Knotts Berry Farm Loses Windseeker, Gains Santa and the Billies

Written by Norman Gidney. Posted in In the Parks, Knott's Berry Farm, Knotts Merry Farm

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Published on December 04, 2013 at 3:00 am with 39 Comments

Welcome to Knotts Berry Farm! Which at this time of year is a MERRY Farm loaded with yule-tide cheer.  We’ve got all the details on the Christmas time festivities and what will be coming for New Years Eve.  But don’t look up.  If you do, you may recognize the growing absence of the $5 million dollar elephant in the park.  Yes, Windseeker is making its unceremonious exit.  But first, let’s focus on holiday cheer shall we?

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The front gates are adorned with red ribbon.

 

Knotts Berry Farm Christmas Crafts Village

At this time of year Knott’s opens up nearly a third of their park for free (on select days) so guests can come shop, eat, and experience some farm fresh cheer.  From Monday through Thursday, guests can enter the Christmas Crafts Village through the Knott’s Marketplace. Ghost Town is turned into a shopping wonderland filled with dozens of local artisans selling their unique wares.  Let’s take a stroll through the festive farm and see what is offered at the Christmas Crafts Village.

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Ghost Town is littered with poinsettia.

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Don’t try to sneak into the rest of the park, Free admission between Mon-Thurs is confined to the Christmas Craft Village.

 

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This is the access gate to and from the craft village near Bigfoot Rapids and Mystery Lodge.

We enter Ghost town to find that they have really upped their game in the decorations department.  Garland is everywhere.  Poinsettia bouquets adorn nearly every storefront.

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The Ghost Town Grill looks great!

 

Santa’s Christmas Cabin

This year the Wilderness Dance Hall in Ghost Town is home to Santa’s Christmas Cabin for the holiday season. It is here that St. Nick holds court and invites children of all ages to come and share their wish lists with him.  You’ll also be able to indulge in edible holiday delights. There’s Santa’s homemade cookies, a sundae bar, hot chocolate topped with hand carved chocolate shavings, winter wine and craft beer tastings, and more.

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The park decor department really did an amazing job creating a beautiful, inviting environment.

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Along the perimeter of the room are the food booths.

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Just outside there are roasted corn cobs and turkey legs.

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Glass Blower

The wonderful craftsmanship of the glassblower is on full display here.  It’s so fascinating to see the artist carefully handling such hot, molten material, only to have it become something beautiful.

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Wood Sculpting

Nearby is the chainsaw wood sculptor.  If you have never seen this done it is an astounding process.

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Near the front of the park there are more booths and stalls from varied artists and manufacturers.  While the format is, admittedly temporary, it can feel a bit too much like a swap-meet in spots.  That being said, it looks far better than it has in years past.

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Ooooooo Maple Lollipops!

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Included in admission to the Christmas Crafts Village are a few notable attractions.  To begin with, we have the wonderful, vaudevillian performances inside the Birdcage Theatre.  They are performing the Christmas classics, The Gift of the Magi and A Christmas Carol.  If you have never seen these shows, do yourself a favor and sit, relax, and take in an intimate, old-school style piece of theatre.  It’s wonderful.

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You can even take a ride on what has been voted one of the most painful woodies in America, Ghostrider!

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Every evening they also stage a tree lighting ceremony.  While the best viewing is only available to paid guests, you can stand off to the side and watch, free of charge.

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While guest can explore the Christmas Crafts Village between Monday through Thursday without admission charge, it is limited to paying park guests from Friday to Sunday.  This whole arrangement will be going on now until Christmas Eve.

More Merry Farm

Guests who pay admission to get into the rest of the park get even MORE holiday hijinks!

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The annual ice show, It’s Christmas, Snoopy! returns this year and is currently being performed on Saturday and Sunday only.  It features a cast of 11 professional skaters, the Peanuts gang, and, of course, Snoopy.  We love this show, and it simply isn’t Christmas without it.

Throughout the rest of the park, the atmosphere is cheery and bright.  There seem to be far more decorations this year in every corner of the park.  It’s so good to see this.

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The front gate planters in the foreground, Camp Snoopy in the background.

Fiesta Village is all decked out too!

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Over in Boardwalk, each ride marquee has its own decorations.  IMG_3794

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The new planters near the Coast Rider have had oversized presents placed in them. A nice touch.

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Problematic are the banners on the barrier fence behind the planters.

