The World of Sid and Marty Krofft Oral History #1

Sid and Marty Krofft produced a number of popular kids television shows in the 60s and 70s, including H.R. Pufnstuf and Land of the Lost.  In 1976 they had the brilliant idea to build the world’s first entirely indoor amusement park and selected the Omni complex in Atlanta as the location.

The World of Sid and Marty Krofft was a total flop and closed in less than six months.  Part of the reason was that Atlanta’s population was shifting towards the suburbs and away from the decaying downtown, and, even though the World of Krofft was an impressive spectacle, many families didn’t want to make the trek into town to experience it.  Eleven years later Ted Turner bought the Omni complex and transformed it into the CNN Center.  Rumor has it that, even as late as a few years ago, CNN employees found Krofft costumes and drawings in the nooks and crannies of the building.

Not that many people currently living in Atlanta can boast that they actually visited The World of Sid and Marty Krofft, so I’ve decided to launch a completely unwieldy project:  I want to do oral histories with every single person who actually went.  I figure I’ll complete this project in 2042.

My first World of Sid and Marty Krofft oral history subject is Jamey Propst.  Jamey was a close friend of my dad and he’s also a fine actor.  He took his family to The World of Sid and Marty Krofft and, in this segment, shares his memories of this bizarre and shortlived place.

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15 Responses to “The World of Sid and Marty Krofft Oral History #1”

  1. Terry Kearns Says:

    I didn’t understand then and don’t now. The TV show? Sid and Marty must have been great salesmen.

    But the OMNI was quite an attraction and felt safe. I ice skated there, there were theaters. Riches and Davisons were open. MARTA construction hadn’t ripped up downtown. That’s where you’d take our kids to the circus, but not to Sid and Marty Crofts.

  2. Jim Says:

    Hi! Long time reader, first time commenter.

    I went to The World of Sid and Marty Krofft (TWSMK) as a five year-old. My mother’s best friend in high school moved to Melborne, FL sometime in the late 1960s, and she and her son came up to Atlanta for the express purpose of visiting the park.

    I too remember when the area around the Omni was a dump. Sketchy garages, nothing open past 5pm, etc. It was a scary place as a kid, and it didn’t get better until Turner bought the complex and ran the hoods off.

    I don’t remember much about the park itself. I certainly remember the escalator (it’s still there, right?). I remember once you got to the top, there was a guy on stilts (not a mime) and he ran some kind of “circus show” (there was a sword swallower there went I went, and a couple of other performers I can’t remember).

    The level underneath that had the Crystal Carousel, and the level underneath that had the pinball ride (the guy you interviewed doesn’t seem to get the the “car” was supposed to be a pinball).

    That’s all I really remember of the park – other than getting one of those giant suckers I treasured for months before actually eating. As I recall, there really just wasn’t a lot there – although it took up a huge amount of space, there were really only 3-4 rides of note at TWSMK.

    I have a picture of me and my mom on the Crystal Carousel (which was somewhat unique in that it didn’t have a “top”, like most carousels). I have absolutely NO IDEA where it is though. Given my present situation, it could be in a box in Charlotte, Suwanee, or Ft. Lauderdale. I’ll look for it this weekend if I have time, though.

    Love the site! Keep up the good work!

  3. Deanna Says:

    My Grandmother took me twice when I was seven. I mostly remember the pinball ride. I still maintain it was the greatest experience of my life! :) (It’s a good thing the ride’s long-gone so I don’t have to be disappointed by the reality of it as an adult. Memories are always much better than reality.)

    Ironically, I now work at CNN Center on 7 North. My non-scientific research has concluded that I’m working just down the hall from where the pinball ride sat.

  4. Deanna Says:

    Ooh! Ooh! Ooh! I almost forgot to share this. I was wandering around the sticks of CNN Center the other day and found a architectural model of the building and hotel where it actually has the amusement park represented with a little carousel and everything. VERY cool!

  5. Melody Says:

    I went to the park when I was 6 years old. I still have the amusement park map and a very cool and colorfol postcard. I’m sure they will make their way onto eBay soon! I loved the Carousel and the huge escalator. I don’t remember much else!

  6. Jeannie Weller Cooper Says:

    I’m not sure why I never visited the actual WSMK- I “did” every other park of the sort several times over. It seems in my memories that it wasn’t actually open very long. I, like a previous poster, went ice skating there fairly often in the mid ’70s when a friend’s mom was at Georgia State. I, too, always looked up at the escalator and wondered what was up there. Seems like I went up the steps one time as far as I could go without getting caught? Loved the Banana Splits when I was a small kiddo. Loved them during their brief tenure at Six Flags, as well. Fantastic blog; loved the Catledge >actualite<.

