Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Vintage Magic Mountain Trip Report & Colossus Opening - 1978

Are you ready for something completely different here at Meet The World? It's my very first Magic Mountain post, and it's all about my very first Magic Mountain trip! The year was 1978 and I had just graduated from eighth grade (and had recently gone on the school's Eighth Grade Graduation Trip To Disneyland.) Up to that point, I had been taken on many family trips to Disneyland, Knott's Berry Farm, Marineland, Universal Studios, Japanese Deer Park, and Busch Gardens (Van Nuys), but for some reason (probably distance), we had never gone to Magic Mountain. Well, as an eighth grade graduation present, my mom decided to take me to Magic Mountain.....probably because I had been asking her.....A LOT!

My mom even took this pamphlet and wrapped it up as one of my graduation gifts. I was very excited. I had been wanting to go for a long time, but even more so now because this was the summer that Colossus was opening. The model for Colossus was pictured in the pamphlet along with a description of the "greatest rollercoaster in the world."

Here are some other pics from the pamphlet.

I'm flipping this one pic around to show what's happening to the two kids in this photo. This exact same thing happened to me the first time I rode Revolution. When we went through the 360 degree loop, my head was forced down into my lap. I remember it kind of screwed up my neck for the rest of the day. They hadn't installed the headrests on the cars yet, so I don't know if that is what made a difference or if it was just being kid-sized, but I went back about a year later and the headrests were there and I didn't have the same problem. Did anyone else have that happen to them while riding Revolution?

And here are the only four photos that I shot that day. The first one shows Revolution's loop. I had actually rode Revolution one year earlier...."virtually," that is. It was featured in the 1977 Universal film, "Rollercoaster." I remember really liking that movie. The tag line was something like, "This summer, watch for the man watching the Rollercoaster!" If you haven't seen the movie, I highly recommend it. It stars George Segal, Henry Fonda, Helen Hunt (before she won her Oscar), Richard Widmark (after he signed Lucy's grapefruit), and features guest appearances by L.A. radio disc jockey, Charlie Tuna, and the band "Sparks." The real star however, is Timothy Bottoms (before he hilariously played our nation's former president in Comedy Central's "That's My Bush!") as a young man who travels around the country blowing up amusement parks. The film was one of only four that were filmed in "Sensurround."

Colossus had already opened before our visit. In fact, it opened on June 29th..... 33 years ago today! But as with many new rides, it was experiencing some technical problems and when we got to the park, we were told that it probably would not be opening until sometime in the afternoon. We did get in line for it later that day....I believe even before it opened, because they had announced that it would be opening for sure. I took these next three pics from the Colossus observation deck while my family held our place in line. Note the dirt and the trucks at the base of the structure.

Just on the other side of those trees was "Trollywood," home to the Magic Mountain Trolls. This was sort of Magic Mountain's version of "Storybook Land" and was only visible while riding the "Train to Trollywood" (see the map below).

Here's the parking ticket from that day.

And here's the park map and entertainment schedule.

We had seen people in the park wearing these buttons, but when we went to purchase one at the Colossus merchandise cart, they had sold out.

When we got home, I wrote a letter to the park asking if it was still possible to purchase a button. They sent the following response.

So I sent them the money and I did end up getting an "I RODE IT!" button.

One other memory from that day is that my aunt and my grandparents went along with us on this trip. Actually my grandfather is the one that drove us all up there. He also rode on every ride that day with my brother and me, including Colossus. I remember the ride operators on Colossus warning him about removing his eyeglasses, so he took them off and put them in his shirt pocket and buttoned the pocket up. Well, on the very first hill, the button ripped right off from the force of the glasses which flew straight up out of the pocket and into the air. I remember feeling really bad about him losing his glasses.

When I think about it, my grandfather was always such a good sport. He was also the one that sat next to me the very first time I rode Space Mountain. In my Father's Day post last week, I thanked my dad for taking us to many of the different Southern California theme parks throughout my childhood, but my grandparents also took us on many of our fun theme park outings....including my one and only trip to the Long Beach Pike! I'd like to take the time now to also thank my grandparents for all the wonderful memories they gave my brother and me......I love and miss you both very much! And thanks to my mom too, for such a cool graduation present!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Windseeker Up The Wazoo! - Knott's Berry Farm

Anyone want to see some Knott's Berry Farm Windseeker photos? How about a lot of Windseeker photos? The attraction is still under construction and won't be opening until later this summer, but the tower has now reached it's completed height of 301 feet. Here's how it looks from the main entrance.

This sign can be found just inside the entrance.

Knott's has finally gotten rid of the cheaper paper maps and gone back to a nice glossy version.

Windseeker is already appearing on the map.

