Since reopening, through their tasting events, virtually everything at Knott’s has come back in some way or another. Last year saw the return of Summer Nights, however it was lacking its daytime companion, and after a break of nearly 1,000 days, Ghost Town Alive has returned to Knott’s! Come along as we go through opening weekend for Founder’s Day, and delve into the other things going on around the park.
Heading on in for the day, you can see little touch-ups in the landscaping. The crowds are ready! And this year, these experiences are the summer tent poles! For those unaware, Ghost Town Alive, returning for its 5th year, is an award-winning experience that only Knott’s can provide. The entire Ghost Town is populated with townsfolk and the current year is 1891. There’s two sets of bandits in town now, the Mayfields and the Mad Bucks. All the “peek-ins” around the land are alive now. You can get a mustache at the barber shop, go inside Gertie’s Dress Shop to make a dress, or even open a bank account at the bank. It’s as interactive as you want it to be. If you just want to talk to the characters, do it! They’ll have tasks if you’re interested, like delivering goods, or solving puzzles.
Just note, *every* day always happens to be Founder’s Day in the park. You are always lucky to be dropping in on that special day. But while it’s the same day, it never plays out the same. There’s a large cast of dozens of actors around, so it’s always a different mix of folks. And you help shape the story.
Hopefully that provides enough context to get the gist of it. After 5 years, the event has a long and storied history that’s as complicated as the day is long. There’s both old and new citizens around, but they’re always happy to greet a new face or old-time friend. On days when the park opens at 10AM, the same time as Ghost Town Alive proper, it’s a big crowd that usually begins dispersing into rides about 9:50AM. But the select few know to wait for the ribbon cutting ceremony for Calico’s Founder’s Day! With appropriately sized scissors, as Flint watches on! This year, with the mayor absent, the deputy mayor, Milton C. Howell, has chosen himself as new mayor of the town, and not everyone seems to be aligned with that decision, but he takes it on, nonetheless.So, not only is it never the same experience twice, but not everything is available on day one. The story beats get reworked as time goes on, and certain puzzles and mysteries pop up throughout the summer. So keep an eye out for curious additions to the town, like these boysenberry stains, or kittens napping on rooftops. Dynamite Abigail celebrates, as well she should! HAPPY FOUNDER’S DAY! Crucial to GTA (Ghost Town Alive) is the dress shop. It’s air conditioned and pretty roomy, so during the upcoming hot days of the summer, it’s a popular spot. They also have plenty of ribbon and yarn to help touch up your outfits, or maybe to help a citizen woo someone for the hoedown at 5:30PM.You also can find requests from the citizens for what kind of outfits they’d like crafted. Miss Audrey Morgan, the town reporter talks to Emery Mund, who now owns the Post Office AND the Calico Gazette. Talk about falling upwards! Over by town hall, the real cavalry has shown up. Last time, the people we thought were the cavalry turned out to be the Mad Bucks gang, an offshoot of the Mayfields. They announce a treasure map has been found and that to help determine the owner, they’ll be officiating games to determine the rightful heir to it. The games are definitely for all ages to participate in. You pick one of 3 teams and work alongside fellow park guests and the citizens of Calico. These cats are napping around, and there are nine to find. I’d ask around to see why. Inside the post office you can help the works, like Levi Newman, help figure out the best route by using some rope and hitting each peg. It wouldn’t be Calico if random folks didn’t end up in jail for something at one time or another.All day long the school house has classes on different courses. And at 5PM, they have a graduation ceremony that all are invited to! Noble here is one of the teachers. Here Emery checks in on Levi, while he’s straightening up Emery’s mess from losing the mail. Out in the front by the Assay Office, you can sift for gold (or maybe it’s pyrite?) and then have it weighed. Eventually, as it always seems to happen, there’s an election where you can cast your vote. I’ve left out some important story details because it’s better to discover them on your own. It’s difficult to cover this without making it a story, or to just gush about how much I love it. I’m just pleased to see it back and it feels just like it never left. As the townsfolk drill into you, at 5:30 they have the hoedown each day to wrap up the storylines. The election winner is announced, the competition winner is revealed, and there’s a lot of dancing. It’s put on the park schedule independent of Ghost Town Alive itself, so you always have a lot of confused guests wondering what’s going on, but that’s part of the charm of it. It’s also important to point out there are multiple editions of the newspaper printed throughout the day. So every time there’s a big story, you can bet there’s an update printed. I’d also make sure to read it because your name could end up in it! Inside the gazette you can see previous artifacts from years prior, and something from the GTA cousin out east. Some of the other folks of GTA are here. This is Wisconsin Wes, Ms. Cookie Lemon and Coop Walker of the Calico Bank. The town would be lost without them. Alongside Noble at the schoolhouse is Ms. Nelle who is always happy to help. Kid Friday is… well… Kid Friday. He’s a lawyer-for-hire and his own man working at his own pace. Morse code is used around, and there may be a lot of folks willing to help you decode the messages.Chester, formerly of the barbershop next door, is now a deputy sheriff. It’s always busy in there, but sometimes it’s because they’re playing cards. I could spend a half-dozen more articles going into the event, but I have to move on and cover the rest of what’s going on in the park.
Suffice to say, Ghost Town Alive is back and I’m incredibly happy to see where it takes us this summer.
Also, during this time, the Bird Cage Theater is home to Miss Cameo Kate and an all-new show! Featuring a 3-piece band, it’s really enjoyable. The singing and dancing is just fun. There’s not as much humor this time around, but they pack a lot of music into the 25 minutes. Definitely make some time to see it, if you can. The new pizza location hasn’t opened yet, and work is still going on for the bathrooms. I wish they would have opened by now, but I don’t want a project like this rushed.And it wouldn’t be a theme park season without new food offerings. Most of the new ones around are served beginning about 5:30 or so, right before Summer Nights begins. The cookiewich is served with either soft-serve ice cream or hard-packed depending on the location you pick it up at, but it’s always a solid choice. There’s a lot of options that aren’t *totally* sweet.The Starbucks location in the park has a lot of the sweeter offerings, like the cake in a cup and the mini peach pie. The lines can get long, but it’s worth it. The potato bowl was interesting. I was expecting mashed potatoes, but they were actually thick cut pieces. Ended up really enjoying it. There’s also new merch around, and these dog-eared cowboy hats are ADORABLE. They also have white ones with Snoopy’s sister, Belle, on them. Like, I can’t stress enough how cute these are.Beyond that, there’s a pair of new shoes in the Charles M. Schulz Theater. DJ Lance Rock of Yo Gabba Gabba fame is doing regular shows here, one focused on rainy day playtime and another on dancing. It’s definitely for the younger crowd, so keep that in mind when you’re considering your options. Summer Nights has returned for its 3rd year! Alternating between the larger stage, and then a smaller stage with a DJ on the end, the music never stops, and the “party planning committee” is around as usual. Sandy Shores has returned, but there’s a lot more new fresher faces around that may take some time getting used to. The big name bands like Tomasina and Hiatus have returned, while the smaller stage has shuffled around the bands and will continue to change the lineup through the summer. There was a special treat last Saturday as DJ Lance Rock, true to his name, was a DJ for a special one-night-only set. But there’s more beyond that around the park. Ride the Tide is playing at the Boardwalk BBQ. And later this summer, the Mariachi Angelitas and the Bob Baker Marionettes are joining in on the fun.Overall, there’s a lot to listen to and eat at Knott’s this summer. It’s pretty hard to visit just a single time. These experiences are all running on select days through September 5th. Tickets and season passes are available at knotts.com.