Ghost Town Alive is my absolute most favorite thing at Knotts Berry Farm. In fact, it is the sole reason why we decided to buy Season Passes last year. It is a completely immersive character experience that takes place during the Summer in the old west part of Knotts. The area itself is called “Ghost Town” on the map, but the local citizens refer to it as the city of Calico, the Jewel of the West.
This is the third season of Ghost Town Alive, so there is some backstory to get caught up on. The town is divided into the “good guys” dressed to the nines in their corsets and top hats versus the “bad guys”, the bandits aka the Mayfield clan. A good way to identify a bandit is to look for jeans, bandanas, and cowboy hats. The same citizens tend to stick around their home base, so you will typically find the same familiar faces on future visits. If you are a frequent visitor, you will make some very meaningful connections throughout the season.
At the end of last summer, Ophelia and her dad, Peg Leg, found gold in the mine which allowed them to buy back the deed to Calico from the the Mayfields. You can find Ophelia at the front of Ghost Town in the Assay office. This year you’ll meet a new character from the Mayfield family who is bound to stir things up. Every day, the city of Calico celebrates Founder’s Day, which is the day that the city was founded. There are several skits that happen during the day which will reveal the mystery of who actually owns the town. You’ll be able to experience a bank robbery, trial, vote, all culminating with the Hoe Down that takes place at 5:30. You do not have to stick around all day to experience Ghost Town Alive, but the more you get involved, the more you’ll benefit. You can definitely stop by any time of the day to get a feel of the amazing feel of Calico.
To get started on your adventure, I recommend starting at Town Hall, which is located at the back corner of Ghost Town next to the big red school house. Here, you’ll meet the Mayor, Miss Pearl the Mayor’s Wife (our all time favorite person), Deputy Mayor, Judge, or County Clerk One Shot (a former bandit turned good during a previous season–another one of our favorites!). You can be sworn in as an official citizen of Calico and get a quick history lesson of who’s who.
Another one of our favorite buildings is the red school house. The girls got to know the school teacher Miss Lucy last summer and we were all so excited to see her back on her porch this year. There are some new teachers in the school house this summer who are eager to give you a lesson or show you around the historical school house. You can even participate in a hoop and stick race every day at 11:00.
Further down the road is the Bank of Calico. Depending on the time of day, you can catch a glimpse of the huge gold nugget or ask to see what’s inside the vault. Keep your eyes and ears out for activity around the bank–you might even get recruited to a posse!
The Saloon is our favorite place in Calico! The girls grew particularly fond of the Calico Saloon show and became the can can dancer’s biggest fans. I would recommend getting to the saloon at least 20 minutes before the show times since these shows do fill up quickly. While you are in there, you can order a sasparilla or famous Calico berry soda. They also serve alcohol and fresh popcorn.
As you turn the corner around the saloon, you’ll come across the Newspaper office. There are four editions of the newspaper printed every day! Depending on how things go throughout the day, the latest headlines are published in the newspaper. You might find Izzy, the town reporter lurking around Calico trying to get the latest scoop. Kids love talking to her because she might put your name in the newspaper! Right next door to the Newspaper office is the town Post Office. If you talk to any citizen of Calico, you will probably get sent on a task to deliver a message. The Post office is a good place to turn to if you’re not sure where a citizen resides or if they ask you to look for any messages for them. You can also learn how to write your name in morse code.
On the other side of the road you’ll find Miss Violet’s hotel which is hidden in between the funnel cake place and Sad Eye Joe. In this hidden gem, you can find Miss Violet’s beauty supplies. She is also the queen of brain teasers so she has a couple of games that you can play. One of our favorites is arranging the guests into the correct rooms based on their preferences.
If you visit one building in this stretch of Calico, you must visit Miss Donna’s dress shop. The girls always ask to make a bow with her which you can take home. She also has vintage presses so you can design and color your own dress. There is a huge display of antique sewing items and live demonstrations for weaving. While you are there, ask her about her colorful books and what “MB” stands for.
You can’t miss the huge jail cell outside of the Sheriff’s office! If you’d like a photo inside the jail, just ask the Sheriff. Inside the office, you’ll find a slew of wanted posters which describe the bandits a little better. If you’re looking for something unique to do, strike up a game of cards.
The Ghost Town Alive day ends with the Founder’s Day Hoe Down at 5:30 in Calico Square right outside the saloon. All the citizens of Calico come together for an interactive dance with the guests. You are bound to see some familiar faces and grab a dance or two before the evening ends. This is everyone’s favorite part of the day and a great bookend before heading home.
Ghost Town Alive is open 10 a.m. daily Saturday, May 26, through Aug. 19, plus Aug. 24-26 and Aug. 31-Sept. 3.