Thursday, January 23, 2020

Vintage Knott's Berry Farm Souvenir Book Pt. 2

This is Part 2 of old Knott's souvenir coverage. Check out Part 1 too! Click on pictures to see bigger.

There's a lot of material to cover in this post, so let's get into it! Of course, dining has been a cornerstone of Knott's since its beginning. With the debut of Marion Knott's Chicken Dinner Restaurant in 1934, Knott's began its rise to power as a tourist destination, with the dinners famously commanding multi-hour waits.
The box with the "Record Days" totals is really fun. Unsurprisingly, Mother's Day reigns supreme, although there is a humorous Father's Day right in the middle. Thanksgiving also dips its toe in at the end of the list. The right column shows that the amount of dinners served had increased every year through 1961, which might be when this book was published.
The kitchen almost looks like an industrial assembly line! Mrs. Knott's Chicken Dinner Restaurant remains legendary to this day, but I have to wonder whether the number of meals today remains consistent with the totals of 55 years ago.
The Steak House restaurant gets considerably more text coverage than the original Chicken Dinner, which is surprising. I believe that this restaurant remains in operation in some form, but I bet all of these creatively themed rooms are gone. It would be fun to choose where to eat your "swordfish dinner:" Garden Room, Indian Room, or Family Room? Blog reader "TokyoMagic!" has very generously shared some images and information regarding an auction that Knott's had a few years ago, which included some of the Indian pictures seen above. 
TokyoMagic also shared that "Stack's Liberty Ranch," which is hopefully to be a theme park museum one day, acquired some of the Indian paintings in this photo.
Bringing the focus into the amusement area itself, the Chapel by the Lake exudes a "Spell of Peace." Inside, visitors could watch a short presentation called "The Transfiguration of Christ" that involved an illusion of a picture of Christ opening his eyes. Almost ironically, this tranquil area is now home to the super-intense Silver Bullet coaster.
TokyoMagic is back with more pictures, this time of the actual painting of Christ that was inside the chapel, along with the comment that Stack's Liberty Ranch also received many pieces of the Little Chapel before it was torn down. Thanks to TokyoMagic for sharing!
Quoting TokyoMagic: "In this photo, you can see the doors on either side of the framed piece of glass.  These are the doors that would open at the beginning of the show, to reveal Christ and then close at the end of the show."

Looking at these pictures, aside from the Ghost Town and Calico Railroad hiding in the back, you would be hard-pressed to label Knott's as a theme park. It all looks very relaxing. What happened to the cute Chapel by the Lake... was it just bulldozed? Looking online, it appears that the "Church of Reflections" was relocated, but what about the chapel? Notable is the mention of Paul Klieben, an artist who did much graphic work for the park. 

This page has some of the great attractions that look like they were some of the things that made Knott's truly unique. An authentic streetcar in the parking lot? Why not?!? You also gotta love the gigantic redwood stump, with attached placards that I really hope told you what was happening in history at that time.
The Ghost Town logo here is pretty cool; I have to wonder if the park has utilized it on any modern merchandise as of late. The text here really sets a clear mission statement for the area, as well. Why go to Disneyland to see Mickey Mouse when you can go see "The Old Prospector" at Knott's? (with his mules as an added bonus!)

Pardon my terrible job at stitching these two pages together - I know you'll get the idea! The panorama of this Ghost Town street is quite remarkable. Surrounding this image are some of the characters, lifelike and otherwise, that inhabited Ghost Town, including the infamous Sad Eye Joe, who is still locked up all these years later. In fact, I'd put my money on Main Street looking almost identical too!
Here are the final two pages to finish today's post. "Whether you're 8 or 80, whether you remember those glorious days, or you don't, you'll remember them forever, after a day at Knott's." Like Disneyland's Main Street, it's really cool thinking that people visiting the park at the time could've actually had personal memories of the historical period being depicted.

With an ending line like that, this book could've been done, but there's still enough left to fill one more post on this souvenir!

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Kings Dominion Winterfest

I got to visit Winterfest at Kings Dominion on one of the last days of 2019, and I had a fun time. Enjoy the pictures and captions!
Kings Dominion is located in Doswell, Virginia, right outside of Richmond. Approaching the park, it's impossible to miss the 300-foot tall, 1/3 scale replica of the Eiffel Tower that serves as the park's centerpiece. During the regular season, it is used as an observation deck. And of course, the opportunity to turn it into a massive tree is not lost at this time of year!
 Unlike Kennywood's Christmas event, Kings Dominion actually runs a couple of their coasters in the winter weather! This is Dominator, a floorless coaster that is always a good time. The "interlocking corkscrews" seen here are quite intense.
The main reason I wanted to visit Winterfest, though, was for this ride, Twisted Timbers. Designed by Rocky Mountain Construction, Twisted Timbers is a truly wild ride that is one of my all-time favorites. In 2018, RMC took Kings Dominion's old Hurler wooden coaster, which was getting quite rough, and gave it an all-new treatment with their steel track. This included a new and unique "barrel roll" first drop. Although the majority of the ride stays close to the ground, Twisted Timbers is a ride that shouldn't be underestimated.
 At 5:30, the Eiffel Tower was lit in Christmas lights to really kick off the event. Right behind the sign in this picture is a large ice skating rink on the fountain that typically occupies this area ("International Street"). One of the cool things about the Eiffel Tower as a Christmas tree is that you can walk underneath it, which gives you this view:
It's quite the sensation in person!

One of the other rides that is operational for Winterfest is the park's antique car ride, in this case enhanced with lighted displays corresponding to the "12 Days of Christmas" carol.
 To end this trip around Kings Dominion, I present you with the Singing Mushrooms. A component of the park since its opening, these animatronic mushrooms (and accompanying cigar-smoking frog) left in the 1990s, but they returned for the park's 40th anniversary in 2014.  But wait a minute... animatronic mushrooms? I know that sounds really weird, but that's what makes them cool! They are a gem of theme park whimsy and always make me smile.

Kings Dominion puts on a great and well-polished Christmas event that's a fun time. Although only a portion of the park is open, there's still plenty to do, but be warned that lines can get long on the weekends.