Gurnee Park- Site Plan 1972

General discussion about Marriott's GREAT AMERICA
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Tech Services 1
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Gurnee Park- Site Plan 1972

Post by Tech Services 1 » Wed Jun 25, 2008 6:32 pm

Another favorite from my collection-
Check out the new folder in my photo gallery.

Back in the day, Tech Services had to have access to blueprints of the park for maintaining the sound systems and everything else we worked on. Keeping prints updated required us to make copies of the original prints, update the prints, make copies of those updates, etc.
In digging through the archives, I ran across some very early drawings, most on the original velum, from when the park was built. I asked my manager if I could copy a few for myself, and he said it was no problem as long as I paid for the paper and did the copying on my own time. I gladly agreed, of course!

This print is dated October 1972. It shows the park pretty close to the final design. A few things are missing (most notably a very big feature of County Fair), a few buildings moved slightly, and some things are shown that never came to be.

It's a very cool print. Looking at it always throws me back 30 years!
I wish I had the space to frame it and hang it on a wall- maybe some day I will.

Sorry for the quality of the photos, but it's the best I can do for now with a print of this size!
I hope you like them. :D

-PPG
Technical Services technician
Gurnee park '81 - '86

Eegads, has it been that long?

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steven
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Post by steven » Wed Jun 25, 2008 6:48 pm

Thanks for the story and thanks for sharing these!!!

What's missing from County Fair? The Turn of the Century roller coaster!

Steven

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GreatAmerica4ever
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Post by GreatAmerica4ever » Wed Jun 25, 2008 8:36 pm

Absolutely cool!!! Wouldn't it have been great to be an architect/designer/engineer of Great America?

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MGA1
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Post by MGA1 » Thu Jun 26, 2008 12:19 pm

Very cool! A couple things I noticed...In Yankee Harbor, the "future" Heritage Theater never was built, that space was a landscaped berm (hiding the view of the service road) until Tidal Wave was built in that location. In Yukon Territory, what is the name on the Snowshoe/Klondike Cafe building? It looks like it says "Fun House"? In Hometown Square, the Fire House is actually there...it's labeled Ice Cream Parlor. The Trolley Barn/Ride Ops building is missing. When the park was built, the Ice Cream Parlor/Fire House building was moved a little closer to the Opera House/Grand Music Hall and the Trolley Barn/Ride Ops building was built between the Triple Play and the Fire House.

Did you take a close up photo of Carousel Plaza & the Front Gate area? Over the years, there has been a lot of reconstruction of the shop & office areas at the Front Gate areas both in Gurnee and Santa Clara. It would be great to see what the original park design called for.

One thing I remember was there was only one small restroom building planned for Carousel Plaza and it was designed to have entrance doors from outside the park gates as well as from inside the park....so, any "smart" visitor would quickly figure out they could enter the park for free by entering the bathroom from outside the park and exiting the bathroom inside the park. It was actually built this way in Gurnee...the bigger (current) bathroom in Carousel Plaza wasn't added until 1977. At that time, the Carousel Plaza entrance to the small bathroom was locked so it on was accessible from outside the park gates. Talk about a huge design oversight!
Last edited by MGA1 on Thu Jun 26, 2008 8:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"...and enjoy the rest of your day here at Marriott's GRRRREAT America"

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Post by Tech Services 1 » Thu Jun 26, 2008 6:45 pm

I just uploaded two more photos / views from the site plan-

One is of Carousel Plaza. The restrooms are still shown with dotted lines, so they had not yet been finalized.

The other photo is of the N.E. corner of County Fair. There's an interesting feature there . . .

Regarding the Heritage Theatre-
I have some 'artist's conception' drawings of the exterior and interior of the theatre. Some day I'll get around to scanning and posting those pics!

I've always thought of the trolley barn as the firehouse, but you're right- the ice cream parlor was the actual firehouse; the barn was sort of the 'garage' for the firetrucks.

Snowshoe Saloon / Klondike Cafe is labeled "Stew House" on the print. I guess they ultimately decided barbecued ribs and fried chicken would sell better than stew! :D


Guess I'd better keep the print handy for answering any more questions that come up!

-PPG
Technical Services technician
Gurnee park '81 - '86

Eegads, has it been that long?

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Post by Tech Services 1 » Thu Jun 26, 2008 6:50 pm

GreatAmerica4ever wrote:Absolutely cool!!! Wouldn't it have been great to be an architect/designer/engineer of Great America?
That would have been awesome, as would building the park.
I've always felt I was born five years too late! I wasn't old enough to work there until '79 (but I still waited until '81 to apply for a job).
Dang!
:(

-PPG
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Gurnee park '81 - '86

Eegads, has it been that long?

