Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Knott's Kingdom of the Dinosaurs - Mega Post

With the grand opening of Knott's Berry Farm's "Voyage to the Iron Reef" taking place today, I thought it would be fun to revisit one of the rides that used to exist in that same attraction space.

Kingdom of the Dinosaurs opened in 1987 above the Buffalo Nickel Arcade, in what was then called "The Roaring 20's" section of the park. Out in front of the attraction was Rocko, a Triceratops that was sculpted out of serpentine marble by artist John Cody. The sculpture was started in January of 1988 and was completed the following month. During that time, visitors to the park could watch Mr. Cody sculpting Rocko out in the open, over near the Wheeler Dealer Bumper Cars.

After the closure of Kingdom of the Dinosaurs in 2004, Rocko was moved to the center of the Huff 'n Puff attraction in Camp Snoopy (pictured below). Unfortunately, he disappeared from this location not too long ago, and is currently nowhere to be found inside the park. I certainly hope he is being stored safely somewhere backstage. Maybe he is resting comfortably with the large chicken that used to sit in front of Mrs. Knott's Chicken Dinner Restaurant.

This mural was located in the attraction's loading and unloading area. It was supposed to represent Los Angeles/Hollywood in the 1920's.

Unfortunately, I don't have any pics of the attraction's first scene, which was the professor's laboratory. After leaving the laboratory, guests would see images from the Renaissance and Byzantine eras flash briefly across a cave wall. Following that, riders found themselves in the scene featuring Early Man.

I somehow also missed taking photos of the Sloth and Wooly Mammoth animatronics, but I did get a pic of the Saber-toothed Tiger.

Here's Dimetrodon.....


I have to say that these figures looked MUCH better in the dark under dramatic show lighting, and without the harshness of the camera flash on them. This was especially the case with the flying Pteranodon that would circle above the riders below.

Two young Triceratops....

Tyrannosaurus Rex with the adult Triceratops on the far right.....


Next door to Kingdom of the Dinosaurs was the Dinostore Digs shop. This shop later became the Ride Warriors shop and also the seasonal Elvira's "Boo-tique." (I found these exterior and interor pics of the store on the internet and wanted to give credit to whoever took them, but I was not able to locate the "owner" of the images. If these are your pics, please leave a comment below and I will either remove them or give you credit.)

Here is a park merchandise bag from around the time that the new ride and shop opened.

A postcard from the same time period:

This graphic of Snoopy with a Triceratops was from a souvenir T-Shirt.

I bought this pin in the Dinostore Digs shop back in the summer of 1987.

This button was also sold in the park during that first summer.

These next two buttons were exclusive giveaways for employees only.

The button below, shows a Triceratops clinging to the new "Slingshot" attraction that opened in Fiesta Village that same summer. That attraction's name was later changed to "WaveSwinger" and is still operating in the park today.

This T-shirt was also an employee exclusive and was given out at the 1987 Employee Summer Kick-off Meeting. These pre-summer meetings were held every year and a T-shirt was usually given to employees at that time.

The Berry Vine was an employee newsletter that came out every Friday (which also happened to be payday). This issue shows the Tyrannosaurus Rex figure sitting outside the attraction right after it was delivered to the park, as well as a pic of it being lifted into the air by a crane. There is also an article about the park's new "Five-Year Plan." The "major new attraction" that was alluded to for 1988, would have been Big Foot Rapids.

When I was working at the park, I had heard that the T-Rex was dropped on the ground while they were lifing it up into the attraction, and that supposedly it's complex movement was compromised because of that. Does anyone know if this was true? I do remember riding it during an employee preview and thinking that it's motion seemed pretty limited.

Cathy Rigby, who played Peter Pan on a semi-regular basis at the La Mirada Civic Auditorium, brought her production to Knott's for a couple weeks in May of 1987. I had already been fortunate enough to see Sandy Duncan play the part of Peter Pan at the Pantages Theater in 1981....with Christopher Hewett (Mr. Belvedere!) as Captain Hook.

Note that tickets for employee night at Disneyland were only $12! Also, the Knott's employee bowling league was meeting at the Aztec Bowl. This bowling alley was located just up the street from Knott's, in the spot where the Pirate's Dinner Adventure is located today.

The ACM Awards used to be held every year at Knott's in the Good Time Theater. Also, the bucking bronco in The Pitchur Gallery was being replaced after 20 years. Another 28 years has now passed. I wonder if it has been replaced since 1987? And Knott's was selling a mule?

Here is the press kit for Summer of 1987....or at least the part of it that pertains to Kingdom of the Dinosaurs.

The graphics on the upper right of the Fact Sheet below, show silhouettes of the three new attractions that were opening in Fiesta Village that summer, Slingshot, Tampico Tumbler, and Gran Slammer. This was the year that the Tijuana Taxi was taken out and the Merry Go Round was moved to it's current location by the lake, in order to make room for the three new attractions. I scanned this press kit quite a while ago and did not scan the pages with the info on the Fiesta Village rides. I'm not sure why I did that, but I will try to get them scanned and posted soon.

And last up for today, we have a Kingdom of the Dinosaurs souvenir cup that was for sale at various food service locations throughout the park, during the first year the attraction was open. By the next summer, it was replaced with a Big Foot Rapids souvenir cup.

I hope everyone enjoyed this Kingdom of the Dinosaurs Mega Post! If you want to check out a previous post I did back in 2010, showing what was left of the old attraction's entrance and exit ramps as well as the wonderful neon "Roaring 20's" sign that used to sit on top of the building, click here: Kingdom of the Dinosaurs Remnants.

6-21-15 **POST UPDATE** : I forgot to include these next two pics when I originally wrote this post last month. You can still purchase a Kingdom of the Dinosaurs souvenir at Knott's Berry Farm today! This older pressed penny machine is currently located at the entrance to the Ghost Town Arcade (next door to the Ghost Town Bakery). Now if I could just get a Haunted Shack or Knott's Bear-y Tales pressed penny.....