, a purple belly-dancing rhino who was voiced by Ruth Buzzi.

The next floor was a transition level and included a caricature artist and an overlook for the stage show below. The next floor featured a live performance stage and a number of different shops and artisans. Shows included a tightrope walker, a trio of break dancers and a song-and-dance show that starred Patty Maloney. Events throughout the park featured other "little people", including Debbie Dixon (who was later in Star Wars) and twin brothers John and Greg Rice, who were listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the 'World's Shortest Living Twins' until John's death in 2005. A gift shop, food emporium and a glass blower/shop completed this level.

The lower level featured a Krofft forest-theme and incorporated a theater with a live-action Krofft character show. The park also had a pinball-style roller coaster ride. The various floors of the park were largely open to the main atrium of the Omni. The ground level of the Omni also featured a skating rink.

While launched with much hoopla in the national press, and incorporating quality performances and entertainment options (many of the performers came from LA to perform in the park during its run), a visit to 'WSMK' was priced close to that for a ticket to Six Flags Over Georgia, so many of the target visitors opted for the larger park, which provided all-day entertainment. Further, the Omni was a bold development in what was then viewed as a transitional inner city area, close to major housing projects.

When WSMK closed, many of the other shops and venues went through a similar transition. The park's area was largely vacant - a dinner theater operated for a short period on one of the lower levels, but eventually closed.

After the Kroffts

After the park closed, the Omni complex went through a number of renovations, but continued to have trouble attracting tenants until the mid-1980s. At that point, Ted Turner decided that his CNN cable network had outgrown its sparse headquarters at Atlanta's old Progressive Club building. When scouting a new location, he discovered that the old Krofft park section of the Omni was largely unchanged, sporting enormous rooms and hallways that were ideal for television studios and newsrooms. CNN moved into the building in 1987. Turner soon bought the entire complex and renamed it CNN Center. The massive escalator remains, now used as part of the CNN Tour. The facility also features an Omni Hotel (which has been there since the Center was built), meeting space, restaurants, and gift shops. It is directly adjacent to Philips Arena, which is no longer considered part of CNN Center.

External links

* [http://hometown.aol.com/interama/krofft.html Fan site with park map and other park memorabilia]
* [http://kcac.kennesaw.edu/thematic_content/building_cities/krofft.html The Lost World of Sid and Marty Krofft]
* [http://www.omnihotels.com/FindAHotel/AtlantaCNNCenter.aspx Omni Center Website]


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