Park of the Week: SeaWorld San Diego

Knott's Looks to Win the Summer With Engaging Entertainment

May 21, 2022, 10:14 PM · Lots of theme parks roll out festivals and special events to entice visitors during the important summer season. But no theme park offers a summer entertainment line-up as unique as Knott's Berry Farm does.

Summertime at Knott's Berry Farm kicked off this weekend with the return of Ghost Town Alive! Knott's leans hard into live entertainment and original shows throughout the year, but summer sees the park trying something truly unique with this interactive experience that runs on select dates (mostly weekends during the day) in the park's Ghost Town section.

Ghost Town Alive

The residents of Calico are celebrating Founders' Day, and they have a seemingly endless supply of tasks for you to do to help. Want to take park in the town's athletic contest? Help the schoolteacher with some lessons? Cover the news for the Calico Gazette? Assist the Sheriff in rounding up some no-good suspects? Or would you rather be one of those shady characters who's up to no good?

It's all up to you - you can participate as much, or as little, as you would like. Personally, I like to let the kids take the lead roles, but if no young-uns are around, I'll take on a task or two.

Ghost Town Alive! seems to get more popular with each passing year, as more and more Knott's visitors get caught up in the fun. A two-year break due to the pandemic only seems to have made folks more willing to participate. I also will never not be amused that the initialism for this interactive entertainment that occasionally encourages playful lawlessness is... "GTA." (Calico > San Andreas, baby!) Here's my TikTok on GTA: Calico.

As much as I appreciate the creativity and ingenuity of Ghost Town Alive!, my favorite pastime at Knott's is to check out whatever is playing at the Bird Cage Theatre. This summer, it's Miss Cameo Kate's Western Burle-Q Revue.

Miss Cameo Kate's Western Burle-Q Revue

A stand-up bassist, percussionist, and pianist provide the welcomed live instrumental accompaniment for this show, which fills 25 brisk minutes with everything from tap-dancing cowboys to Can-Can girls. Bird Cage shows rarely fail to entertain, and this one certainly rewards you for your time and attention with top-notch singing and dancing. It's a shame to me that more people don't nominate Knott's Bird Cage Theater when we ask for Theme Park Insider Award nominations for Best Show at the end of the year. Even if the production inside is ever-changing, the quality of the show here rarely wavers. This is consistently the best attraction at Knott's Berry Farm, in my book.

But Knott's Summer isn't all about old-timey entertainment in Ghost Town. In the Boardwalk's Walter Knott Theater, Knott's heads in a different direction with live shows from DJ Lance Rock, from Nick Jr.'s Yo Gabba Gabba.

DJ Lance Rock
DJ Lance Rock. Photo courtesy Knott's

The imaginative show looks both to entertain and inspire little kids - and their families - with catchy tunes that encourage the audience to want to get up and dance.

Speaking of dancing, that easiest to do in the evenings in front of the Calico Mine Stage, where Knott's is bringing in a collection of local bands for Knottā€™s Summer Nights. If the dancing gets you hungry, Knott's obliges with a special menu of Summer Nights bites, which you can sample with a six-item tasting card for $50 ($45 for season pass holders).

Other summer entertainment at Knott's includes LA's Bob Baker Marionettes presenting Alegre! in Fiesta Village, where you also can hear Mariachi Angelitas. Krazy Kirk and the Hillbillies also return to Wagon Camp for their show.

Take a walk around the park with us, on our latest theme park tour video.

For savings of up to $31 on daily tickets, visit our travel partner's Knott's Berry Farm tickets page.

Replies (3)

May 21, 2022 at 11:44 PM

I've yet to experience the new ghost town but from what I heard, it blows Disneyland galaxy edge out the water.

May 23, 2022 at 9:06 AM

@Madvaz - Ghost Town Alive is designed to be more interactive than Galaxy's Edge. Now, if Disney had made Galaxy's Edge as interactive as they insinuated with their early publicity, instead of relying almost entirely on the Data Pad for guest interactivity, it would be far better. However, if you look at the Galactic Starcruiser at WDW, that brings the level of interactivity to guests that was expected, though that comes at a serious cost.

FWIW, Ghost Town Alive also operates at a much smaller scale than Galaxy's Edge. When we visited in Summer 2019, there appeared to be no more than @100 guests playing along with the stories on the day we visited. If a similar level of interactivity was offered at Galaxy's Edge, Disney would have to cater to thousands of guests simultaneously, which is why it's being limited to the 300-500 guests on the Galactic Starcruiser in a very controlled environment.

We really enjoyed Ghost Town Alive, and it's great to see it return to Knott's, but it's unfair to compare it to Galaxy's Edge because in the end, the 2 projects are geared to different audiences and built on completely different scales. I wrote about this after my Southern California Trip report in 2019, and again compared the two concepts after visiting WDW's version of Galaxy's Edge in January 2020 and again after experiencing Cedar Point's analog to Ghost Town Alive near the Snake River Expedition attraction in 2021. While the Cedar Fair interactive experiences are very good, the overall look and feel of the attractions compared to Disney are like the difference between a local theater company and a Broadway production performing the same show. Your local theater has that charm and intimacy, but the overall quality and impression is always going to be superseded by a Broadway production.

May 23, 2022 at 11:12 AM

Having never been to Knott's, I know without a doubt that I would adore it. Shows like the ones at The Bird Cage Theatre have a nostalgic joy that I associate with theme parks. Non-IP based park shows often showcase young talent from high school or college students on summer break who are top of their class when it comes to performing. It might be for fun or it might lead to a Broadway career one day.

Sure Disney parades are great and Festival of The Lion King is magnificent, but these smaller-scale shows have a soul all their own. I recall seeing Knott's Christmas show on youtube not long ago and it felt like an era that is long gone at most major parks. Hersheypark's Music Box Theater would start queuing 2 hours in advance of each show because it was so popular. Across the way was the Wild West Hoedown and it was good, clean family fun. Knott's seems to hold onto this value with not just their shows, but their entire park.

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

Buy Tickets

Plan a Trip

Weekly Newsletter