Friday, August 4, 2023

Montezooma's Revenge at Knott's Berry Farm - 45th Anniversary!

Hey everyone, it's time for another anniversary post!  Knott's Berry Farm's Camp Snoopy celebrated it's "40th" anniversary, just last month, and Disneyland's "New Matterhorn"  had it's "45th" anniversary, in May.  Well, Knott's "Montezooma's Revenge" also happens to be celebrating it's "45th" anniversary, this year.

Montezooma's Revenge had it's grand opening in May of 1978.  Prior to it's opening, a "coming soon" sign at the park announced the name of the new coaster as, "¡Loco Motion!"

Earlier in the year, I had written to the Knott's public relations department, asking about possible "future attractions" coming to the park.  They sent me a packet with various maps and brochures, including this then-current one.

On the back of the brochure, someone had taken a yellow highlighter pen, and outlined this image.  Apparently, they had not yet decided on a definite name for the future coaster.

Inside, a map showed the location of the new attraction.  It was being built on a portion of an existing parking lot.

A similar coaster had opened just one year earlier, at Marriott's Great America in Santa Clara, California.  In fact, when Knott's filmed it's television commercial for Montezooma's Revenge, it was still under construction, so they used footage of it's "sister" coaster, up north.  Great America's version (seen below) was called "Tidal Wave," and it closed in 2002, after 25 years of operation.

Montezooma's Revenge officially opened over Memorial Day Weekend.  This image was from the opening day press kit.

The text below these publicity shots, gave a detailed description of what riders would experience on the new coaster.

This advertisement is from the May 28, 1978 edition of The Los Angeles Times.  I have saved this ever since childhood.  The ad on the reverse side just happened to be for Disneyland's "New Matterhorn," which was also opening over Memorial Day Weekend.  I posted that advertisement in May of this year (see the link at the top of this post).

As mentioned in the ad, Debbie Reynold's was appearing at the park over the holiday weekend.  Eddie Rabbit was also appearing.  (He loves a rainy night!)  However, it was Debbie Reynolds (right) who took the official inaugural ride on Montezooma's Revenge, along with Marion Knott (left).

Shortly after the ride opened, an updated version of the Knott's "pictorial souvenir booklet," featured a more colorful version of the same concept art, from that March 1978 brochure.  "El Cinema Grande" (inset) was also opening in Fiesta Village, that summer.

That same concept art was used once again, for this souvenir decal. I remember buying this in a little shop located across from the Knott's "Volcano," and next door to "Marion and Toni's Sportswear" shop.  The shop was called "Virginia's Souvenirs," and was a separate store from the much larger "Virginia's Gift Shop."

I purchased this pennant during the same visit......

.......and these postcards:

The original signage (seen below) was changed, some years later.

For Knott's "60th" anniversary in 1980, Bob Bates created posters for many of the park's attractions.  Even though he did create an individual one for Montezooma's Revenge, it was never reproduced as a souvenir for guests.  However, the coaster was included on this "composite" poster.

This next photo was included in a later edition of the Knott's "pictorial souvenir booklet."  At this time, a guest parking lot still existed on the other side of those trees, to the right.  Camp Snoopy would be built on the remaining portion of this lot, in 1983.

This postcard featuring Montezooma's Revenge doesn't have a date, but it would have to be from sometime between 1980 and 1987.  (1980 is the year that the Dragon Swing (lower right) opened, and 1987 is the year that the Tijuana Taxi (upper right) was removed.)

And this one would have to be from sometime between 1987 and 2003, because those are the opening and closing dates for the "Tampico Tumbler" (bottom, center).

Souvenirs featuring Montezooma's Revenge aren't very common.  I found these next two on ebay, but I don't have an exact year for either one of them.

The font on the keychain, is the same as the one used on the original sign.

This embroidered patch can't be "original" to when the coaster opened, because it depicts the ride's newer signage.

Here's that "newer" sign, for comparison:

And this collector's pin is a much more recent item.  In 2020, Knott's released a series of 100 pins for their 100th anniversary.  This pin was #78 in the series.

Montezooma's Revenge finally received it's very own attraction poster, when Cedar Fair commissioned artist, Josh Reichlin, to design official attraction posters for each of Knott's roller coasters (with the exceptions being, Timberline Twister and Pony Express).  This poster is currently available for purchase, at the Knott's "online" Marketplace.

Another current item for sale, is this "NanoCoaster" model of Montezooma's track layout.

