Travel Reviews

Published on July 8th, 2014 | by gareth


Calico Mine Ride: Reopening Knotts Berry Farm 2014

Recently we were invited to attend a special event at Knotts Berry Farm in Buena Park CA. We always look forward to seeing what they have in store as they have never failed to delight and surprise us.
This time out was for a very special event, the legendary Calico Mine Ride was showing off a new renovation and Camp Snoopy was showing off new attractions as well.

Since we have opened our AZ office, Gen and I try to attend as many events as we can and thankfully we have great staff in area that are able to cover things we cannot get to. We have had the chance to experience things from ride openings, Knotts Scary Farms, and other special events over the years and I can honestly say that aside from Knotts Scary Farm, there was a level of excitement and anticipation around this event unlike any others.

The opening festivities were brightened by a welcome kit which included a stock certificate for the mine as well as a commemorative coin.

The opening events featured classic Peanuts characters and the grandson of creator Charles Schultz as well as local politicians and senior executives from the park. The new attractions delighted the assembled guests mainly comprised of media, pass holders, and other VIPs and after a quick ride and walk through, I enjoyed the very good breakfast reception that the park provided to us ahead of the main event.

The Calico Mine Ride opened in 1960 and was the brainchild of Bud Hurlbut. The visionary ride was the first of the so called Dark rides and not only did Bud sell his home ranch, and other items to fund the creation of his dream, Walt Disney himself is said to have stopped over often to watch construction.

The ride was a huge hit and set the stage for Knotts to become a world class entertainment destination and in time gave rise to The Lumber Ride at the park which itself was recently renovated.

Hurlbut sadly passed in 2011 but after his beloved log ride was updated the time came to modernize his original classic. Garner Holt Productions who worked to updated the classic Log Ride worked on this renovation and once again did an amazing job.

The ceremonies had local dignitaries speak before a train car arrived with a miner, who delighted the crowd with his jokes and humorous behavior.

A pyrotechnic display signaled the opening of the ride and we were brought to the loading area to enjoy the ride.

The ride involves taking a train deep into a dark mine and seeing the miners and other objects in all their glory. The miners have been updated to have a sharper appearance and more animation but the décor really took off. Steam now has some heat to it, the imagery of the area really comes to life and there seems to be a greater sense of realism and immersion to the attraction.

Explosions had a greater sense of realism and urgency to them which really added to the enjoyment. Imagine all the best elements of the classic ride now with better effects, imagery, and animatronics characters and you get an idea of what is in store.

With over 50 new figures, audio, lighting, and effects, you can get an idea as to why this remodel was such a big event for fans and the park.

Waves of applause erupted from the train as we neared the end as the riders clearly enjoyed what they had seen and the lines forming showed how much people wanted to experience the ride.

I spent the remainder of the day enjoying many of the classics such as the Log Ride, Bigfoot Rapids, The Pony Express, The Jaguar and several other attractions before taking in the lunch reception which allowed me to network with other journalists and see some beautiful collections of past artwork and images of the park.

I wish that I had more time but sadly after almost 6 hours at the park, I had to begin the drive back to AZ as I had been covering E3 the prior days and it was time to get home. Knotts once again wowed and entertained me with their great mix of old and new and their great hospitality. I look forward to seeing what they come up with next but make sure to check out the park as the new attractions offer plenty of smiles for guests young, old, and in between.

About the Author

Syndicated movie & game critic, writer, author and frequent radio guest. His work has appeared in over 60 publications worldwide and he is the creator of the rising entertainment site and publication “Skewed and Reviewed”.He has three books of film, game reviews and interviews published and is a well-received and in demand speaker on the convention circuit. Gareth has appeared in movies and is a regular guest on a top-rated Seattle morning show.He has also appeared briefly in films such as “Prefountaine”, “Postal”. “Far Cry”. and others. Gareth is also an in-demand speaker at several conventions and has conducted popular panels for over two decades.

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