Friday, May 08, 2020

Knott's Berry Farm, October 1975

Sue B. (of "Lou and Sue" fame) sent me a big batch of 35mm slides from 1975 - photos of Knott's Berry Farm taken by her dad, Lou Perry. There's some nice stuff, and it'll take me a few posts to get through them all!

It's hard to say for sure, but I'd wager that Lou went to Knott's to check out the new "Roaring 20's" area that had opened in '75. The Roaring 20's replaced the less-than-successful Gypsy Camp. Here's a nice detail of a sign! I wonder what other themes were considered, and rejected? I believe that Marion Knott (daughter of Walter and Cordelia) spearheaded the addition of this new area. 

One of the most beloved attractions is "Knott's Bear-y Tales", an imaginative and colorful dark ride with lots of crazy scenes, such as the "Weird Woods", the "Frog Forest", the "Chug-a-Chug machine", and the "Preserving Dept.", with bears making boysenberry preserves. Folks still talk about the delicious scent of boysenberries in the ride!

A clock - not to be confused with the "Dreger Clock". But it still tells the time, and looks good doing so. And isn't that the most important thing?

Just in case you forgot where you are, you're in The Roaring 20's, ya goof! Knott's Berry Farm scored a coup by debuting the "Corkscrew" roller coaster. 

The "Corkscrew was "...not only the first modern inverting coaster in the world, but it also was the first coaster to take riders upside-down twice". Nowadays the experience of going upside-down on a coaster is commonplace, but it was a big deal in 1975! Eventually 10 exact replicas of this ride were built for various amusement parks.

And here's one last look at the general "Roaring 20's" area known as "Charleston Circle"; does anybody have an idea of what that building is (slightly to the right of center)? The tall fountain was used as a prop in the 1969 film version of "Hello Dolly", or so the legend goes.

Never fear, there are more Knott's Berry Farm photos from Lou and Sue coming up! Thanks as always to both of them for sharing these wonderful images.



Great photos. I always loved Knott’s Berry Farm .... but there something was something I really liked about the Roaring 20’s! I really miss this theme of the park - while its still “kinda there” .... it’s just a shell of the theme now lacking all the period details of the 1920’s. WED imagineers were incredibly impressed with the job done and with such a small budget. Some of my most favorite theme park elements right up there with Disney was the ROARING 20’s rooftop sign and The Palms Casino with the 1927 Chevrolet Meter Cab parked out front ( not shown in these pictures ) and Charleston Circle!

Rudero , the company who built the Roaring 20’s had designed an attraction called THE RUM RUNNERS OF ‘22 - guests rode through through 1920’s LA at night riding inside sedans and touring cars in a bigger scale Mister Toad’s Wild Ride ...... or Disney’s 1990’s concept Dick Tracy’s Crime Stoppers..... ( man Disney rips off so much of Knott’s stuff!!) one of the Knott’s sisters had a husband who was a major alcoholic so the RUM RUNNERS OF ‘22 was quickly pushed aside.
Did you know that in 1975 because of the opening of The Roaring 20’s, Knott’s had higher attendance than Disneyland did that same year!!

major, Lou and Sue thanks for this images - exited to see more of Knott’s!


CORRECTION : my favorite Roaring 20’s rooftop sign IS shown in these images ( photo 2) thanks again !

"Lou and Sue" said...

Mike, thanks for the information! You know I love the details and behind-the-scene's stuff you share!

I wasn't with my dad on this trip, but wish I was . . . as he (and my mom) were lots of fun! I did make it to California and KBF the following summer, when I was 16, and my trip was paid for by my great uncle. He had asked me to fly to California to escort my 96-year-old great grandmother back to Chicago (she lived in California) to visit the Chicago relatives for the summer (and, in return, I got to spend a week or so in California with different relatives, seeing different sites).

Anyway, one of the families I stayed with (I'm being vague in case other relatives are reading this) was rather interesting, to say the least. The dad, in advance, scheduled every minute of every day that I was at their home. And I mean every minute . . .

