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Seattle as it Will Never Be: Remembering Pompeii on Eliott Bay…and the Fun Forest


This post is based on one of my husband’s memories. A tongue-in-cheek film called Pompeii on Eliott Bay, which aired on King 5 in 1974 as well as my own memories of the Seattle Center Fun Forest. Yes, the two do meet up somehow.

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Pompeii on Eliott Bay?

Our beloved Mount Rainier is, of course, a volcano — one that National Geographic suggested may be one of the most dangerous in the United States. If and when it does erupt, one thing that far-future archaeologists sorting through the rubble of our ancient civilization will never find are the remains of the collection of vertigo-causing torture devices otherwise known as the Seattle Fun Forest.

One of my husband’s memories of Seattle gone by was of a film called Pompeii on Eliott Bay, which followed archaeologists analyzing artifacts of a civilization destroyed by an eruption of the mountain formerly known as Tahoma. The film aired on KING 5 in 1974.

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One find of these future archaeologists were these…instruments — which seemed to have a type of cage which would spin the user dangerously around. Their interpretation: torture devices meant to punish unruly children!

The film was made by Ed Tis, the same filmmaker known for having motorcycles and frogs call out for a particular brand of local beer in well-known commercials.

A few years ago, I contacted the archives at King 5 to see if the film was available, and I found that I could purchase the DVD for $75. I failed to buy it as a Christmas gift for my spouse that year — a thing I regret. The last time I checked, King 5 was moving/digitizing their archives, and I was told it was in storage. I’d need to wait at least a year and a half or so if I wanted to get my hands on a copy. While it seems everything is available online now — this film is not.

Remembering the Seattle Center Fun Forest

The Seattle Center Fun Forest consisted of a bunch of amusement park rides, carnival games, and an arcade near the Armory at the Seattle Center. (Another fun fact: when I was growing up the Armory — the correct name for it — was called the “Food Circus.” It took me a long time to recondition myself.)

The Fun Forest was a relic of the 1962 World’s Fair, of course, and was closed in 2009 — I think in the effort to make the Center more cultural and upscale and educational. But a bit of fun was lost in the process. But, anyway, as a teenager, it was the perfect hangout on a Summer’s day and, fortunately, was right on the bus line from my house.

The rides weren’t all that scary — the rollercoaster — which I can remember being called the Mad Mouse — was only terrifying until I became a certain age. A date night with my future spouse involved dinner and rides — and the Octopus proved to be nausea rather than fear-inducing (for him.)

I have mixed feelings about the disappearance of our carnival rides. Both the Fun Forest and the rides at Woodland Park Zoo are linked with childhood memories, and thinking about them is a nostalgia-inducing exercise. There is nothing like them in Seattle any longer unless you count an occasional pop-up carnival.

But I’m also glad the zoo has improved to be a better habitat for its animals and an educational facility vs. an amusement park. The Seattle Center is less tacky for its loss of the Fun Forest…but also a little less fun.

Here’s a playlist for some videos people posted on YouTube of the actual Fun Forest:

I’m glad they caught these. I was too busy playing Pac-Man, slipping Slurpees, and going on the Matterhorn.

This post is from our page with things about Seattle in days gone by (and nearby areas.) You can visit that page or submit your own memory as a post here.

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Cheryl lives in the small Norwegian-esque town of Poulsbo, WA with her spouse, one of two young adult daughters, an old mutt, and a Siamese cat. She was an Occupational Therapist, but she'd rather be writing -- right now, she's blogging on this and a couple of other sites and does the occasional small web design project for a client. She's trying to un-couch-potato herself again.
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