Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Knott's Berry Farm Pt. 1

I was looking forward to my first visit to Knott's Berry Farm almost as much as Disneyland. It was a crowded day at the park that many consider the oldest in America, but I was not disappointed. Since I learned so much about Knott's before ever visiting, I was able to appreciate it all the more.
Ghost Town was bustling because of the annual Ghost Town Alive event, which meant that there were a lot of roaming actors.
You can't forget the minor attractions that gave Knott's its start, like the quaint blacksmith shop. I wonder how old the paint is on the sign?

Though there aren't many wide-open spaces or shaded areas, the landscaping at Knott's was excellent. 
Of course, I had to get my picture with the most legendary duo of Ghost Town, Handsome Brady and Whiskey Bill.
Another icon of Ghost Town is the Catawampus, not to mention the newly-hatched baby Catawampus!
The independent vendors who run some of the shops in Ghost Town were all really nice. I didn't know that there are old tickets and mementos stuck in the glass of the Bottle House. If you ask, the cashier might use a pair of tweezers and show you some of the treasures.
Market Street is probably the most peaceful part of Ghost Town, as it sits away from the hustle and bustle of the crowds.
Even with Ghost Town Alive taking up many of the buildings, there are still some real gems of peek-ins, like this one of a gunsmith.
One of my favorite memories of the visit was getting a Sarsaparilla and soft pretzel from the Calico Saloon. Though there wasn't a show playing inside the saloon, my dad and I sat outside and enjoyed the atmosphere.
Though "newer" than Bill and Brady, Marilyn and Cecelia are still older than Disneyland. My reflection photobombed this shot!
The Boot Hill tombstone that still has a "beating heart" is such a delight. If you don't know what I'm talking about, your life isn't complete yet. ;-)
I missed the hoedown. :-( But seriously, seeing iconic views like this for the first time almost felt surreal.
The Western Trails Museum is a rare piece of "old Knott's" that I hope never goes away. I'm guessing this diorama was sold as a souvenir of the old Chapel on the Lake.
There are countless authentic trinkets from the old west in the museum, but the collection also includes a lot of Knott's ephemera. I appreciated it all.
Does anyone know where this sign used to hang? I love how you can tell it was hand-carved.
As a first-time visitor to Knott's, I had to undergo initiation by greeting Sad-Eye Joe.
 My dad's name is also Joe, so he was looking forward to seeing Sad-Eye. I can't remember what we talked about, but I would love to have the job of providing Joe's voice (my dad or the statue??). Do they have the same person play Sad-Eye Joe all day?
GhostRider was the lone wooden coaster I got to ride on this trip, but it was definitely one of the best I've ridden. It is frustrating that Cedar Fair's highest-attended park has a signature coaster with such a low capacity. The ride operations at Knott's are probably the worst I've seen at any park, mostly due to Cedar Fair's overly stringent safety rules and some confused employees. It was so crowded on the day we visited that I was faced with the option of either waiting in hour+ lines for every ride or buying a skip-the-line wristband, so I coughed up $114 for one, and I can't say I regret it.
The 90-minute wait for the Butterfield Stagecoach did not seem appealing, so this ride will have to wait until next visit... whenever that is. It is impressive that the stagecoach still runs after so many decades. I didn't notice if there was more than one vehicle running, but that line had to be painful.
The Ghost Town and Calico Railroad can't compare to the Disneyland Railroad in both speed and scenery, but I appreciated it for its history.
This picture is one of my favorite memories of an already incredible trip. I was enjoying my train ride when I heard a familiar voice behind me. So I turned around... and saw Tony Baxter sitting just a few seats away! He was nice enough to take a photo after the ride. When I told him my family was visiting Disneyland, he said that he was thinking of going there but thought it would be too difficult to get reservations. For Tony Baxter?!
My mom dropped my dad and me off at the park in the morning, but she accidentally took the wrong I-5 exit when coming to pick us up at night, ending up in northern Anaheim. (She thought she remembered where she was going and didn't need the GPS.) My dad was not amused.
I was happy that Knott's and Disneyland were open late, as most of my local parks never returned to pre-pandemic hours. Any park is a completely different experience at night.
Nighttime in California also felt different than it does at home. Ghost Town was particularly special, with a live band adding to the atmosphere.
I rode GhostRider a second time at night, and it's certainly one of the best nighttime rides I've experienced. While I was going up the lift hill, I could see the Disneyland fireworks going off in the distance behind Independence Hall. I had to wait thirty minutes even with the Fast Lane wristband, but the wait was worth it, as this was a perfect way to end our day.
In the next post, we'll look at the two most famous attractions in Ghost Town as well as the rest of the park and Independence Hall!

