At 75, Knott’s Berry Farm Calico Ghost Town Makes the Old New Again

By Carolyn Richardson

A rickety ride is revamped, a ghost town comes alive and a restaurant gets a bar at Knott’s Berry Farm.

Knott’s Berry Farm has something both old and new this summer. Now through Sept. 5, the amusement park is celebrating the 75th anniversary of its Ghost Town with new experiences that take you back in time and thrust you into the future.

Called Ghost Town Alive!, the new interactive experience brings live actors in as the townsfolk of Calico. It’s a delight to watch the Sheriff (and his prisoner), doctor, postman and mayor chatting away with their southern drawls and Old West clothes, and they’re keen to get guests in on the fun. I was greeted like an out-of-towner, told who to speak to and where to get sworn in as a citizen. I also got in a few shots at the shooting gallery. It was a good time in Calico, which now allows guests to go into the Sheriff’s Office and Barbershop. What’s more, they have live horses. The new Livery Stable allows kids to pet one of two horses and pose for pictures on a saddle in the midst of bales of hay.

In addition to colorful citizens of Calico, there is a new line-up of entertainment on the stage, including the explosive new Wild West Stunt Show, the high kickin‘ new Calico Saloon Show, and the wild and wonderful Circus of Wonders on the Calico Mine Stage

 

I also got a chance to ride the newly restored GhostRider. I’m not a Knott’s regular, so I can’t speak to how rickety it was before the renovation, but many people who were mentioned how smooth the ride is now. I can agree. I consider myself a wooden rollercoaster connoisseur. I’ve not ridden many roller coasters, but I have ridden one more than 100 times: The Texas Cyclone at Six Flags Astroworld in Houston, once one of the longest and tallest wooden roller coasters, was torn down in 2005. 

I was eager to ride this to see how it compares, even though I was much younger when I frequented Astroworld. I’d say I was probably more “thrilled” at GhostRider. Turns out GhostRider is longer, both in track and duration. The three-minute ride over more than 4,500 feet of track was exhilarating. It picks up speed right from takeoff and the first drop is about 108 feet, so be prepared to scream. Get a front-row seat to the ride courtesy of the CoasterForce video below. 

Last, but certainly not least, Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner Restaurant has been remodeled with vaulted ceilings, a new patio area, lobby and bar. The bar replaces what was the Garden Room. It will serve boysenberry-flavored cocktails, wine, beer and other standard alcoholic beverages. The dining room décor is new as well. The feel is still true to the feel of the farm, but additional details make it special. The rear dining and banquet areas are designed to look like a barn, with cowhide booths and lights that look like equipment for hoisting bales of hay. Other lighting fixtures use pasta strainers and cheese graters for inspiration. See pictures and the menu below.  To experience Knott’s Berry Farm, visit their website at www.knotts.com or call (714) 220-5200.

Carolyn Richardson is Assistant Editor of L.A. Parent.

 

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