Tales from the Theme Park #17

February 2nd, 2017 | Posted in Tales from the Theme Park

This story is legendary, and comes from back when I had an operation at Six Flags St. Louis. At the park locations we are always ribbing each other over the quality of each other’s work and the guest’s reactions. It wouldn’t be surprising to hear one of the artists who is not drawing at the time do a fake cough masking the word “Yamistem” (aka “you missed him”) at an artist who is drawing. We would sometimes joke about how the customer clearly hated the drawing an artist just did (after the customer had left of course).

One summer one of my artists (name withheld… you’re welcome) really gave us all some material to use on him.

This guy is drawing along one day in the middle of a hot St. Louis summer, when a couple of parents push their kid in front of him to get a caricature. This kid is clearly not very interested in doing this. In fact, it was commented later he looked a little “out of it”. The kid just sat there, kind of unfocused looking, while the artist started drawing.

After any drawing is done, there is usually a big “unveiling”… sort of a showmanship kind of thing. The artist flips the drawing over the board, often with a flourish, right in front of the face of the subject(s) and they get a look at it for the first time. Meanwhile the crowd, who watched the entire drawing happen in front of them, looks at the subject to see their reaction. It’s usually a moment for some laughs when the person sees their caricature.

This time things went a little different.

The artist does the big “TA DAAAA!” flip and this kid looks at the drawing with no appreciable reaction. Just sits there for a second or two with a blank look on his face… then he leans forward and pukes all over the floor in between the bench and the drawing table.

This kid was probably stuffed with hots dogs, soda, candy and other junk food which was then brutally hammered in his stomach by multiple roller coasters, whirly-gigs, and who knows what other rides, then plopped down to get a caricature while green around the gills. That puke was coming no matter what. It was just unfortunate timing for the caricaturist, who not only had to deal with a pile of puke under his table, but the merciless ribbing of his fellow artists on how his drawings make people throw up for the rest of his life.

To make matters worse for that artist, the same thing happened to him again later that summer ( I think, it might have been the next summer… still!).


  1. Eddie says:

    *cough cough*

    • Jeff Niffen says:

      I remember Ryan telling me this story. I don’t remember the artist’s name, but had it been me, I probably would have turned in my lead holder and airbrush…. That would have destroyed what little confidence I had!

  2. I still feel terrible remembering when I was forced by my mom to be drawn at SeaWorld in 1976 – at 13, I wasn’t remotely interested to see my hideous zit covered mug drawn, however gently, so when the big reveal happened, I was horrified to RECOGNIZE myself and I saw RED, tearing it up in front of the artist (I did make sure the artist was paid and asked permission to destroy it – lord knows why my mom said yes…).

    I was not a happy teenager, no. ?


New profile pic courtesy of my self-caricature for the Scott Maiko penned article “Gotcha! Mug Shots of Common (but Despicable) Criminals” from MAD 550

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