My picture threads consist of images I have taken that focus on the architecture, landscape architecture, planning, design, and theming of the facilities highlighted. They may also contain short descriptions and commentary, but will not focus on construction progress or special events or memorabilia or food selections or my traveling companions. Hopefully these threads are a good introduction for those who have not seen these places yet. All killer, no filler!
Knott's Berry Farm photographed in January 2008:
'America's 1st Theme Park' is indeed a unique attraction that retains much of its home-spun charm despite becoming part of a much larger theme park chain some years ago. It is a park with a long tradition of entertaining Southern California and is divided into 4 main areas that in some way celebrate the Golden State.
The oldest part of the park is actually outside its gates. It grew up around the Knott family's farm in Buena Park, where they grew crops including Boysenberries (a breed of berry bred by a man named Boysen) for which they would become famous for preserves, and a roadside berry stand. The berry stand is gone but Mrs. Knott's Chicken Dinner Restaurant, opened in 1934 during the depression, remains. A large cluster of shops and a steakhouse grew around this restaurant in similarly styled low stucco buildings, and these still exist today, next to the entrance to the park.
The original area of the theme park is this area, started in 1940 as a way to entertain waiting diners for the hugely popular Chicken Dinner Restaurant. Admission was not charged until 1968. It is composed of a grid of streets formed by authentic relocated buildings from Western ghost towns, especially from California and Arizona, and matching rustic structures filled with shops and dining and exhibits and a few show halls. On its periphery were added still-existent attractions such as the Butterfield Stagecoach (1949, 6 years before Disneyland's stagecoaches), Calico Saloon (1951, 4 years before Disneyland's Golden Horseshoe Revue), Calico Railroad (1952, 3 years before Disneyland Railroad), Calico Mine Ride (1960, 4 years after Disneyland's Rainbow Caverns Mine Train and the same year that it was rethemed to Mine Train through Nature's Wonderland), and Timber Mountain Log Ride (1969, 20 years before Disneyland's Splash Mountain). There is also the Wagon Camp, a scenic outdoor amphitheater for the Wild West Stunt Show (1974). Several sub-areas have also been added over the years, including Wild Water Wilderness with the Bigfoot Rapids ride (1988, 13 years before California Adventure's Grizzly River Run), Indian Trails with an outdoor Native American show circle (1992, 37 years after Disneyland's Indian Village), and Mystery Lodge with a unique Native American indoor show (1994). Unfortunately, Ghost Town has also been surrounded and dominated on three sides with three rollercoasters that do little to help the theming, including Ghostrider (1998), Silver Bullet (2004), and Pony Express (2008).
This Mexican themed area opened in 1969 with four spinning rides and a childrens automobile ride. The Carousel remains (1955, the same year as Disneyland's King Arthur's Carousel) and one of the spinning rides remains: Hat Dance (1969, 14 years after Disneyland's Mad Tea Party). Montezuma's Revenge, a rollercoaster, was added in 1978. Four new spinning rides to replace some of the old ones were opened in 1987, and two of these remain: Dragon Swing and Waveswinger. Another rollercoaster, Jaguar, was built in 1995. In 2003, spinning La Revolucion opened to replace two spinning rides.
This area celebrates Southern California seaside culture and is a thin retheming of the original area's Roaring 20's theme that opened in 1975-76; in fact, a large sign is still mounted on one of the rooftops from that era. A very large indoor show theater from 1971 was incorporated into the new area, and today remains as the Charles M. Schulz Theater in recognition of a long association with the cartoonist since the 1980's. One end of the Roaring 20's was more architectural and urban, while the other end was more open and themed to a 1920's airfield. It opened with a rollercoaster appropriately called the Corkscrew, a unique dark ride called Knott's Bear-y Tales, and nine other rides, mostly spinning. Of all these, only the Wheeler Dealer Bumper Cars and the Sky Cabin (a rotating observatory that climbs a tall tower) remain. The area was rethemed to Boardwalk in 1996. Changes and closures in this area were numerous, but today the following are present: a rollercoaster called Boomerang (1990), a tall tower drop called Supreme Scream (1998, 3 years before California Adventure's Maliboomer), a spinning ride called Wipeout (1999), a giant waterdrop flume ride called Perilous Plunge (2000), a huge rollercoaster called Xcelerator (2002), Two spinning rides called Riptide and Screamin' Swing (2004).
The park's primary children's ride area is a large nicely detailed character-themed area set in the Sierra Nevada. It opened in 1983 and although some of the children's rides have come and gone it still appears similar to its opening day. The largest addition has been a small rollercoaster called Sierra Sidewinder in 2007.
Built in 1966, this reproduction of Philadelphia's famous building features a show and exhibits about the Declaration of Independence and is not in the park; it is across the busy Beach Blvd. on land owned by Knott's and that once held a motley collection of other Knott's-built attractions but is now mostly occupied by their separate waterpark, Soak City U.S.A. Independence Hall remains a free-admission attarction.