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Robert Niles

2010 Best Theme Park Attraction nominee: Mystery Lodge at Knott's Berry Farm

Published: February 3, 2010 at 3:53 PM

Knott's Berry Farm's Mystery Lodge today joins the 2010 Best Theme Park Attraction Tournament as the eighth seed in the Best Movie or Animated Show bracket.

Knott's Berry Farm's Mystery Lodge
Image courtesy BRC Imagination Arts

Mystery Lodge opened in 1994, one of the last attractions added to Knott's Berry Farm before its sale to Cedar Fair in the mid-1990s. Created by Bob Rogers' BRC Imagination Arts, Mystery Lodge uses a "Holavision" system that Rogers had previously used in the similar "Spirit Lodge" show for the General Motors pavilion at Vancouver's Expo 86 world's fair.

The show takes place in a theater that looks insider a Pacific Northwest Native American longhouse. An elderly storyteller greets you from inside the longhouse, where a fire burns in the middle of the room.

As smoke from the fire twists into shapes, the storyteller believes to have seen an owl, a symbol of death. That prompts the man into a reflection upon his life, as he shares stories from his past, which collectively help illustrate the Pacific Northwest Native American experience.

Presented with great reverence, not to mention the "how'd they do that" effects, Mystery Lodge surprises many Knott's visitors who stumble into the show looking only for a cool place to sit for a few moments. This is the sort of educational, yet effect-laden, show you'd expect to see someplace like Epcot, and not necessarily in what's become known as mostly an iron park.

Still, enough fans have made their way to the back of the park to experience Mystery Lodge that the show's earned its place in this year's Best Theme Park Attraction field. I'd love to hear from other Theme Park Insider readers who've seen the show. Please share your thoughts, in the comments.

Replies (3)

James Rao

Published: February 3, 2010 at 4:20 PM

Sounds very interesting. I love when parks step out and implement unique and unusual attractions. I will definitely visit the Mystery Lodge when I hit SoCal in 2012 (provided the world doesn't end first!).
Ted Heumann

Published: February 3, 2010 at 4:33 PM

This is one of the few things I actually like at Knotts. I'm VERY surprised that Cedar Fair hasn't removed this attraction.
I have seen it numerous times and I still don't know how the "old" man disappears at the end.
This is TRUELY a Disney style attraction (although certainly not maintained to Disney standards).
Rhys Evans

Published: February 3, 2010 at 7:06 PM

Awesome show (and I saw it at Expo in Vancouver, too). I agree, it's reverent and educational, but enough of a "wow factor" that anyone can enjoy it. As I recall, the main problem with the Vancouver version that it was in a tiny theater which only seated about 100. At Knott's (guessing here), it probably seats upwards of 300 with no obvious impact to show quality (though it's worth trying to sit toward the front). AND you know it's a Disney-style attraction when the exit doors lead directly into a gift shop!

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