Knott's Berry Farm, Buena Park, CA
We're a little behind in posting coverage on this, but then again, last year, we didn't have a chance to visit and review it until the week before the end of it's run...
It's summer, folks, and around Knott's Berry Farm, that means the return of the enormously popular Ghost Town Alive! immersive and interactive theater event. This overlay debuted last year to wonderful fanfare, bringing a new and richer layer of thematic atmosphere to the most classic part of the Farm, and it quickly developed quite a following of regular guests and fans.
The climactic and cliffhanger ending of 2016's Ghost Town Alive! storyline left fans eager for more and excitedly anticipating the event's 2017 return. The finale was literally explosive, seeing the return of one Ox Mayfield, patriarch of the rascally Mayfield clan, stealing a steam engine into town to free and rescue his family before chugging off into the sunset while swearing revenge on all of Calico. How would the plot continue this year?
Citizens of Calico
Before we plunge into this year's proceedings, lets step back and look at the principal cast of characters for Knott's summer season event. For those unaware or too lazy to read through either linked update from last year, Ghost Town Alive! is basically an interactive role playing live theater show set within Knott's Berry Farm's Ghost Town area. Over the course of the day from park opening until about 6pm in the fictitious town of Calico, a series of events transpire that impact the town's characters. These characters are associated with many of the various buildings in Ghost Town and even some of the legendary peak-in's, which are open for visitors to experience. Park guests are also citizens of Calico and can engage with various characters by taking part in the role play, performing tasks and favors, and bringing an improvisational element to the story. Guests can form alliances with the protagonists or the villains, and everything culminates in the big Founders Day hoedown in Calico Park at 5:30, when the plot comes to a head.
Last year's Ghost Town Alive! featured a sprawling cast to cover the various parts of Ghost Town, and those characters are by and large returned in this year's story. They're also joined by a few new characters. Lets meet (or re-acquaint) the actors of 2017's Ghost Town Alive!
The Mystery and Intrigue
This year features a new storyline that shares a lot of similarities in the structure and cadence of last year's typical Ghost Town Alive! day but carries a different angle. There are certainly subtleties that reference events that occurred last year, plus the addition of new elements designed to further engagement and activity.
If you do not want to be spoiled, then do not read the captions in the photos below. And if you REALLY do not want to be spoiled, then just scroll through all the way to the next block of larger text.
Immersion and Interaction
As I mentioned last year, the most appealing part of Ghost Town Alive! is its impact on guests. Ghost Town has become transformed into a sprawling stage, and not only are the Citizens of Ghost Town the characters, so are everyday park guests. Anyone can join in on the fun and be a part of the overarching tale, and many do. That innocent, family-friendly spirit of make-believe that we all took part in as children is very much alive here. And you can tell from the way the Citizens and guests interact with each other that they are both enriching each other's day. The joy and excitement that guests carry as they go about various activities supporting the story is positively splendid, and it makes for magical memories and experiences.
Without a doubt, Ghost Town Alive! continues to be a wonderfully successful and immensely charming event. The way the characters engage the guests is heart warming to observe, and the excitement and enthusiasm of both the actors and the guests playing and forming their own roles is infectious. Knott's has a new tradition on their hands, and this type of interactive forum brings great energy to the Farm.
Ghost Town Alive! runs now through Monday, September 4th (Labor Day). If you're a season passholder or just a local who has always enjoyed the ambiance and old-fashioned beauty of the park, you will regret missing this event. It's truly a gem, and I applaud Knott's Berry Farm for continuing the overlay this year.
Finally, I have to say that--
Corrections: Earlier drafts contained a couple of misidentified characters, which have been corrected. I've also gone back and added names to other characters who had been anonymous. Thanks to Knott's marketing and entertainment departments for helping fill in the missing information!
Architect. Photographer. Disney nerd. Haunt enthusiast. Travel bugged. Concert fiend. Asian.