Thank heavens a now-forgotten Walt Disney manager decided that Richard "Dick" Kinzel wasn't good enough for Disney. Cedar Point might never have gotten the roller coaster king. Kinzel's rejection by the Mickey Mouse empire is one of the revelations of "Dick Kinzel: Roller Coaster King of Cedar Point Amusement Park" by Tim O'Brien, a new authorized biography written with Kinzel's cooperation.
Anyone looking for a holiday gift for a serious Cedar Point fan should keep the book in mind. I'm not touting it for the National Book Award, but it is interesting throughout with a surprising tidbit on nearly every page.
The book chronicles how Kinzel grew Cedar Fair from a rather small outfit that owned a couple of parks into the behemoth that owns amusement parks, water parks and hotels across the U.S., and how Kinzel turned Sandusky's Cedar Point into world's undisputed roller coaster Mecca, launching the "coaster wars" with the park's competitors.
Knott’s Celebrates Ghost Town’s 75th Anniversary With New Entertainment and the Re-launch of GhostRider
In 2016, Knott's Berry Farm’s Ghost Town will celebrate its 75th anniversary with two major offerings next summer. The centerpiece of the summer 2016 celebration is the interactive entertainment experience, Ghost Town Alive!, which immerses guests in new stories and adventures in the familiar town of Calico. The west is about to get even wilder when GhostRider returns from a major restoration project with all new trains that will gallop along over 4,500 feet of new wooden track.
In summer 2016, Ghost Town Alive! will allow guests young and young at heart to live the west through inventive new ways to interact with characters and environments as each day, a different story will unfold throughout all of Ghost Town. From pledging one’s allegiance to notorious bandits, to saving the day alongside courageous cowboys, guests play an active role in shaping the events of the day. Every evening, the day’s story culminates with a town wide celebration of 75 years of Calico.
Walter Knott’s love for the Wild West was evident in the attention to detail that he put into the peek-ins peppered throughout town. Next summer, select peek-ins will be transformed into authentic working establishments, and guests will be welcomed to step inside. At the Barber Shop, guests can walk in and meet Calico’s trusted barber who’s rife with town gossip.
In the Sheriff’s office, guests can try their luck at a game of cards with the sneaky Sheriff and other Calico townsfolk. Here, guests can also decide whether they join the lawmen to hunt down the bandits or choose the criminal life and end up with their face on a handmade wanted poster.
In the heart of Ghost Town, the Barn will close on April 4, and when it reopens for Ghost Town Alive!, it will have been transformed into a working horse stable where guests can visit with Calico’s friendly equestrian team.
Construction is underway on a new Calico Stage, which will open across the train tracks from its current location, in the area Screamin’ Swing formerly occupied. The stage, themed after an old abandoned mine, will feature an all-new show for summer 2016. The standing viewing area for the new stage is nearly twice as large as the current viewing area, ensuring even more guests can enjoy seasonal live entertainment. The new venue is scheduled to open in Spring of 2016.
When the new Calico Stage opens, the space that the existing stage and viewing area currently occupy will become Calico Park. Here, guests will enjoy a shady respite from the hustle and bustle of the Town, with a small stage for live performances, and twinkling lights adorning the trees after the sun sets. Calico Park is set to open in Summer 2016. Adjacent to Calico Park stands the iconic Calico Saloon, which will feature a raucous new show next summer. A new western stunt show in Wagon Camp will also debut in summer 2016. Both the Calico Saloon and Wagon Camp will close in early 2016 in for renovations and new show preparations.
Ghost Town Alive! will take interactive storytelling to new heights when it debuts next summer, and for guests really seeking to achieve some heights, they should look no further than to the return of the beloved classic wooden roller coaster, GhostRider.
Since 1998, GhostRider has been giving white-knuckle rides to even the toughest cowpokes. It still looms over Ghost Town as the longest, fastest and tallest wooden rollercoaster on the West Coast. In September 2015, work began to completely restore and preserve this classic wooden rollercoaster. The project is a partnership with Great Coasters International and includes re-profiling and a complete wooden re-tracking of the entire 4,533 ft. long track.
All of the coasters trains will be replaced with state of the art new Millennium Flyer trains designed to look like mining cars, each with gold, silver, or copper accents. As part of the construction, the mid-course brake run will be removed, allowing riders to enjoy a relentless, ride from the moment the train descends the first 108 ft. drop to the moment it returns to the station’s new, smooth magnetic brake run.
“GhostRider was the last attraction commissioned by the Knott family, and this restoration project ensures that the family’s final gift to the park will continue to thrill generations of thrill seekers to come,” said Raffi Kaprelyan, Knott's Berry Farm’s vice president and general manager. “Seventy five years ago, Walter and Cordelia Knott created a place where guests could live out their dreams of the Wild West, and I think they’d be very proud of how it continues to resonate with guests of a new generation.”
When GhostRider re-opens, the queue will snake past Panning for Gold, which returns to its original Ghost Town home next summer. The return to its former location will allow for a more spacious panning experience, which means a more comfortable experience and better photo ops to capture the moment when a loved one strikes it rich!
In 1940, Walter Knott looked for a way to entertain and educate hungry guests waiting for hours to dine at the iconic Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner Restaurant. Ghost Town was born from Walter’s passion for providing restaurant patrons with unique entertainment and fondness for Wild West. The area celebrates the California-bound pioneers that crossed the desert by covered wagon, just as Walter’s family had back in 1868. Brick by brick, building by building, the old west town of Calico came to life in 1941 and has been visited by millions for the past 75 years.
While reflecting on Ghost Town in a letter written in December 1954, Walter Knott wrote, “I [am] very proud of this place we have built. You know we never fully enjoy the things we love until we share them with those we love.” Next summer, Knott’s invites families to share in Ghost Town’s anniversary celebration with the ones they love, and make new memories in the old west.
For more information on Ghost Town Alive! and GhostRider’s comprehensive restoration, visitKnotts.com or download the Knott's Berry Farm app for your smart phone. Join the conversation using #GhostTown75.