I asked Rich to describe the concept for Zig Zag Mini Golf, a project for Dean and JD Bradley, first dearest friends and then favorite clients. Before Zig Zag Mini Golf came Wild Zone Adventures for the Bradleys, more on that wonderful project later. Dean came to the amusement park world a little late, but he made up for lost time. Showmanship is in his blood. He knows how to entertain his guests and make forever memories for them.
This is Rich’s description of Zig Zag. Then check out the color concept from Rich and hand and drawing, Bob. Don’t Rich and Bob make the best collaborative team ever?
From Rich: The Zig Zag Mini Golf concept is a mobile amusement area designed for hospitality venues. The original idea is to install the movable mini golf props into an existing racket-ball court or work out facility space that is underused by the hotel property and make that space a revenue center for the property.
My sentimental favorite of Bob’s designs at the State Fair of Texas for many reasons. Of all the designs Bob, Rich and Minick Associates produced for the Fair, this one remains year round. Most are taken down and stored. Enter the Fair from Grand Avenue, Gate 5 and keep walking until you stop in the middle of the fountain. You’re now in the intersection of Grand and 1st Avenue where Big Tex’s left hand points during the Fair.
I asked Ned Durbin and Errol McKoy when the fountain was installed, since my memory couldn’t recall. Errol thought from memory 2002. Ned looked in his files and found it was installed August and September 2001. Thank you both. I’ll be relying on these two wonderful friends for more about the State Fair designs and of course great stories.
Most of the museums left Fair park a while back so the museum banners that use to fly are gone. Unofficially, it’s now the Minick Fountain. Officially for me.
The opening words to the best commercial ever made for an amusement park, Great Adventure. Maybe the best commercial ever. Heading up the process, Bill Dawson, possibly the best marking genius ever. And a very dear friend.
I have the commercial. It’s on actual film. Must find someone who can make it into a dvd or something that works. I just hope the film isn’t too fragile and brittle – 42 years old. Beautiful shots of the park, guests enjoying the park and the song lifts you out of your seat.
After many years of marriage to Miss Vicki, she and Bill had two daughters. Around the same Victor Donavon, another marketing genius at Great Adventure and many more parks had two children. Victor and Susan had been married forever like the Dawsons and Minicks. Of course not to be out done, Bob and I had Randall, forever James Randall to me, I am southern you know. We named him Randall after Randall Duell Art Director extraordinaire (Singing In The Rain), designer of some of the world’s best amusement parks and Bob’s mentor. More on Mr. and Mrs. Duell soon.
Must have been something in the water at Great Adventure even though the baby thing didn’t show up around 15 years later. Hmmmmmmm
Clients/friends, because all clients became friends, send me stories, drawings, pictures, etc. almost daily. Some I don’t remember like The Organic Orange Wheel. Rich will have details.
Minick Associates themed a lot of rides during the years turning them into dragons, snakes and all sorts of magical creatures. Better to ride the finished creature or watch children as they came upon them. A fairy tale come to life.
Thank you, Dan Glosser for this great drawing. Look forward to more Bob and Dan collaborations. Here’s what Dan sent along with the drawing:
The idea of the orange themed gondola was mine because “Great Park” is in Orange County, California. They wanted the Irvine Company to sell them their Giant Wheel I sold that famous company for their Irvine Spectrum close by. I presented the beautiful art concept JRM did but they missed the opportunity. The City of __________ purchased the old military base with tax payers money and hired a NYC architect to design the park, how nuts is that? I sold them a used Carousel which they let people ride for free that’s how absurd these people are. Check out the “Great Park” on your computer. The Giant Wheel at the Irvine Spectrum near the “Great Park” (furthest thing from a great park) is successful financially plus for the “Life Style Center” (previously called a strip mall).
We welcome and ask for stories from friends and all in the amusement park world.
Great Adventure had no games when we arrived. A year earlier Bob designed and built the first games in an amusement park at Six Flags Over Texas. So he got to work designing the games of Great Adventure.
Bob made the area a U shape design with games in the middle. A lot of the games were built from Bob’s designs, Tic Tac Toe, The Cannery, Bushel Basket, etc. Some were purchased, a particular favorite – the 24 player position Water Balloon Race. When it was delivered and installed I grabbed the plug and nearly plugged it in when a big man yelled at me, “WTF do you think you’re doing?”
There were lots of WTF’s in New Jersey. We’d come from the South where courtesy reigned. At Six Flags we automatically said, thank you, yes, ma’am, and most important Have A Nice Day. Not so in New Jersey.
Before anyone could step up, Ed Blassingame walked up to the man and said, “Follow me”. He did and you knew a fight would ensue. They turned to face each other, the man raised his fists. Texan Ed whipped out the largest pocket knife I’ve seen and said, “Son, you gonna use those fists in a knife fight?”
The man walked off, Ed walked back to us, picked up the plug and handed it to me, “Lottie would you do the honors?” I did and ran the first game with all my first guests – the crew from Texas with Ed Blassingame on player position #1.
