Probably ... the panic set in very quickly when the initial crowds fell off precipitously and the pre-opening projections came nowhere near the actual totals. I covered the opening for the local rag and the exit interviews from the public were uniformaly horrible. The paper cherry-picked a handful of decent ones and deceptively edited the rest. The truth was those first-day visitors hated the place and felt deceived by the TV ads.
I've just recently come across an AutoWorld pennant that my dad bought years ago.
Thanks for that, it is almost an oximoron.
I remember my first visit, not long after it opened. It was like a very big Chucky Cheese. Hard to imagine something more misconceived... planning it must have been like the drawing room for building the Titanic..."No, water-tight doors in those areas aren't important, and we don't need the life boats there or there, the ship is unsinkable..."
I really wish I would have gone while it was open, just to have the memories. I was a student at GMI (now Kettering Univ) at the time and have to admit that I only ventured downtown maybe twice in as many years. Slacking off all week on the studies and then having to catch up on the weekends was only partly to blame!
I only went there once or twice, but to this day I can sing the refrain to the "Me and My Buddy" song about the factory worker and their robotic helper. It was just awful.
I worked in the structural engineering department of a downtown Flint firm in 1981, which had the contract for the structural design of Autoworld. Basically, besides the new dome addition, we had to insert a complex three story building “inside” of the existing IMA Auditorium, in order to accommodate all of the complicated circulation elements, rides, IMAX theatre, etc., etc.We had to work from design drawings prepared by a California firm which, as I recall, was headed by a former member of the company that designed much of Disneyland. I remember the moment we first received and unrolled their drawings, and how we all fell into a mutual stupor, as we took in all of the embarrassingly amateurish, and stunningly idiotic, final ideas for the project.Call it a sixth sense, but at that moment, we could foretell the future fate of the yet to be ballyhooed Autoworld, three years before it even opened its doors.
Me and my pals entered Autoworld mere hours before it was demolished. It was incredibly easy. We just pushed over a temporary chain link fence and waltzed right in. We took one of Jacob Smith's canoes and sent it over Hamilton Dam. Security was almost nil. I could regale you with more stories of sneaking into post-closure Autoworld but you probably wouldn't believe me. Having said that, it might qualify as one of Flint's sexiest places.
I have the complete special edition of the Flint Journal announcing the opening of Auto world.I didn't think it would last and maybe the paper would be worth something.
Thanks for commenting. You might enjoy my book about Flint called "Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City," a Michigan Notable Book for 2014 and a finalist for the 33rd Annual Northern California Book Award for Creative NonFiction. Filmmaker Michael Moore described Teardown as "a brilliant chronicle of the Mad Maxization of a once-great American city." More information about Teardown is available at www.teardownbook.com.