Friday, September 17, 2010

Sky Jump & Sky Cabin, Part One

In 1976, Knott's Berry Farm made some big changes with the addition of the new area called "The Roaring 20's", which included the famous Corkscrew roller coaster. The area was so successful that it was expanded to include the "Roaring 20's Airfield", and in 1977 a giant 200-foot high tower went up. It had two attractions on it... the parachute drop known as the "Sky Jump", and the the "Sky Cabin", a donut-shaped (and flavored) enclosure that rode up and down the tower, affording some pretty incredible views. FYI, these photos are from March, 1977.

Whoa, that's a loooong way up.


Now we're aboard the Sky Cabin, and have started our ascent. In this neat photo, you can see the track of the Motorcycle Chase attraction - it was an updated version of the old "steeplechase" rides of Coney Island, but was fraught with safety issues. You can also see the "Gasoline Alley Auto Race" cars, and the silver "Galloping Goose" locomotive is hooked up to a long line of railroad cars parallel to La Palma Avenue. Near the horizon, in the middle, you can see a tall sign that is for Movieland Wax Museum.

This one is pretty much like the previous example, only we have gone up 10 feet 3 inches.


HEY, guess what? There are more photos from this series to come. But you're gonna have to wait. Mwah ha ha!

22 comments:

Chiana_Chat said...

What refined cruelty! ;)

Great days for Knotts. I did take the parachute jump. Let me assure you, it was a looooooooooong way up (you were short a few o's). Once - only once. All the many other times I went to Knotts I didn't have the nerve for it.

Sad what has become of it.

The guys middle left are clearly heading for The Corkscrew el pronto and they won't be sorry! What a great coaster (Knotts shouldn't have let that one go). My fav along with the Log Ride, Mine Train, the big train, Montezoooooma's Revenge (the only time you'll like catching that) & the Wacky Soapbox Racers. :)

Note the parking lot; many areas weren't paved, you'd park on the grass/dirt among loads of trees. These pics remind me, I'd completely forgotten... Swell pics. :)

Chiana_Chat said...

If you didn't take the parachute jump, a tidbit or two. Very little around you up there and keeping your eyes down in the basket didn't help; you could even see down through the grating of the floor. Most unnerving was a kind of lurch or two as it readied to drop. When it let go, the drop was real quick. Took longer slowing and settling near the bottom before easing you to the platform but by then I was just relieved it was over. :)

Chuck said...

This brought back some memories!

Chiana, I well remember exactly what you're talking about. My parents talked me into riding this when I was 7. The spectacular view I experienced was watching the Earth recede through the grating in the bottom of the basket. It was sort of like the bottom screen of "Flight to the Moon/Mission to Mars," except it was really windy, it really went somewhere, there was a real threat to my personal safety, and I was really scared.

By the way, Major, the 1977 opening date for the Sky Jump is inaccurate. My fateful first encounter with this nightmare generator was on our last family visit to Knott's while moving out of the state in October of '76. I didn't go back until November 10th, 1993, so it had to have been open by at least the fall of '76.

As always, thanks for sharing!

Vintage Disneyland Tickets said...

Vivid memories of my one and only time almost fainting, your knee's really do get weak when you're about to pass-out from fear.....

Chiana, love the vivid description, you are 100% dead-on accurate, in fact, I think I'm gonna pass-out!

I was there in May 1976 (11th birthday) for my one and only ride (made them let me out before it went up to "hell" again, yes you used to get two rides for one ticket!). So it must have opened prior to May 1976, here's a May 1976 ticket book (link).

Awesome post - my therapist thanks you!

Vintage Disneyland Tickets said...

P.s. Just heard recently they are tearing down the Tower (yea, its still up there with no parachutes) and building a larger (300+ feet) tower in its place with a spinning ride at the top!

(LINK)

Rich T. said...

