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  1. #1

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    Knott's, Idealized

    What stuck with me the most about my first visit to Disneyland in 2011 were all the big, shady trees. It felt like half-arboretum, half-theme park, in the best possible way: an old-growth oasis in the middle of the endless, gray sprawl of LA. Not only did the big trees provide relief from the sun, help with sightlines and add to the beauty of the vistas, but they made everything feel more authentic, genuine, timeless. DL’s berm was thickly wooded when I visited, and it wasn’t hard to imagine being in the virgin American frontier or exotic jungles of South Asia. The experience hammered home how important the “park” part of “theme park” is for me.

    I only had cursory knowledge of Knott’s Berry Farm until I read Imagineer Chris Merritt’s “Knott’s Preserved” (highly recommend it), which is loaded with historic photos, maps, concept art and a detailed written history of park. An IdealBuildout version of this park was challenging for me to master-plan because KBF wasn’t planned as a theme park from the outset, but grew from a roadside farm stand, to a popular restaurant with some novelties, to a replica ghost town, to a theme park, and then, in the past few decades, to a Cedar Fair/Six Flags-style thrill park awash in coaster steel (with some residual areas of transportative place-making).

    While I know there is an audience and place for that style of park, my plan for Knotts (a) focused on its history and original spirit by resurrecting and updating its more unique sights and attractions; and (b) made it a more park-like setting, rather than a visual cacophony of track, tower and pylon. This meant removing every naked steel coaster and skytower from the park and adding berms and green areas to account for sightlines. My goal was to create a compelling Sense of Place in each of the lands, to minimize reminders to the visitor that they are in an amusement park, and do more to sell the illusion that the visitor has stumbled upon an Old Western town, a colonial Mexican village, an overgrown Mayan capital, etc. I have this idea that if a theme park is well-planned to be timeless, executed at the highest level and impeccably maintained, it reduces the capital-intensive need to constantly update/re-imagine areas with newer, bigger rides.




    Meeting the above goals with the current KBF required major reconstructive surgery. The first thing I did was bury HWY 39 that cuts through the middle of the property. Large parking structures take up the lower right (in this view) portion of the property, with underground access ramps from the new HWY 39 tunnel. The opposite corner of the park (upper left) is where employee parking and Back of House logistical areas are located.

    REFLECTION LAKE


    The new front area of the park pays tribute to the history of the Park and the Walter Knott Family, featuring re-located or rebuilt features like Mrs. Knott’s (Chicken Dinner) Restaurant. Right after the ticket gates would be a Roadside Berry Stand. I created a new lake (with a larger scale Cornelia K. sidewheeler traversing it) that would give a pastoral frame to the chapel and church and the one-room school house. Since ‘Farm’ is in the park’s title, I added a Knott Family farmhouse and barn and some actual boysenberry fields.

    The exact replica of Independence Hall was a passion project for Walter Knott, reflecting his love of history and Country. It is a landmark building and ought to be KBF’s “castle”. So I picked it up and moved it to the center of the new park, with a main street leading to it from the gate.

    The Calico-Ghost Town Railroad now encircles the park via a planted berm, providing the feel of traveling through wilderness (and city) and serving as transportation to the four corners of the park (stops at the themed resort hotel, Whitewater Wilderness, Fiesta Village and Reflection Lake).

    OLD WEST GHOST TOWN
    The Ghost Town has always been the heart of the park. A new, expanded open pit Gold Mine (reached via a longer tunnel) is where visitors can explore and take home a vial of gold they’ve panned themselves. The dusty hills around the mine are traversed by live burro trains. The old Haunted Shack returns as a large, cutting-edge E-ticket darkride (the queue winds up Boot Hill), a signature ride for a park famous for its Halloween overlay. Since Timber Mountain is a logging operation, it is now surrounded by stands of ponderosa pine, rather than steel coaster tracks. The Birdcage Theater is re-built across from Timber Mtn., this time a full replica of the Tombstone original. The stagecoach ride is re-routed and all the sights passed by would not be out-of-place during the time this type of transportation was in use (e.g., Colonial Philadelphia, Colonial Mexico). Of course, all the unique live characters and events (shoot outs, train hold-ups, etc.) are part of the experience.