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MGA1
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Post by MGA1 » Thu Jun 26, 2008 8:21 pm

According to an article on Wikipedia, actual construction on the park started in 1974 and within 2 years, the entire park was built and ready to open by May 1976. That's an amazing amount of construction to complete in two years...considering Marriott had to have all the details like landscaping, costumes, merchandise, and food all ready for opening day...as well as a staff of fully trained (and always smiling) employees.

When I was in 7th grade, I remember seeing a short TV News report back in 1974 showing the park under construction. I was so excited and couldn't wait until they finished building the park. I remember seeing a lot of buildings were still in the framing stage and lots of piles of dirt...none of the pathways inside the park had been paved and none of the rides were under construction at that time.
"...and enjoy the rest of your day here at Marriott's GRRRREAT America"

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Post by MGA1 » Thu Jun 26, 2008 8:38 pm

Thanks for posting the additional close ups. Carousel Plaza was built exactly as shown on that print...the only thing that's missing was the pet kennel building. Since then, the building on either side of the entrance gates have been expanded and re-purposed. There were only 8 ticket booths (dual sided--16 sales windows) while I worked there 1976-1982. I think they've added some additional ticket booths since then.

I'm sad the Heritage Theater was never built but I'm very happy the petting zoo never was built (the Whirligig was installed in that location when the park opened). I'm also glad the Klondike Cafe never became a Stew House. I'm pretty sure it wouldn't have been a very popular menu item.
"...and enjoy the rest of your day here at Marriott's GRRRREAT America"

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Post by Tech Services 1 » Thu Jun 26, 2008 8:42 pm

MGA1 wrote:...considering Marriott had to have all the details like landscaping, . . . all ready for opening day....
Well . . . about that landscaping . . .
A funny story is told by those who were there during the grand opening-

Seems a lot of the underground wiring, plumbing, etc. wasn't quite finished by opening day. :shock:
The pressure was tremendous to get the place looking perfect for the big day . . . So, the landscapers came in and layed sod, put flowers, trees and shrubs in the ground still in their pots, and made the place look great for the weekend.

Monday morning the sod was rolled up, everything else was pulled up and set aside, and construction continued!
They successfully pulled off the illusion! :D

-PPG
Technical Services technician
Gurnee park '81 - '86

Eegads, has it been that long?

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Post by Tech Services 1 » Thu Jun 26, 2008 9:56 pm

MGA1 wrote: I'm sad the Heritage Theater was never built . . .
Yep, and when you think about it . . . Yankee Harbor was the only themed area without a theatre or show of some kind.
Or was there something in the first years? My brain is shutting down . . .

MGA1 wrote: I'm also glad the Klondike Cafe never became a Stew House. I'm pretty sure it wouldn't have been a very popular menu item.
Probably not. I love a good stew, but it sure wouldn't be my first choice on a hot summer day at the theme park.


-PPG
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Gurnee park '81 - '86

Eegads, has it been that long?

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Post by MGA1 » Fri Jun 27, 2008 11:45 am

In '76 and '77, there was a street entertainment Fife & Drum corp that wandered through Yankee Harbor. They didn't have a specific stage but a lot of the time, they performed inside the Yankee-Orleans covered bridge.
"...and enjoy the rest of your day here at Marriott's GRRRREAT America"

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Post by redfishpaw » Tue Jul 01, 2008 10:55 am

Thanks for posting this print, what a rare item. I thought the petting zoo was a bit different. Also Fidders Fling was listed as "future". The Heritage Theater was an odd shape, so I wondering what they where thinking there. Also theater Royale was called "Childrens Theater" and the Grand music Hall was called "Opera House".

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Post by RandyV » Wed Jul 09, 2008 8:02 pm

Amazing foresight you had to duplicate that print. What an amazing piece of history. Thanks for taking the time to scan & post!

Wasn't the petting zoo ultimately located somewhere near the Turn of the Century (like, under or near the lift hill)?

I love the fact that Skee Ball and Pizza Luigi were on the place that long ago.

I also like the marking for the "DodgeEm ?????" in Orleans Place.

Question: At the entrance walkway from Carousel Plaza to Orleans Place, does the label say "waterway" ? I don't recall there being any water way there?
Randy V.
Gurnee will always be my home park...

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Post by Tech Services 1 » Wed Jul 09, 2008 9:55 pm

RandyV wrote: Question: At the entrance walkway from Carousel Plaza to Orleans Place, does the label say "waterway" ? I don't recall there being any water way there?
It's hard to read, but it says "Gateway #251". If you look at the opposite gate to Hometown, it's a lot clearer and says "Gateway #153".

Glad you like the pics!

-PPG
Technical Services technician
Gurnee park '81 - '86

Eegads, has it been that long?

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Post by RLAiello » Sun Jul 13, 2008 5:00 pm

Back when Steven posted the Park Model photos, he posted this photo that asked the question what this building was meant to be. Looks like we got the answer from this Site Plan!

http://www.greatamericaparks.com/images ... 116&pos=11
Rick Aiello
SFGAm Employee 1988-1999

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