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Start Of An Era

Bill Tracy began his journey in the dark ride industry by being contracted as a freelance artist for already-established dark ride manufacturers, such as the famous Pretzel Amusement Ride Co. Early on, Bill developed the façade and some stunts for Pretzel-built rides, such as the Orient Express at Million Dollar Pier in Atlantic City, New Jersey, before deciding to venture out on his own. After contracting work with Pretzel and learning about the dark ride industry, Bill decided to take control of the “dark side” of the amusement park industry by starting his own company designing and building dark rides. Now that he was a direct competitor to Pretzel, the company that used to hire him, he knew that he had to offer something new and exciting that the industry had never seen before and push the creativity and realism of dark rides to a new level.

Pretzel and Tracy’s joint venture Orient Express at
Million Dollar Pier in Atlantic City, NJ.

During his time working for Pretzel, he was also exposed to other freelance artists, such as Howard Hewlitt, and was immediately inspired. It is rumored that Howard Hewlitt is the artist who originally designed the Haunted House façade, which Bill often used and made famous. The Haunted House façade usually incorporated a roofline with multiple uneven peaks, crooked chimneys, uneven clapboard, crooked windows with shutters, and usually an enormous vampire bat. Whether or not Bill used Howard's idea, or perfected it, is of no significance. Every artist is influenced in some way or another by other artists and they use each others ideas as foundations to build off of. Bill Tracy had found his niche and the final phase of his illustrious professional career was now underway.

Tracy’s Haunted House at defunct West View Park in
Pittsburgh, PA.

Part VI - Outdoor Dimensional Display Co., Inc. >
< Part IV - Transition

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