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Ghost Town Update at Knott’s Berry Farm

By on 03/06/2016

Knott’s Berry Farm recently invited a few of us out to see all the work going on for their 2016 season. It’s going to be the 75th Anniversary of Ghost Town, so that’s where they are focusing the majority of their attention. I already showed you the work being done to Ghost Rider (very exciting!). This update will give you a sneak peek of all the other work being done throughout Ghost Town.

We started with a warm welcome from Jason Soyster, Knott’s Director of Communications. He gave us a high level overview of what all is being done and the opening dates for each attraction. From there, we broke into four groups and were given a walking tour of each area:

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Our first tour was with Creative Director Lara Hanneman:

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Our first stop was Wagon Camp, home of the Wild West stunt show. It’s been torn apart and will be completely rebuilt:

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The entire stage, which was known as Fort Knott, has been removed. The new stage will resemble a generic Old West town. The new show being written surrounds a showman that comes to Calico and mayhem ensues. It will still be a stunt show with many of the elements we’ve come to love, including bandits. There is no name yet for the new show:

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The Barn, which is currently a retail space, will have live horses and burros. You will be able to pet them and learn how to take care of them from the guys who oversee the stagecoach horses:

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All of the animals that currently reside in The Barn will be relocated to new homes:

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There will be lots of changes on Main Street, where Ghost Town Alive! will provide an interactive experience for the guests. The first you’ll notice will be that the front of the Assay Office will have been opened up. This will act as a welcome area/information booth for Ghost Town. You can ask questions, get park maps, etc:

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Most of the buildings in Ghost Town will be staffed with characters from the Old West. For example, in front of Hop Wing Lee you will have the opportunity to try your hand at doing some laundry the old fashioned way. You’ll be able to enter the Barber Shop and interact with the barber. In the Post Office, you’ll be able to send a telegram.

The level of interactivity is up to you. There will be different activities that the townsfolk can have you do, if you would like. For example, the barber might ask you to head over to the post office and send a telegram for him.

You’ll be able to enter and talk to the sheriff in the Sheriff’s Office:

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Goldie plays a very prominent role in Ghost Town Alive! You’ll be able to enter Goldie’s Place and look through the photos from all of her worldly travels. Goldie is also the planner for the hoedown that will happen every evening in the new Calico Square Park.:

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Speaking of Goldie, the old Miss Doolittle’s will become a textile store that is owned by Goldie’s sister. This is where Goldie buys all of her fine clothing. There will be a real loom where guests can watch a demonstration of how it works.

What was previously the Halloween Haunt Museum will now be the new Town Hall. Here you’ll be able to meet the Mayor and his wife, and even vote for a new Mayor if you like. You may even be deputized to help fight the Mayfield Gang, because word on the street is that they may try and rob the bank just about every day:

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The Turquoise Jewelry store will be reverted back into the Calico Bank. Help keep an eye out for the Mayfield Gang, because they like to frequent this area:

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A new addition to Ghost Town will be a working Fire Wagon. The kids are going to love being a part of a live fire brigade. On those hot summer days, I’ll probably enjoy it too. It’ll be interesting to see how much of the water makes it to the end of the line.

Lastly, the Shooting Gallery will return completely refreshed.

In addition to all the new things being added, lots of maintenance work is occurring all over Ghost Town to prepare for the new season:

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Some buildings are even getting new roofs:

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One of the most noticeable changes this year will be the removal of the Calico Square Stage and Courthouse. This entire area will become the Calico Square Park, a peaceful resting area with lots of trees and places to sit. Additionally, every night around 5:00 pm there will be a massive hoedown here, host by Goldie herself:

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After Lara was done touring us through the upcoming changes to Ghost Town Alive!, she handed us over to the Manager of Park Decor, Jeff Shadic for our second tour of the day:

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Jeff first showed us where the new stage will be built that is replacing the Calico Square Stage. It’s a larger space located between Ghost Town and the back of the Charles Schultz Theater, in front of the Pony Express. It faces the water tower, just to the side of the Calico Mine Ride.

