H.R.-Pufnstuf

Sid and Marty Krofft weren’t the acid-blotter gobbling burnouts that some might suppose – they had quite the savvy business sense and were just tapping into the zeitgeist of the era. Unfortunately, their instincts failed them when they decided to build a theme park based on the trippy, retrospectively heinous characters that slithered out of their imaginations. They say never to meet your heroes, the same can also be said about meeting your childhood nightmares.

And so, The World Of Sid And Marty Krofft opened in 1976 in downtown Atlanta, and even received the blessing of our nation’s toothiest, nut-lovin’ president. Its biggest selling points were that it was the first theme park to be entirely indoors, boasted the world’s largest escalator, and, of course, offered the opportunity to interact with randos dressed as abominations. The downside was that this area of Atlanta was, at the time, a cesspool of violent crime. And when city officials failed in their promise to clean the area up, the banks promising to support the park became wary of any further involvement.

This lack of funding led to unfixable technical problems with already sketchy-sounding rides like a “crystal carousel that ‘floated’ on a cushion of air,” and “a ride that sat you in a metal ball and took you through a giant pinball machine.” It’s odd to think that something as boring as money worries and red tape killed an amusement park filled with surrealist horrorscapes and smiling monsters, but it just goes to show that adult nightmares one-up children’s nightmares every time.

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The entire McDonaldland concept was phased out in the ‘70s, when Sid and Marty Krofft sued McDonald’s, claiming that McCheese was actually a rip-off of H.R. Pufnstuf – a character from a children’s TV series of the same name.

Just like McCheese, Pufnstuf was also a mayor – complete with sash and tragically oversized head, as all mayors possess – who ruled over a fantasy land where everything was alive, and all of the toilets were suicidal. According to the lawsuit, the Needham, Harper & Steers ad agency had wanted to license the cast of H.R Pufnstuf for McDonald’s commercials. When this didn’t work out, they decided to make their own mascots, and when that started interfering with their day drinking, they just stole the Pufnstuf designs, changed them slightly, and rode off on fancy dancing horses made entirely of money.

The lawsuit bounced around the courts for a few years, but eventually the Kroffts won, and McDonald’s had to pay them a million dollars. Then, over the next few years, they slowly purged the McDonaldland gang from the history books in the most brutal regime change this side of Game Of Thrones.

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