Though Rocky Point Amusement Park is no longer, the stretch of coastline is undergoing a renaissance of sorts, thanks in part to city revitalization and an online YouTube channel devoted to clips of the park’s many faces.
“We’re slowly releasing archive footages,” said David Bettencourt, the director of “You Must Be This Tall: The Story of Rocky Point Park.”
Bettencourt is converting footage he shot in 2007 on film into digital shorts for YouTube. Most of what viewers can watch online was not seen in the 2007 documentary.
The YouTube channel, www.YouTube.com/rockypointmovie, is what Bettencourt calls “a hub for all things Rocky Point.”
Come September, Bettencourt will be celebrating the five-year anniversary of his film. He’s planning to release new shorts throughout the year in anticipation of a re-release of the film.
The most recent clip on the channel is a 1992 commercial for the park called “Rocky Point Park feels right!”
Other videos include an aerial tour of the grounds, a walk through the Palladium and a look at before and after photos of the rides and attractions.
Bettencourt isn’t sure how many videos he will release before September, but he said there would be a lot of bonus footage available.
“I got all of this stuff through research,” said Bettencourt, who spent 17 months interviewing specialists and touring the grounds.
“I eventually hope to get all of the interviews I did [online],” he said.
Bettencourt was inspired to learn more about Rocky Point when his son returned home from a field trip to Six Flags. The end result was a sold-out screening at Woonsocket’s Stadium Theater in 2007.
He’s now working on a documentary about the Station Fire tragedy that will be released in honor of the 10th anniversary of the event.
In the five years since he made “You Must Be This Tall,” Bettencourt said he is pleased with what has happened at the historic site, which he now brings his children to.
“I think it’s amazing,” he said. “From 2006 to today the difference is amazing. Seeing a mess of demolition … it’s changed quite a bit. It’s great that we’re using some of the most beautiful land in Warwick.”
Bettencourt said he might film more footage to show how the park has transformed since it closed permanently in 1996, and underwent demolition in 2007. Now the park has a walking trail and is open to the public. He also plans to add more information on why the park ultimately closed.
In 2010, voters approved a bond issue that allocates $10 million to purchase the 83 acres of the former park still being held by the Small Business Administration, the court appointed receiver. An appraisal of the property has been completed, but as of yet no agreement has been reached on its acquisition by the state.
For now, Bettencourt is busy maintaining his YouTube site and frequenting the former park.
“I have been back quite a bit,” he said. “It’s very near and dear to my heart.”