Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Sky Cabin At Knott's Reopens! - Part 6

After a slight break, it's now time for more "then and now" photos taken from the Sky Cabin high above Knott's Berry Farm. Hey looky to the photo of the Sky's Greased Lightening! Remember that attraction?

Today, we are looking in a southern direction. This is the current view.

And through the magic of Major Pepperidge's time machine, we can take in the same view as it appeared in 1977. That round structure in the lower right corner of this first pic was the Whirlwind attraction (later replaced by Greased Lightening).

Here's the current pic again, but with some of the sights highlighted. I mention them often, and there they are....the Haunted Shack (circled in red) and Knott's Berry Tales (circled in yellow). The property that the Haunted Shack used to sit on is now the location of the Screamin' Swing, an up-charge thrill attraction (meaning it's not included in the price of admission). The old Knott's Bear-y Tales/Kingdom of the Dinosaurs space is unfortunately not being used at this time, but it's just begging for a new dark ride!

The Buena Park Hotel can be seen off in the distance (circled in blue). The hotel was purchased by Knott's in 1998 and is now called the Knott's Berry Farm Hotel. The white circle is around a section of the Knott's parking lot that for years was just an empty field. I remember hearing a story when I worked at Knott's, that some guy owned the property and had been feuding with the Knott Family for years and refused to sell it to them....but then as soon as he died, his family did just that. Maybe that was only an urban myth. I think I remember hearing something very similar about the guy that used to own the strawberry field down the street from Disneyland (now the Toy Story parking lot and supposedly the future site of Disney's "third gate" in Anaheim.) Does anyone out there know the truth about these pieces of property?

The Calico Mine Train's show building can be seen on the left (circled in orange). The side facing the Roaring 20's was once themed to look like a vintage bath house. Here's a shot of the sign that used to hang on on the backside of the show building.

The Charleston Circle fountain can be seen circled in pink. This fountain was actually a movie prop that was used in the film, "Hello Dolly." When it was first installed at Knott's, it was not a working fountain and it's base was just a planter.

In the eighties, someone got the idea to have it actually function as a fountain. Note the water on the ground in the photo below. At first, Knott's did not make the pool below big enough and water constantly splashed all over. Some time later, a larger basin was built to correct the problem.

This is how the fountain appeared a few months ago, but the last time I went to Knott's, this area was under construction and it looked like the trees had been removed and replaced with smaller ones. That's a Johnny Rockets visible in the background. It opened in 2006 in the space formerly occupied by the old Lindy's hot dog stand and also a portion of the Buffalo Nickel Arcade.

The area circled in green in the vintage photo is the old Starlight Pavilion stage. In 1986, this area was converted to Pacific Pavilion and a pool was built in front of it that featured "Dancing Dolphins" and "Diving Doggies."

Today the area is part of the Perilous Plunge attraction. Geez, that ride has to be one of biggest eyesores at Knott's! I would trade it in a heartbeat for the Whirlwind/Greased Lightening and Propeller Spin/Whirlpool attractions that used to sit in it's spot.....along with the small grove of palm trees that used to exist just to the right of the Starlight Pavilion.

The purple circle (just below the hotel) is around the old Knott's Preserving Kitchen. This building sits in the backstage area, but was converted to office space when a new preserving plant was built in Placentia in the eighties. That newer plant is still producing jams and jellies under the Knott's Berry Farm name, but it is now owned by the J.M. Smucker Co.

And finally, the area circled in black in the photos, is the site of Lakeside Terrace, an employee restaurant that was built in 1982 on the land between the Cloud 9 Ballroom and the Calico Mine Train. This article from the employee publication, "The Berry Vine", talks about a contest to name the new "Employee Dining Room" and shows an artist's rendering of the exterior.

This photo appeared in an issue of "The Berry Vine" one month later. There was originally a patio/balcony outside the dining room where you could sit, eat your lunch and enjoy a view of the Corkscrew going by over the lake below. It was pretty nice. Unfortunately, the balcony has since been demolished. The floor to ceiling windows are still there, but I would really like to know why they got rid of that balcony. Also, I've heard from a current Knott's employee that the restaurant inside closed years ago, leaving only vending machines available to the employees for breaks and lunches. This person also informed me that the tables inside are always covered thick with trash and that nobody clears them off. Nice! Who made that decision to neglect something that was built to benefit the employees?

This is how the building appears today. It's not the most attractive piece of architecture, but it did look nicer with it's awning-covered balcony. When the Corkscrew was removed, the lake below also disappeared and was eventually replaced with remote control cars. Maybe they should change the name of the building from Lakeside Terrace to Roadside Terrace? Hall Of Vending Machines? The Big Ugly Gray Box?

There will be one more part to this series, which will include some miscellaneous views from high above Knott's!


