On May 20th, Knott’s held their 100th Anniversary Preview Event. While the park had been operating for the last few weeks for passholders, it was mainly focused on rides, helping to shake off the dust and get back in the groove.

During each passholder visit, you could see more of the park getting spruced up all around ready for the real summertime kick-off, finishing off the work they began early last year after everything shut down.

With the Taste of Boysenberry Festival now in the rear-view mirror, the park can really celebrate properly. And it’s a thing of beauty that they can do it just as the rest of the world is reopening.Keeping an eye open around the park will reveal QR codes that link to well-produced YouTube videos that go into the history of the park.Upon entering, the deputy mayor, Milton C. Howell was there to welcome us all to the 100th Celebration, and even he sounded more chipper than ever, which is a big feat to accomplish.

And when I say the entire park is spruced up, I mean it. The paint is freshly applied (And quickly weathered again to match, of course), and 100th logos are to be found all over the park. This isn’t just for one land. This is resort-wide. Everything from Camp Snoopy to Fiesta Village is feeling the love.

And of course it wouldn’t be a celebration without photo ops. Taking a page from Disneyland’s 60th, Knott’s has constructed the most intricate photo op dioramas we have ever seen, all based around beloved attractions from the past. Our pictures don’t do them justice. These aren’t simply 2D layered boards. They’re dynamic, well-lit, and multi-dimensional sets that feel too good to be temporary. We never thought we’d see this much dedication to the Wacky Soap Box Racers, Kingdom of the Dinosaurs or the Haunted Shack. Even the original K from the top of the Sky Tower has been made into a gorgeous display. I’m not sure what the future holds for these setups, but be sure to take some photos with them through the summer.

And additional bunting has been added outside of Bear-y Tales, making it look even more gorgeous than ever.

The big tent-pole of the 100th Celebration this summer will be the triumphant return of Summer Nights, which debuted in 2019 as a mix of characters, live bands and food. So around the park, food booths have returned, but with a sweet desert-style summer flair.

And make no mistake, it’s a cookie dough cone. Not ice cream. It’s a much different texture than you’d expect, but without any risk of brain-freeze. They had multiple toppings to choose from, so I chose sprinkles. And of course there are hand-made boysenberry-stuffed churros. You can even watch them being made.

The highlight of the evening was the presentation. It began with some celebrities all recounting their favorite moments and rides from Knott’s over the years. Faces such as Terry Crews, Tori Spelling and Tony Hawk Once the celebrities were finished waxing nostalgia, Krazy Kirk and the Hillbillies performed a new song celebrating the park’s history.

That lead to them bringing out Milton C. Howell, our esteemed deputy mayor of Calico to welcome us all.

Following that, Jon Storbeck came out to introduce “new” costumed characters we’ll be seeing around the park now. Whittles, Boysen Bear and Moxie all have a previous history at the park, but now they’re back and looking better than ever.

It’s good to see Knott’s continue to both embrace their past and also branch out from Snoopy to establish more of their own identity independent of a licensed character. While we love Snoopy and the rest of the Peanuts cast, Knott’s has such a rich history that it was overdue for them to gain a more diverse costumed character cast.

Following that, Storbeck explained how they originally wanted to have this in the newly renamed Walter Knott Theater, formerly the Charles M Schule Theater and also originally named the Good Time Theater, but, well, 2020 happened.

Also, to honor 100 years, Knott’s will be doing 100 deeds of public service with the Boys & Girls Club of America, so they’re giving back to the home that’s made them what they are. Although we have to wonder, given the group’s name, how much choosing to work with them was influenced by the “Boys and” (Boysen) part of their name. Regardless, it’s commendable.

After we were left to our own devices for a bit, Summer Nights officially kicked off with many of the characters to be seen around the park. Too many to take the stage currently, some occupied some photo spots we’ll have to revisit ourselves later, like for the Sky Drop.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been nearly 2 years since we’ve last seen the debut of these characters and it feels amazing to see this kind of live interactive entertainment again. Plus with live music, it’s almost too much to handle.After a bit, the park began their nightly ceremony for the lighting of the new K tower symbol. It’s brilliant. Seeing fireworks again really hammered home how much we had taken for granted. The lighting event will happen nightly throughout the summer.This event was the first time many people had felt comfortable enough to venture outside in a long while. Over the last year, Knott’s spent a long time experimenting with their Tasting events, figuring out how to work within the new safety limits, while also making sure our lives weren’t becoming dull. But even with all that, and the preview days, this was the day that felt like Knott’s had come back and all things considered, it couldn’t have gone better.

Knott’s is currently open with reservations and Summer Nights runs through select nights through Sept 6th. Tickets and passes are available at Knotts.com (And at $101, their season pass is one of the best deals in southern California.)

We’ll see you on the farm!