Cover Image: YouTube screengrab

To those of us who grew up in the late 1960s and early 1970s, nothing conjures up feelings of nostalgia quite like Saturday morning cartoons and a big bowl of cereal. Add a summer road trip to Atlanta, in the summer of 1976, and the world just became the most magical place a kid could ever dream of — The World of Sid and Marty Krofft.

‘70s Saturday Mornings

In the mid-1970s, puppeteer brothers Sid and Marty Krofft were riding high on the success of their Saturday morning kid shows that often combined live action, bigger-than-life puppets, colorful sets, and cheap special effects. After starting as character and set designers for Hanna-Barbera’s popular Saturday morning variety show The Banana Splits, Sid and Marty would be asked to produce their own Saturday morning television show. So, in 1969, they premiered their iconic children’s television series H.R. Pufnstuf.

Marty Krofft behind the scenes at Les Poupées de Paris, a popular puppet show put on by Marty and his brother Sid Krofft at both the 1962 Seattle and the 1964-65 New York World’s Fairs.
Image: Public Domain
Fun Fact: The “H.R.” in H.R. Pufnstuf actually stands for Highness Royal (the words Royal Highness switched around).

The series became so popular that Sid and Marty Krofft would be asked to do a new Saturday morning production nearly every year for the next 10 years. These shows would include The Bugaloos (1970), Lidsville (1971), Sigmund and the Sea Monsters (1973-1975), Land of the Lost (1974-1976), The Lost Saucer (1975), Electra Woman and Dyna Girl (1976), and Wonderbug (1976-1978), and (along with that big bowl of Freakies cereal), kids ate them up!

As a result of the popularity of their shows, developers asked the Krofft brothers to design an indoor amusement park as part of the new Omni International Complex in Atlanta, Georgia.

No Strings Attached

The $20 million World of Sid and Marty Krofft opened on May 26, 1976 with much excitement and brouhaha. Celebrities and dignitaries alike joined the throngs as they entered the park by way of the world’s largest freestanding escalator. Once they got to the top, several levels of the Krofft brothers’ psychedelic magic awaited. 

The first level at the very top was the reception level where guests paid $5.75 and got a ticket book that allowed them to ride one attraction per area. After paying their admission, guests would make their way down to the next five levels (There were six levels altogether).

The second level was a sort of carnival/circus level known as Fantasy Fair, complete with stilt walkers and three circus trailers, with each of the trailers featuring a different performer who put on a two- to three-minute show. Once all three acts had finished, guests would move down past a transition level to the third level.

Brothers Matt and Patrick Dahlheimer taking some time out for a photo-op with Raunchy Rabbit at The World of Sid and Marty Krofft in 1976.
Image: Matt Dahlheimer

The third level going down featured a variety of shops, more artisans and a stage for live performances. This is the same stage where the Saturday morning Krofft Supershow (hosted by the fictional rock/pop group Kaptain Kool and the Kongs) was filmed during its first season.

The first three levels from the top down also included the Tranquility Terrace which, along with various Sid and Marty Krofft characters, featured a crystal carousel full of all sorts of mythical Krofft-style creatures.

The next level down was called Uptown and featured a dark ride that took guests through a giant pinball machine where riders exited to a real arcade. The level below that was known as Lidsville, and it was fashioned after the popular Saturday morning show of the same name — with hat shaped people who lived in hat shaped homes.

Pinball was all the rage in 1976 and the Pinball Machine ride was a big hit at the World of Sid and Marty Krofft.
Image: Liberty Stack Ranch via an unknown magazine.

Finally, the bottom floor was called Living Island Adventure, where guests were taken to the magical world of H.R. Puffnstuff, with Witchiepoo harassing guests all throughout the ride. If that wasn’t campy enough, there was also a graveyard of animated talking mushrooms resembling famous celebrities called Heavenly Slumber Cemetery.

Too Good to Be True

The park seemed like it was every ‘70s kid’s dream come true. However, as the old saying goes, sometimes things seem too good to be true. Despite all the excitement and media attention over the park, it closed on November 10, 1976, just six months after it opened.

The park blamed low-attendance and Sid and Marty blamed the Omni’s downtown location. Add to that the fact that guests thought the admission was too pricey for only a couple hours of entertainment. They could, after all, avoid the drive into downtown Atlanta and have fun all day at the city’s suburban Six Flags Over Georgia for a much cheaper price.

This Is CNN

After the World of Sid and Marty Krofft closed, other shops and venues at the Omni soon followed suit. As a result, the Omni would continue struggling to attract other tenants over the next decade, even after they made several renovations. In the mid-1980s, however, while looking for a larger headquarters for his cable news network, Ted Turner thought the old Krofft section was the perfect location. He would eventually buy the whole complex in 1987 and rename it CNN Center.

Though it now belongs to CNN, it’s still the longest freestanding escalator in the world.
Image: Public Domain via Wikipedia Commons

Though The World of Sid and Marty Krofft World was all but erased from the center, at least one remnant remains — the longest freestanding escalator in the world. For a little bit of nostalgia, you can still take the escalator as part of the CNN Studio tour.  These days, however, it takes guests into the center of a giant scale model of the Earth instead of into the psychedelic world it once did … but it’s still a fun little trip.

Whether it’s a family road trip to an amusement park or a nostalgic journey down memory lane, make a Stuckey’s stop part of your travels this year. Stop in and say hello. Grab a cup of coffee and browse our great selection of road trip treats, classic candies, and kitschy souvenirs that you remember us for.

We’re proud to say that our pecans and our CEO are both Georgia grown.

No Stuckey’s location near you? Then shop online at our website and have some of our iconic Stuckey’s Pecan Log Rolls and other Stuckey’s merchandise mailed directly to you. Visit stuckeys.com today to find out more.

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