Everyone (Mainly us 90's kids) remembers what may be one of the best-themed dark rides in Southern California: Kingdom of Dinosaurs, a somewhat elaborate dark ride located at Knott's Berry Farm. In this classic ride, guests boarded time machines in 1920's LA where they were introduced to Dr. Wells (An obvious nod to H.G. Wells, author of The Time Machine), the man responsible for building the time machine. Although he encouraged guests to turn back, guests rode right into a wormhole traveling back to the Ice Age by mistake. Ancient paintings led the way to a caveman village in the middle of a dark forest, complete with a glistening night sky, terrifying dire wolves, a giant elk, and howling winds. A brighter forest introduced guests to a giant ground sloth munching on leaves and a pair of woolly mammoths, one calling to its mate, the unfortunate mate stuck in tar. A saber-toothed cat was the last thing guests saw (Unless you count the backside of a mammoth) before traveling back in time to a giant insect-infested jungle. Afterwards was an early dinosaur-filled swamp followed by a trip to a late dinosaur-filled forest. Brontosaurs, Triceratops, Stegosaurus, and a humongous Tyrannosaurus inhabited the area, bidding guests farewell as they traveled back to 1920's LA. The ride was an excellent experience, even when it began to deteriorate in the early 2000's when the ride closed.
Today the show building remains, queue (Although the queue is no longer themed), loading area, set pieces, and all. Various sources claim to have journeyed through the abandoned show building. If their stories are true, I would be more than terrified to take a walking tour of the dark scenery...
The mural in the loading area remains and is apparently in good condition. Inside is where things get creepy. Remember 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea Submarine Voyage at WDW? When it closed down all the props and characters in the outdoor portion of the ride were removed. But the props and characters on the inside remained, slowly rotting away over time. How creepy is that? Imagine swimming and hitting your foot on a giant, motionless sea serpent. Well Knot did the same thing Disney did. Every scene from the beginning to the Ice Age scene was actually removed. At least they tried cleaning it up (The ride vehicles are gone as well). Supposedly the set pieces still remain, but the animatronics don't. A few of the Ice Age creatures were moved to the log ride, mainly one of the wolves (Nasty-looking wolves mind you) and the large elk. The elk can be seen on the log ride right after a rather dark tunnel. I forget where the wolf is but it is visible at one point. I'm going to Knott's tomorrow so I can confirm its location. I don't know what happened to the other figures. It wouldn't surprise me if they suffered the same fate as some of the Bear-y Tales figures: Recycled for Scary Farm's mechanical characters.
Every following scene is still there...that just sends chills up my spine. Broken electronic pieces are everywhere along with graffiti (Caused by other guests brave enough to tour the abandoned ride), motionless animatronics, and general terror. I can only imagine what the larger animatronics look like now. The T-Rex always seemed to slouch over. By this time it's probably lost its head - literally. It's really sad thinking about how such a great attraction went to crap after it closed. They could have at least cleared out the show building for a future attraction. It's just a waste of space now.
My question now is what will Knott's decide to do with it? Will it remain as a haunting reminder of the past? Or will it be torn down in favor of a roller coaster? Or...will they put in a new (Or old) dark ride? Keep in mind that Kingdom of Dinosaurs replaced another well-themed ride: Knott's Bear-y Tales, designed by legendary Imagineer Rolly Crump, the man responsible for the ill-fated Museum of the Weird concept. Crump's unique ideas (Not from Museum of the Weird) eventually surfaced in Bear-y Tales, a ride he designed to the fullest detail. This ride (Fondly remembered by my dad and many other classic Knott's fans) was a very Disney-like adventure centered around a family of bears (Can't think of their last name. It's probably "Bear-y") on their way to the fair to sell their boysenberry pies (The entire ride smelled like boysenberry). Unfortunately Crafty Coyote, a pie-hungry maniac stole their pies, running across the 1920's wilderness with them. Guests then journeyed through Frog Forrest, a swamp overrun by dancing frogs, a Gypsy Camp, Thunder Cave, and Weirdo Woods, a place where all things weird lived in "peace." The grand finale consisted of a trip through the fair where cute little animals celebrated by playing games, eating pie, and riding the few rides present. Dr. Fox, a relatively advanced animatronic was located here, attempting to sell his humorous goods to guests. The bear family themselves bid guests farewell before reentering the load area (Which featured a colorful mural, just like Disney's famous dark rides).
Personally I wouldn't mind seeing either of them return.
Knott's used to be the best when it came to indoor rides with dense wilderness in them. Timber Mountain keeps this awesome theming alive, even though it is pretty cheesy.