Wednesday, August 09, 2006

An Interview with Mike Dee

*Sitting down in the Power 102 prep room after the show, Mike Dee grabs the microphone and in typical radio entertainment fashion, proceeds to mock traffic updates.

Mike Dee: Mike Dee right here with your traffic and weather on the nines. Now back to you in the studio.

Archivist: We are in the studio.

Mike Dee: Oh. Now back to us.

Archivist: I just want to thank you for giving me a chance to interview you, you've had somewhat of an interest of the park and wanted to talk a little about your memories of the park.

Mike Dee: (inaudible grunt)

Archivist: First question -- How old were you when you first visited Magic Landing?

Mike Dee: (deep breath) You would have to ask that, I guess I would have to say... 7th grade, what's that, about 13?

A: Yeah, that sounds about right for a typical middle schooler. Did you attend the opening ceremony?

MD: You know what? I did go the opening weekend.

A: But not July 4th itself?

MD: No, it was the weekend of, but not that first day.

A: What was your favorite ride at the park?

MD: (adjusting himself in his seat) Um, you know there was one called the Enterprise. You know which one that was, it was those cars that you would sit in a train in a circle and after a certain amount of speed they'd flip onto their side from inertia and the whole ride would flip up and then turned different directions.

A: Yeah.

MD: It was that and then the Rainbow.

A: Do you remember where the Enterprise used to be?

MD: You know what, the Enterprise was on the very far left hand side of the park as you enter the park, which was the only thing on that side of the park until they built the Wildcat (rollercoaster) cause they opened it up for a while before they built the rollercoaster.

A: Do you remember the snacks and food served there?

MD: Yeah, they had the standard funnel cakes & cotton candy, and each of the stands had names on them cause it was supposed to look like a little town, but I don't remember any of the names. I know that they had whatever generic label type of candy there was at the time.

A: What do you remember the most about the park?

MD: You know what was impressive was when you were driving up from a couple of miles away you could see the Ferris wheel. Cause I know back then it was supposed to be like the biggest Ferris wheel in Texas when it first opened?

A: (agrees inaudibly)

MD: You could see that thing from pretty darn far away. Also, as you would enter, the biggest difference between Magic Landing and El Paso's other amusement park Western Playland was Western Playland had asphalt and concrete & what not, but at Magic Landing they had used cobble stone & brick on the streets as you entered, and that was as close as an El Pasoan was going to get to Disney Land.

A: Yeah, I remember that too. Do you remember the accident that happened on the Wildcat?

MD: You know what, my family and I were down the street from the park when it happened, cause we saw the Medivac helicopter fly in because it flew right over us and they had blocked off part of the street in anticipation that they were going to land on the street or parking lot. They had stopped traffic and we were sitting in the traffic for quite a while. We watched the helicopter land and obviously didn't know what was going on, we weren't in the park, but we were obviously held up for quite a while. It wasn't until later on the news that we learned what happened.

A: Were you on your way to the park that day?

MD: No, we just happened to be heading in that direction cause we have family that lived out past the park heading east on Interstate 10.

A: What is your best memory of Magic Landing?

MD: Best memory of the park. (adjusts his UT Austin ball cap) I remember the stupid little things around the park like how they used to have drinks in cedar coolers, and the drinks were shaped in the form of the juices they had. Like if the juice was grape, it was a grape container, or if it was orange, it was in an orange shaped container, and we would sit there in lines forever and drink the juice. I think the biggest anticipation of the park was when the rollercoaster was about to open, cause not a lot of people got the chance to ride it because shortly after the accident took place. So I think that's why the park has the legacy it does now, cause there's the big scary rollercoaster that people saw get built, then couldn't ride because of the accident and it became the biggest El Paso urban myth of the scary rollercoaster that was shortly open then [they] had to tear it down.

A: If you had the chance to go back into the park, what would you want to do -- in the park as it stands right now?

MD: As it stands right now?

A: Yeah.

MD: I'd go in there with a tool box and try to unbolt something to take home.

(Mike Dee & Archivist laughing together)

MD: But that's just because a bunch of the objects in Magic Landing were from another park that used to stand in El Paso called Castle Park Arcade. A bunch of the props & things from the golf course were bought by Magic Landing, so it's like I lost one really cool park that was by my house on the east side (Castle Park), they had taken all of the arcade's props to Magic Landing and I would go over there and reminisce. So when Magic Landing closed it was like a double whammy for me cause then you lost two things. So I think I'd like to take something that was originally from Castle Park that was adopted by Magic Landing.

A: (laughing) Now you know stealing is wrong, right?

MD: Yeah, but I encourage it (laughs).

A: If you ever had the chance to talk to the owners of the park what would you say, what would you ask them?

MD: I'd be really curious to know how they were able to hold on to the park just fenced up and not converted to anything else. I don't understand business wise -- I mean I can see how it can be a big tax write off, but I think that you can make so much more money with the way the facility was set up, even if they weren't able to get insurance as an amusement park, it could have been set up as a big venue for company parties or for concerts even. There's so much other stuff that they could have done with that place, even if insurance wasn't going to cover them otherwise.

A: Last question I'll ask... Do you remember the jingle?

MD: (straining to remember it and failing) Aaaah, no. Do you?

A: Yes, but just the last half of it. I remember it went something like "The ride of your life, at Magic Landing, de-de DE-dum De-dum -dum". I remember that was the end of the jingle. I actually have a couple of VHS tapes in my attic from back in the day when I would record Friday Night Videos and Saturday Night Videos, and on some of those tapes I remember seeing the commercial advertisements for Magic Landing. IM in the process of trying to figure out which of the 100 tapes it was in so I can upload the video.

Mike Dee, from Power 102, I appreciate you taking time from your work schedule to answer some questions and share your memories about the park.

Mike Dee: Thanks, it was fun!


Anonymous Dezzi said...

Did you ever get to downlad that jingle? i would very much like to hear it!! ^_^

4/12/2007 10:50 PM  

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