Thursday, February 27, 2020

Vintage Knott's Berry Farm Souvenir Book Pt. 4 - Final

This is part four of an epic series of posts on the Knott's Berry Farm souvenir book that I started quite a while ago. There's not as many photos of the Farm itself this time around, but that doesn't mean that there isn't lots of great info!

 The Wagon Camp was the scene of many live performances over the years, chiefly the type of event exemplified below. The idea of having the audience sit in covered wagons around the perimeter of the theater is genius!
 I commented before on the posed nature of the publicity stills in this souvenir, but these two shots are the best. The Railway arriving at its station (or lack thereof) and all of the Ghost Town residents chilling inside the rail car itself give off great classic feelings! Even the Butterfield stagecoach got in on the action. The "only narrow-gauge passenger train in the United States operating on a year-round daily schedule" claim seems like it would be false to me, though. Maybe that was true before 1955?

The Calico Mine Ride was open at this point, so I guess that this dates this book as at least from 1960. However, beyond two pictures, there is no mention of it in the text, so that makes me think that the majority of the descriptions were probably recycled from earlier publications. No Hangtime or Xcelerator in the background of this picture! I believe that the picture of the Ghost Town and Calico Railway is where the Pony Express coaster sits today, which I understand gets quite a bad rap for being a short and weak ride.
Speaking of the Mine Ride, check out this awesome diagram from the Orange County Register!
 Walter Knott also purchased a real ghost town in the Mojave Desert, Calico, and it gets some publicity in this book. I can guess that some of the more imaginative structures (the bottle house?) were likely constructed during the Knott years. I hear that you can still visit the Haunted Shack here!

Even though they were featured more prominently earlier on in the brochure, the Knott's "Specialty Shops" don't fail to get another word in.
I'm very glad I have this map to help me find Knott's Berry Farm when I want to go there. Can anyone tell me where Pennsylvania is located on it? Notable is the fact that the spots representing such foreign, insignificant places as "Disneyland" and "Marineland" are barely half the size of the picture of the Chicken Dinner Restaurant. 

And that will do it for this series of posts. Thanks for coming along on the trip!

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Vintage Knott's Berry Farm Souvenir Book Pt. 3

We're taking another trip to Knott's Berry Farm today. I was thinking that this would be the conclusion of these posts, but as there are still 15 pages left to cover in this souvenir, this will end up as a four-part series, with the next part hopefully coming out next Thursday.
The "Panning for Gold" attraction was loved by many kids because they got to strike it rich right on the spot and take home some of the shiny stuff of their own. Today, this gully is the queue area for GhostRider.
Some of the other "authentic exhibits" mentioned were authentic historic Wild West buildings saved from destruction and placed in Ghost Town. I'd guess that all of these structures still stand today. The posed nature of these photos is admittedly pretty great, with all of the citizens of the town going about their daily business.
I apologize for the quality of these scans; they really are not the best when viewed full-size. Don't worry, though, I will soon be investing $1,000 (1/10 of the daily profits from this blog) for a Fujitsu ScanSnap iX1500 Color Duplex Desk Scanner cuz that's what I need. Anyway, Knott's obviously had a burro ride, and drama can be seen playing out in the streets in front of the Bird Cage Theater. When Ghost Town had free admission, would you have to pay for the shows? I would pay a lot to see the villains "twirling their mustachios!"
The Haunted Shack! I've heard nothing but legends... same goes for the "Pitchur Gallery," which as I understand, is one of the Farm's earliest attractions and is still in operation today. One of my local amusement parks, Idlewild, has a similar attraction called "Confusion Hill" (where the backstory involves a moonshine explosion) and the Pittsburgh Children's Museum even has a little "tilt room" for stuff to run uphill in.

Here's the Glory Hole on the Calico Mine Ride. I can't wait to see this when I visit Knott's. I can imagine that it was mighty impressive to everyone 50 years ago.
Like Disneyland, Knott's had an Indian Village, but unlike Disneyland, some of it survives today, including a Dance Circle. Are there any pictures of "Peter Pufftail riding his own specially built roller coaster?!" Forget them new-fangled E-tickets, THAT is what I want to see at a theme park! The Carousel was also apparently mule-powered.

Our last picture for today is of the Covered Wagon Panorama. Walter Knott famously designed this as a tribute to the pioneering spirit of his grandmother. I understand that this show was removed quite some time ago, the 1990s perhaps?

We will still have one more look at this vintage souvenir!

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Main Street Electrical Parade

In 2014, I was extremely fortunate to get to see the infamous Main Street Electrical Parade on my first visit to Walt Disney World. While you're reading this post, here's the necessary music to get you in the mood:
This version of the MSEP was created for Disneyland in 1972, where it played until 1996. After a brief trip to the Magic Kingdom, the parade played for a stint at Disney's California Adventure to try and bring awareness to that under-performing park, but it left for the East Coast once again in 2011. However, the parade famously returned to Disneyland for a limited time in 2017, and it again played there in 2019.
Opening the show is both Casey Jr. and the famous "drum," which at this time still read "Disney's Electrical Parade," as DCA doesn't have a Main Street! Interestingly, the proper name was restored when the parade conducted its return at Disneyland in 2017.
                                                                                                                  Here are two of the memorable spinning creatures from the Alice in Wonderland unit...
...along with the Caterpillar and his mushroom:

Next up are Cinderella and the clock tower striking twelve.
Peter Pan's pirate ship is one of the highlights.

 The variation on "Heigh-Ho" that accompanies Seven Dwarfs is quite the earworm and like the rest of the parade, pairs very well with the main theme, Baroque Hoedown.

I remember seeing a picture of this giant, smiling face leading the Pinocchio Pleasure Island floats as my first exposure to the parade. I was quite intrigued, to say the least!
I would warrant to say that most people can agree on Pete's Dragon, Elliot, being the most famous unit of the MSEP.
A remnant of the show's 1970s heritage is the awesome "To Honor America" flag float, complete with fireworks and an eagle at the end.
I especially love the little details, like the lights in the performers' hats!
Both before and after the Electrical Parade's first short engagement in Florida, SpectroMagic, a very unique version of the nighttime parade, ran. Of course, I never got to view it, but it looked to be a superior show to the MSEP, so it's a shame that it will likely never have any "limited time returns." The Main Street Electrical Parade has played scores of thousands of shows over the past 45+ years, but the truth is that while charming, it can't hold a candle to the impressiveness of Disney's latest "nighttime pageant of magic and imagination," Paint the Night, which is also not currently performing at any stateside Disney park. One has to wonder if the MSEP will ever return to an American Disney park, or if it will truly now "glow away" forever. My vote is with the latter, but the memories that the parade has created for millions will never fade away.
To round out this post, here's a shot of the Electrical Water Pageant on the Seven Seas Lagoon at Walt Disney World, which was the inspiration for the MSEP and is still chugging along today.