Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Knott's Update: Part 2 - The Sky Cabin

Today we will be revisiting Knott's Berry Farm's Sky Cabin attraction. For more than a year now, it has spent most of it's time "parked" at the top of the old Sky Jump tower in the Boardwalk section of the park (formerly the Roaring Twenties Airfield). For a while, there were plans to tear down the old tower and build Windseeker in it's place, but that plan changed last year when Windseeker's location was moved to Fiesta Village and it was announced that the old tower would be staying and the Sky Cabin would be refurbished. Here's a shot that was taken last year of the tower with "Boomerang" in the foreground. (Incidentally, Boomerang is the rollercoaster that replaced Knott's historic Corkscrew Rollercoaster.)

This next shot was also taken last year. I'm not sure why the Sky Cabin car was left at the top of the tower. One employee told me that it had to do with weights....or was it counterweights? I don't know the difference, but it sounds good! Another employee told me that they thought it was "stuck" in that position, because in it's last days of operation, it kept getting stuck at the top of the tower with people inside the cabin!

Even though the attraction remained closed, this sign continued to hang on the side of a nearby snack stand....and it's still there today. Note how the tower is depicted with it's old paint job (after the red and white checkerboard pattern, but before the current red and white stripes).

The safety/information sign can also still be found at the entrance to the attraction.

But Sally and Peppermint Patty are there to keep us from entering the attraction's queue. (They should also be apologizing for their scratched and dirty sign.)

Well, last Thursday when I stopped by Knott's to ride Windseeker, I noticed the cabin actually going up the tower! I went over to get a closer look and to see if it would come back down. When I got closer to the tower, I noticed something odd about the observation car. Can you see what's missing in this photo?

How about if we zoom in a bit?

Okay, let's get even closer. Hey that man is leaning OUT of the window! The glass is gone! That's a good thing considering the last time I rode in the cabin, the view was very "cloudy" from all the scratches on the glass.

Now the cabin is coming back down......

....however, it was not rotating like it used to.

I spoke with a couple ride operators and they said that Knott's is trying to get the cabin in working condition again so that it can be reopened. I really hope this happens! Knott's needs more variety. I would enjoy getting to ride this attraction again just as much as I enjoy riding Windseeker. And I'm sure there are people out there that would ride the Sky Cabin that would NEVER go on Windseeker. Everything doesn't have to be a thrill ride! Bring back Bear-y Tales and the Haunted Shack! (I know, I know....I work that plea into a lot of my Knott's posts, but it will likely never happen!)

The railings in the foreground of these next two pics are located in what used to be the loading area for the old Parachute Sky Jump attraction.

Compare the entrance sign above with the sign in the vintage photo below. Was everything better in the past? Maybe not everything, but that sign certainly was. It looks like they are using the same sign posts after all these years, but today there is a bit of rust coming through the paint.

This was actually the entrance for just the Sky Jump. If we zoom in, we can see a special sign pointing us in the direction of the Sky Cabin entrance which was located on the other side of the tower. (By the way, this photo was from a "Knott's Employees" group on Facebook. The page stated that all content is public, so I hope that means it's okay to repost this photo on my blog!)

Just for fun, here's a vintage postcard of the Sky Jump and Sky Cabin and it also shows another version of the Sky Jump sign.

If the Sky Cabin does reopen, I've got my "C" ticket ready!

Or maybe they would still accept this old "Rides Aplenty" unlimited-use ticket!


Vintage Disneyland Tickets said...

Awesome post, love the vintage tickets!

Although I'd never ride this again "it kept getting stuck at the top of the tower with people inside the cabin!" would be one of the reasons, this attraction is awesome and practically historic. I'm glad to see the are trying to keep it running.

Removing the windows might actually be better for me, it was really funky inside before.

Did they indicate when it might reopen?

One vote here for the return of Bear-y Tales and the Haunted Shack,

TokyoMagic! said...

VDT, they didn't say when they might reopen it. But seeing them work on it was encouraging. It went up and down a couple more times before I left.

I'm assuming they are going to put new windows in....or maybe they will just put a mesh over the openings like DCA has on it's Ferris wheel. That might actually work better because I do remember the air in the cabin being very stale. I also remember they had a small air-conditioner that was mounted on the back wall of the cabin, but I'm not sure if that was always running.

Major Pepperidge said...

Oh man, I would love to ride this! I don't think I ever have, to be honest. I'd bring small printouts of my photos from the 70's and try to match the views for some good "then and now" comparisons.

