Happy friday the 13th!
Once again, Imagineer Chris Merritt has offered to share some photos and artwork from his personal collection; for those of you who might not already know, Chris has been working on an upcoming book about the history of Knott's Berry Farm for years. It will be called "Knott's Preserved", and will tentatively come out in March of 2010. It will be full-color, and will feature a lot of information and quotes from the artists that created Knott's over the years. I know I'm gonna buy a copy! (I should mention that today's post was partly inspired by Matterhorn1959's post from yesterday, check it out!).
"Knott's Beary Tales" is an attraction that I sadly never was able to experience for myself. A move to the east coast for several years messed everything up, and when we moved back to SoCal, Knott's just seemed to be off my radar! I don't think I heard of "Beary Tales" until it was gone. Anyway, it made a huge impression on plenty of people, including future Imagineers.
Check out this amazing "fun map" Chris created in 1994, in the spirit of the "Nature's Wonderland" map that you saw in a previous post. I put this one up large enough so that you can appreciate the details!
Here's a great picture of the two-story exterior. Look an arcade! I like the early-evening lighting of this photo. You went upstairs to board KBT (that's Knott's Beary Tales for short).
Another view, this time from a higher vantage point. I asked Chris what his thoughts were about KBT, and this is what he said: " I first went on the ride at age 5 I think. It made such an impact on me, that I went back to kindergarden the next day and did a drawing of "Crafty Coyote" in the "Weird Woods" portion of the ride. Rolly Crump's designs and colors certainly stuck in my brain - he's such an amazing designer. And I think that Bear-y Tales is probably the closest someone could get to being inside his brain. It certainly is the most totally "Crump" attraction of all the ones he worked on - it was pure Rolly from beginning to end. At it's peak, the attraction had over 100 craftsmen creating over 100 animated characters, and amazingly colorful props and set pieces."
"Rolly's son, Chris Crump, designed the Rube Goldberg-esque "Chug-A-Chug" machine in the Factory scene from scratch. When the attraction caught fire before the Grand Opening of the Roaring 20's, he had to rebuilt all the intricate parts in a matter of weeks. Rolly told me that it was one of the most satisfying jobs of his career - one where he was allowed almost unfettered artistic freedom. In my book, the result was nothing short of stunning. I was very sad to see it go in 1986..."
A partial look at the mural at the entrance to the attraction...
... here's the other half! For some reason it makes me think of Mr. Toad a little bit.
How about some rare interior ride views? Here's the the "Preserving Dept". Notice that one of the ingredients is glue. I've heard that the smell of boysenberries created an olfactory memory that has lasted more than 20 years; almost everybody mentions it!
Doctor Fox was a snake oil salesman, and his potent elixer cured just about every ailment known to man (or bears!). The good doctor has some interesting footwear! Notice some frogs (escapees from the "Frog Forest"?), as well as some other "strange creatures"...
... and here is one of Rolly Crump's sketches (ink and markers, sez Chris) of some of those same creatures. I can't help but think of Ward Kimball's crazy designs for various aliens in the "Mars and Beyond" TV show; both artists seemed to be slightly eccentric REAL geniuses who lived life to the fullest, and yet I don't know if they ever met. Rolly is still with us, I should add!
Now we're in the "Weird Woods", and there are some more of those strange creatures. Notice how the caves in the rocks form a scary face! I'm sure that the actual ride experience was impossible to capture with mere photos. The best dark rides managed to stimulate all five senses, and maybe one or two others as well!
Chris also said, "The 'Wanted' poster was done by Suzie McLean (who also did the load/unload mural) in Rolly's style. It was peppered throughout the ride in many locations."
There are some KBT-related videos and songs on YouTube; there's a full ride-thru here (too bad the McKenzie brothers in the vehicle talked so much!), and another one here. I watched them both and feel like I just dropped acid!
MANY THANKS to Chris Merritt for sharing his amazing artwork and the photos from his collection. I am probably the worst person to write about Knott's Beary Tales, since I never saw it, but as a Knott's fan (and Rolly Crump fan) I can truly say that those of you who did ride it are lucky!
Friday, November 13, 2009
Happy friday the 13th!