Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Camp Snoopy at Knott's Berry Farm - 40th Anniversary (Mega Post!)

Camp Snoopy opened at Knott's Berry Farm, on July 1, 1983.  I had been working at Knott's for a little over a year, when this new area opened on the former site of a guest parking lot.  That summer, employees received one of these pinback buttons, and were encouraged to wear them while working.  These buttons were not sold in the park.

Employees were also given this "employees-only" T-shirt.

Before Camp Snoopy opened to the public, employees were invited to preview the new area.

Knott's published a weekly employee newsletter called, The Berry Vine.  The July 1, 1983 issue featured an article on the opening of Camp Snoopy, as well as photos from "Employee Night."

Notice the adults playing in the former Beagle Ballroom ("ball pit").  Adults were originally going to be allowed into the attraction, and actually were allowed on the employee preview nights.  However, we were informed that because the adults on the preview nights were too rambunctious, management changed their minds before it opened to the public, and designated it a "kids-only" attraction.

This article from the same issue, talks about a McDonald's-Camp Snoopy promotion.  According to the article, this was the first time the fast-food chain had ever entered into a national promotion with an amusement park.

These are the souvenir Camp Snoopy glasses that were sold at McDonald's, that summer of '83.

A Knott's discount coupon was included inside every souvenir glass.

I saved this advertisement from the July 10, 1983 edition of  The Los Angeles Times.  Incidentally, this was the same summer that Disneyland's "New Fantasyland" opened.

These next two pre-opening ads were from "Great Times," which was an annual summer "supplement" to The Los Angeles Times.

"Beatlemania" was also debuting at Knott's that summer.

Now, we will take a look at some of Camp Snoopy's original attractions and features.

When Camp Snoopy was being built, the park's Stagecoach route was extended around the new area, and included a new wooden trestle over the entrance.

The waterfall to the left of the entrance (with Snoopy & his little bird friends), was not an opening day feature, and did not appear until the 1990s.

However, the sign to the right of the entrance was original, and remained in place for over 30 years, before being removed. Why was the sign removed, did you ask?  I have no idea, but it has been gone now for almost 10 years.  I always thought it was a cute idea, especially with it's declaration of the population being, "Peanuts."  It also reminded me of the entrance sign to Bear Country, at Disneyland.

Just inside the entrance to Camp Snoopy, was the Rocking Horse Toy Shop (Snoopy's Camp Store, today).

Above the store's entrance is a large mechanical clock.  This clock also reminded me of Disneyland, upon seeing.....and hearing it for the very first time.  There is a very loud "tick-tock" sound that comes from the clock, and just like a certain famous Disney clock, it was designed to put on a show, every fifteen minutes.

When the clock would reach the quarter hour, the gears would all start spinning around.  Next, Snoopy would rotate towards the crowd, raise his hand up to his mouth, and "blow" his bugle.

Finally, Snoopy's little bird friends would strike the bells the appropriate number of times, to announce the correct time of day.  Sadly, the clock either broke, or was turned off many years ago.  I'm guessing that it broke, because the audio continued to work, so you would still hear the sound of the gears spinning around, the sound of Snoopy's bugle, and the sound of the bells ringing, but nothing moved other than the hands on the clock and it's swinging pendulum.  Sad!  By some miracle, if the clock has finally been restored, someone please chime in (no pun intended) and let us know!

Located across from the toy shop, was "Knott's Landing," where you could board the Walter K. Steamboat, for a trip around the neighboring "Reflection Lake."

Unfortunately, the Walter K. was removed in 2007, and replaced with the "spinning" roller coaster, Sierra Sidewinder.  It's route had already been drastically shortened prior to that, for the construction of another roller coaster, Silver Bullet, which opened in 2004.

The "Knott's Landing" boat dock sign (seen above, on the boathouse), turned up in an auction of Knott's items, back in 2017.  The winning bid was $1,075.50!

The Walter K. can be seen below, cruising past The Church of Reflections, and The Little Chapel by the Lake, the structure that used to house the "Transfiguration of Christ" attraction.   Both of these churches had stood at the edge of Reflection Lake for decades, but were removed in 2003 for the construction of Silver Bullet.  (The Church of Reflections was relocated to the Knott's parking lot, across Beach Blvd., and unfortunately, The Little Chapel by the Lake was demolished.)