Game over and 24 of the best people in the world smiling at me with twinkles in their eyes. You don’t get many moments like that. My treasure.
Here are my two Franks and me on the midway.
I went to the zoo with several girlfriends last week. Weather was chilly so the giraffes were still in their barn. Reminded me of the great giraffe barn at Great Adventure. First time I visited was with Bob, Frank Thompson and others. We were anxious to meet the new baby born the day before. The behind the scenes barn had a wonderful ramp around the top where employees could walk and look the adult giraffes in the eye. My time in the animal parks were the best when meeting the newborns, but a baby giraffe is really special.
Someone asked one of the keepers the baby’s name. Raffi. I watched Frank turn to Bob for his reaction, but there was none. Frank asked how they picked the name. Some kid who cleaned the barn named her. Frank knew but always had to add fuel to the fire.
Bob with his 8,000 reference books and his research gene always on would have found a name with a history befitting this incredible newborn.
It’s the supposedly little details like a giraffe’s name that made Bob the true designer/manager and mostly Showman. A quote from Victor Donovan, “Millions of people who visited amusement parks will never know Bob Minick created their wonderful memories”. But we do.
Jim Ashworth posted this reply to the previous blog post on Facebook. His wonderful story needs repeating on this website:
Right after we got to NJ, Freeman told he wanted me to call Bob because he wanted us to go with him to NYC to meet with Warner Leroy (that’s a movie all unto itself for another time) I assumed we were driving but turns out the previous managers had entered a $80,000/yr. contract for the use of a Bell Ranger copter and we couldn’t get out of it so what the hell, we used it. We left about 6:00 PM and it was Feb. and dark as a black hole. Freeman had taken the ride in the copter to the city and unknown to us, he told the pilot to give us a little added tour. As Bob and I sat in the back of the copter, all we could see was a light now and then and just black. You remember Lottie that we in berry rural NJ with woods as far as you could throw a rock. As we got closer to the city, we suddenly saw this huge glow in the distance and as we broke out of the darkness we were headed straight for the Statue of Liberty– the pilot laid the copter on a slight tilt and circled slowly around Lady Liberty and then stopped and hovered right in front of her face no more than a hundred feet away (this was 1975 – you’d get blown of the sky if you attempted that today) No one said a word for what seemed like a very long time. Now I was always in awe of Bob’s cool and suave demeanor and his worldliness. He had been everywhere and done everything and would always regale us with stories of his travels and adventures. I had been out of Texas once or twice and never been to NYC so seeing it the first time this way just left me without any words. I expected Bob to be as cool and unaffected as always but when I looked over at him he has a tea running down his cheek. I said “Well you old softie” He just looked at me said “Not apologizing”, that was just to much. No way, I can describe this to Lottie. I will go to my grave remembering that trip. Later that night we hit the Blind Lemon and Maxwell’s Plum and Bob was responsible for yet another drunken evening. Lottie I love you and I love Bob.
And Bob and I love you, Jim. Let’s remind each other of more stories. Thank you, thank you, Jim Ashworth for this most wonderful story about two of my favorite guys.
So in 1975 (I think) the original Texas Turn Around Guys picked up their families and moved to Jackson, New Jersey. The Pritzkers bought Great Adventure Amusement Park and lured the Texans up north to another world.
Several wives flew to New Jersey together. Remember when you could meet someone at the gate as they debarked? Our husbands were not there. I asked some random stranger where baggage claim might be. He yelled at me in a strong Jersey accent, “WTF! Do I look like an information booth?” One of the wives said, “Welcome to New Jersey, Girls”.
We only thought we knew characters and situations. Everything was leased, even holes in the ground. The ferris wheel was so large when you rode to the top you could see where the Hinderberg blew up. The ferris wheel had been re-bulbed three times to create a golden “glow” with money running out. More on Warner LeRoy soon.
Somewhere in all of Bob’s stuff I’ll find one of his memos to Frank which always began: FAT – FYI (Frank A. Thompson – For Your Information.) I must also mention Bob never ever tired of waiting till Frank was in one of the park’s bathrooms (settled in) to call him on the park radio, “Unit four, 10-20”. (Frank what’s your location.) Boys will be boys.
So many great stories. Got to remember and write them down for posterity. Jim, Victor and all – send stories to share.
Here’s two of my favorite guys forever. Yes, Bob’s in some kind of New Jersey haircut and Frank is is wearing a powder blue leisure suit. The good ‘ole days.
Juli Hulcy-Pennington, artist extraordinaire, has participated in the Friends of Lottie Sculpture Show at the State Fair of Texas since its beginning 10 years ago. Juli’s beautiful mosaics are always a favorite with Fairgoers.
Last year Juli created this incredible mosaic Carosel Horse in honor of, as she told everyone, her dear friend Bob Minick. Thoughout his life Bob had/has incredible friends. What a legacy for our son Randall to learn from his Dad – friends are our chosen family.
Juli and her dear late husband Doug are top of the list.