I wonder what they can do about the inevitable jerks who will want to scratch the plexi (or whatever it is). I suggest a high voltage electric shock!

Was part of the floor of the Sky Cabin always see-through (a metal mesh or something)?

TokyoMagic! said...

Major, riders only sit in the thin outer ring of the cabin and face outward. That area is completely enclosed with walls and a solid floor. Behind the seating area is a hollow/open area that you never get to see. I guess there is a slit in the floor of that area that allows you to see through it from the ground.

I remember an employee always rode with the guests, but I don't remember if they did a "walk-around" of the cabin while it was in motion.....or if there is even room for them to do that. Even if they did, there are punks out there that would be quick enough to etch something into the new glass. If they went with a wire mesh this time, I think it would really solve that problem. I guess we'll have to wait and see.....

TokyoMagic! said...

P.S. Oh and Major, your aerial photos that you've posted in the past are fantastic. I would LOVE to see "then and now" comparisons. I have some pics that I took from the Sky Cabin in 2007 and was thinking of posting them here, but it was kind of an overcast day and when you throw the scratched and cloudy windows into the mix, they really didn't turn out that great. Maybe I'll go ahead and post them though.

Major Pepperidge said...

Chris, chances are pretty good that you will be at Knott's WAY before I ever get back there. If you get inspired and want to take some photos yourself (when the new clear glass is in place), I would be happy to let you use my pix for a before and after thing!

Snow White Archive said...

Is there like an emergency stairwell inside the tower? Or when the ride would get stuck at the top, did the guests just have to wait it out until they could get it going again?

JG said...

Ha, I think riding that thing would be "all the fun you could stand".

There has to be some way to get down, an emergency stair is a must from a thing like that.

Maybe they just hand you a parachute.


TokyoMagic! said...

SWS and JG, I know there is a stairwell inside the tower itself, but it goes all the way up to a hatch on the very top of the tower (near the base of the giant "K"), so I'm not sure how they would get the people from inside the Sky Cabin up to that point so that they could come down the stairs. I don't know for sure, but I'm guessing that the people just had to wait it out until they could get the car going again. Scary!

TokyoMagic! said...

Ooops, I just noticed in the second pic of my post that their is a fire escape looking contraption hanging over the top of the tower. I've never noticed that before! I don't think it was there back when they built the tower....or maybe back then, the Parachute ride apparatus (which has since been removed) hid it from view. Geez, imagine if the people had to exit through the roof of the Sky Cabin, climb up that fire escape to the top of the tower and then walk down 20 stories on foot. Double scary!

JG said...

Better to walk 20 floors than fall them...

Thanks for the follow-up!


Allen P said...

TM, They are going to put the glass windows back in. Finding a solution for the graffiti is kind of the hold up to opening it. I've heard of two possible solutions; first putting an extra piece of plexiglas on the inside and/or a camera to monitor the guests.

The last time it got stuck midway, just before they shut it down, they had to have the Fire Department come in with the hook and ladder to take people off.

TokyoMagic! said...

Hey Allen P....thanks for the info! I can't imagine being evacuated from the cabin half-way up the tower.....or even a quarter of the way up it! Yikes!

Even if they put cameras in the cabin, there will be kids that will be fast enough to destroy the new glass. They should use the extra layer of plexiglass, I suppose. At least that way they could replace the plexiglass easier and cheaper than replacing the glass.....but my guess is, they probably won't even bother replacing the plexiglass. I better ride that thing as soon as it opens and take lots of photos before the view becomes "cloudy" again!

JG said...

There are glazing films that can be applied to reduce the effects of diamond scratching, hopefully, their designers will use them.

I think it's a little odd that they wouldn't have a full time staff person on that thing, who is going to help riders out to that 20 story exit stair?

Used to be, you could trust people to be careful, but now... supervision is a must.


TokyoMagic! said...

JG, I didn't know about the glazing films...yes, hopefully they can use something like that. In the past, they always had a ride operator in the cabin with you. They stood at the control panel, but since the cabin and it's seating area is shaped like a donut, they can't see what's happening on the other side of the cabin. And because there is very limited leg room between the seats and the outer wall and windows, I don't think they could do a "walk around" in the cabin even if they were able to leave the control panel.

I remember those days when you could just trust people.....or at least MOST people!

Unknown said...

Loved the Haunted Shack! Went there every visit to Knotts -- it was our favorite thing there. They really need to bring it back; the decision to close was wrong, pure and simple.