    The existing hotel is demolished in favor of a highly-themed Calico Springs Hotel that has direct park access via foot and train and supports the theme park both visually and story-wise.

    WHITEWATER WILDERNESS
    Two of the main attractions of this area are intact (Bigfoot Rapids and the Spirit Lodge), but berms, trees and additional rockwork are put in to insulate the area from visual intrusions and evoke the feeling of the being in the wilds of the Pacific Northwest. I added a showscene cavern to the raft ride where perhaps an AA Sasquatch could lie in wait. A new version of the Indian Trails and dance circle from Ghost Town are put in here, taking up and foresting land currently used by the Pony Express. Finally, I added a Mack Twist n Splash themed to NorthWoods fur trappers.

    ROARING 20s BOULEVARD
    This land takes on a more urban feel than it had in the past, based on Jazz Age buildings of New York, Chicago and San Fran. The railroad passes through a Century City (early 20th) diorama. The original Cable Cars run up and down the street. A neoclassic natural history museum façade houses a new version of the 'Kingdom of the Dinosaurs' darkride. The boulevard opens up from the main drag to a Sunday Drive area where two old attractions, Motor Cycle Chase (coaster) and Gasoline Alley are given new life.

    FIESTA VILLAGE
    This quiet area is a romanticized Mexican/Spanish Colonial village, focusing on ambiance over intense rides. An outdoor family boat ride (Storybook Canal Boats meets El Rio del Tiempo) adds a lot of greenery to the area and returns a waterside feel. The train station is on the second level of one of the courted fountain plazas and there is an indoor Mexican puppet theater. The four low flat rides are attractively detailed (see above pic of Happy Sombreros) and blend into the landscape so as to compliment the environment versus overwhelm it.

    KNOTTS BEAR-Y WOODS
    The idea here is to expand on the original Adirondack/National Park-style theme-ing (waterfalls, stream, caves, lodge) of the original Camp Snoopy, but remove all references to the Peanuts comic strip and replace it with a set of original characters first invented for the extinct Knotts Bear-y Tales darkride. I like the idea of theme parks as creative origin points. The main attraction is a new Hunny Hunt-scale Bear-y Tales adventure, marked by a large tree where the main family dwells. There is also a bumper boats attraction, a balloon spinner, a challenge course and several flatrides.

    MAYAN WATER KINGDOM

    Maybe as a nod the removed Jaguar coaster, or to further the park's connections to Mexico/Pre-Columbia civilizations, I gave a Mayan Jungle Ruins overlay to the separate admission water park. The ruined temples serve as supports for the slides, indoor, themed stairways and add elements of darkness to a number of the experiences. Entering the park via a crumbling gate, visitors pass a long, water-spewing carved stelae colonnade before reaching the central area marked by the Mayan “tree of life”, from which kids slides flow. The lazy river floats through caverns and a misty jungle.

  2. #2

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    Re: Knott's, Idealized

    You have some nice ideas. I especially like the addition of water to Knott's. I really miss Reflection Lake and the park needs another large body of water.
    However I would prefer a rebuild of Soapbox Derby. The Motorcycle Chase was a great idea, but if you read Knott's Preserved, you discovered the reason why they removed the ride. The ride cars and track had serious balance issues and people were getting thrown over the top of the handlebars.
    You can't get rid of the Peanuts characters. That is what brings the children into the park and their parents. My first visit to the park came before Camp Snoopy was a concept on paper. I was only about 3 and a half-still too small to ride most of the rides. Camp Snoopy in its early years was a great place and I think it saved Knott's from fading into obscurity.
    That's not to say Beary Tales shouldn't return. It should be revived. It would be nice to see it back in the Roaring 20's area where it belongs.
    It would also be nice to see a decent parking lot for the employees (this one included). In all my years there it has yet to happen.
    All in all, interesting blue sky concept.

  3. #3

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    Re: Knott's, Idealized

    Your plans never fail to impress. What talent! Thanks for sharing it with us.

