Pictured above is Fred's son Andrew

Many of Fred's attractions had taped presentations that would play on a continuous loop to attract customers. He called upon his good friend Bob Dorian to do presentations for rides like "The Poseidon Adventure"…"The Exorcist" and "The Spirit of 76". Bob had a tremendous voice that would just grab your attention. You may remember Dorian as the original host of American Movie Classics from 1984 to 2000. Early in Bob's career he had been a professional magician. It was Fred's friendship with Bob that peaked his interest in magic and gave him the idea for his next project…the Palace of Illusions and the Theatre of Blood, which would take the place of the puppet show. People were sent screaming as a caged woman was transformed into a raging gorilla and a young maiden is ripped apart by a steel blade. This act featured the "Machine of Death" which often sent blood and gore flying into the audience. This was simply achieved by filling bladders (or in this case rubber condems) with pigs blood which were placed in a reservoir over the victims abdomen with the torso being recessed and out of harms way. The buzz saw would penatrate the cavity filled with bloated condems and the bloodbath would ensue. Now that's entertainment!

Pictured below is the Palace of Illusions

One of the most memorable acts performed was the "Girl to Gorilla" illusion with Freddy himself in the Gorilla suit. Pictured below is Fred dressed as the gorilla for the Wildwood Baby Parade in which he participated for many years. Also shown is an ad from the Brill's Bible. These catalogs were produced by Aaron Brills and offered the secrets to the Carnival Sideshow. Fred often referred to these catalogs for the plans to create his attractions. .
Freddy's float for the Wildwood Baby Parade
A close-up of some of the artwork that graced the facade depicts the metamorphosis.
Fred designed the Castle for the Nickels family in 1976. To read about Fred's involvement with the Wax Museum click on the above link.
Freddy loved Alfred Hitchcock and when it came time to do another dark attraction he chose the films of the famous director to theme his latest ride. Hitchcock Manor (sometimes referred to as the Psycho House) showcased scenes from all of the classic films…The Birds, North by Northwest, Psycho, Vertigo and more. In August of 1981 this ride would go up in flames along with the Starlight Ballroom in one of the worst Boardwalk fires in Wildwood History. Pictured to the left is a rare pre-fire photo of the Manor sent in by Perry Weaver.
To read more on Hitchcock Manor CLICK HERE .
The long forgotten Exorcist attraction is one ride I find only few remember. This was located under the Wipe Out Slide. There wasn't much to it - but coming off of the phenomenon this movie created it proved to be a spooky experience for any kid. Of course the "Tubular Bells" music playing outside reinforced your uneasiness. From what I can recall you and your group would step up onto this floating platform that was centered in a room decorated to resemble Regan's bedroom in the movie. Everyone would be seated on two long benches that faced one another. The platform would remain in a fixed position while the room, which was mounted on a pivot, would rotate around you. This concept was first used in the Haunted Swing which was a popular ride in the early amusement parks. The Exorcist was later incorporated into a new ride - The Poseidon Adventure and Jaws attraction. A boat was built around the existing Exorcist structure and began with the same flipping of the room concept. Once upside down you would be directed through a door and into the belly of a capsized ship. Everything was inverted as you made your way through corridors filled with fluorescent colored steampipes. Water would gush and bubble underneath the grated catwalks and steam and fog filled the air. From what I can remember it was when you would approach the exit of the ride that you would begin to hear the Jaws music. My recollection gets a little sketchy at this point of the attraction. Unfortunately there is not much information on many of these rides and pictures are also hard to come by. The aerial photo below shows Morey's Pier during the Freddy years.

The photo to the right is a close-up of the Fun Boat - not a very good one - but you can see some of the ship peeking out. Notice the two fiberglass figures on the upper deck.

~ These two pictures come from the George F.Boyer Museum ~

Pictured at left is Freddy's Safari Ride on Morey's Pier. Shown below is Sniffy's Hotdog Hut on Morey's Pier and the Circus Wagon located across the walk. Both were owned and operated by Fred Mahana.

Fred Mahana had a special talent for creating an atmosphere in every enterprise he was involved in. He loved what he did and surrounded himself with some very talented artists who helped bring his ideas to reality. Everyone involved put something into his projects, but Fred was the visionary and the spark that started it. Whether he was making you believe you were in an upside-down ship or on a planet inhabited by apes…he loved to push the envelope…to see just how far he could go to make them scream. If you were on a Freddy Mahana ride you were always at risk of getting frightened, confused, soaked, or even showered with blood. Fred Mahana passed away in 1999 but his adventures on the Wildwood Boardwalk will long be remembered as some of the most innovative attractions of all time.

I want to thank Andrew and Sylvia Mahana (Freddy's son and wife) for the giving of their time, trust and kindness. Without their help I would never have been able to complete this article. Thanks also to Jack Langston for taking the time to share his memories. And to Fred, a final salute - thank you for all of the scares and thrills you gave to me and countless others. Your contributions to the Wildwood Boardwalk will always be remembered.

~ Photographs used in this article are from the Mahana Family Collection and used with permission ~

Be sure to visit the official Fred Mahana website at

Copyright 2004