The photo below is from a Knott's post that I did back in January. It shows the future site of Windseeker and the construction wall around the site. The Merry Go Round can be seen on the right and that green loop is the track for Montezooma's Revenge.

Incidentally, I see on the current Knott's map that now after about 50 years, they are referring to the Merry Go Round as a Carousel. I remember being told on my Knott's employee orientation back in 1982 that the difference between a Merry Go Round and a Carousel was that a Carousel has only horses and a Merry Go Round includes other animals. However, we're talking "Knott's" orientation and not Disneyland, so who knows if they even knew what they were talking about!

Here is how the site looked from almost the same angle on May 31st. Note the construction crane in the upper left corner of the photo.

Turning the camera vertically, we can see that the tower still wasn't completed at this time.

Now we'll take a peek through a hole in that construction wall, starting back in January of this year before the demolition of the Fiesta BBQ restaurant. These next two photos were also seen in my post from earlier this year.

A few days later, after the restaurant was cleared away.......

Now we see the site as it appeared in February. Note the red-flagged stakes around the perimeter of where the base of the attraction would go.

In this photo from March, we can see a hole dug into the ground for the foundation. Also note that the gray support pylon for the Silver Bullet rollercoaster has been moved several feet. This was necessary in order to fit Windseeker into this section of the park. Remember, originally the attraction was going to replace the old SkyJump/Sky Cabin Tower.

We're still looking through the hole in the construction wall, but this shot was taken in mid-May after the concrete foundation had been poured. I believe that wall in the distance is the back wall of the old restaurant, since it was still standing there after the building was demolished.

The date on this photo is May 31st, prior to completion of the tower.

We can't tell in this shot from June 21st, but the tower had been finished at this point.

Now let's take a look at the construction from the air. This photo goes back again to February. Note the square concrete pad where Silver Bullet's support pylon would be eventually be moved. We can also see a water fountain next to the Merry Go Round in the center of the photo. We'll be seeing more of that fountain in the pics below.

March 2011, the hole is dug....

Mid-May, the foundation is poured....

More aerial shots, but from a different angle....February:



And from yet another angle.....February:



Okay, now we are back on the ground.....still mid-May. The small structure under construction in the center of this next photo appears to be the control booth for the attraction. The pyramid on the left is the loading station for Jaguar. All of the photos today, give us an idea of just how close Windseeker will be to Jaguar, Montezooma's Revenge, Silver Bullet and the Merry Go Round.

Here's another angle from mid-May.

Same angle from June 21st.

A close up of the ride mechanism......hey, look at the door in the base of the tower!

I wonder if there is a ladder or staircase inside that would take us to the top? I know the old Sky Jump tower has one inside of it.

Here's a May 31st shot taken from approximately where the "Little Chapel By The Lake" used to sit. The Camp Snoopy Train still crosses that little draw bridge in the foreground, but since there is no longer water beneath it and no longer a "Walter K." Steamboat that needs to pass through, the bridge no longer raises or's just "there"!

This photo was taken June 21st from the same angle, but now we're having to step back quite a few yards to fit the completed tower in the frame.

Here's a "Before" pic taken from a spot near the La Revolucion attraction.

.....and an "After."

Here's another "After" shot, but looking upward at the completed tower.

In this close-up of the top of the tower, it almost appears that there is a viewing platform up there, but I don't think that is the least not for the public anyway. It kind of reminds me of the New York State Pavilion's observation towers from the 1964 New York World's Fair!

And getting back to that fountain that we saw earlier.....this is a closer view of it taken at ground level.

It's the very same fountain that appears on this vintage Fiesta Village postcard. This fountain has existed in the park for over 5 decades now. It has survived the demolition of the buildings to the east and west of it, the construction of Silver Bullet on top of it and also the relocation of the Merry Go Round back in the eighties. I'm glad to see that it is going to be preserved (unless of course, Cedar Fair plans to bulldoze it between now and the time that Windseeker opens.)

Now we'll take a look at the new tower and how it appears from different spots within the park. Windseeker really dominates the landscape at Knott's now, but I guess that's nothing new at Knott's after the opening of Supreme Scream and Xcelerator.

This view is from the edge of what used to be Reflection Lake. Does the shallow pond that replaced the lake even have a name now?

This was taken from the Stagecoach and Train crossing on the backside of the Log Ride.

This is the view while standing in front of the Log Ride (which is out of view and just to our left).

And last up for today, we see how the Windseeker tower looks from Calico Square.

Well, that was "Windseeker Up The Whazoo"....probably more photos of Windseeker's construction than anyone out there ever wanted or needed to see!

***UPDATE*** August 16th, 2011 - I just posted an update on Windseeker which includes current photos and some video footage of it being sent through a test run. To see that update, click here: Windseeker Update & Video