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While the signs themselves are very nicely done, they need to be a little larger.

 

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The overall effect is not what they are intending, and really looks too temporary. A little garland around the border might fix the problem.

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Another wonderful touch is the pop-christmas music played in theme appropriate areas in the park.

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Charleston circle looks great too.

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Closer to the Charles M Schultz Theatre, banners advertise the ice show.

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Even the prizes on the games are festive.

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The shop windows have been changed over too!

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If you haven’t been out to Knott’s for Christmas yet, this really seems like the year to do it.

Krazy Kirk and the Hillbillies

Well, it seems that you can’t keep a good act down.  Even though Disney has decided to part ways with the crowd pleasing antics of Billy Hill and the HIllbillies, front man Kirk just posted something wonderful on Facebook.

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The Hillbillies will be performing one night, on New Years Eve at Knott’s Berry Farm to help ring in the new year.  This will certainly be a great opportunity for the Billies to strut their comical, musical chops for a brand new crowd, and a few loyal fans. And if they prove popular with the crowd, perhaps we’ll see even more of the Hillbillies in the park after their Disney gig ends in January.

We might just be spending New Years Eve at Knott’s this year instead of Disneyland to support the Hillbillies and enjoy the down home atmosphere of Knott’s.  Who’s interested in joining us?

WINDSEEKER

We all know by now that Windseeker is being moved to Kansas City’s Worlds of Fun and being renamed Steel Hawk.  That being said, nobody was certain when the move would happen.  Well, it’s happening now.

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The 5 million dollar misstep started coming down earlier this week.  While a perfectly safe attraction, it just didn’t seem to meet the particular requirements demanded by California state law.

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As other rides raced through the paces far below, Windseeker was quietly being taken down.

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Behind the construction walls, the safety barriers that stood between guests and riders were removed so as to allow removal of the short lived attraction.

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The Carousel butts up agains the construction walls. But guests can still make their way to the Silver Bullet lagoon this way.

As the ride is disassembled, the pieces are then being staged behind the park, next to the fire station on Western Ave.

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 Supreme Scream will once again hold the title as tallest ride in the park.

We look back now, at the one season that the ride operated and the fun we had on it.  Godspeed Windseeker, and a flight of angels sing thee to thy next stop, Kansas (Dusty’s boyhood park).

Read the Full article here on the Windseeker opening in 2011.

Season Passes

Don’t forget to renew your Knott’s pass this year.  Right now they are charging only $78 for a full year with no black out dates.  Wow huh?  They are even letting you make payments for 6 months. It’s a great deal.

A 2014 SEASON PASS INCLUDES:

  • UNLIMITED VISITS to the park during the 2014 season with no black out dates
  • NEW RIDES SUMMER 2014 – 3 new rides in Camp Snoopy & the Grand Re-opening of the Calico Mine Ride
  • EXCLUSIVE RIDE TIMES on select rides during the summer
  • DISCOUNTS on select food and merchandise
  • SEASONS OF FUN – Knott’s Berry Bloom, Summer Fun, Camp Spooky, Knott’s Merry Farm, and New Year’s Eve

UPGRADE to Gold for 2 PARKS IN 1 – includes Soak City Orange County Waterpark If you BUY NOW you get one free admission through Dec. 31

Not a bad deal if you ask us.  But did you notice that little nugget in the New Rides section?  3 new rides for the refurbishment of Camp Snoopy as it celebrates 30 years.  That along with the newly refurbished Calico Mine Train.  That’s fantastic news and echos this past summer’s three new rides in the Boardwalk and refurbished Log Ride.

Knott’s Offers Free Admission to Veterans,
Retired, and Active Military

Once again, Knott’s keeps up the tradition of honoring the men and women who serve our country by offering them Free Admission. This includes one guest and a further discount of $22 per ticket for up to 6 additional people in their group.

This offer is good through January 5th.

 

Well folks, that wraps things up from the farm.  We hope to see you during the holidays as we have a few wonderful events we are cooking up that we will be announcing very soon!  See you In The Parks!

About Norman Gidney

Norman Gidney, also known as Fishbulb, produces and edits many of the articles on MiceChat. Tune in every Tuesday for the Orlando Parkhopper and every Friday for In The Parks. But you'll also find his photos in the Weekly Round Up, SAMLAND, and numerous other columns on the site.

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39 Comments

Comments for Knotts Berry Farm Loses Windseeker, Gains Santa and the Billies are now closed.

