As a Pittsburgh Steelers fan, one of the great ways to spend time between playoff weekends is to travel to exotic locations and check out some parks. In January, I flew to California to visit one of our former engineers from here at Morey’s Piers, Steve V., who now works at Disneyland Resort, and Bob K, a former inventory dept. supervisor who now resides in Long Beach.
Monday was a visit to the Santa Monica Pier and a great lunch at Mariasol Cocina Mexican overlooking the blue Pacific Ocean. Being that the only rides open were the ferris wheel and the carousel, all visitors could do were eat and shop. And eat we did. This place served authentic south of the border cuisine and proved to be the best meal of the week. The drive in from the freeway on the last leg of historic Route 66 could have only been enhanced with “I love L.A.” being sung by Randy Newman.
The next day led us to Universal Hollywood. Much larger than its sister park in Orlando. Built inside an actual studio environment, the attractions are in a more compact layout, which means less walking. However, the official Back Lot Studio Tour, which takes a mere 45 minutes does not disappoint. With the park not crowded at all, we boarded an awaiting tram to be whisked to exotic locations where CSI was filming, the Desperate Housewives street, Amity Village, the Bates Motel and the brand new and visually stunning Kong Kong 3-D. You have to see this to even begin to describe it, but watch your tram car as King Kong squares off with some big nasty dinosaurs right next to you.
Coaster riders will love the Mummy- almost as long as the one in Orlando, but packed with more thrills and less chills without the spider room. Next door, the newest member of the attraction family is underway, Transformers. This ride will use the same ride vehicles as the new Harry Potter attraction in Orlando and will bring the same crowds no doubt. No visit is complete without a stop at the L.A. Dodgers pro shop at CityWalk. However, I can safely say the longest line of the day was the freeway traffic back home.
Our next stop was Knott’s Berry Farm, America’s first theme park. We must have pleased the Park God’s today, as about 300 people were in the entire park. If you like coasters, all 9 were walk ons, which means zero waiting in line. Coasters of every shape and size were there, including the classic 1978 Montezooma’s Revenge launch coaster. I haven’t ridden this model coaster since Kennywood Park’s Laser Loop was removed after the 1990 season. Happy memories and a incredibly smooth ride was enjoyed!
The star attraction was the Ghost Rider, built by the same team who built the Great White right here at Morey’s Piers. Given an old west theme, the Ghostrider rises above the midway, crosses 3 bridges into the adjacent parking and retail and thrills riders with 14 drops. Riders exit into an authentic ghost town, moved from the various locations in the southwest since the 1940’s. Knott’s is a must visit for anyone who loves the Great American Wild West, Snoopy (the official mascot), or fried chicken. Knott’s still uses its original 1930’s dining room to serve up thousands of fried chicken dinners daily.