As you can see, there hasn’t been much built yet. The buildings you see in the background will be dressing rooms and other facilities for the new stage. The technical facilities for the new stage will be backed up to the mine ride. There will be new Ghost Town façades on the side, which will be visible from Ghost Town and the passing train:

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The name of the new stage hasn’t been finalized yet, but the working name is the Calico Mine Stage, given its close proximity to the mine ride. Everything from lights to sound will be brand new and absolutely state of the art. The Hanging will take place on this stage during Haunt and there will be a new summer show, which will be announced soon.

Our next stop was the Calico Saloon to see all the changes happening there:

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Goldie has recently acquired the saloon and decided to upgrade it to a much classier place for her girls to dance. Here’s the style board she’s come up with that shows the new wallpaper, lighting, furniture, and accents that she wanted put in the saloon:

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Both the bar and backbar have been rebuilt out of oak to look just like the original. There is also a hidden staircase built into the bar so that the entertainers can easily get up and down from the audience to the stage during a show:

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Two new additions to the saloon this year that I think will really bring in the crowds are air conditioning (yay!!) and ice cold beer on tap. There will be old fashioned beer taps on the bar that dispense the liquid gold.

Brand new chandeliers are being built that will look just like the originals. They will have brass fixtures with leaf patterns and look like functioning oil lamps.

Other changes include brand new stairs leading to the second level, a new sound system, and all new lights. The upper rail has also been replaced with an all new, bar height rail:

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All of the furniture is also being replaced with bar height tables and chairs.

The entire exterior has received a brand new paint job and there are brand new lanterns around the entire perimeter. All 142 posts along the upper deck were also replaced, however this deck will still be off limits to guests. The rail is too low to meet safety regulations and if they made it any higher, it would throw off the forced perspective of the building:

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The entire show set/stage is being rebuilt as well. There will be a brand new show in there this summer, unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. The saloon should be open in just a few short weeks.

Ghost Town Alive! will run from May 27th through September 5th, or Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend.

Our third tour of the day was hosted by Russ Knibbs, Knott’s VP of Food & Beverage. He gave us an overview of the extensive remodel being done to Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner Restaurant:

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The Chicken Dinner Restaurant pre-dates the theme park and is one of the things that Knott’s is famous for. They are open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and serves over 1 million lbs. of fresh (never frozen!) chicken a year. With such a storied history, they knew they needed to get the remodel just right:

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One of the new additions will be a full bar, with lots of boysenberry drinks, that seats 115 people. They are also adding an outdoor patio that will seat 52 guests:

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When completed, there will be nearly 800 seats, making it one of, if not the largest restaurant in Orange County. When you arrive, they’ll take your cell phone number and text you when your table is ready. You can roam the nearby shop or go get a coffee in the soon to open Starbucks while you are waiting.

Everything about this restaurant was redesigned, making it necessary to completely gut it before starting the rebuild. The workers were hard at work inside while we were there, so we couldn’t actually go inside:

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The electricians were installing brand new lighting in this dining room:

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When Russ was done with the overview, he treated us to Boysenberry Butter Biscuits. Yep, you heard me right. Fresh biscuits with boysenberry butter! They were so good:

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The all new Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner Restaurant will open sometime during Spring 2016. Until then, there is a construction wall around the entire restaurant:

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If you are craving some of the famous fried poultry, fear not. You can still get the delicious bird to go in a temporary location right around the corner:

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Lastly, there is a full-scale, full-service Starbucks location being added to the park. Just like several other Cedar Fair properties, Knott’s Berry Farm is the franchisee. It’s scheduled to open on May 18th:

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Our fourth tour of the day was with Jeff Gahagan, Vice President of Maintenance, to get an overview of the Ghostrider changes coming. I posted a dedicated article about that tour, which you can find here.

That’s it for this update. I’d like to thank Knott’s Berry Farm for such a thorough and fun tour of the property and all of the changes coming. It’s going to be a great summer!

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3 Comments

  1. Pingback: Ghostrider Reopens on May 27 at Knotts Berry Farm - The Coaster Guy

  2. michaelochs

    03/06/2016 at 9:33 pm

    Great update Kurt. I was there with my first ever season pass for knotts on the 3rd, definitely glad I got a pass, anyway I can’t wait to see how all of this will look and be like when it’s open.

  3. Steve

    03/07/2016 at 10:56 am

    Hey Kurt, how can I hang out with you on these trips 🙂 I would have been happy just getting my hands on some of those biscuits

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