Monday, February 05, 2018

Roller-coaster To Heaven

Aren't roller-coasters boring for angels?
Are the 1980s history yet? Some days I feel old enough that they must be. Anyway, I was flipping channels on the TV a while ago and suddenly found myself looking at the Knott's Berry Farm of my youth. It turned out to be an episode of the maudlin drama series, Highway To Heaven, created, directed, and starring Michael "Little Joe" Landon.
The episode first aired in 1986 and was titled, "Heaven On Earth." (How did we ever learn these things before IMDB?) In the episode, Mark (Victor French) meets a mother and her adorable daughter at Knott's one day. There's some cloying nonsense about the girl and her yellow balloon and then some friendly small talk with the mother. It's all very heartwarming. But of course, we haven't gotten to the mauldin part yet. (Cue sad music.)
Montezuma's Revenge was a more enjoyable ride in 1986. Less safety gear.
 Later, Mark and Jonathan (the angel played by Landon), pass by a car accident with two fatalities. The victims? The adorable mother and daughter, of course. This is heaped on top of an earlier tragedy (natch) where Mark observed another child die in a house fire. So now he's overcome with grief, which is dealt with in the sort of religion-as-woowoo-magic way you'd expect from an episode of this show. 
Sidekick Mark with Bud Hurlbut's Happy Sombreros in the background.
I only know about the woo-woo stuff thanks to IMDB, because, really,... I wasn't going to watch more of this show unless they STAYED at Knott's. And they didn't.

Growing up, I always thought the teacups-like ride (shown behind Mark here) was called the "Mexican Hat Dance." But it's actually the "Happy Sombreros," which doesn't seem like as good a name. Speaking of hats, shouldn't Mark be wearing and Anaheim Angels of Anaheim hat instead of an Oakland A's hat? Or would that be too on-the-nose? 
The "It" balloon's cousin, at the Fiesta Village Merry-Go-Round.
The Merry-Go-Round seen here was the first true amusement park ride at Knott's Berry Farm, opened in 1955 by concessionaire Bud Hurlbut. Bud would go on to become a major innovator in the amusement park world, inventing new ride concepts like the log flume ride, building/owning/operating most of the rides at Knott's, and later developing Castle Park in Riverside.
The Dragon Swing: The last ride Hurlbut built at Knott's.
Naturally, Michael Landon's enormous hair was not mussed even slightly by all the turbulent and exciting rides at Knott's. Angels use lots of "product" in their hair.

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