In 2019, the American Coaster Enthusiasts (ACE) recognized Montezooma's Revenge as a "roller coaster landmark," and presented Knott's with a special plaque.  The plaque, which is mounted to a wall near the ride's entrance, provides some info about the coaster's manufacturer (Anton Schwarzkopf) and it's designer (Werner Stengel).

To experience a "virtual" ride on the original Montezooma's Revenge, here's a front row "POV" video from Knott's own YouTube channel:

For summer of 2023, the "Fiesta Village" area at Knott's received a major refurbishment, which was also supposed to include a "re-imagined" Montezooma's Revenge.  The grand re-opening has been delayed, and from online reports, construction was even halted for a while.  When the ride does reopen, it will have a new "random" launch pattern, meaning riders won't know if the coaster train is going to launch forwards, or backwards.  The ride will also be renamed, "MonteZOOMa:  The Forbidden Fortress."  The concept art below shows a new entrance arch and signage.

This short promotional clip reveals what the redesigned coaster train will look like.

I will wrap up this anniversary post, with a series of photos that I've taken of Montezooma, over the years.

The entrance with it's original wooden gates:

The "newer" signage featured a three dimensional serpent, with a forked tongue that moved up and down....

.....and eyes that glowed:

The station, located just to the right of the entrance:

Inside the station, preparing to launch:

The launch, going from 0 to 55mph in just 5 seconds:

 Heading towards the loop:

The 76-foot tall vertical loop:

In 1995, Knott's designed their newest coaster, "Jaguar," to go right through the center of Montezooma's loop.  A "cage" was built around the new coaster's track.  I'm assuming this was to prevent anything from potentially dropping out of Jaguar's trains, and onto Montezooma's track?

Going up the first tower, which stands 140 feet tall (this image is from Wikipedia, since I did not have my own daytime photo of this section of the track):

And here is the view at night, while standing directly below the tower:

Going backwards through the station:

Coming out of the backside of the station:

Going up the second tower, and experiencing "weightlessness":

And coming back down, into the station:

****Bonus Items****

For anyone who's interested, here is that March 1978 brochure, in it's entirety:

Years before Knott's was ever having a "Boysenberry Festival," their big springtime event was, "Knott's Country Fair."  This event began just one year earlier, in the spring of 1977.

The cover mentions the filming of a "Guinness Book of World Records TV special," taking place in the park.  I did a search, and nothing came up for that year, or with those two stars, Richard Dawson and Michelle Lee.  If it exists somewhere out there, I sure would like to find a copy!

A note below the map's "Legend" states, "Colorful and decorative souvenir maps of Knott's Berry Farm are available at many locations throughout the Farm."  They didn't mention that they were actually selling them.  The map they were referring to was a large "wall" map, designed by Bob Bates.  There were two versions available for sale, one without Montezooma's Revenge, and an updated version, after the coaster was added to the map.

I wonder if this "freebie" map, was purposely made plain and printed only in one color, to try and promote the sales of their more "colorful and decorative" souvenir maps?  I know that I bought one, back in the day.  A blown-up version of the Bob Bates map can currently be seen on a wall, inside Virginia's Gift Shop.  A scan of that map is also available HERE, from the blog, "Vintage Disneyland Tickets."

Interesting......there was a band by the name of "Montezuma's Revenge," performing at the Wagon Camp!  I did a search for them, and it looks like they released at least one record.  They also performed at Disneyland, for Grad Nite '81.  And it looks like Fiddlin' Charlie & Mamie were still performing on the porch of the Gold Trails Hotel.  Personally, I want to go "shake my booty" to the sounds of "The Disco Machine," at the Airfield Eatery.  I'm a little surprised that the disco dancing wasn't taking place over at the Cloud Nine Ballroom.

And check out those contests.....Pie Eating, Yodeling, Hog Calling, Cow Milking, and Greased Pig Catching.  These contests were all still taking place years later, when I was working at Knott's.  The pie-eating contest was also held during the Knott's annual "Employee's-Only Night."

And just "because" is my Knott's Country Fair employee button, from 1986 (eight years later).  The annual Country Fair event was still going strong at this time.  I'm not sure when they discontinued the event, but it looks like it was still taking place as late as 2011.  By 2013, it was replaced with the Knott's "Berry Bloom" spring event.  Who remembers that one?  I don't think that event was very popular, because by the next year (2014), it was replaced by Knott's very first "Boysenberry Festival," which has continued every spring, since then.

Here's one more "bonus" item.  After appearing at Knott's over that Memorial Day weekend in 1978, Debbie Reynolds returned to the Farm exactly one year later.  This advertisement is from a May 1979 issue of TV Guide: