(note: this is one section of a much longer California TPS Report. Click here to start from the beginning)
Our first full day in California started off with a visit to Knott’s Berry Farm.
As a quick aside, we got an LA Go Card to get into various places. If you’re going somewhere for a decent period of time, it’s not a bad little investment. We caught them on sale, so I think we paid like $300 for the pair. If we had paid regular prices for everything we used it for, it would have cost us $480.
So yeah, it’s a good deal if you can catch it on sale and plan ahead.
As you can see, Knott’s calls itself “America’s First Theme Park.” I don’t want to start an argument, but I would be negligent in my duties if I didn’t point out that Holiday World (in Santa Claus, Indiana) makes the same claim. Obviously they’re all using different criteria in determining what qualifies as their opening date. Honestly, it’s not a debate worth getting into because inevitably you have to start asking questions about what exactly constitutes a “theme park” as opposed to what is an “amusement park.”
Knott’s started out as a distraction for people who were waiting to get into a chicken restaurant. I’m not even making that up. In addition to a roadside stand selling berries and preserves, the Knotts operated a chicken restaurant. It was so popular, the family built shops and other attractions to entertain people while they waited to get a seat.
They added wishing wells, rock gardens, water wheels – even one of those “pan for gold” attractions. All just to keep people entertained while waiting for chicken. But in 1940, things started to change as the Knotts family started to build a ghost town.
And not just build – some of these buildings were flat out relocated from real old west towns like Prescott, Arizona and Calico, California. They brought in characters, they brought in shows – again, this was just for people waiting for some damn chicken!
If this was a movie, I’m pretty sure everyone would be laughing at how insane this whole affair was, but here we are talking about it 75 years later. It actually worked.
Okay, I know that was a long way to go without talking about rides. Let’s take a break from the history stuff and check out CCI’s GhostRider roller coaster. At just over 4,500 feet, GhostRider is the longest wooden coaster on the West Coast.
Here’s the normal entrance to the coaster. This is the entrance to that old pan-for-gold attraction I mentioned a while ago. I bet you skimmed over that part, didn’t you?
Well, Karen bought me a Fast Lane wristband, so I didn’t use that entrance. I’m not a huge proponent of these “skip the line” upcharges, but when you have a limited time to spend at a park, it’s either that or settle for not riding everything you want to ride.
I thought GhostRider was pretty solid. It had some nice pops of air, and it didn’t
beat the shit out of me. That’s the only real criteria I use with wooden coasters.
I recognize that that’s a somewhat flawed ranking system to use. If my “10” is Thunderhead and my “0” is Hurricane: Category 5, I’ll give GhostRider a solid 7.
“So,” you ask. “What exactly happens in an Assay Office?”
Well, say you found some gold (maybe over at that pan-for-gold mine). You would take your gold to the assay office, and they would test the purity of said gold for you and certify its metallurgical content. Or, they’d steal it and shoot you. It could go either way.
Supposedly the park has craftsmen in this area demonstrating skills like
blacksmithing and glass-blowing. I guess this is where you would normally
see one of the blacksmith dudes, but apparently our timing was crap.