When we went to KBF, a couple of us wanted to ride the log ride - but it wasn't on the dad's schedule -and it was around dinnertime (though no dinner reservations were made). The dad nicely gave us the choice of riding the ride OR eating dinner. So, two of us rode the ride and, afterwards, I proceeded to QUICKLY purchase a couple large hot pretzels(??) as soon as we exited the ride (with my own money), so that the two of us wouldn't starve (we had to hide the pretzels from the dad). For the rest of the day/evening, we continued doing everything at KBF that the dad planned - BUT everyone had to skip eating dinner. The dad wasn't mad at us and no one in their family was upset - as that was how it always was, I guess . . . if you veered off the dad's planned schedule, you just got back on it as quickly as you could. That was their "normal." I was flabbergasted, but didn't dare "buck the system," as they were wonderful to me in every OTHER way. Sad to say, I never ended up going back to KBF, after that time. AND I NEVER STAYED AT THEIR HOUSE, AGAIN.

Now, I wish I knew some of you junior gorillas, back then, to have joined you and experienced KBF the fun way!!

TokyoMagic! said...

That huge neon on top of the Knott's Bear-y Tales ride, which Mike mentioned, was amazing! Not only did it have neon, but it had "moving" lights. It really was a sight to see at night. It's too bad that they removed it from the building five years ago.

In that second pic, we can see two of Knott's "walk-around" characters in front of the Buffalo Nickel Arcade. Those characters are "Boysen Bear-y" and "Girlsen Bear-y."

If you look closely at the "Hello Dolly" fountain in that last pic, you can see that it's not operating as a fountain. There are plants growing in it's basin. It remained that way for at least 10 years. At some point in the mid to late 80's, they decide to plumb the fountain so that it could actually function as a fountain. Unfortunately, the basin wasn't large enough and the water splashed all over the place and onto the ground. They eventually had to enlarge the basin to prevent that from happening.

Major, as for that building that you were asking about....the pink part of it is the backside of the Calico Mine Ride show building. That includes the part of the building with the "Bath House & Plunge" sign (seen in the background of that pic of the clock). The small square building up on stilts, and in front of Mine Ride show building, was the Rides Management office for the Roaring 20's area. It could be accessed by that metal spiral staircase, just to the right of it.

Thank you Lou, Sue and Major for sharing these pics from a wonderful time in Knott's history!

TokyoMagic! said...

Major, that Roaring 20's "Rides Management" office and it's spiral staircase, can be seen much better in this post of yours from 9 years ago:


The Charleston Circle fountain was indeed used in the 1969 film Hello Dolly. Four replica fountains were cast in aluminum copied from an original 1890’s cast iron original. 2 full-size ones were used in the “Central Park “ dance scenes . 2 shorter ones were made for the interior of Harmonia Gardens Restaurant scene and the famous staircase scene. The Harmonia Gardens hello dolly sets were used in the film Beneath The Planet of the Apes and one of the shorter fountains was a ruin-relic in that movie. Fox Studios had an auction similar to the MGM auction and one big fountain was sold to Knott’s , the other big fountain was kept by Fox and is now on display at the entrance to the Fox Studios Titantic studios in Mexico. The 2nd smaller fountain was bought by a company in Sacramento for a big Gay 90’s theme restaurant - they also bought a Horsecar , a horse drawn omnibus and TONS of other props from the film Hello Dolly. I don’t know if that restaurant ever opened but the omnibus and Horsecar are in a transport museum in Old Sacramento.
Disney also bought ALL the fake vegetation from the outdoor Central Park scenes from Hello Dolly and used it all in Epcot’s SPACESHIP EARTH , THE LAND, and THE WORLD OF MOTION!!

Chuck said...

These photos are awesome! Although I visited again in the '90s, this is how I prefer to remember this area.

You can just see the back side of Calico Mountain above the building on stilts in the last photo, between the trees.

"Model T Shirt" [chuckle].

Does anybody know - is the new version of Knott's Berry Tales going in the same show building as the original? And does Rolly Crump have anything to do with it this time?

Thanks again, Lou & Sue!

stu29573 said...

I never rode Knotts Berry Tales (my one trip was a couple of years earlier) but I wish I had seen Rolly's masterpiece. I hadn't heard that they are putting it back in. That Califonia trip might need to happen...

Andrew said...

Wow! Lou had a spectacular eye for details, Sue! Thanks so much for sharing these pictures.

The Corkscrew sign is one of the coolest roller coaster signs ever. All of those neon signs they put in the Roaring 20's were great, and they said that the land was converted on a budget! I wonder where that sign is now. I've seen pictures of when it was above the ride's entrance... I bet TokyoMagic! knows the exact month when it was moved.

