A Delaware amusement park Haunted Mansion elicits screams and lasting memories. At an old-school amusement park in Rehoboth Beach, Del., called Funland, a generation of thrillseekers who grew up screaming in the park's Haunted Mansion now brings their kids to do the same.

An amusement park Haunted Mansion delivers summer screams and lifelong memories

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Summer is a time for family gatherings, heading to the beach and, at one retreat in Delaware, maybe a few frights. An old-school amusement park called Funland is where a generation of thrill-seekers grew up screaming on the park's Haunted Mansion ride. And now they're bringing their own kids to enjoy the same classic attractions. NPR's Laurel Wamsley has this summer postcard.


LAUREL WAMSLEY, BYLINE: Unlike some of the other rides here along the boardwalk in Rehoboth Beach, the Haunted Mansion won't fling you into the air or flip you upside down.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: (Laughter) Hello.

WAMSLEY: But still, its charms attract the most devoted fans and the longest lines of all the rides at Funland since the spooky tour opened in 1980. So I joined the queue. That's where I meet Meredith Luzietti, who's snapping a selfie with her husband and kids with the Haunted Mansion behind them.

MEREDITH LUZIETTI: I guess I was born in '76 and have been coming here ever since, so...

WAMSLEY: Really?

LUZIETTI: Yeah - so a family thing.

WAMSLEY: Luzietti's first time on the Haunted Mansion was when she was about 6, and she can't begin to guess how many times she's ridden it. It's the nostalgia that keeps her coming back.

LUZIETTI: And a lot of stuff is still the same. And my dad took movies of us, so we watch movies from the '80s with us going on the rides. And now my daughter's doing it, so it's fun to have generation after generation do it.

WAMSLEY: Further down the line is Levi Crossman, who's from the nearby town of Lewes. He says he used to go on the Haunted Mansion a lot when he was a kid. He's 12.

LEVI CROSSMAN: At the end, there is a train or a bus, and it honks. And it's really loud. That's all I really remember.

WAMSLEY: Did it scare you?

LEVI: It did. Yeah.

WAMSLEY: Well, this is my first time. Do you think I'm going to be scared?

LEVI: Probably not.

WAMSLEY: So I climb aboard one of the ride's all-black cars, dangling from a track above, adorned with a skull and crossbones. A moment later, I'm plunged through the doors of the mansion into a very creepy scene.

I'm in a red-wallpapered room. It looks like a Victorian house. Things get very dark. Oh, my gosh. There's a scary...



WAMSLEY: Scary glow-in-the-dark art and skeletons moving. OK, plunged into darkness - oh, my gosh. I'm being sprayed with water.

The ride is jerky, exhilarating fun, full of jump scares and weird scenes. And here since its inception has been Randy Curry, a mechanic in the third generation of the family that's been running Funland since 1962. Some of the decor in the mansion is pretty DIY. Take the Frankenstein figure that lurks in one corner.

RANDY CURRY: He is just chicken wire and a wooden frame. And on top of that, his arms and legs are carpet tubes that I've fiberglassed (ph).

WAMSLEY: In the darkness of the ride, with its constant diversions, it's convincing enough to scare but just a little. Curry says the ride was designed to be spooky and fun but not overly frightening. I see one child exiting the ride, her cheeks wet with tears, and ask Ayeisha Robinson, who works here, if that's common.

How often do you see kids come out of here crying?


WAMSLEY: But today's crying kid is next summer's screaming and laughing kid. And for all of them, Funland and its Haunted Mansion will hopefully be here for years to come, serving up summer memories along the boardwalk. Laurel Wamsley, NPR News, Rehoboth Beach, Del.


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