The following is a walk-through tour of the Phantasmagoria as it appeared in February of 2006 during the first stages of the ride's disassembly. (Note: all images can be viewed larger if you click them.)
Approaching the naked exterior of the dark ride.
Here's a reminder of the way it appeared in 2001
Step across the turnstile for a final trip through the Phantasmagoria.
This panel controls the whole thing. Every creep inside could be silenced with the push of a button.
This was the last remnant of the original exterior.
The ascent into darkness begins with this series of three bang doors. Right away the rider's senses are fooled. By the glow of the blacklights, the triple circles almost appear to be painted on a single door. Originally, this was the location of a different version of the trick called Diminishing Squares. It was a similar illusion but the doors turned out to be too heavy and slammed too hard so they were replaced.
This sign was followed by a large loudspeaker at the rider's "lap level" which blared vicious dog noises. The audio ceased to function early in the ride's history which caused latter day patrons to believe the sign was merely intended as a psych out. (Photo by Marsha Sites, 2001)
Once the site of a dip in the track and a grim reaper that hung from the ceiling, this lengthy dark corridor became quite popular with vandals. Each year (especially during the final weekend of the Tulsa State Fair) this area got ransacked by deviant patrons. At the time of our tour, wood patches from previous repairs had been removed revealing a long history of damage. In 2005 additional scenery (skulls, cobwebs, etc.) was added to this stretch.
This is a peephole that enabled staff to monitor patrons without being seen. The Bell's team was able to travel between any two points of the ride within moments thanks to a series of secret passages. (How perfect is that? A dark ride with secret passages!)
Two points of interest approach: ahead is a graveyard and to the left is the overlook of Skull Pond.
Here we look down upon Skull Pond and its green tinted water. The verdant pool was frozen solid on the day of our visit.
Any worthwhile haunted house must include a graveyard.
Here's a glimpse of the skeleton unhindered by the protective wire grid.
The backdrop is a rather beautiful rendering of a classic foreboding mountainside.
The next trick is a buzzard relaxing in his nest as he picks clean the bones of his latest victim.
In the ride's first years of operation a trick called the Singing Skulls was located across from the buzzard. The skulls were made of papier-mache and featured animatronic mouths.
Reminiscent of the era the ride was created, the psychedelic striped room remains trippy.
Next we find a ghostly date awaiting her caller. The frilly curtains and rotten lingerie seem to be part of the brothel motif hinted at on the ride's facade. Typically her shawl covered her body, but Buddy suspected that this immodest pose was the result of maintenance worker shenanigans. "You have to have a sense of humor to work at a place like this." He explained.
This "action" photo of the ghoulish gal was shot when the ride was operational. (Photo by Marsha Sites, 2001)
I mentioned secret passageways earlier, well this is one of them. Employees referred to this area as the "Kings Chamber." This perch provided easy access to both levels of the building (note the ladder to the first floor).
As we reach the halfway point we see where riders originally emerged into the outdoors for a breath of fresh air and a second dip in the tracks. The riders’ reaction to this public dip provided some entertainment for folks who were still waiting in line. When the dip was removed (due to people's belongings constantly flying out of the cars and blocking the track) this stretch was enclosed.
To the right we find a cutout that originally sported a decorative window containing multi-colored lights (the one on the right in the photo below).
Front and back views of the ride's original Wacky windows. The one on the left hung near the entrance.
(photo courtesy of Kyle J. Wood)
In 2005 Kyle J. Wood added a "witches head" to the opening.
(photo courtesy of Kyle J. Wood)
Here we have yet another secret panel that allows access to a maintenance area on the first floor which was known among employees as the "Queen's Chamber."
A rarely seen resident dwells high above the beams.
Purchased at Wal-Mart in 2004, this owl was first placed above the dock where it failed to scare away the pigeons that were "crapping on the cars." Kyle J. Wood painted it up and it eventually wound up in the mine shaft "where the kids couldn't reach it."
Now it's another encounter with Skull Pond. This time riders got a close-up view. At the water's edge there are intentionally loose boards to create a racket as cars passed over.
While crossing Skull Pond, if you look up over your shoulder you can see an earlier stretch of the track.
Chances are, while patrons were busy studying Skull Pond they failed to notice another hidden door on the right. This was the entrance to the secret Phantasmagoria Workshop!
Inside the workshop we find a rat and a buzzard on the operating table.
On the opposite wall hangs a grim reaper who will eternally await repair. He was originally suspended above the first dip in the long corridor.
Here's another view of this grizzly customer.
This is a shot of him back when he was in active duty. Now you know why they called it the PhantasmaGOREia. (Photo by Marsha Sites, 2001)
On the floor we spot the original swirling eyes from the facade.
A buzzard recuperates from a neck injury.
In the back of the workshop we can see the original flower display that once hung outside above the external dip. The heads that line the wall were from an Arabian themed ride.
This is the coupon requirement notice that used to hang in front of the queue. Here you see that 5 coupons were required to board.
However, during the off-season the sign was simply turned around to reveal a cost of only 2 coupons.
Back on the track and around the next corner we approach a seven-foot lunging rat.
Here's a rare look at the rat unhindered by protective wire mesh.
This shingled corner was once home to a shrouded skeleton lady...
Here's how she looked circa 2004
...we found her packed up and looking scarier than ever.
Finally we come upon the most popular trick in the house, the oncoming bus. The phantom driver (originally a skeleton, more recently a skeleton with a hockey mask) had already been removed at the time of this photo. The gag was made from a real city bus, and it was the replacement for a lackluster "tilted room" where water appeared to flow uphill. As riders encountered the bus, a blaring horn would sound. No matter how familiar visitors were with the ride, this stunt rarely failed to frighten.
From this angle we can see yet another hidden passage. This is the ladder leading up to the "King's Chamber."
The 12 volt track takes another disorienting turn into the mirrored hallway.
Hanging out in the corner is the packed up half-naked, half-rotten lady. Always keeping with the times- she was nude in the 70s, bikini-clad coming out of the 90s, and she wore a thong in 2006.
Here's how she looked in 2004. (photo courtesy of Kyle J. Wood)
The dayglo tunnel was sure to blast your mind just in case it hadn't been blasted prior.
Be careful, I think that's a vortex.
This was the original spinning wheel, which was smaller than the replacement. (photo courtesy of Kyle J. Wood)
Back when he had a head, this fellow used to hang from a noose at the end of the mirrored hall...
As bats often do, these bats hung in the cave.
The cave is the final trick and it used to be home an uphill-running water illusion as well as a water curtain that threatened to soak passengers, but shut off just in time of course. The trick was plagued with problems (I'm guessing some folks got accidentally soaked) and so the water was removed relatively early on.
The sun sets as we venture back into reality.