Major Pepperidge said...

What the hell was "Greased Lighting"?!?

The Screamin' Swing has been practically riderless on my two most recent visits to the park. And why does it have its own fee? Strange.

I never knew that Knott's had dolphins and "diving doggies".

Thanks for another post with fascinating "then and now" comparisons!

TokyoMagic! said...

Major, I don't know if you remember the was one of those "Himalayan bobsled" type of attractions that just goes around in a circle, but dips up and down as it spins. Greased Lightening went into the same structure and was very similar, but it's cars were hinged and swung out as it went around in the circle. They were supposed to look like clouds with lightening bolts on the side, but they sort of looked like giant marshmallows (see that first pic in the post).

The Screamin Swing is usually riderless when I go to Knott's too. What a complete waste! I didn't mention that it wasn't even the first thing that replaced the Haunted Shack, there was a short-lived bungee type of attraction there first that also had an up-charge. I guess they are afraid if they included these in the price of admission, then everyone would want to ride them and they would actually have a line. Make sense? No! I wonder if the number of people that pay to ride it covers the salary of the employees that have to operate it? They should have just left the Haunted Shack alone!

The Dolphin Pavilion was also short-lived. I have a friend that worked at Lindy's which backed up against the holding pool for the dolphins. From what he's told me, the pool wasn't very large and the Dolphins weren't very happy. Who did Knott's think they were anyway.....Marineland?

Thanks again for allowing me to use your vintage pics for this series of posts!

Snow White Sanctum said...

Greta comparison photos and vintage pics.

Connie Moreno said...

Wait... "That newer plant is still producing jams and jellies under the Knott's Berry Farm name, but it is now owned by the J.M. Smucker Co." WHAT?? Aw, hell...I guess I won't be buying Knott's brand anymore.

Connie Moreno said...

I forgot to mention that I did see the dolphin show a few times but always felt that the dolphins weren't properly cared for. Just my gut talking...

TokyoMagic! said...

Connie, yeah, the Knott family sold that division of the company off even before they ever sold the park to Cedar Fair. It doesn't mean they aren't using the same recipes....but I couldn't say for sure.

Vintage Disneyland Tickets said...

Awesome post! Love the colored circles and your detailed descriptions! Hahaha, I remember when the fountain was always wet on the ground! The "Bathhouse" is a little odd, I'm guessing they didn't actually have a bathhouse?

The Big Ugly Grey Box is one of my favorite attractions - Knot!

TokyoMagic! said...

VDT, thanks! The Bath House & Plunge was just a fake facade that was used to dress up the backside of the Calico Mine Train show building!

Chris Merritt said...

I remember seeing that employee dining room (especially during Haunt) and wondering about it - it was like this secret backstage area that was on full view to the public. Strange! Amazing posts - keep up the great work!

TokyoMagic! said...

Thanks, Chris! Yeah, I'm wondering if that is why they got rid of the balcony....maybe it was too visible to the park guests.

Lara Olson said...

Hello, I wanted to thank you for your post and the vintage photos of Knott's as well as the great descriptions. My father worked in the merchandise warehouse at Knott's for 51 years, and my grandparents worked there too. At the Pacific Pavilion that you mention opened in 1986, the dolphins names were Happy and Soda. Their original trainer, Joel Silverman, is a famous trainer who worked with bengal tigers and was educated at Moorpark College before working for Sea World in the late 70's or early 80's. He now trains dogs and has two books out, has a TV series and homes here in Southern California as well as Reno Nevada. Their longest running trainer was Craig Bonde, and later he was assisted by a female trainer named Michelle Moulton. Craig was amazing to me (I was 12 years old in 1986 and fell in love with Happy and Soda), and he let me meet them and was so kind to my crazy teenage, dolphin trainer -wannabe self. The dolphin show ran until about 1993 or so and at one point, Happy and Soda were moved to the Florida Keys and replaced with somewhere between 3-5 other dolphins. Their main pool was not bad as far as space, but the backstage pool was as mentioned very small. As far as I know Happy and Soda were well taken care of, however as broken hearted as I was when they were moved, I'm glad they found a better home with round the clock veterinary care and staff there 24 hours a day.

I know Craig Bonde moved to the entertainment department (stage and lighting) and even as a stuntman after Happy and Soda departed, and not sure what happened to any of the other trainers after that, or the replacement dolphins. I know a male dolphin died on site there but I do not know the cause. Marine mammals are animals that require highly specialized care and can get viruses like we do too.

I'm very happy to have had a chance to visit memory lane on your site. Thank you again, and I hope my small contribution helps with your history keeping.

Lara Boswell (formerly Lara Olson)

TokyoMagic! said...

Lara, thank you for commenting and providing all of that great information!!! :-)