Roller coaster nerd alert! An interesting detail about Corkscrew is that the current coaster on the spot, "Hangtime," has two elements that serve as tributes to the rides that were there before it, whether they are accidental or not. There is a single corkscrew (as opposed to the original's double) from Corkscrew and a "Cobra Roll" from Boomerang.

Knott's Bear-y Tales looks like it might be good, but I'm gonna skip it because I don't feel like climbing up the ramp.

Major Pepperidge said...

Mike Cozart, I remember the opening of the Roaring 20’s, mostly the excitement about the Corkscrew. It’s now been a while since I’ve been back to Knott’s, and I kind of thought that most traces of the Roaring 20’s were gone, but it sounds like some of it still exists? I do love that big sign, and found photos of it broken and sad laying on the ground. Such a waste, I’ll bet that thing cost a fortune at the time. It’s a bummer that we never got that Rum Runners ride… I feel bad for whichever Knott’s sister had the alcoholic husband. So many people think weed is the worst thing, but alcohol destroys so many lives, including people close to me. I did NOT know that Knott’s had higher attendance than Disneyland in 1975!

Lou and Sue, Lou is my kind of guy, flying out to California from Chicago to see all the fun parks! Armed with his trusty camera of course. Funny about the dad who planned every minute of the day. I have known some planners, but not as die-hard as that person! I get wanting to plan things to try to be efficient and see everything, but at some point being a slave to schedule stops being fun. I know it’s just how some people are, though - it was probably a good quality to have for whatever job that person held.

TokyoMagic!, like many things, I just don’t understand the reasoning behind removing that “Roaring 20’s” sign. It was such a landmark for decades. I did notice the walk-around bears, but didn’t know their names. I also didn’t know that the Hello Dolly fountain wasn’t plumbed for water. Looking at the photo, it does look like the ground-level basin was barely large enough. Is the fountain still there today? I feel dumb, somehow I didn’t notice the “Bath House & Plunge” sign before. I thought that the “small square building on stilts” was just a balcony (of sorts) for that larger building.

TokyoMagic!, thanks for the link, that’s a great blog! ;-)

Mike Cozart, thank you for all the info about the Charleston Circle fountain and its brethren! I have never seen the Streisand movie, unfortunately. The most I’ve ever seen is that clip in “Wall-E”! Now I need to watch “Beneath the Planet of the Apes” again. I saw that in the theater when I was a kid, the nuclear ending was a shock to my kid brain. Movies don’t end this way! Very fun that Disney bought and used so much of the fake vegetation for Epcot too. Great information as alwasy!

Chuck, considering how much I loved Knott’s when I lived in Orange County, I sure haven’t been back very often. In fact I haven’t been since the “Knott’s Preserved” event in 2010. Which was great by the way! “Model T Shirt”, it’s funny, but I dunno; somehow I don’t mind the punny names at Knott’s so much, but then they started creeping into Disneyland. “Chester Drawers” is one I especially dislike. But I’m not crazy! Somehow I thought that the return of KBT was just a rumor, I didn’t know it was really happening. Rolly is getting up there, but I see no reason why they couldn’t use him as a consultant in some capacity.

stu29573, I never experienced that ride either, and whenever I’ve spoken to people who did ride it, you can tell that they loved it so much. It made me wish that I shared those memories.

Andrew, you could tell that Knott’s did not have “Disney money”, but as Mike Cozart pointed out, they did a wonderful job. The Roaring 20’s was a big area, and had lots of new attractions - it was a huge deal, especially for locals. I accidentally found photos of the big sign, I think it was on the ground, perhaps in a warehouse, and very broken. It was probably much too large for one of those places that preserves old neon signs. I’m sure if I did a Google search I could find those pictures again. I still remember how smooth that corkscrew loop was, and how amazing it seemed. Now of course there are coasters that have 2, 3, 4 loops, maybe even more. It’s still a cool thing, I always like to look sideways and watch the world go around! The ramp is weird, I assume there was elevator access for those who couldn’t manage that long ramp.

Irene said...

