1002499_10200921071368207_473207667_nThe Mystery of the Wild Mouse Roller Coaster

Exploring the Origins of a Baton Rouge Urban Legend

I was in 5th grade when I saw it for the first time.  It was the evening in the park. Colorful lights illuminated the rest of the rides and games, but it sat in the dark in the corner gradually being swallowed by weeds.  It was a large cube of grey metal that resembled a cage.  The faded words Wild Mouse marked the entryway.  My friend, Angie Rybolt walked up beside me and said, “You know it killed people.  That’s why they shut it down.”

The rumors surrounding the closure of the Wild Mouse Roller Coaster at Fun Fair Park in the late 1980’s were only rivaled only by the fantastic stories about satanic cults running wild at night on Hoo Shoo Too Road.  Over the next few years, I heard the Wild Mouse was responsible for multiple decapitations, the demise of its repairman, broken bones, and even the death of Fun Fair’s beloved mascot Candi the Chimpanzee.  All of these tales have proven to be false. With the exception of two girls who sustained minor injuries in the late 1970’s while riding the coaster together; there is no documentation to suggest the Mouse was a murderer of children and primates.

Franz Mack invented the Wild Mouse AKA Mad Mouse AKA Crazy Mouse type of roller coaster in the early 1960’s.  This small coaster was designed so that the cars were much wider than the tracks.  It made tight flat turns that gave the rider a feeling that they were hanging off the side of the track and created the illusion that the cars might plunge to their doom with every change of direction.  Amusement park operators liked Wild Mouse rides because they were economical and compact.  However as larger steel coasters came into vogue, the popularity of the Mouse declined and by the 1990’s they were almost extinct.

So how did the Wild Mouse go from a beloved childhood attraction to a death machine? The answer is a simple one—exaggeration. By the time, folks had spun a yarn about the two girls who sustained minor injuries; they had become headless ghosts who roamed the park. In 1985, a maintenance worker at a church fair in Baton Rouge was struck and killed by a rollercoaster he was installing, but this happened miles away from the site of the Mouse.  In the early 1980’s a boy was thrown from the Wild Mouse at Pontchartrain Beach in New Orleans. He fell 25 feet and suffered a head injury. These unrelated incidents all melted together and shaped the mythology of the lonely coaster at the back of the park.

In the end, the explanation behind the Mouse’s closure was quite simple: by the late 1980’s, it needed major repairs and the owners were contemplating moving the park.  They decided to temporarily shutter the doors to the Mouse, and in 1999, Fun Fair Park finally did close. Owner Sam Haynes moved Candi the Chimpanzee and many of the rides out to Highland Road and opened a new park called Dixie Landin’ by Blue Bayou Water Park. The family still has the Wild Mouse in storage and might refurbish it one day.  I hope they do.  Then I will finally be able to take that wobbly yet harrowing ride that fascinated me 25 years ago.

Details….

Blue Bayou Water Park & Dixie Landin’

http://www.bluebayou.com

Writer’s Note: While we can’t ride the Wild Mouse, there is a ride called the Wild Chipmunk in Lakeside Colorado.  Here is a link to the point of view video that showcases the coaster. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I34A7fLSYFg  

Advertisements