I loved that whole section of the park! The Sky Jump was incredible: Like Chiana said, there wasn't a lot to protect you. The basket walls were about waist-high, with no kind of safety restraints at all! When you dropped, you felt the air rushing through the floor grate! I always answered "YEAH!!!" when they offered the second trip up. After the switch to Pay-One-Price, it went to one trip per line wait. :(

Loved Cycle Chase too, but only got to ride it once before it became the fun-but-not-as-cool Wacky Soap Box Racers (riding atop a motorcycle was definitely more exciting.) See the drop into the tunnel by the train tracks--You'd approach at a good speed, and they had a big mirror along the top edge of the tunnel entry, angled to make it look like the track continued forward, so the dip was a complete surprise on the first trip. Awesome!

Thanks for these great photos! Man, Knott's used to be the best. Well, okay, second best, but a must-see day trip on every LA vacation!

Connie Moreno said...

Chiana, you brought back all those memories in a mico-milisecond: ZAP! LOL! With my fear of heights, it took me forever to get the nerve to ride that thing and oddly, once I did, I wanted more. I do miss that attraction. It's gone, right??? lol...

Connie Moreno said...

And another thing...or two...

I loved those Wacky Soap Box Racers!! I can still remember the first time I rode them. I was 19 and we went to Knott's for our honeymoon. (That's being poor, folks.) They were so much fun! And I do remember the unpaved parking lots as a kid. The whole family would meet up at Knott's, buy loads and loads of chicken and we would have a picnic in the parking lot under the trees. Good time, good times.

Thufer said...

I so remember riding up this thing and checking out the view. I always looked to see Disneyland but never could.

Connie Moreno said...

Rich! You are right, it WAS the cycles that were better than the cars and THAT is what I rode in 1975. Geez...sorry for all the posts!

JG said...

I knew of this ride, but it opened just as I was ebbing out of annual visits,much like Chuck, I didn't get back to the parks until the late '90's.

Still, wonderful pics esp. no. 2.

Thanks Major, and everyone, for sharing your memories.

JG

Major Pepperidge said...

I'm glad this brought back some good memories for so many of you! I never rode either of these, having just moved to the east coast for a few years.

The next post has a good photo of just what you were in for on the Parachute Jump, it really does look scary.

Thufer, I'll bet if you had been on the thing at night, you would have been able to see Disneyland's fireworks!

Not sure where I got the 1977 date, but admit that I wasn't super-positive about it when I wrote the post. Oh well!

Connie, you are in big trouble for posting three comments!

Anonymous said...

My heart sank when I read the comment that Knotts is going to tear down the tower-----but I was thrilled to see that it will be replaced with an even taller one. Even though I was always too terrified to go up there, I always like driving past it and how it could be seen from far away.

Katella Gate said...

I rode it once, and once was enough...

MintCrocodile said...

In the 80’s, going to Knott’s as a young kid, the first thing my brothers and I would do to know we were getting close was to look for the big “K” on the parachute tower and to see if we could see the parachutes in action. To us, the parachute tower was the equivalent of the Matterhorn at Disneyland.

I only did the Sky Jump once. Over a course of a couple trips, I would see my brothers go on it with my dad. I was always afraid of the height and I thought the Sky Cabin was enough for me. But on one trip with the family, I finally faced my fears and decided to go on it. Of course, my dad didn’t feel up to going on it after going on it a couple of times already. So someone else said they would take me on it. That person was my grandmother!

I remember standing in line, counting how many seconds it took to get up to the top, how long it paused up there, how long it took to come down fast and how long it took once it slowed down to reach the bottom. The line was maybe 5 minutes, but during those times I kept contemplating whether I could handle it or not. Finally the employee of the Sky Jump directed my grandmother and me to a basket. After getting in, I could feel it slightly rocking. I look down and notice that the bottom wasn’t a solid surface.

And up we go! The first 10-15 feet didn’t feel so bad. But looking down, I could see the ground getting further away from my feet. “Oh my gosh! What did I just get myself into?!” It climbed up fast! My heart was racing fast. The park just kind of vanished from my sight and soon I could see the surrounding area. I was trying to maneuver my hands and arms though the cage so I could have a better grip of holding on. My grandmother on the other hand, she’s just in the corner of the cage, what seems to be resting her arms on top and enjoying the sights. The whole time we climb up, I try quickly to look for Disneyland, in the hopes by seeing the Matterhorn Mountain, it would give me comfort.