  1. Nice to see Billy Hill and The Hillbillies may have a new home at Knott’s. Unfortunately, the low crowd turnout at Disneyland, which is why they were cancelled over there, may follow them over to Buena Park. Knott’s is a dud!

    • Knott’s funny. I LOVE Knott’s!

    • Low turnout? Back when they were still in the Golden Horseshoe I never saw a show that didn’t have a standing-room-only crowd.

      • When they were at the Golden Horseshoe, the place was packed. But that’s because it was a sit down restaurant. Yes, the fans where there, but the majority were people grabbing a bite to eat.
        The true test was when management sent them to the Festival Arena at Big Thunder Ranch and saw the actual turnout. Even with the loud booming P.A. announcement throughout the park that they were back there playing, hardly anyone showed up.
        I always liked Minnie’s Fly Girls at DCA. But the CMs who would take a clicker count for each show turned in low numbers. That’s why they were cancelled too.

      • Susan is right.

        TDA has been sending counters out to each performance to hand-click those in attendance. Some of these expensive shows have only a few dozen people actively watching, and when you start counting who stays through the entire show the numbers get even worse.

        Meanwhile, rides like Pirates cycle through 3,000 guests per hour. Even small dark rides like Snow White cycle through 600 guests per hour, which is more people than watch the Hillbillies or the Fly Girls in several days of shows.

        The parades are another example of a huge amount of money and staffing being used to perform something for just 5,000 or less people per shot. A fraction of the amount of people going on one E Ticket per day. Entertainment is great, and there are some real talents in Disneyland/DCA Entertainment, but people primarily go to theme parks to go on rides.

        If the Hillbillies had been packing them in with hundreds of active audience members per show who then raved about it on Guest Research surveys, they wouldn’t be going anywhere.

      • They provided good entertainment, but they mostly provided background or atmospheric music. They should be used as such.

    • “Nice to see Billy Hill and The Hillbillies may have a new home at Knott’s. Unfortunately, the low crowd turnout at Disneyland, which is why they were cancelled over there, may follow them over to Buena Park. Knott’s is a dud!”

      So based on your “Assumption” knotts is a dud because of this & giving these individuals a chance to display their skills? I can only imagine others putting you up to a new situation that you have yet to try only to be ridiculed. You should not be prejudice towards others you don’t know.

      • I use the term “Dud” in reference to attendance. Disneyland last year was 16 million. Knott’s was 3.5.

    • I don’t think the show was closed for low attendance. The “official” reason given was that hillbillies didn’t fit the theme of Frontierland and they want to use the arena for special seasonal events. Moving them from the Golden Horseshoe [which was always full] and putting them in the arena, plus taking away some of their best material and asking them to do more Disney themed music and work with characters is what caused the show to fall apart. These are very talented musicians, who specialized in bluegrass, country and comedy. They were reigned in too much and it killed the show. [just my humble opinion]

    • It’s Disneyland’s Frontierland that’s a dud. Look at all the coolness in Ghost Town compared to the lifeless, soulless, and attractionless void we walk through quickly at Disneyland. Hope the Hillbillies are at Knotts this summer!

    • “dud” – not working or meeting standards; faulty.

      Do you really think that Knott’s Berry Farm is a dud because it doesn’t have as much foot traffic as the most famous theme park on earth (Disneyland)?

      I assure you, Knott’s is running just fine.

    • Knott’s is not a dud. It is a regional theme park with an annual attendance of roughly 3.5 million. There are more than an hundred other theme parks and amusement parks that are each successful and don’t entertain half the folks that Knott’s does on an annual basis.

      Knott’s should never be compared to Disneyland.

      Disney is in a different league and only a handful of parks, all Disney, get the attendance in the 15 million range. Just because Knott’s doesn’t attract the same level of attendance doesn’t make it a failure and it’s not deserving of your rude label. When you label it a “dud” then you may as well label all of the other 400 or so theme parks and amusement parks in the United States duds as well.

  2. The Billies are a perfect fit for Knotts, but where would they play if permanent? Bird cage theater is almost too small. Wilderness Hall is too generic. Thoughts?

    • Is the Wilderness Hall where the can-can dancers join the saloon show in the summer? If so, it’s perfect, as are many outdoor spots in Ghost Town.

    • The Wagon Camp would seem appropriate, if they need a larger venue.

