I’m embarrassed to admit I’ve lived in LA for a decade and never been to Knott’s Berry Farm. Every year I make a mental note to go and this year, I finally followed through and I’m so glad I did. I scooped up Chan and we headed to Knott’s to explore their Ghost Town Alive interactive experience.
Walking into Calico, the town centered around Ghost Town Alive, is like taking a huge step back in time to the days of the California gold rush. There are facades of an old west town complete with a local paper, sheriff’s office, and theater.
Mixed in the atmosphere are several characters playing the part of towns people. You can interact with them as much or as little say you’d like. There is a story happening while you’re in the town that involves the Mayfield gang and a bank robbery and you’ll notice newspaper headlines telling you what’s happening with the notorious gang from the start.
As we continued to explore the old west, we had to jump on the Calico Mining ride. It’s one of the only rides Chan is tall enough to ride in Ghost Town Alive so keep that in mind if you’re visiting with little ones. The ride takes you deep into the hillside mines to look for gold, but you have to hope you get out in time before the dynamite explodes!
The Pony Express ride should be a stop on your list if you like roller coasters with a twist. You “stand up” on a pony rather than sitting in a carriage before plunging up and down the coaster tracks. The Big Foot Rapids and the Timber Mountain Log Ride are the perfect rides to cool off on a hot day.
You can also experience Ghost Town Alive in virtual reality with the VR Showdown inside the Boardwalk Arcade. But if it’s a show you’re after because you just want to sit for a few minutes, check out the Wild West Stunt show: Frontier Feats of Wonder for some very interacting wild west action. Keep in mind, It was super hot inside the Wagon Camp theater but if you get there early enough you can sit inside a covered wagon. Otherwise be prepared to sit under the sun.
The circus comes to town once in the evening at 8:45 so if you’re there all day make sure you get there early to get a spot for Circus of Wonders.
I always find that even with all the rides and fun shows, sometimes Chan has the most fun with the simplest things. We stopped by one of the stores where she picked out a geode to cut it open and see what’s inside. She still carries that rock with her to show everyone the “shiny” rocks in the middle. She also loved panning for gold and visiting the livery where the horses had as much personality as she does.
Also I would say going with friends made this experience more fun. We went with Veena Crownholm (The Millennial Mamas) and her son and it was so much fun to watch the kids explore the wild west together while we explored the western themed foods.
Knott’s Ghost Town dates to 1940, when Walter Knott relocated the Gold Trails Hotel from Prescott, Ariz., to his Buena Park farm in hopes of entertaining customers waiting in hours-long lines to enter wife Cordelia’s chicken restaurant.
Over time, Knott expanded on the popularity of the hotel with additional buildings from deserted ghost towns. In 1951, he bought and restored the Calico ghost town in San Bernardino County and adopted the deserted mining town’s name and aesthetic for his burgeoning theme park which remains in Buena Park to this day.