The Walter K. Steamboat was a nod to the Cordelia K. Steamboat (below), which had been located across the street at the Knott's Lagoon.  The Lagoon area closed in January of 1983, six months before the opening of Camp Snoopy, and was paved over for additional guest parking.

As a side note, I think it's funny when the Knott's marketing department doesn't even know the history of their own park.  A Knott's collector's pin was released in 2021, featuring the Cordelia K.  The info on the back of the pin card stated that the Cordelia K. was relocated to Camp Snoopy in 1983, and remained there until the construction of Silver Bullet (in 2003).  Not only was the Camp Snoopy boat not the same boat as the one from the Lagoon, but it didn't even have the same name.  Sheesh!

The koi pond in Camp Snoopy was also removed (replaced by "Woodstock's Airmail" ride), along with the neighboring Animal Farm.

The Animal Farm and it's "Mule-Drawn Merry-Go-Round" ride, had been relocated from Fiesta Village to Camp Snoopy in 1983, and was renamed Pig Pen's Petting Zoo.

Here's a publicity photo of a "kid feeding a kid," in the new Petting Zoo.

I took this photo inside the Petting Zoo, back in 2002, about a year before it was removed.  Notice the "food pellet" dispenser mounted to the post, on the far left.  Food had just been purchased and placed on that bench, because someone was afraid to feed the goat with their bare hands.  Hey, do we really need all of our fingers?

Pig Pen's Petting Zoo was replaced in 2003, by a new Camp Snoopy Theater.

The original Camp Snoopy Theater was located just slightly north of this.  In the early years, the theater hosted such shows as "Snoopy's Animal Friends," "Feathered Follies" (as seen on the posted sign, below), and the "Campy Snoopy Magician" (magician, Tom Ogden).

When the new theater replaced the Petting Zoo, the old stage structure just became a giant "sign" for a new carnival-type flat ride called, "Joe Cool's Gr8 Sk8."

After the removal of that ride in 2013, the structure became the backdrop for a "meet 'n' greet" with the Peanuts characters.

Just across the walkway, guests can board the Grand Sierra Scenic Railroad, a 24" gauge steam engine train.

The train used to go all the way around the perimeter of Reflection Lake.  However, with the construction of the "Silver Bullet" roller coaster in 2003, it's route was shortened, and now it only passes by the eastern edge of the lake.

 Note the "Cordelia K." painted on the side of the train's engine.  (The engine was originally labeled with a "#83".)

Moving further north, and past the Grizzly Creek Lodge (which we'll come back to, shortly), there used to be a long suspension bridge, going over the main walkway.  Guests had to climb up some stone steps to reach this bridge.  The steps still exist today, but the bridge does not.

The photo below shows just one of two sections of the suspension bridge.  There was a tower with a stationary platform, between the two sections.  This area also gave off a bit of a "Disney" vibe, with it's suspension bridge above, and it's pontoon bridges, below.

Today, the pontoon bridges still exist, and if you look carefully at the rocks above them, you can tell where the suspension bridge used to be attached.  The rockwork at the very peak doesn't quite match, because it was added later, to close up the opening where guests exited and entered the suspension bridge.  Again, there are steps that still exist today, which now just lead up to a rock wall instead of the bridge.

The same thing can be seen on the opposite side of the walkway, where the other end of the bridge was attached.  And below that rockwork is, "The Cave Inn," a snack bar which goes back to opening day of Camp Snoopy.

Located on top of The Cave Inn, is the queue for the Balloon Race ride.

The Balloon Race was also a Camp Snoopy opening day attraction, and is still operating, today.

Another surviving opening day attraction is the "Huff 'N' Puff," a child-powered car ride.

The cars follow an hourglass-shaped track configuration, and at one time, used to circle around "Rocco" the dinosaur.  Rocco was carved out of serpentine marble by sculptor, John Cody, and was originally located at the entrance to the former, "Kingdom of the Dinosaurs" attraction.  Does anyone know where Rocco is today?  I hope he didn't end up in the same place as The Haunted Shack!

Located next door to the Huff 'N' Puff, were the Beagle Ballroom and the Bounce 'N' Pounce attractions.  Both of these have since been removed.

