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Great Old Amusement Parks

Airs Tuesday, July 15, 2014 at 8 p.m. on KPBS TV

The Wonder Wheel at Coney Island. Long before giant theme parks and computer-...

Credit: WQED Pittsburgh

Above: The Wonder Wheel at Coney Island. Long before giant theme parks and computer-controlled thrill rides, America had lots of charming and beautiful amusement parks like Coney Island in New York.

Long before the days of giant theme parks, the United States had many amusement parks where families gathered for a cool escape on a hot summer day. "Great Old Amusement Parks" celebrates these pre-Disney parks, visiting Playland in Rye, New York; Holiday World in Santa Claus, Indiana; and California's Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, where vacationers can still reach for the brass ring on the merry-go-round.

The one-hour special, produced by WQED Pittsburgh, takes you on old wooden roller coasters, vintage bumper cars and many other cool classic rides. We look at some amusing history and discover what's special about these amazing parks that bring people together and keep them coming back. Rick Sebak narrates.

During the special, award-winning producer Rick Sebak mixes historical footage, old postcards, vintage music and new video that was shot from California to Connecticut, from Chattanooga to Altoona to create his trademark "scrapbook documentary."

Sebak takes viewers across the country to check out the quirky joys of some of these parks. We hop on fun old rides and find out how these places have changed over the years and how they've remained the same. We celebrate these wooden and mechanical old getaways and the communities that support them.

This program originally aired in 2010.

Rick Sebak is on Facebook, and check out Rick's blog.

Great Old Amusement Parks Preview

Producer-narrator Rick Sebak mixes vintage stills and clips with new video for this tour of old-fashioned American amusement parks. Among them: Playland in Rye, New York, Kennywood Park in Pittsburgh, and the California's Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.

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