As you would guess, I am very excited for today's post because I love Knott's so much. As many of you know they are celebrating (or will when they reopen!) their 100th anniversary. Now that is not the date of the beginning of a theme park but the date Walter Knott moved his family to Buena Park off Beach Blvd. to farm berries (though not the Boysenberry yet - that would come later). But hey - it's a good excuse to celebrate and do things big! One thing Knott's has done for us passholders is to extend our passes for a whole year! They are now good through the end of 2021 plus anything extra we have on them (such as my dining plan). They just this last week reopened Mrs. Knott's chicken dinner takeout, the bakery and The Marketplace. I plan to go next week and purchase a take home dinner to celebrate our daughter's birthday - and of course get a boysenberry pie! My husband calls that little excursion using my get of jail card free card! LOL

Some of you mentioned the Beary Tales ride that is going in - yes! That is happening and they have continued to work on it during this closure. It is in the same building but will not be exactly the same as it was. Several years ago they put in a ride called Voyage to The Iron Reef. You sat in a ride vehicle and fired laser guns at monsters and things in a reef and earned points. It was fine but I only went on it a couple of times. For those with mobility issues you do not have to use the stairs to get to the ride as they have an elevator. Anyway the ride will take you through a forest and a pie contest where the fox tries to steal the pies (or something like that). There will be the smell of boysenberries pumped in and I'm sure they will use the same music. I believe it's also a laser shoot game as well. Though I don't believe, from what I've read, that Rolly Crump is behind any of this they are honoring him big time! Not sure when the ride will open now but many of us are very excited about this. And this is all part of the 100th anniversary celebration.

Regarding the Charleston Fountain - for the last several years they have used the fountain to decorate for the various themes they have during the year and doing a great job with it I might add.

Many of us are chomping at the bit to get back. They had a wonderful Boysenberry Festival planned and the returning Ghost Town Alive for the Summer. How they are going to work everything out is anyone's guess but I am completely impressed with the management at Knott's and am confident they won't let us down!

Omnispace said...

Thanks for sharing these great pictures! I agree that this was perhaps one of the best times at Knott's - a very nice mixture of old and new attractions, and before coasters scarred the ambiance of the older sections. The Corkscrew in Roaring 20's only added to the excitement of the place.

Something interesting that I don't see in Charleston Square is the bench with the "flappers" sitting on it. I have a picture of me with them in front of the office up on stilts. Perhaps the bench was moved around over the years?

Anonymous said...

For some reason that I don't recall, we quit visiting Knotts sometime in the early 70's, although we kept going to Disneyland. I think we went other places in the LA region like Farmers Market, Queen Mary and Universal.

None of this looks familiar to me at all.

Thanks Lou and Sue, and Major P for sharing it all. I'm enjoying reading other's memories of these unfamiliar scenes.


Anonymous said...

I’d been working at the farm for about two months in 1975 when Knott’s finally got around to taking a bunch of us new hires on an orientation tour around the property. We ended up at the Operations office located on the second floor of Independence Hall where we we given a brief presentation of the upcoming planned Airfield additions.

Marion Knott happened to be there (we’d been warned in advance that she could be a pretty tough cookie) and asked if any of us had any questions. A couple of people timidly asked her generic questions about her parents and growing up around the farm which she answered with smiles and understandable pride.

Feeling emboldened by her seeming fine mood, I decided to throw caution to the wind and ask about the misspelling of the Roaring ‘20s (not 20’s) project. Marion looked straight at me, then down at the table and sigh, “Yeah, that’s a pretty big mistake I missed until it was too late to do anything about. It was mostly written out [Roaring Twenties] when we first started talking about things and somehow people started doing the possessive deal without anybody noticing.”

She then laughed and concluded, “I still get mad every time I see that!”

"Lou and Sue" said...

JG, even though I was at KBF the following year, I don't recognize any of these scenes, either. I guess this part of KBF wasn't on "our schedule." ;)

I love all the info everyone is sharing today - thank you! I need to re-visit KBF to see what I've been missing!

Major Pepperidge said...

Irene, I thought you would probably enjoy these Knott’s photos, knowing how much you love KBF! I have to admit that when I heard about the “100th Anniversary”, I thought, “Really??”. Sounds like they are fudging the numbers. Looking on Wikipedia, I’m not sure what significance 1920 (or 1921) has. However, if they are needing an excuse to do some sort of big bash, I’m all for it! Very cool that they extended your passes for a whole year. I saw on YouTube that they’d reopened the chicken dinner restaurant, how much would I love a fried chicken/mashed potatoes/boysenberry pie dinner right now? A TON! I guess I can’t be surprised that the new Beary Tales ride will not be physical, with animatronics and such. I am still a bit disappointed that it will basically be another motion simulator ride. Maybe it’ll be great, I hope so, anyway.