Saturday, October 1, 2022

Disneyland's Frontierland

Like the rest of Disneyland, the small size of Frontierland astounded me. It was an amazing experience walking through the stockade gates for the first time, however, and seeing the Rivers of America in the distance.
Taking just a few steps from where the shot below was taken, you could end up in either Fantasyland or Adventureland. That blew my mind!
I didn't use any of the Disneyland mailboxes, but I should have! I'm surprised that these are still maintained when it seems like mailing postcards is mostly a thing of the past.
The Mark Twain and the Rivers of America are just as iconic to me as Sleeping Beauty Castle after seeing pictures of them for so many years!
I did get chills hearing the Mark Twain whistle for the first time.
Early morning along the Rivers of America waterfront is really something special, but few people stop and soak it in while running to their first attraction of the day.
I'm impressed that Disneyland still operates the Columbia and Mark Twain simultaneously now that the river has been shortened. Both were running at once every day I was at the park. 
I wandered around the Mark Twain, checking out its different decks.
I was very happy to finally ride Walt Disney's riverboat, but even more exciting was the chance to ride Walt Disney's CANOES!
Our canoe guide asked us, "whose idea was it to ride the canoes?" and my family looked at me. "Don't let them pick the next ride!" was the guide's response.
Coming back into the dock, the Mark Twain barely avoids a head-on collision with the shore.
It has a much lower capacity than the Mark Twain, but there was no way I was going to miss the Sailing Ship Columbia!
The Columbia really feels like a "Walt-era" attraction.
This cast member was being trained on how to operate the cannon, and he seemed pretty happy with himself after firing it.
Looking down the ship's deck, we can see the updated scenery along the Rivers of America.
I would've loved to have ridden the Mark Twain or Columbia before the river was shortened. Here's the Lilly Belle car crossing the trestle. I wanted to ride in it, but they were like NO for some reason. 
The “below decks museum” on the Columbia has a wonderful musty smell, and it feels more untouched than most things in Disneyland. I felt like I was at a maritime museum, not a major theme park.
We had no "close calls" with either big boat while riding the canoes, which was a little disappointing. ;-)
The Mark Twain/Columbia landing is so quaint. It feels unchanged from the earliest days of the park.
I love the aesthetic of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and I would pay admission just to watch the operation of a Disney roller coaster--I can never believe how stellar their ride efficiency is compared to every other theme park I've visited.
I took these two pictures from the seating area of Rancho del Zocalo, which is right next to the BTMRR maintenance area.
I appreciated how the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad queue was sunken between the ride’s tracks and covered by trees.
Also on the Rancho del Zocalo patio is this tribute to the old Mineral Hall shop. I tried not to overlook any historical detail.
 I got to ride Big Thunder at night a couple times. I love how the train speeds past Rainbow Ridge at its end, but I could've examined these buildings for so much longer!
I also had to search out the Big Thunder model in the Disneyland Hotel. It was a lot larger than I was expecting. I would’ve studied it longer if it hadn’t been 12:30 AM. (3:30 AM Eastern Time!)
Disneyland will always be a place of change, but it's safe to assume that the Petrified Tree will always be the same.
Despite being heavily modified in recent years, Frontierland feels like it still has a lot of Walt Disney’s influence in it. The Golden Horseshoe especially feels like a wonderful callback to Walt’s time. Although the show inside is just a solo pianist, it was still nice to see that there was some type of daily entertainment.
I'm glad the railing in the foreground of this shot was there, or else I might have fallen off the balcony!
The Tom Sawyer Island dock is easy to miss, but there was no shortage of people riding the rafts over to the island.
Disneyland's Tom Sawyer Island was pretty disappointing compared to the Magic Kingdom's version. It really did feel like a shell of its former self, with even many of the Pirate’s Lair theming elements removed.
At least the pontoon bridge was fun, and the caves were elaborate compared to those in Florida.
I was surprised you could still reach the rear of Fort Wilderness even though the fort itself has been closed for many years.
I could have totally commandeered one of these spare canoes if I had wanted!
I don't have a lot to cover in Critter Country, so I'm just putting it at the end of this post. As this was possibly my final chance to ride Splash Mountain, I made sure to do it several times. I loved the “dip drop” midway through the ride. I also rode it in the evening, and I could make out more details because my eyes were adjusted to the dim lighting.
I appreciated this left-over piece from Bear Country. The Winnie the Pooh attraction is not a suitable replacement for the Country Bear Jamboree, in my opinion!
Splash Mountain's riverboat finale is spectacular compared to the smaller set piece in Florida. Unfortunately, some of the show lighting throughout the ride was not functioning.

It took me longer to get this post up than I had hoped, but Knott's Berry Farm is the next stop on our tour! Look out for that post in mid-October (hopefully). Thanks for reading!