Frederick Thompson and Elmer "Skip" Dundy
The third, and most important force at work was the team of Frederick Thompson and Elmer "Skip" Dundy, pictured above, who created a popular show entitled A TRIP TO THE MOON for a fair, the 1901 BUFFALO EXPOSITION.
A Trip To The Moon
The cyclorama show transported guests in a flying boat to the moon, where moon maidens passed out green cheese. One impressed tourist at the fair was STEEPLECHASE PARK owner George Tilyou, who made a deal with Thompson and Dundy to bring A TRIP TO THE MOON to his park after the fair ended. The attraction was moved and operated at Steeplechase for one season, 1902. This was the stormy summer (70 days rain in 3 months) that was hurting SEA LION PARK so badly, but STEEPLECHASE PARK weathered the storm, thanks to the popularity of A TRIP TO THE MOON. Then Tilyou tried to renegotiate a contract with Thomson and Dundy that gave him more of the "Moon" profits and them less. They refused, and approached SEA LION PARK owner Captain Paul Boyton with an offer to take over his beleagered park. A twenty five year lease was signed, and the new LUNA PARK that Thompson and Dundy concieved was a complete transformation of SEA LION PARK, although a few key elements of the first park were retained, such as the popuar SHOOT THE CHUTES boat ride. The 40 performing sea lions, however, were evicted. The redesign and reconstruction took place during a single off-season, so LUNA PARK debuted just a year later, in summer 1903. The new park was an ornate fantasyland that blended many exotic architectural styles that exploded into a phantasmagorical forest of towers and minarets, all covered with thousands of lights that made LUNA PARK an incomparable sight at night. This was long before the glitz of Las Vegas and the public had never seen anything like it before. It was a smash success, drawing millions of tourists.
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