When Ghost Town Alive was announced for 2016, there was a preconceived idea of what exactly it would entail. Some characters you can talk to and a hoe-down. It seemed cute, but it didn’t seem like it would be extraordinary at that time. Then it opened, and guests were not only given a chance to interact with the citizens of Ghost Town, but they were introduced to a living breathing world (at least a much as one can fit in a big theme park), that had fans obsessing and coming back for an entire summer.
Marketed as Knott’s Berry Farm’s summer seasonal offering (to go along with Boysenberry Fest, Scary and Merry Farm). Ghost Town Alive offers guests to access the many peek-ins typically kept off limit and immerse themselves in the fictional town of Calico which happens to be celebrating it’s Founders Day. In addition to the Founder’s Day celebration various other events take place, an election takes place and two you’ll often seen the two candidates campaigning through Ghost Town, two characters fall in love with the help of a few guests and you get to attend their wedding ceremony, if you’re into civil service you can deliver packages to one (or many) of the shopkeepers. If you’re not interested in taking part of the story you can visit the barbor and get a mustache, or visit the Town Hall and be sworn in as a citizen of Calico since you are an outsider after all. The event is completely dynamic and allows guests who want to take part, the chance to be the center of the action. But it also manages to be a completely entertaining passive experience for those who are not interested in being a part of the story. The whole experience also considers all forms of social awkwardness and accommodates them brilliantly.
The story line and overall execution of Ghost Town Alive also allows you to make your own choices. If you want to be an honorary citizen of Calico, and follow the Sheriff and help him solve a crime you’re given that freedom. On the contrary if you’re more interested in the darker side of the west you can join the Mayfield Gang and rob a bank during the day.
As you complete various tasks and interactions, each character will begin to stress attending the honorary Founder’s Day Hoe-Down that takes place at the end of the day and is the culmination of all of your choices, and actions resulting in the story’s end which is never always the same. The Hoe-Down features a live band, the results of the election, dancing, and all of the citizens of ghost town get to gather and mingle and reconnect with those who they worked with throughout the day for a truly immersive, grand yet humble finale.
The most impressive element, and glue holding this whole experience together is of course the actors. From 10-6pm they are out there giving it their all and it truly shows. You can often get lost in Ghost Town Alive and spend an entire day in just Ghost Town alone. Sometimes I found myself forgetting that there were other attractions at Knott’s due to how invested I was in the story and how much i enjoyed interacting with these characters as many other locals have as well.
You can also find some nifty new Ghost Town merch at the general store with new GTA branding!
Ghost Town Alive is a must do for theme park fans, no matter where you’re from. The atmosphere simply cannot be recreated as Knott’s has brought a western town to live in the heart of Orange County, CA. GTA runs through September 4. Knott’s also recently opened Sol Spin, a new flat ride utilizing the long vacant Windseeker location as well as expanded Soak City Waterpark for the first time in over a decade adding 7 brand new slides.
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For more information about Knott’s Berry Farm or to purchase tickets, visit the official website by clicking here.