  7. Eric Frampton Says:

    I was there! I don’t remember much except the huge escalator (of course), and I vaguely remember riding around in the pinball.

    Then, I remember my folks getting a postcard in the mail some weeks later saying “please come back and visit us again”… t’was not to be.

    Anybody remember that there was an ice skating rink on the ground floor of the Omni at that time? And Colony Square, too.

  8. Nancie Barnett Says:

    My father, Saul Barnett represented Sid and Marty Croft and was directly involved in the creation of the short lived park. He was there on opening day. I remember my dad talking about the project and how beautiful the crystal Carousel looked.

  9. don nadeau Says:

    What happened to the Crystal Carosel? Does anyone know where it is? Is it in boxes or is it being used somewhere?

  10. Rita Says:

    I had the pleasure to visit the World just before my 10th birthday. I was elated! I actually met Billy Barty that day, was enthralled by the spider lady, and of course the carousel. The pinball ride was fantastic, although it did break down a time or two. I dearly loved Krofft shows (still do) and now, at 46, I still remember my visit fondly.

  11. Erin Tite Says:

    I remember the World of Sid and Marty Croft! I went as a child- maybe 6…… It was one of those memorable times I will never forget! I remember the escalator when you first came inside and all the people in costumes. The Pinball ride was fabulous. It was like you were actually inside the pinball game. My father loved pinball so it was so special riding with him. The sound effects were incredible! HR Puff N Stuff (not sure of the spelling) was my favorite show! The carousel was spectacular! I’m not sure about the rest of the park- but that is what I remember. I know we have tons of pictures!

  12. Lynne D. Norman Says:

    I worked there. I was hired in early May and worked on the opening evening of the park. Kate Smith sang, and Earnest Borgnine attended — along with many other celebrities.

  13. Patti Says:

    I went with a few friends as a teenager. The ice skating rink was near the humongous escalator. It was all out in the open and when you looked up you could see part of the park on the top floor. I remember the pinball ride and the Crystal carousel, which was cool. But we didn’t stay as the puppets were kind of creepy. We ended our night at Burt’s Place, which was very crowded.

  14. PM Says:

    We moved to Atlanta in 1977 or so and I remember going down to the Omni, as we called it, quite often. The theme park was already closed by then but the ice rink was still operating. We used to watch the Zamboni do its thing -yes, they had one there and another one across the street where the Flames used to play. We got to skate at the Omni once. The skates hurt. A lot. Never wanted to skate again.

    Later on, we saw History of the World Part 1 in the theater but it was ruined by the crowd laughing so much at one joke that you could not hear the next two or three jokes. Ah well.

    Anyway, I remember other things about the Omni, like the little magic store on one of the middle levels where my brother and I would often spend our meager allowance on some goofy trick. There was a toy store with magnetic wooden trains we could never afford, so my mom used to take us there to just play with them. They had a lot of Legos too. One Christmas, she bought me a set of two or three cars and some track and a bucket of Legos from that store. I found out later she spent too much on it. But it was a good Christmas.

    The Omni had these soaring walkways and paths through what must have been closed shop fronts or something. It was all glass and stone and gleaming. We kids used to love wandering, finding strange stairs and elevators. And somewhere on one of those walkways there was a talking Coke machine. You walked up and it started singing a jingle. It was probably just a motion sensor and a tape player but that thing enthralled me.

    There used to be a man down there with a sort of radio control robot as well. A cheap Star Wars R2D2 knockoff. But it looked impressive if you didn’t concentrate too much.

    We moved to the suburbs around 1979 or so and started hanging out at Lenox instead. This was when they had Time Out arcade and the motion ride downstairs in the back. It may be the motion ride that is now out at Sugarloaf Mills. Looks the same anyway.

    Have not been back to the Omni since the ice rink was still open so I am sure most of it has changed by now.

  15. rexbear Says:

    I got to visit the World of Sid and Marty Kroft 3 times while it was up and alive. The first was when they first opened! It was wonderful and magical. From first stepping off the excalator to the sky and the magic dust the little mime girl let fall on my head (at the time mimes were not so despised) to the last trip down and out to the parking lot, it was amazing! The crystal carousel left such and impression on me that I am vexed to this day to know it’s fate. I sat for a couple of hours toward the end of our stay and just watched the light play on all the animals and the magic rays sparkle from the carousel as it turned on that cushion of air! Like on a cloud. Children and adults would come and go, yet the illusion of the crystal creatures would stay. This was long before laser lights and those specialty leds and special effects. This was a true creation of art. Too bad it didn’t photograph well. But in the sunlight it was magical. The pinball machine ride was broke down the first two times I went, so I didn’t get to ride it till just before the park closed. As an adult it was a bit slow for me, but I could see where the child would love it and child I had become while in ‘the world”! Wonder whatever happened to the carousel. anyone?

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