Finally at the top and I am afraid to do anything. I don’t want to look down or straight out, so I just kind of tuck my head into my shoulder with my eyes barely closed. And then we drop. I could feel my body wanting to crouch down a bit to go with the fall. It seemed longer than those few seconds I counted when I was on the ground. Once the basket hit’s the slow part, I was able to collect myself so the employee can let us out. I didn’t want him to know I was scared. But once we go on the ground, I remember my legs were trembling and I felt like I couldn’t keep myself upright.

Anonymous said...

Good to know I'm not the only one who was scared of the parachute drop. At top was sweaty palm time. And the see-through floor! It gives me the creeps just thinking about it now. Roller coasters I can take - you are all safety barred in. But in the parachute drop you were standing up with just the top of the basket to hold on to. Dang!

TokyoMagic! said...

Whoa! These are fantastic. Looking at the two aerial pics, it appears that the Movieland Wax Museum sign rotated....I don't remember that!

Yep, the Roaring 20's section with the Corkscrew opened in 1975. The Airfield addition opened the following year in 1976.

I've said it before, but I miss THIS Knott's so much. I loved the parachutes. This attraction was made by Intamin. There is still an Intamin parachute tower at Tokyo Dome City in Japan (Link) and another one at Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey which was moved there in the eighties from Six Flags Over Mid-America (Link)

I will miss Knott's tower even though the parachutes have been gone for a while now. Too bad the new ride couldn't still have a "Sky Cabin" observation car ride up the middle of it. Oh, and I used to see people licking the walls of the Sky Cabin, Major....now I know why!

Major Pepperidge said...

KatellaGate, I'd like to think I could handle it, but I know I'd be scared!

MintCrocodile, thanks for your vivid memories!

TokyoMagic!, I thought you might like these. I didn't notice the Wax Museum sign's rotation. Is the new tower going to be just for looks? There won't be any rides involved??

Chiana_Chat said...

hehe glad to trigger all the memories and therapist sessions!

Maj, you'd be surprised how fascinating all the many other attractions became when you were around that parachute jump! ;)

I'd be remiss in not adding something about the parking lot - that was the time and place I met the charm of old pepper trees. To this day, except Disneyland's giant anticipation queue of a parking lot, empty treeless parking lots bug me. I'm not a classic "tree hugger" but it's just sensible: if you want a cooler, moister climate, the answer isn't some futuristic high tech, it's trees. Anyway, I owe standing around a few minutes in one of their tree filled parking areas for starting a greater appreciation of trees.

TokyoMagic! said...

Major, you thought correctly....thank you for these! I love both Knott's and Disney photos from this time period. I love the older photos too, but the seventies pics show the parks the way that I remember them from childhood.

That new tower will be 30 stories tall...that's 10 stories taller than the original (the same height as Supreme Scream) It is going to have a "Swings" type of attraction that ascends to the top of the tower. They are going to keep or reproducing the "K" sign at the top.

Check out Vintage DL Tickets' link at the bottom of his comment from earlier today. It will bring up some composite pics showing what the attraction will look like in the park.

Anonymous said...

Holy Crap! Talk about memories flooding back. The parachute was so so scary, but the Motorcycles? Boy howdy, don't ride after sharing a super greasy buttered popcorn with your cousin. I distinctly remember holding on for dear life because the "safety belt" was a very loose, well worn strap secured with like, a stud through a hole. Dang near flew off. NOT FUN KIDS!

Fenanda said...

I just love bringing back the memories of muy chilhood when we could afford travel 12 hours by car every summer to visit Disneyland & Knotts... my fav. attraction was the Wacky Soap Box Racers i have some pictures that I want to scan but i havent been able to find them... Eating a funnel cake and riding the Wacky Soap Box Racers with my dad or the parachutes with my mom are some of my most cherished moments. Now im 30, and its a whole different story, I havnt been in Sunny Cal since 1995 but every summer i try to go again, but between work and currency exchange have made that impossible.. but i always thing.. maybe next year.. maybe for muy birthday...