Omnispace, I agree, I loved the additions of “Fiesta Village” and “The Roaring 20’s”, though Ghost Town will always be my favorite part of Knott’s. You’re right, the flappers don’t seem to be there, not sure when they were added, but The Roaring 20’s was new, so they might not have appeared for a while.

JG, my family moved to Pennsylvania for about four years, and even though we came right back to SoCal, I didn’t return to Knott’s for a LONG time. Not really sure why, except that it was a ways from where I lived and I didn’t drive yet. Still, I regret not going more back in those days.

Anon, I love your account of when you got to talk to Marion Knott! I have to admit that in the hundreds of times I’ve seen “The Roaring 20’s”, it never occurred to me that there was anything wrong. Until now! I am grammatically challenged, I admit, but even now I see things referred to as “the 1970’s” or “the 1950’s”, so the apostrophe before the s seems OK? I can see the need for perhaps another apostrophe before the 20’s indicating that it has been shortened from “1920’s”. Again, not saying you are wrong, I honestly don’t know!

Lou and Sue, I probably didn’t see The Roaring 20’s (‘20s?) more than twice before the end of my regular Knott’s visits, but I sure had a lot of fun there! Thanks to you and Lou for these wonderful photos, with more to come.

Anonymous said...

Expressing decades in writing has four hard and fast grammatical rules agreed upon by one and all (even Marion Knott!). :)

Here’s one site explaining the methods most simply:

There are two correct ways and two incorrect ways to express decades in writing.

Apostrophes are for forming contractions or indicating possession; they are not for forming plurals of numbers. Therefore you should not write “the 80’s” or “the 50’s.”

• Do write out a decade with numerals and an “s” after them.
• Do write a decade as a two-digit number with an apostrophe before it and an “s” after it, as the apostrophe takes the place of the century digits.
• Don’t use an “apostrophe -s” at all when writing decades.

• Do write “the 1950s.”
• Do write “the ’50s.”
• Don’t write “the 1950’s.”
• Don’t write “the 50’s.”

Class dismissed! ;)


The two seated flappers “Daisy & Flossie” for some reason are moved around from time-to-time. I have vintage photos of them from the 70’s through the 2000’s In different locations — included not far from the parked sedan in front of LINDY’s, the bench closest to the Model “T” Shirts / Charleston Follies , the opposite north end of Charleston Circle , under the admin building , on Memory Lane between CORDY’s and the speakeasy door, between the firehouse and magicshop/candy store.I even have a picture of the ladies backstage sandblasted and ready for repainting.

The 1927 taxi cab also moved around the Roaring 20’s as well which is interesting because the last photo I took of it on the street in front of the speakeasy it isn’t even really touching the ground ( the rubber tires anyhow) but it has four supports under each axel - for the taxi cab is almost “floating” in place!!

Major Pepperidge said...

Anon, thank you! I’ll probably forget all that sooner than will be believed. When I thought of “the 1980’s”, my thinking was that “this thing belongs to that decade” (or something along those lines). Like, “Those 70’s fashions are far out!”. But clearly that is incorrect! Hey, maybe even I can learn something. Stranger thing have happened. Thank you for the lesson!

Mike Cozart, interesting, I only have one or two photos of the flappers, but they were always in the bench under the “building on stilts”. I wonder why they moved them around so much? Handsome Brady and Whiskey Bill stayed put for decades. I’m amazed at how well you know all of the streets and stores & restaurants. Did you ever work for Knott’s? Or are you just a big fan? I wonder if that taxi cab shows up in any of Lou’s photos… I’ll have to go back and look. Maybe it wasn’t there yet either, these are pretty early for The Roaring ’20s (I got it right, Anon!).

Irene said...

Just an update that came through today from Knott's in case anyone comes back to these comments. It is from the vice-president and general manager of Knott's, Jon Storbeck (yes, the same Jon Storbeck that was vice-president of Disneyland a few years back). Basically they have no opening date yet but are in constant contact with federal and state lawmakers. The new Beary Tales will reopen when the park reopens. The 100th anniversary celebration will happen in 2021 because they had a lot of things planned for this (including a new show in the Charles Schultz Theater). Sadly the very popular Ghost Town Alive will not happen this Summer but will be back for the Summer of 2021.