For as long as I can remember, I have loved amusement parks. Not only the thrill of the rides and attractions, but also the design, layout, and history. There’s something captivating about just being in a park that I can’t quite describe, it’s just a feeling I enjoy.
As a child in the early 1990s, my grandfather would take me to the annual air show at the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport. Although I enjoyed seeing the static and aerial displays, one of my favorite parts of the excursion was catching a glimpse of the remnants of Rocky Glen, where we would park before being shuttled to the airport. I was fascinated with the idea an amusement park had been there. This was several years before the proliferation of the internet and search engines, so there wasn’t really a way for a kid to find out more beyond asking my parents and grandparents what memories they had of the park.
In my senior year of high school, I began looking for information on Angela Park while working on a project about the history of Mountain Top. That led to the construction of my first website, which debuted on New Year’s Day of 2000. The website quickly grew to include brief histories on other parks in the area, including Sans Souci and Rocky Glen.
For a short time, the site was known as Bill’s Park Page: Past and Present which featured not only defunct parks but also reviews of parks I visited. After removing the reviews, it was renamed NEPA Lost Parks, a name that better described the main focus of the website. It jumped around a few times to various hosts, until in late 2002 I decided to buy my own corner of the web.
On New Year’s Day of 2003, NEPALostParks.com became the permanent home of my research into all of the amusement parks in Northeastern Pennsylvania.
I continued to work on the website in my spare time through college and early adulthood, though the updates were sporadic at best as other responsibilities and interests took up more and more time. Then came an unexpected move to Florida in 2012, which brought with it even more changes. The last major update to the website took place in 2013 with some reformatting and a few additions to a handful of the parks. Since then, NEPA Lost Parks has sat on the back burner, though never completely forgotten.
My love of parks has only grown living in Florida, and since moving here I’ve taken my passion and turned it into a website and social media presence through different outlets, including WDW Tour Company, which later became Touring Central Florida. In 2016, I also got back into historical research of parks, this time focusing on Busch Gardens Tampa with the creation of BGT History.com. Along with a “regular” job, Touring Central Florida and BGT History have both been the focus of my work for several years.
And then came 2020, a year that has changed nearly all of our lives in some significant way. I was laid off from my regular job at the onset of closures in March. Originally only meant to be temporary, my position was eventually eliminated entirely. While that certainly presented its own challenges, one silver lining has been the time it has brought to focus on projects like my own websites. I certainly don’t know what the future holds for me, but while I am able, I wanted to pick back up where I left off with this project, in the hopes that I can share my knowledge on the defunct parks of northeastern Pennsylvania, including the collection of the postcards, souvenirs, and other artifacts I have obtained over the years.
People often ask me why I bother with this endeavor or that of BGT History or Touring Central Florida. It would be great to make a living from these projects, but the truth is it costs both time and money without much financial return. It’s a labor of love to be sure. It also isn’t about bringing back memories of the parks from my childhood, because I never visited any of them while they operated. In fact, I was born in 1982, which means all the parks except a few were already closed.
What keeps me going on this project is the enjoyment I have in doing the research, collecting the memorabilia, and hearing from visitors to the site whose childhood memories are brought back. Maybe it’s a sense of nostalgia. Maybe it’s a sense of tradition. Maybe it’s because I love going to amusement & theme parks today. Whatever the reason, the response I’ve had over the years has been great. I truly appreciate the support I’ve received and look forward to continuing to add more to this site in the years to come.
– Bill Androckitis Jr.