Last week I was invited to attend the reopening of the famed Calico Mine Co. ride and 30th Celebration of Camp Snoopy at Knott’s Berry Farm. I grew up with Knott’s Berry Farm and loved (and still do) the jelly’s (they have come out with a new jam and funnel cakes they sell at the park. As part of the celebration of 30 years of Camp Snoopy, Knott’s revitalized the five-acre nature wonderland. We visited Camp Snoopy during their Halloween Haunt celebrations and really had a great time – this Haunt is geared towards younger children. The revisions include new all-encompassing trail-like stamped concrete, use of natural wood throughout, extensive camp like theming, and the addition of three new family rides: Charlie Brown’s Kite Flyer, Pig Pen’s Mud Buggies and Linus Launcher.Throughout the event, I kept running into key personnel who helped create Knott’s Berry Farm into what it is today – a family-friendly and budget-friendly entertainment park! My daughter loves all of the roller coasters they have throughout the park – her feeling is the faster it goes – the better. Not so great for this mom but I usually join in the fun!
Calico Mine Ride:
The Calico Mine Ride was Knott’s first major attraction and theme park industry icon. Knott’s revitalized the classic ride with top-to-bottom refurbishment that began in January and includes dozens of new richly detailed animatronic figures, state-of-the-art lighting, audio, and all-new special effects. I really liked the new additions and was lucky enough to have John Waite as my seat mate. Mr. Waite, is a former Hurlbut Co. Attractions employee and was instrumental in the creating of the famed Haunt.
In fact, I had the opportunity to speak to him and he shared with me a fun story of the very first Haunt. If you have experienced The Haunt at Knott’s you know how scary it can be! But loads of fun! He said that the original Haunts were not quite so scary and he and several of his coworkers went around to all of the local second-hand stores and purchased old suits, Halloween costumes, and anything else that could be used as part of their first Haunt. The 30 or so employees they hired for the Haunt stuffed these suits with newspapers, donned masks and wigs and went around the park scaring people. The Haunt has developed into much more of a production, but it was fun hearing firsthand from one of the people responsible for making the Haunt come to life!
One of the highlights of my day was when I spoke with Craig Schulz, son of the famed Charles Schulz, who is the President of Creative Associates. He was at the event to unveil Camp Snoopy and celebrate the 30 years of fun Camp Snoopy has brought to thousands of people. I asked him if he remembered how the idea to collaborate with Knott’s came about and he mentioned that he was just a child when his dad was talking with them about the possibility of including The Peanuts in a theme park. Craig said his dad liked the idea of having his characters be part of a theme park because he felt creating a theme park just with the Peanuts crew would be too much. So this partnership happened organically and Craig said his father and Mr. Knott’s got on fabulously. Of course I asked Craig who his favorite Peanuts character is and he sheepishly said he had an affinity for Pig Pen. I laughed and said that was my daughter’s nickname as she is always dirty when I picked her up from school. It was pretty cool meeting one of Charles Schulz children! I absolutely love Snoopy and carried around my stuffed Snoopy everywhere when I was a kid – so much so his little neck was hanging on by a thread! What fun!
We were also treated to some of their summer events such as Boom Town: a Cirque performance of nine amazing acrobats that help bring to life what it was like to live in the small town of Calico in the 1860’s and Snoopy….Unleashed which is a wonderful ice skating production that includes the Peanuts characters, professional ice skaters, elaborate sets and music that you might find yourself singing along to!
Prior to watching Snoopy…. Unleashed I spoke to Kevin Wynne, Vice President of Marketing and Sales of Knott’s Berry Farm. We spoke about how Knott’s provides quality entertainment for local families and tourists at affordable prices. I told him how I grew up with Knott’s and that it holds a special place for me and I love that I can share this with my daughter. The downtown Ghost Town is just amazing and a must-see!
If you want to check out the latest three rides in Camp Snoopy check out this fun YouTube video.
After riding the Calico Mine ride I ran into Jeff Tucker, Entertainment Supervisor for Knott’s Berry Farm. He spoke about the changes he as seen in Knott’s over the years and what makes Knott’s such a wonderful family destination! Below is our interview with Mr. Tucker.
When you and I spoke last week at the Knott’s event, you mentioned that Knott’s Berry Farm is one of the only amusement parks in the United States that was created organically. Could you elaborate a bit more about that.
Yes, Knott’s was not made with a master plan like most parks. Instead, Walter bought land as he could and erected buildings as he saw fit. Consequently, Knott’s has a feel unlike any other park in the country. There are wandering paths, even a dead end or two, something you don’t see in other theme parks. It makes the Ghost Town area, in particular, seem real and authentic.
What is a typical day like for you as the Supervisor of Entertainment at Knott’s Berry Farm? What are some of your favorite rides or attractions at the park?
A typical day is making sure the actors are in place for the shows, that the show venues look their best and that everyone is ready for the day, from the Ushers to the backstage crews. It’s my job to make sure every show goes up on time and that each show is as good as possible for our guests.
I love the Mystery Lodge, as it was the first show I started on here back in 1995. Its message of family and tradition is timeless. I also love the Log Ride and Mine Ride as they were my favorites as a child.
Taking a ride on the Calico Mine Co. ride brought back some wonderful childhood memories. What is it about this particular ride that makes it so historic?
There had never been a ride like the Mine Ride. Dark rides were typically short in length and not very details. Bud Hurlbut’s vision of a fully realized mountain with so many authentic details was revolutionary at the time. Bud also invented the hidden queue, so that when you walked up you couldn’t see how long the line actually was!
Any news you want to share with our lovely dandelion moms?
Knott’s Berry Farm is a great place for families with rides that everyone can enjoy together. With the refreshed Camp Snoopy there’s even more for smaller children to do. I’ve been here at the Farm for 20 years (just celebrated!) and have found no other place with so much opportunity. Come see what happens when everyone works together on home grown attractions! Also, Knott’s has been gracious enough to support my personal dream by stocking my book series “The Sixth Key” in both the Ghost Town Magic Shop and Virginia’s Gift Shop!
Thank you Jeff for your time!
So next time you are looking for something fun to do with the family – head over to Knott’s Berry Farm! As this miner says “Thar Be Gold in Them Mines!”
Note: The opinions in this article are my own. I do not work for, or with, any brand mentioned in this article, nor do I have any official relationship with them. I have a relationship with GigaSavvy, for whom I create original editorial content.