Pennsylvania's Picnic Groves and Trolley Parks (PAGE 6 OF 8)
by Phil Gould
: Added February 2013
Del Grossos

Starting life as a farm from 1907 owner Fred Bland let a carnival operator set up their rides for the summer season. This evolved into a more permanent park alongside the main road in Tipton, a northern suburb of Altoona. (It is probably just over 10 miles from Lakemont Park in Altoona). Restaurateur Fred DelGrosso purchased the small park in autumn 1946 and spent two decades upgrading the venture. The park is as famous for its food as it is for the rides on offer.

If I thought that Lakemont was deserted Del Grossos was exactly the opposite. It was packed out. I parked my car by the side of the waterpark - these always seem very popular in the States - and walked over a bridge crossing the highway to the main amusement park.

Some of the rides were built up at the front of the park so were clearly visible from the highway while others were hidden among the wooded picnic groves. The Kids Kingdom is situated to the front of the park and you walk through a couple of mock castle turrets to find rides that include a children's version of the turtle chase and a Herschell boat ride.

Walking along the midway you come to the Antique Carousel which was bought in 1924 from Allan Herschell and features 36 hand carved horses complete with a Wurlitzer band organ.   

Moving into the shaded areas I found the Space Odyssey. This was a Caterpillar ride that was purchased from Lakemont Park in 1970 and is now enclosed inside a building. While it did not have a canopy any more there was a multi coloured light show that operated during the ride sequence. Not a very fast ride but interesting from an historical point of view. Sadly after I had visited it turned out to be the last year of operation for the ride. Other more recent arrivals that were of interest because of their rarity in the UK were the Casino, a Satellite ride that arrived at Del Grossos in 1992 and the Flying Bobs which appeared two years later. This was replaced in 2012 by an updated version called Swing Buggy. In 1995 a Super Spiral (Round Up) made its debut. I saw these rides at a couple of parks during my trip and they were larger in size than the ones that travel in this country.  

As I was only making a flying visit I didn't have time to sample any of the famous food on offer. But it was interesting to see a family amusement park that had managed to reinvent itself while retaining some of its older attractions. Apparently their are plans afoot to expand the amusement park these include getting their Ferris Wheel out of storage and even possibly building a wooden roller coaster.


Approaching Del Grosso across the highway bridge. Picture: Phil Gould

The Satellite ride at Del Grosso. Picture: Phil Gould


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