My Berry Farm

Knott’s Berry Farm

 

Knott's original berry stand, Buena Park, circ...

Knott's original berry stand, Buena Park, circa 1926 (Photo credit: Orange County Archives)

Knotts Berry Farm with a wonderful vaction for the Hafezi famil.

Knott’s Berry Farm is an amusement park in Buena Park, California, owned by Cedar Fair Entertainment Company. It was also a line of jams, jellies, preserves, and other specialty food, now part of The J. M. Smucker Company based in Placentia, California.

Starting in 1920, farmer Walter Knott and his family developed their Buena Park berry farm into a popular tourist attraction. Originally selling berries, homemade berry preserves and pies from a roadside stand, Knott built a restaurant, shops and stores onto the property by the 1930s. These were then augmented with minor attractions and curiosities until Knott gradually created Ghost Town, transforming them from a way-point to a Western themed destination in 1940. World class rides were then built and free entertainment drew crowds. Disneyland Resort in nearby Anaheim complemented the theme park, making Orange County a tourist destination to Southern California visitors. As more elaborate rides were included, and big name acts were featured in Knott’s John Wayne Theater, a fence was built and admission charged, turning it into a commercial theme park.

The theme park continues to be competitive by adding new thrill rides annually and by promoting special events such as “Halloween Haunt” and “Knott’s Merry Farm”.

The idea of an amusement park really picked up in the 1950s when Walter Knott opened a “summer-long county fair”. In 1968, for the first time, an admission of 25 cents was required to get into the park. The Calico log ride was added in 1969. On April 12, 1974 Cordelia Knott died. Walter turned his attention toward political causes.

Roaring Twenties re-themed Gypsy Camp in the 1970s with the addition of a nostalgic traditional amusement area, Wheeler Dealer Bumper Cars, Knott’s Bear-y Tales. Then with the northward expansion of a 1920s-era Knott’s Airfield themed area featuring the Studio-K Dance Hall, Sky Cabin/Parachute Sky Jump and Motorcycle Chase steeple chase roller coaster above the electric guided rail Gasoline Alley car ride. The expansion was keystoned by the innovative new roller coaster Corkscrew.

Sky Tower was built to support two attractions, the Parachute Sky Jump (now closed) and the Sky Cabin. Parachute Sky Jump boarded one or two standing riders anticipating the thrill of the drop into baskets beneath a faux parachute canopy. From the top, eight arms supported the vertical cable tracks of wire rope which lifted the baskets. The Sky Cabin ringed the support pole with a single floor of seats that are enclosed behind windows. The Sky Cabin ring revolves slowly as it rises to the top and back offering a pleasantly changing vista. Sky Cabin is very sensitive to weather and passenger motion, such as walking, which is prohibited during the trip. During winds 25 mph+ or rain it is closed. When built, Sky Tower was the tallest structure in Orange County (a distinction now held by nearby WindSeeker.) The illuminated “K” in logo script atop the Sky Tower was designated a landmark which prevented Knott’s plan of converting the foundation to support WindSeeker.

English: Walter Knott (in front) and ride desi...

Image via Wikipedia

Corkscrew debuted in 1975 as the first modern-day roller coaster to perform a 360-degree inverting element, twice! It was designed by Arrow Dynamics of Utah.

Motorcycle Chase – A modernized steepelchase rollercoaster built in 1976 featured single motorbike themed vehicles racing side-by-side, each on one of four parallel tracks, launched together. One or two riders straddled each “Indian motorcycle” attraction vehicle. The tubular steel monorail track closely followed dips and bumps in “the road” and tilted to lean riders about the curves. Gasoline Alley, an electric steel-guiderail car ride below, was built together and intimately intertwined, which enhanced ride-to-ride interaction thrill value. Rider safety concerns of the high center of gravity coupled with the method of rider restraints caused it to be re-themed Wacky Soap Box Racers with vehicles now attached in four car trains, each car seated two riders, strapped in low (nearly straddling the track), surrounded by the close fitting car sides, and the dips and bumps of the track were straightened flat in 1980. Motorcycle Chase/Wacky Soap Box Racers was removed 1996 for a dueling loop coaster Windjammer Surf Racers and now a vertical, launch coaster takes its place Xcelerator.

December 3, 1981 Walter Knott died, survived by his children who would continue to operate Knott’s as a family business for another fourteen years.

In the 1980s, Knott’s built the Barn Dance featured Bobbi & Clyde as the house band. It was during the height of the “Urban Cowboy” era. The “Barn Dance” was featured in Knott’s TV Commercials.

During the 1980s, Knott’s met the competition in Southern California theme parks by themeing a new land, and building two massive attractions:

View of Silver Bullet from the Sky Cabin.

Image via Wikipedia

Kingdom of the Dinosaurs (1987) (primeval re-theme of Knott’s Bear-y Tales)
Bigfoot Rapids (1988), a whitewater river rafting ride as the centerpiece of the new themed area Wild Water Wilderness.

The Boomerang roller coaster replaced the Corkscrew in 1990 with a lift shuttle train passing to and fro through a cobra roll and a vertical loop, for six inversions each trip.

Mystery Lodge (1994) Inspired by General Motors “Spirit Lodge” pavilion, a live show augmented with Peppers Ghost and other special effects, which was among the most popular exhibits at Expo 86 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada which was produced by Bob Rogers and created with the assistance of the Kwagulth Native reserve in Alert Bay, British Columbia. Mystery Lodge recreates a quiet summer night in the village of Alert Bay, British Columbia then guests “move inside” the longhouse and listen to the storyteller weave a tale of the importance of family from the smoke of the bonfire.

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