At some point, the Bounce 'N' Pounce's original wood building was demolished and replaced by a new structure, with a giant inflatable Snoopy on the roof.  Today, "Charlie Brown's Kite Flyer" ride is in this location.

Next door to the Bounce 'N' Pounce, was the "Tubs Of Fun" ride.  This was a simple "spinner" type of kiddie ride.  I don't have any photos of this attraction at Knott's, but I did find a version of the ride at another venue.  The Knott's version had wooden boards around the outside of the vehicles, to make them look like old-fashioned "washtubs."

The "Tubs of Fun" was replaced in the early 1990s, by the Rocky Mountain Trucking Co. ride.

At the northernmost end of Camp Snoopy, is the High Sierra Ferris Wheel.  This attraction is still standing, although it's original entrance structure and signage (seen below) were removed in 2014.

The views from atop the Ferris Wheel are pretty nice.  This is the view looking to the south, above the treetops of Camp Snoopy.

Here's the view looking west.

Looking to the north, we can see across La Palma Ave., to the land formerly occupied by the California Alligator Farm.

And to the east, we get a glimpse through the trees, of the Knott's-themed mural on the bank building, across Beach Blvd.

Now we will be working our way back, on the opposite side of Camp Snoopy.

The Old Mill Funhouse included activities like a rope ladder, a spiral slide, fun house mirrors, and a mirror maze.  In the late eighties, after the closure of the park's "Knott's Bear-y Tales" dark ride, some of the ride's props and figures were moved over to the fun house, and it was renamed the "Bear-y Tales Play House."

The building was re-themed one more time, and became the "Peanuts Playhouse," but was eventually torn down in 2008.

Behind the Old Mill Fun House, was the Timberline Twister "kiddie" coaster.

The coaster had multiple paint jobs over the years.

Knott's originally promoted the fact that the coaster's trains went between the natural "V" shaped branches of a real tree.  That tree was cut down some years later, and the coaster itself permanently closed, just this year.

There is one Camp Snoopy attraction that has had two different names, and three different locations.  That attraction is the Flying Ace ride.  The loading station for Montezooma's Revenge can be seen in the background of this next image.  The ride used to be located on the western side of Camp Snoopy, between the Balloon Race attraction and the Huff 'n' Puff car ride, and was originally called, The Red Baron.

In later years, it was moved to the eastern side of Camp Snoopy, between the original Camp Snoopy Theater, and Pig Pen's Petting Zoo.

Prior to the opening of Camp Snoopy, the ride was located in the Roaring 20s Airfield section of the park, between the Airfield Eatery and the "Propeller Spin" attraction.

And finally we arrive at the restaurant that serves the area, the Grizzly Creek Lodge (renamed Lucy's Lunchbox at one point, but returned to it's original name in 2014).

When the location opened in 1983, a couple of the most popular items on the menu were the miniature hot dogs and hamburgers, which were served in tiny little paper sleeves and cardboard boxes.  However, Knott's did away with the "miniature food," many years ago.

After the restaurant opened, children's birthday parties started being held in a private/reserved section on the second floor. 

In the 1980s and 1990s, all birthday party attendees used to receive one of these buttons:

This beautiful mural has been located on the upper floor of the restaurant, since it's opening.

And speaking of murals......some years later, this mural was added to the lobby of the restaurant.

For some inexplicable reason, Flintstones-themed coin-operated machines were also added to the lobby, around the same time as the mural.  Talk about a clash of themes, and intellectual properties!  The machines were eventually removed, along with the mural.

An interesting thing about the mural was, that it depicted the Peanuts characters driving vehicles from the Wheeler Dealer Bumper Cars ride, which is located on the other side of the park, in the the Boardwalk area (formerly, the Roaring 20s).  And even more interesting.....the characters were driving these "bumper cars" through a forest setting.  Also, those particular vehicles hadn't been used in the park, for many years.  The vintage style bumper cars had been replaced with more modern-looking ones, long before the mural was ever painted.  Here's what the original cars looked like:

Now here are some "odds and ends," just to make this truly qualify as a "Mega Post."

When Camp Snoopy opened, the Rocking Horse Toy Shop (Snoopy's Camp Store) originally had a separate entrance/exit at the front of the park, just to the right of the Knott's Main Entrance.  That part of the store still exists today, as seen below.  The recessed archway with the two light fixtures on either side of it, used to be an open portico, which led to a doorway into the shop.  And those two square architectural features to the left (outlined in purple), used to be store windows.

The first summer that Camp Snoopy was open, an employee was posted at that doorway to the toy shop, allowing guests to exit the park through the store.  What I can't remember for sure is, if they ever let guests enter, or re-enter the park through the store.  I want to say that they did at least allow re-entry into the park, if you already had a hand stamp.  I know for sure that they allowed guests to use it as an exit from the park, at least for that very first summer, but I don't when they discontinued that.  It was probably when they got tired of paying an employee just to stand there at the open door!  The lower part of the "employee preview" invitation (seen earlier in this post) does show that at least on those preview nights, they were allowing people to enter the park through these doors.

When Camp Snoopy was being built, some employees were speculating that the reason for the separate outside entrance into Camp Snoopy, might be to allow guests to purchase a ticket at a reduced price, just for Camp Snoopy alone.  This assumption was being made because the children's area across the street, Knott's Lagoon, was closing and was basically being replaced by Camp Snoopy.  The Lagoon had been there for several decades, and was always free-of-charge to walk around the area, with guests just purchasing tickets for the individual rides. The area also contained a train ride, a steamboat ride around a lake, and a children's play area, all of which were now being recreated in Camp Snoopy.  I do wonder if this was the original intention for that separate entrance, and then after construction was completed, someone changed their mind about offering a separate admission ticket for just the new children's area.  I remember that there were plenty of complaints from guests, when Knott's got rid of the admission-free Lagoon area.

As mentioned at the beginning of this post, Camp Snoopy was built on the former site of a guest parking lot.  The Knott's San Francisco Cable Cars used to go right through this parking lot, taking guests to and from the Main Entrance, as well as the Knott's shopping and dining area ("Knott's Marketplace").  The photo below, was taken approximately from where the High Sierra Ferris Wheel sits today.

This map shows the location of the parking lot, which was that grassy area just to the right of the Main Entrance.  In the early days, that parking lot was mostly unpaved, with guests parking on the actual grass.  A Cable Car is shown going around the lot, and the Knott's Lagoon area can also be seen, just across the street.

For several decades, at the corner of that parking lot, stood the iconic figures of a prospector and his burro, created by artist Claude Bell.

When Camp Snoopy was being built, The figures were carefully removed and the rockwork beneath them was demolished.  A wall was then built around the new area, and the figures were placed atop the wall.

At some point, and I'm not sure exactly when, Claude Bell's original figures were replaced, because the ones that are there today are standing in a different pose.  There are other details as well, which don't match the originals.

The figures can also be seen from inside Camp Snoopy, especially now that they have trimmed some of the tree branches away from them.

This article from that same July 1, 1983 issue of The Berry Vine, talks about Claude Bell's inspiration for his prospector statue, and the pair's return to the corner after a temporary absence.

****Bonus Items****

Here's an issue of The Berry Vine, from February of 1983, which featured an article about the "new children's area" that was currently under construction.  The article provides a good descriptive 'tour" of the area, explaining what one could expect to see once it opened.

The article also stated that the "Cordelia K." steamboat "will be moved over from the Lagoon lake and join another sternwheeler."  So, the original plan was to create a new boat (the Walter K.), and also, to move the existing Cordelia K. over to Camp Snoopy.  I wonder what happened to that plan?   Maybe when lifting the Cordelia K. out of the water, they dropped it on the ground and had to scrap it, just like Disney supposedly did with their steamboat, "The Admiral Joe Fowler," at Walt Disney World.  The article also mentions how the "Ball Crawl" attraction (Beagle Ballroom) was going to have two separate sections, with one of them being designated for adults and older kids.....but we know why that never happened!

This part of the article talks about a Computer Center, which I did not mention earlier.  That building is located next to the Ferris Wheel, and is now "Peppermint Patty's Candy Cabin."  The article also states that most of the trees in the former parking lot were being saved, and how many of the new attractions and buildings were being planned around those existing trees.

The article also mentions that the model of Camp Snoopy could be viewed at the Knott's Main Entrance.  I remember the model being out on display, during the months leading up to Camp Snoopy's opening.  Here's a press photo of Charles Schulz, Virginia Knott, and Marion Knott viewing the model.

This next photo, which was taken the same day, shows the three of them standing in the middle of the Camp Snoopy construction site.

There is footage on YouTube (I will include a link at the end of this post), showing Virginia Knott taking that "ranger" hat out of a bag and giving it to Charles Schulz.  I wonder if she ever sold those in Virginia's Gift Shop, or anywhere else in the park?  I really don't remember seeing any guests wearing them.  Perhaps it was a prototype for a souvenir which was never produced?

And speaking of souvenirs, here are some (mostly) vintage Camp Snoopy items.

A "press kit" folder from the July 1983 grand opening:

I saved one of the park's merchandise bags, from that Summer of '83:

View-Master reels:

When I finally get a scanner that allows me to scan the miniature transparencies on a View-Master reel, I will scan all of the images and post them!

Lucite key ring:

Lunch box:


Embroidered patch:



Employees were given this pinback button to wear during "Camp Snoopy Days," which was held in the Spring of 1988.  There was even a "Camp Snoopy Days Parade."  I suppose this event could now be considered a precursor to the park's annual "Peanuts Celebration" event, which began 30 years later.

A commemorative plate and T-shirt were created for Camp Snoopy's 10th anniversary, in 1993:

An embroidered patch commemorating Camp Snoopy's 20th anniversary, in 2003:

A limited edition set of pins was available earlier this year, for Camp Snoopy's 40th anniversary:

The set included pins for the newer rides, which have been added to Camp Snoopy over the years.  The three newest rides; Charlie Brown's Kite Flyer, Linus Launcher, and Pig Pen's Mud Buggies, were all added in 2014, during a major refurbishment of the area:

Knott's claimed that the 2014 refurbishment was for Camp Snoopy's "30th anniversary," but it was actually for the 31st anniversary.  I guess when they tell fibs like that in their advertising, they are just hoping that the average guest won't really know the difference.

For Knott's 100th anniversary, there was a series of 100 pins released over the course of two years.  Camp Snoopy was represented by several of the pins.  This one was #63 in the series, and featured the original Camp Snoopy logo:

Pin #62 had a "rocking" canoe (attached to a spring), just like the one at the entrance to Camp Snoopy:

We will end this post with a few vintage video clips.

This Camp Snoopy announcement/promo begins with footage from several Knott's commercials, from the early 1980s, including one from 1982, the year that Snoopy first "arrived" at Knott's:


This pre-opening commercial includes a brief glimpse of the Cordelia K. steamboat, which never made the move over to Camp Snoopy.  The footage of it here, was shot over at the Lagoon:

An animated commercial from the Summer of 1983, featuring the Peanuts characters:

A Camp Snoopy birthday party commercial, from 1983:

Camp Snoopy opening day footage, with various Knott Family members, and Danielle Brisebois:


In that previous video, you could see Danielle Brisebois of "All In The Family" and "Archie Bunker's Place," surrounded by children.  The children were all wearing banners with the names of various countries......more shades of Disney!  I wonder if they were all asked to bring containers of water, from the oceans and rivers of their respective countries?  According to this publicity photo, the children were part of the "International Children's Choir."

For people who like models, here's a 22 minute video with multiple close-up shots of the Camp Snoopy model:


And finally, here are several McDonald's commercials, promoting the sale of their Camp Snoopy glasses:


2nd McDonald's commercial:


3rd McDonald's commercial:


 ****Post Update****  (8-31-23)

Meet The World reader, "Brandon," recently left a comment about the "Knott's" sign at the corner of Beach Blvd. and La Palma Ave.  He had noticed just last week, that the sign is boarded up and was wondering why.  The sign has actually been that way since October of 2020, when a drunk driver reportedly hit the wall, and damaged the sign.

Here's a pre-2020 photo of the sign:

And here is a photo that I took in October of 2020, not too long after the accident.  Notice the section of railing that was still missing at that time (bottom left corner of the photo).  You can also see where a section of that little hedge was damaged, however, those flowers were replaced pretty quickly.  It's hard to believe that three years have passed now, and management still hasn't replaced the sign.  Someone needs to hang a "Six Flags Over Buena Park" banner on that wall, just for kicks!