Last day for the Sandstorm and RIP to theme park favorites


Eastern Airlines' If You Could Fly at Walt Disney World's Tomorrowland — with the easy-listening-stuck-in-your-head-all-day-theme-song "If You Had Wings" playing during a super low-tech simulation travel adventure ride. It was groovy with a Mad Men, Jetsons, '60s-futuristic aesthetic.

Aquatarium in St. Pete Beach (I was blissfully oblivious to dolphin-training conditions as a child.)

Tiki Gardens, a tropical garden park with cute spider monkeys, in Indian Shores.

Waterslide World, in the Pinellas Park/Largo area. It pre-dated Adventure Island by a few years, and its faux-stone plaster was kind of bumpy (hence the rubber sliding mats).

Kapok Tree, Clearwater, home of the city's oldest largest oak tree. The building was converted into a music store — Guitar Center, right? [No, Sam Ash; thanks, Jason Atheney.] It was on McMullen-Booth Road, near Ruth Eckerd Hall. Went there for my junior prom.
And, of course, that erstwhile inverted-pyramid attraction known as the Pier. It was never that exciting, but it had special events, a lovely view and was somewhere to take out-of-town visitors.

Nowadays young people require more technology and less imagination to get excited, and we have to accept that the sentimental, low-frills favorites of our childhood — like the swirly orbiter ride Sandstorm, at Busch Gardens Tampa — eventually bite the dust.

Located in the Timbuktu area of the park, the Sandstorm opened in December 1979. Following the Sandstorm’s departure, Busch Gardens Tampa will announce future plans for Timbuktu, a park spokesperson says.

Robert Niles of the Theme Park Insider described the Sandstorm as as "an attraction that has a rotating base with six arms attached to it, with three cars attached to the end of each arm. Each car can seat two people, making for a total of 36 passengers per ride. When the ride starts the base rises and stars to rotate. As the base rotates, each arm rotates its set of three cars at the same time. Also as the base is rising, the arms fan outwards so as the cars are spinning they are angled, so the riders are turning and going up and down, all at the same time. The ride itself lasts for about 2-3 minutes."

It wasn't much different than the spinning contraptions we ride at carnivals, but the ride is at so many carnivals 'cause it's breezy, dizzy fun.

While we're at it, let's pay tribute to some other recreation/theme park favorites of the past — bygone treasures that made up in charm what they lacked in bells and whistles:

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