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Calico River Rapids Washes Big Foot Away at Knott’s Berry Farm
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Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park, Calif. has said farewell to Big Foot and raft ride Big Foot Rapids. The attraction closed in September amid hints of something new to come, and it will not reopen until summer of 2019.

Now the hints have turned into definitive news. The new ride will be called Calico River Rapids, and feature a new theme and storyline that does include a creature with some familiarity to Big Foot fans, only now he will be called a skunk ape. The new ride will feature enhanced animatronics and interactive elements, as well. 

The old ride carried park guests on rafts that passed through a fairly simple landscape of rocks, grass, and trees. The new version will connect with Knott’s ghost town area, which is where the ride is located. And now, the ride will take passengers through the backwoods behind the fictitious town of Calico.

According to Knott’s Berry Farm spokeswoman Diana Bahena, Garner Holt Productions has created the animatronics and special effects for the ride. The company is also behind the recent updating of other rides at Knott’s including the Timber Mountain Log Ride and Calico Mine Ride. 

Along with new, and state-of-the-art animatronics of both wildlife and people, the ride adds a fun new element of participation for park guests who are not on the ride, and enhances the experience for riders, Bahena says.

“The ride will let park goers who are standing along the riverbanks use several simulated detonator plungers to trigger water cannons, soaking raft riders,” she explains. The focus on water-excitement will also be met with more dynamic water features throughout the circular ride. 

The overall aesthetic of the ride has been reconceived to be one of heightened adventure. Each raft will carry six passengers along a river path with plenty of twists, turns, and churning rapids. Originally opened in 1987, Big Foot rapids was manufactured by Intamin, as a part of the park’s Wild Water Wilderness area adjacent to Ghost Town.

The last ride to receive a major update at Knott’s was Ghost Rider, the park’s wooden roller coaster, which was reimagined in 2016. Other Knott’s Ghost Town area attractions have also received recent rehabs, the Timber Mountain Log Ride in 2013, and the Calico Mine Ride in 2014. The Ghost Town area itself began as a Wild West attraction in the 1940s.

Adding to the fresh updates in the Ghost Town area, there will be a new story line expanding on the original at Ghost Town Alive!, the interactive western experience. The show will run May 25-Aug. 18 and on weekends Aug. 24-Sept. 1, plus Labor Day,  along with a sunset celebration daily.  

Along with the new raft ride, Knott’s has also announced special events such as an expanded Peanuts Celebration running weekends from January 26 through March 10th; and its Boysenberry Festival, planned for a full month in 2019, March 29-April 28.

The three-week Boysenberry Festival will offer over 75 unique boysenberry-inspired dishes and drinks, as well as a Wine and Craft Brew Tasting Garden in Ghost Town’s Wilderness Dance Hall. Live entertainment will also be on tap throughout the park. 

Among the boysenberry food favorites, visitors will find savory dishes from quesadillas to grilled sausage, short ribs, and chicken wings with boysenberry-influenced sauces and dips. Shakes, Boba, cinnamon rolls, boysenberry-iced coconut macaroons, and cheese cake pops will also be on hand, enhanced with a sweet boysenberry topping or glaze. And from Boysenberry Cream Soda to wine, the delicious fruit will also be a part of the beverage offerings. As in 2018, the park will be offering a tasting card for a set price that allows guests to mix and match available dishes; there were eight available this year. At the Wine and Craft Brew Tasting Garden, a mix and match card will also be available; in 2018 it was accompanied by a snack tray of cheese, crackers, and fruit. Card holders received six pours from any wine stand inside the dance hall location or from boysenberry beer and cider taps outside.  

The festival is included with park admission; for a small additional fee, kids can step inside a recreation of Cordelia Knott’s kitchen for an interactive experience making their own boysenberry tarts with a crumble topping. A crafts fair with live glass blowing demonstrations and other craft-making, will sell boysenberry merchandise from jams to a full line of body and bath products, too. T-shirts, knit caps, and scarves will also be sold. Or guests can pick up a boysenberry plant to grow their own boysenberries. The festival has expanded from its original food-only treats; even Snoopy gets into the act with a special Boysenberry-themed stage show. 
Fest marketing focuses on families but also on nostalgia for the park’s roots; the berry itself was created by founder Walter Knott in 1926, a hybrid of raspberry, blackberry, and loganberry. The event is promoted throughout Orange County and draws visitors who may not have seen the park in years. It’s also a perk that draws purchasers of season passes; discount tickets to the park for the event are also available. 

In the autumn, the annual Spooky Farm, a Halloween event directed to families and children ages 3 -11, will be held on weekends Sept. 28-Oct. 27, as well as on Halloween day, Oct. 31. Merry Farm, which is just arrived in 2018, will be back Nov. 22, 2019 through Jan. 5, 2020.
Knott’s 2019 season passes include admission to all of the events throughout the year. Regular passes offer unlimited admission to Knott’s Berry Farm, for $95; Gold passes include unlimited admission to Knott’s Berry Farm and Soak City and are $115. Both are available through Jan. 6. 
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