      There used to be a Western group (The Wagonmasters) that performed there regularly, around the campfire, singing Western classics like “Tumbling Tumbleweeds” and “Ghost Riders in the Sky”. If the Hillbillies shifted their emphasis just a bit from country to Western, but kept some of the humor, they could make for a good fit in the Wagon Camp.

  3. After they got kicked out of the Golden Horseshoe, I had a feeling they would end the contract with Disney.

    I also think they are a good fit for Knotts. I’m sure they could come up with some place in Ghost Town for them.

    • Sadly, they didn’t end the contract with Disney, Disney ended the contract with them by closing the show on January 6, 2014. They would still very much like to be at Disney, but so far nothing has changed in that area.

  4. Thanks, Norm!

    The Knott’s Season Pass is an extraordinary deal, but it should be renamed since it currently includes all four seasons of 2014 (again, with no blackout dates) and–I believe one day in December of 2013. Plus some discounts. This thread has some details and (on the second post) some Knott’s tips:
    http://micechat.com/forums/knotts-berry-farm-cedar-fair-parks/189213-amazing-knotts-deal-change-name-season-pass.html

    • From experience it’s 1 trip for free during the remaining 2013 season & additional trips during the year for 9.99 while all of 2014 is good to go. (this would apply to new members) as for existing, you’re good to go the remaining weeks of 2013 & all of 2014 if you’re an existing member.

  5. I was there Sunday and was sad to see that Elf Mountain did not return. I knew they were not going to do it this year, but it would have been nice to see something else get that treatment.

    As Knott’s seems to be in the process of upgrading, first Timber Mountain and Boomerang and next Calico Mine Train, it would be great to have Ghost Rider upgraded to a hybrid. I am curious to see what Knott’s is going to place in the Windseeker footprint. I am guessing they will fill the spot with more midway games.

    • They have a queue and a large round attraction space that they could quickly place a flat ride of some sort. I hope they do so quickly so the spot isn’t left dead.

  6. I rode WindSeeker at Cedar Point this year and I just hated the thing. Less thrill than anxiety. And I’m a thrill seeker – I was at Cedar Point. Still, I don’t love the WindSeeker family.

    Though the nice thing about the Cedar Point version is that it’s right on the edge of the park next to the beach, so as the ride gets going and the seats swing out due to centrifugal force, one is well out of the park fence and simply sailing over sand and water.

  7. Thank you for mentioning Krazy Kirk and the Hillbillies [The Billys] in your article. The guys are very excited about performing on New Year’s Eve at Knott’s, so the energy will be high! They have mentioned to me that they will be bringing back some of the material and songs that they haven’t been able to perform at Disney in the last year. It should be a great show and Dana Daniels [and hopefully Luigi, the psychic parrot] will be performing that night too.

    • I just realized that Norman wrote this. Thank you Norman. It was awesome meeting you at World of Color with Jeff H. and my daughter, Sarah. Have an awesome Christmas!

  8. Can anyone please explain how Windseeker didn’t meet California requirements, but a similar ride at Six Flags Discover Kingdom does and even the Sky Cabin at Knotts? Just curious.

    • The ride at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom is no way similar to the Windseeker. The concept of a carousel swing on a tower is similar, but the ride is from different manufacturers and the design of the equipment is vastly different. Sky Cabin for the sake of comparison is irrelevant.

      The problem with California is that ride inspection arm of OSHA has taken control of amusement rides in a manner that was never intended when the law was passed. These government monkeys have written rules and regulations that extend their reach too far into the operation of the parks and their equipment. Windseeker is the perfect case and point. No one was injured or killed during the mechanical disruption of the ride that left riders stranded for several hours. Therefore no inspection of the ride should have been necessary and the inspection unit should not be making additional demands to allow the ride to operate.

      The inspection department was originally formed to investigate accidents involving serious injuries and or deaths, plus an annual inspection of the equipment. Unfortunately, California amusement parks are now subject to ridiculous oversight and burdensome regulations making it very difficult for operators to operate. New rides not currently in inventory in California must undergo a thorough review process before they are permitted to operate. It’s a completely unnecessary step. Keep in mind the folks doing these costly and time consuming reviews often have little or no experience in the design of amusement rides.

      In the past year not only was Knott’s told to close down Windseeker forever, but the ride inspection unit delayed the opening of Six Flags Magic Mountain’s Full Throttle, Undertow at Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and they are now meddling around with Big Thunder Mountain at Disneyland.

