Knott’s Berry Farm might have found the mother lode by mining existing rides with “like new” updates.
Last year the farm refreshed the Timber Mountain Log Ride by replacing nearly all the show elements, and refurbishing the ride track and other hardware systems. It was rewarded with long lines and according to reports, solid attendance.
This year the farm is doing the same thing but in a bigger way.
Calico Mine Train
First, Knott’s is doing a complete makeover of the Calico Mine Train ride.
Since January, the eight-minute ride has been closed and most of the show elements stripped out. Designers at the farm are working with the same company that led the redo of the log ride, Garner Holt Productions. The team promises the same amazing results seen in the log ride – new, more highly detailed figures with more motion, all new and improved lighting and audio systems, and a brand new paint job throughout.
Video: Calico Mine Train ride update preview at Knott’s Berry Farm
The ride first opened in 1960, and was designed by theme park legend Bud Hurlbut. It contained full size human figures that had movement. A short time after it opened, Walt Disney came by to see and ride it, leading some to speculate that it led to bigger things at Disneyland.
“Knott’s Berry Farm had the first attraction with AA figures, seven years before ‘Pirates of the Caribbean,” said J. Eric Lynxweiler, a designer at Knott’s, and historian.
Knott’s officials showed off some of the “plusses” they were doing to the classic attraction, and their work to restore other parts to the glory days of the past.
One of the scenes visited was the “mud pots” room. New vibrant colors could be seen thanks to the new lighting, along with steam rising from the boiling “mud” thanks to a new boiler and new piping.
A peek into the bottom of the Glory Hole gave us a brief in-person glimpse at the work on bringing it back to new glory.
The farm was working with Bill Reyes, a true theme park fan. He was able to re-record the organ music for the cavern scene so that it will truly sound like riders have ascended to heaven while riding through that area.
Designers at Knott’s and Garner Holt Productions also wanted to tie the theme of the area together with the log ride.
“We wanted to make sure the characters in the mine ride looked like they came from the same community as the log ride,” said Garner Holt, president and founder of Garner Holt Productions.
Designers at Knott’s are giving 30-year-old Camp Snoopy a makeover to capture the feeling of being at summer camp in the High Sierras, while adding three new rides for kids of all sizes.
The three new rides are “Pig Pen’s Mud Buggies,” “Charlie Brown’s Kite Flyer” and “Linus’ Launcher.”
Video: Camp Snoopy refurbishment preview at Knott’s Berry Farm
Pig Pen’s Mud Buggies will feature six four-seat ATV style vehicles that will spin around a center column at six revolutions per minute. It is designed for smaller kids, and has Pig Pen on the center column watching as the buggies drive through the “mud.”
Charlie Brown’s Kite Flyer is a spinning swing ride, with 16 two-seat swings. As riders rise up, Charlie Brown will be revealed in the center “kite-eating” tree column upside down and all tied up in kite string.
On the Linus Launcher, riders will sit in “blankets” that will launch 10-feet into the as if Snoopy has grabbed Linus’ blanket. The blanket will raise up, yet spin around a central column at the same time at 11 rpm.
The makeover includes all new walkways for Camp Snoopy, removing the run-down slurry-coated asphalt. “We’ve stained and stamped concrete to make it look like people are walking on dirt trails around the camp,” said Jeff Gahagan, vice-president of maintenance for Knott’s Berry Farm. Gahagan added that the park was bringing the area into compliance with ADA laws for slopes and access throughout.
Besides the new walkways, new rock walls are replacing old fencing. The walls will double as additional seating for tired parents. The area received new signage throughout, designed to enhance the feel of being in a Sierra Nevada camp and finally colorful flowers and rock streams were being added.
Knott’s officials announced that the Grand Sierra Railroad, a real steam engine railroad ride in the area, is receiving a makeover. “All riders got to see on the ride was bushes, a pond and the bottom of the supports for some of our roller coasters,” Gahagan said.
Garner Holt Productions was asked to create a series of vignettes with the Peanuts characters that riders will be able to see while riding the train.
The team worked with Charles M. Schulz’s family to ensure the three dimensional models looked like the characters from the comic strip. The train ride will feature a narration by the character of blanket-toting Linus Van Pelt.
Following the trend at the Disney theme parks, Knott’s is adding a meet and greet for the Peanuts characters in Camp Snoopy. It will be called “Beagle Scout Headquarters” and feature backgrounds and dimensional settings for kids and parents to have their pictures taken with Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the rest of the gang.
The newly revitalized Camp Snoopy and Calico Mine Train ride are scheduled to be ready and open to the public June 14.
More photos from Knott’s Berry Farm’s preview event: