Knott's adds to its Ghost Town story with Calico River Rapids

May 16, 2019, 5:28 PM · There's a new adventure on the edge of Ghost Town at Knott's Berry Farm. The Buena Park, California theme park this weekend is inviting guests to explore its new Calico River Rapids, a refurbished and improved version of the park's old Bigfoot Rapids.

Upgraded with new animatronics from Garner Holt Productions, which provided the new show scenes on Knott's Timber Mountain Log Ride and Calico Mine Train, Calico River Rapids adds another chapter to the legend of the park's Ghost Town. The ride itself has not changed, but the additions of animatronic wildlife, an ornery old pioneer and a mysterious creature lurking in that cave help plus this attraction from its previous form.

As rapids rides go, Calico River Rapids won't intimidate anyone but the most timid riders. Save for one rogue wave, I barely got wet. But that's also the problem with riding on a media preview day, when they're sending riders out solo. With more weight in the raft, perhaps you'd get a wilder ride. But even when this was Bigfoot, it wasn't exactly known as an overly thrilling rapids ride. There's barely a drop and the rapids rarely spin or soak you to discomfort.

But that might be a plus in the ride's new incarnation, for it allows easier viewing of the multiple new sights to enjoy. Look quickly, as you might float past before you can take it all in. Or, swing around and get in the queue again for a re-ride to see what you might have missed. It’s all delightful and well worth the effort. Here's my on-ride video:

You can learn about the backstory of this ride in the opening ceremony, too:

Calico River Rapids opens officially this weekend. For discount tickets to Knott's Berry Farm, plus combo deals with other area theme parks, visit our Knott's Berry Farm tickets page.

Replies (10)

May 16, 2019 at 5:57 PM

That looks like a nice plussing of an existing ride. Looking forward to checking this one out next time I'm there!

May 16, 2019 at 6:09 PM

Damn. That has to be the finest looking ride of its type I've ever seen. I'm so envious of you Robert.

May 16, 2019 at 6:27 PM

That looks great! The cabin dweller made me laugh.

May 16, 2019 at 6:59 PM

Nicely done and an excellent fit to the overall Ghost Town themed are at Knott's Berry Farm! Congrats to Cedar Fair and to Garner Holt Productions on giving what was just another rapids ride an excellent re-imagining!

May 16, 2019 at 10:42 PM

The Bigfoot doesn't look as animated as the Abominable Snowman in the Matterhorn. Like the Snowman, Bigfoot is standing behind a rock ledge, so it doesn't show his entire body. The movements look a little clunky, I'm not sure if I'm being overly critical or what. But animatronics are surely a welcome addition, now if only Disney would do add them to Grizzly River Run. I would have to say though, that GRR has a 'real' mountain, which is nice, this is going around walkways and the bare Pony Express track. But still great for Knott's.

May 16, 2019 at 11:05 PM

I agree Disfan. The concept art of the ride showed an impressive giant Bigfoot animatronic and large bear. The actual ride scenes are very simple and small. I expected an upgrade similar to the scale of what was done to the Timber Mountain Log Ride and Calico Mine Ride. Oh well, it's better than nothing I guess, but still disappointing. Knott's should have at least themed the rafts with explorer gear like they showed in the concept art.

May 17, 2019 at 10:32 AM

Very nice and well-themed. To me not getting very wet is actually a plus; a couple of years ago I rode Congo Rapids at Six Flags Great Adventure, got soaked through, spent the next hour in the ladies' room trying to dry off (the family dryer outside the ride wasn't operating) and said never again.

May 17, 2019 at 10:57 AM

I think it is wonderful that they did this. I also think we all can agree that this ride system is amazingly fun, but does not lend itself well to storytelling scenic elements along the river's edge.
The thing that these rides are designed for the rider to engage with isn't the environment the river goes through, but the other riders in the boat and upcoming soaking elements the boat will encounter.
Based upon the video, Knott's did the perfect amount of enhancement. There are things for both riders and observers to enjoy and a few hidden elements only visible to those on the ride.
Looks like a lot of fun.

May 17, 2019 at 4:29 PM

I'll be going on Sunday to check this out for myself, but from what I've seen it looks like Knott's just opened the best themed rapids ride on the west coast. No, it's not something worth traveling from out of the area to try, but it is really nice to see regional parks put effort into theming like this, and I hope it becomes a trend across all Cedar Fair properties in the coming years.

May 17, 2019 at 9:53 PM

Not bad, hope folks aren't too wet to enjoy it. The one time I went on Universal's Popeye ride, I was too busy being soaked to the skin to appreciate any of the decorations about the ride.

This article has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.

Park tickets

Weekly newsletter

New attraction reviews

News archive