      Many have asked why Knott’s installed two identical rides in their new Boardwalk section. The answer is simple. They didn’t want to subject themselves to a time consuming review to get new equipment approved for this area. Instead they opted to buy identical equipment that was already in operation at other parks (Legoland California, Castle Park and California’s Great America) so they wouldn’t possibly suffer a delayed opening nor incur the cost of the review. If I were a park operator in California I wouldn’t want to be the first to install new rides ever. I would always follow in the footsteps of others.

  9. Thank you, Norm, for allowing us to remember that opening day of Windseeker. It is a special memory for us!

    As for the Hillbillies — Glad to see them coming to Knott’s; however, sad that Disney is once again taking something that was just good, innocent fun and tossing it to the curb. Yes, people came to eat at the saloon; however, they were coming for the show. There is always a line of people trying to get the tables right up by the stage and on the sides of the stage — for the show. We always planned our day to have that be our lunch stop so we could see the show and be inside where it was cool/warm and eat. So for them to say they are scrapping it because of low attendance, it’s because they took it out of a theater and made it outside & uncomfortable to enjoy.

    Thank you also for a great pictorial write-up — as usual! :-)

    Kathy & Renee

  10. Awesome news to read that another eyesore known as Windseeker is leaving Knotts. The park is really starting to turn things around very quickly. Two classic areas will be undergoing extensive refurbishments and upgrades very soon. Knotts is once again becoming the Park we want to to be and it should be praised for these decisions. Ok Windseeker was a situation out of Managements control. But seeing new entertainment at the Park and unique arts, crafts and dining experiences just further adds to a good turn around under Matt Ouimet.

  11. Windseeker is not going to Kansas, it is going to Missouri’s Worlds of Fun park in Kansas City, MO.

    • Easy mistake for Fishbulb to make since the park is in KANSAS City. ;-)

      Worlds of Fun is the park I grew up in. It once had an amazing Around the World in 80 Days theme. Sadly, most of the props were sold off when Cedar Fair took over. I do hope they have a good spot for Windseeker. It’s really a great little park even now.

  12. Thanks for the Knott’s coverage. I especially love that park at Christmas time with all the independent merchants. Makes the walkways a bit more crowded on busy days, but lots of unique goods make up for any inconvenience. And $1.59 cookies! Such a deal! We stopped in the candy store last visit, and bought chocolate dipped marshmallows on a stick, for I believe $1.49. It wasn’t as big as at Disneyland, but the ones the mouse sells are closer to five bucks.

    Looking forward to spending several days there this holiday season!

  13. Knott’s is a park that needs to find its identity. I just don’t get it anymore. It needs to stop trying to be thrill ride park. The theme park market seems to be moving away from the Six Flags model. Six Flags isn’t doing so well. The rise of Universal, Sea World, and Legoland seems to suggest thrill ride parks are on the wane. Knott’s should focus more on the family market and find other niche markets.

  14. I believe that Knotts is finally finding its way. Several years ago I was so disappointed in it I vowed never to step foot in the place again. Then there was a change in management at Cedar Fair and locally at Knotts. MiceAge began to cover the changes they were making and I became interested again. The icing on the cake was Knotts making the very wise decision to hire the Miner 49ers from DCA and rename them Ghost Town Miners. I purchased a Senior Platinum Pass and really enjoy myself there now.
    Now with the addition of the Billys on New Years Eve I am very excited for the future. The Ghost Town Miners will be performing again during the Christmas Season, the Calico Mine Train ride is being refurbished and I know there are other refurbs in the pipeline. Knotts is going in the right direction and I will once again purchase a Pass for 2014.
    And yes, Norm, I will be there for New Years Eve. Wouldn’t miss it for the world :)

  15. It’s great to see the Hillbillies taking their first steps to Knott’s. I too hope Knott’s can find a suitable location for them on regular basis! :) It is really sad to see the way DL treated the Billies the past couple of years, and then DL puts its own SPIN on the story when it was DL that FIRED the Billies. Good Grief, I really despise the way DL put it in their press release as “retiring the Billies” – C’mon! DL FIRED the Billies, and the Billies did nothing to deserve that. THAT is pretty disingenuous of DL to phrase it the way they did. And it’s pretty disingenuous of some to say that “When they were at the Golden Horseshoe, the place was packed. But that’s because it was a sit down restaurant. Yes, the fans where there, but the majority were people grabbing a bite to eat.” THAT is just more DL disingenuous marketing