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100th Anniversary Celebration


Buena Park, California
Cedar Fair Entertainment





    (5/31/21) Knott’s Berry Farm is open once again, and we sent Rob to attend the reopening celebration and send back a report on what’s new and how the park is looking as it finally reopens to celebrate the park’s 100th Anniversary.
Knott's Berry Farm has a lot to celebrate lately.






















One hundred years of operation would seem enough to justify a major commemorative celebration, but the park's full emergence after a year-long pandemic, in addition to the debut of a new attraction, warrants even more cause to celebrate. To top it off, the iconic "K" at the top of the Sky Cabin tower has been replaced by a new LED-based fixture and a family of mascots has been resurrected from decades ago.
Knott's has been open only for passholders the past few weeks, but on the eve of their public reopening, they held a party to emphasize all the new and returning additions to the park. Jon Storbeck, VP and GM of Knott's Berry Farm welcomed a select group to preview the new offerings.
Knott's Family Reunion, running through September 6th, is the park's way of commemorating the storied history of the "farm", in addition to the popular Knott's Summer Nights series.
A variety of photo opportunities paying tribute to rides and attractions of the past have been positioned throughout the park, lending even more of a historical context to guests' visits. Elaborate three dimensional vignettes commemorate long gone favorites such as the Sky Jump, Wacky Soap Box Racers, Kingdom of the Dinosaurs, and even the Haunted Shack. That last tribute is the most interactive, inviting guests to participate by entering a newly constructed shack and demonstrating one of the best optical illusions from the former walk through attraction. Perhaps this will spur demand to construct a new such show in future years.
The former Charles M. Schultz Theatre has been renamed the Walter Knott Theatre as well. Indoor shows aren't scheduled at this time, but will most likely open up as restrictions are lifted over the summer.
Snoopy and the Peanuts gang have resided in Camp Snoopy for decades, but Knott's hasn't introduced their own mascots in some time. A new era begins this year with the return of some resurrected mascots originally seen in Knott's Bear-y Tales attraction and Ghost Town. Boysen Bear-y and Crafty Coyote will be available for meet and greets in the Charleston Circle area of the park. In addition, Whittles the prospector, first introduced in 1973, will be roaming the streets of Ghost Town. As the lore goes, the original 1973 Whittles character tended to frighten more than enchant young ones, and he quietly rode off into the sunset. Here's hoping Whittles has a more lengthy stay in his "new" home.
Since 1976, the skyline at Knott's has been dominated by the 200 foot tall Intimin-built Sky Tower, playing host to both the thrilling Sky Jump and the more sedate Sky Cabin. Atop the tower, a huge neon illuminated yellow "K" sat proudly for all to see for miles around. This year, that neon sign gives way to a more modern LED variant, capable of hundreds of color combinations and animations. This new beacon was debuted in grand fashion with fireworks launched from the Sky Cabin as it ascended to the top. An array of articulated spotlights now ring the base of the tower, adding an element of glitz not seen in these parts. This installation, visible for miles in each direction, is the metaphorical gem of the park.
If all that wasn't enough, Southern California institution Bob Baker Marionette Theater is presenting “Alegre!”, a Mexican-themed marionette show, taking place in the Fiesta Plaza section of the park. Considering the theater's history with children's programming and entertainment, including some work for Disney, it's a wonder this didn't happen sooner. The Bob Baker Theatre is one of the last and most unique bastions of postwar children's entertainment, with a long history of television and in-person shows staged for thousands of audiences over the years. The theater's namesake passed away in 2014, but one can only trust that his spirit lives on with the good folks keeping his dream alive. 
Lastly, after a one year delay due to the pandemic, Knott's Bear-y Tales: Return to the Fair is finally open as well. Inspired by the original Rolly Crump-designed Knott's Bear-y Tales dark ride (1975-1986), Return to the Fair utilizes a similar projection and target shooting system developed by Triotech for the previous attraction, Voyage to the Iron Reef (2015-2020). Instead of shooting freeze rays, riders use jelly blasters to grab pies stolen by Crafty Coyote and his army of pups. The blasters themselves are similar to those on Disney's Toy Story Midway Mania, with a pull rope that fires them off. Players will immediately recognize the advances made by Triotech in regards to most every aspect of gameplay, compared to Iron Reef. The animation is much more fluid, and the 3-D effects feel more natural as well. The projection resolution does not appear to be nearly as high as Midway Mania, though it does not adversely affect the experience. Those riders not quite smitten with gaming will nonetheless be able to enjoy the experience. There are many things going on in the various scenes encountered throughout, with enough wry humor to warrant repeat visits. Knott's should be very proud of their latest creation, one that pays tribute to and demonstrates the progress of dark rides for contemporary visitors.
Longtime fans of Knott's Berry Farm as well as newcomers will have no shortage of new experiences to celebrate the park's 100th anniversary. It's a great time to be back.






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