America's Oldest Theme Park?

With much love to HW & Knotts, I believe that Disneyland was the first true "theme park." Of course, it's a subjective argument to begin with, ripe with semantical differences and marketing chest puffing. But, this is my opinion. HW and KBF were certainly "themed" parks/attractions well before 1955, but it was Walt Disney who opened the first "theme park" IMHO.

DL was the first crafted from scratch to offer different themes and different experiences, including rides. Knotts & HW were more evolutionary upsizings of single-themed roadside attractions. And, they certainly weren't the only ones. They may be the best preserved and most evolved is the interesting point.

Look at the template for theme parks today: differently themed lands, hub & spoke design, immersive theming, and seemingly equal attention to rides/shows/parades. Walt Disney was an innovator. Of course, Disneyland itself was an upsizing of an employee park originally planned for Burbank. But, it did open pretty true to what it is today, and what all of these parks are today: IOA, Busch Gardens, Epcot, AK, DHS, TDS, Sea World, Legoland, WBMW, etc.

Not to take anything away from Holiday World, which evidenced even by its name today versus "Santa Claus Land" has evolved into what it is. It didn't open as a true theme park in the generally accepted definition we use today. But, it's all splitting hairs anyway. I love all 3 of them pretty equally!

/m


Well said, bravo!

Agree, a theme park needs two themed areas (of which one must not be an old west or "generic amusement park" theme) before Ill call it a theme park.

Disneyland is the first theme park and home to the first modern steel coaster, like it or not, the Mouse started the second golden age we experienced in the 90s by finally revitalizing the industry after the depression.

crazy horse's avatar

If I remember right, Walt Disney actualy paid a visit to knotts before disneyland was built and got some insperation from it.

I have read that Walt did speak with Walter(knotts founder) about running a theme park (Knott's WAS the first theme park ). I also heard that Walter and his family was there on opening day of DL. As I recal there is a letter between the two Walts, I think it's in the Walt Disney story at DL.


what you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard.
Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it.
I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

a_hoffman50's avatar

When was the first ride installation at Knott's? Not trying to be snooty; I honestly do not know.

CoasterDemon's avatar

Wait a second... didn't Walt also visit Santa Claus Land before he built his park?


Billy

Many elements of Knott's was taken into consideration when Walt built Disneyland 10 minutes down the road from Knott's in the city of Anaheim.

A lot of people don't know this, but the park's Calico Mine Ride is the world's first "dark" ride, which Walt took note of when drawing up ideas for his immersive storybook attractions.

Timber Mountain Log Ride was Walt's Inspiration for Splash Mountain. Those that have the opportunity to ride both will notice how similar they are. Prior to Timber Mountain Log Ride, no flume ride had ever incorporated theme elements (ala faux mountain, artificial plant-life, animatronics, sound-effects, etc.

Another piece of "theme park firsts" history...every shooting gallery attraction in the world can trace its origin back to the very original that still can be played in Knott's Ghost Town area.

a_hoffman50 said:
When was the first ride installation at Knott's? Not trying to be snooty; I honestly do not know.

Go back in the thread before all the "who cares" comments and you will find your answer.

Stage Coach 1949
Railroad 1951
Carousel 1955
Calico Mine Ride 1960 - five years after Disneyland opened.
Calico Logging Flume 1968, the same year they fenced in the property and started charging admission. After that a significant expansion took place and a number of rides were added between 1968 and 1975 including the Roaring Twenties Corkscrew in 1975.

Last edited by Jeffrey Seifert,

kRaXLeRidAh said:
A lot of people don't know this, but the park's Calico Mine Ride is the world's first "dark" ride, which Walt took note of when drawing up ideas for his immersive storybook attractions.

Dark rides go back much further than that. Laff in the Dark was a popular dark ride back in the 1920s, and Old Mills go back to the turn of the century.

a_hoffman50's avatar

From its inception, Santa Claus Land was a themed amusement park. There is no disputing that. It did indeed open its doors after Knott's Berry Farm. However, I do not believe Knott's Berry Farm would have been considered an amusement park until after at least one ride was in place. Therefore, my statement of Santa Claus Land, now Holiday World, was the first theme park holds true. :)

Edited to add:

The question was not what theme park was the first and did it the best.

Last edited by a_hoffman50,
crazy horse's avatar

[url][url]Walter Knott built a Ghost Town in 1940, using buildings relocated from real old west towns such as the Santa Claus, Indiana and many people will argue that it was the first true Theme Park despite Knott's history.


what you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard.
Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it.
I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

crazy horse's avatar

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theme_park

About half way down the page explanes it best.


what you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard.
Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it.
I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

Jeffrey Seifert said:
I'm sorry, some people like historical minutiae. If you don't have anything to add to the discussion, I believe the polite thing to do is move onto another thread.

My point was not to diminish the discussion, but rather to say, what does it matter if a certain park was not the first theme park, or park with a themed area, etc.? Does it make it less of a park today?

kRaXLeRidAh said:
Timber Mountain Log Ride was Walt's Inspiration for Splash Mountain.

I appreciate your wanting to add to the discussion, but you should probably do a little fact checking before making statements like this. Walt Disney died in 1966--that's 2 to 3 years before the Timber Mountain Log Ride was built.

Splash Mountain was the idea of Tony Baxter -- legendary Imagineer and now head of the creative side of WDI. His idea was to reuse all of the animatronics from the America Sings show when it closed, using a Song of the South theme (given those character's residence in that corner of the park already). I remember talking to Tony once and he said that Michael Eisner wanted to have a mermaid in there -- tying it into the movie Splash. He fought against it and won, but Eisner got a small victory by getting "Splash" in the name.

I also remember hearing that it was Michael Eisner's son who picked the model out of all the current ideas, and badgered him until he approved its construction.

No doubt Timber Mtn. played heavily into the concept of it, as Baxter grew up near both parks. Plus, the overlap of Bud Hurlbut's work between both parks has been pretty influential over attractions at each park -- tying in continuity of theme if nothing else. Castle Park has become kind of a Hurlbut museum of sorts.

/m


^^ My bad, allow me to rephrase.

Timber Mountain Log Ride was part inspiration when it came to Disney envisioning Splash Mountain.

I didn't literally mean Walt himself.

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