    “That's the way a lot of things happen... You think one person did something
    but he was just the one to put the color on it." – Ken Anderson
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  4. #4

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    Re: Knott's, Idealized

    Sounds awesome to me!
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  5. #5

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    Re: Knott's, Idealized

    LOVE IT!

    I agree with everything except the removal of Xcelerator. That ride is just too good to remove.

    Had Disney bought Knotts back in the early 90's, I imagine the layout of the park wouldn't be too far off from whats posted above.



    I would love to see your Idealized build out of Universal Studios Hollywood.
    Last edited by Ryan120420; 07-23-2013 at 06:22 PM.

  6. #6

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    Re: Knott's, Idealized

    My jaw is on the floor. This is an amazing concept and contains some incredible jewels that I miss to this day. The rural farm landscape is outstanding. And I'm all for seeing Bear-y Tales make a comeback.

  7. #7

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    Re: Knott's, Idealized

    Appreciate all the comments.

    Quote Originally Posted by dazyhill View Post
    The Motorcycle Chase was a great idea, but if you read Knott's Preserved, you discovered the reason why they removed the ride. The ride cars and track had serious balance issues and people were getting thrown over the top of the handlebars.
    I did read about that, but Motorcycle Chase looked to me like such a cool, one-of-a-kind ride system, and I wonder if something could be done, engineering or restraint-wise, to address those issues.

  8. #8

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    Re: Knott's, Idealized

    They sorta have with Pony Express. The trouble mainly comes from whether or not you appreciate or can deal with the restraints.
    Credibility is to be sought for. Credulity is not. Sadly the latter is our normal human state.

  9. #9

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    Re: Knott's, Idealized

    Wonderful ideas! I don't want to think what the price tag for this would be.

    The biggest problem is dealing with Beach Blvd. going through the middle of the park and your designs. The city is just not going to let you shut down the street and build the tunnel you want. It's too major of a street.

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    Re: Knott's, Idealized

    What a wonderful vision! I am sure it would have looked something like your plans had Disney bought the park and transformed it into Disney's America.

    The theme in the 1970's was California, so in essence, it is really the original California Adventure. The Roaring '20s was supposed to signify Hollywood and that part of California history, and the Roaring '20s Airfield was supposed to represent rural California and its contribution to aviation. So much has been lost since Cedar Fair took over.

  11. #11

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    Re: Knott's, Idealized

    To be fair, they were already losing steam when CF bought them out. I was working at the park in the early '90s when the wheels started coming off - a couple extremely wet summers combined with relatively little opening in the park (Boomerang was about it) while other parks opened better offerings really hurt. After the big El Nino year they cut all temps loose, cut hours for most permanent personnel by half and cut investments everywhere else they could to retain solvency - while Terry Van Gorder was still on board and the park was technically still "family".

    I wish it were as simple as "Cedar Fair Bad", but I'm somewhat certain the park would have suffered even worse, if not closure, without them.
    Credibility is to be sought for. Credulity is not. Sadly the latter is our normal human state.

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    Re: Knott's, Idealized

    I absolutely love the idea of adding more theme to the park, because it really does have the potential to be a beautiful one at that with a rich sense of history. I will, however, miss the roller coasters. They may be ugly, but they sure are fun. It's like your all in one theme park. You have your historical themed side and then you have the thrill seeker's side, catering to two parties, attracting in more revenue.

    Quote Originally Posted by BogLurch View Post
    I wish it were as simple as "Cedar Fair Bad", but I'm somewhat certain the park would have suffered even worse, if not closure, without them.
    I have to agree. While what they did many would not agree with, they did save the park in times of trouble.



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  13. #13

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    Re: Knott's, Idealized

    I really like what you've envisioned! A lot of great ideas here, including one that CF could do almost immediately: put the Berry Stand right at the front of the park as you walk in. It would be a great photo op, maybe even have two Entertainment Department employees portraying Walter and Cordelia, and selling boysenberry-themed/flavored treats out of it.

  14. #14

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    Re: Knott's, Idealized

    wow nice ideas.

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