Knotts Berry Farm: One Last Ride on the Calico Mine Train

Written by Norman Gidney. Posted in Features, Knott's Berry Farm

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Published on January 19, 2014 at 3:00 am with 23 Comments

A few weeks ago a very special event was held at Knott’s Berry Farm.  You see, the famous Calico Mine Ride was scheduled close on January 5th, 2014 for the most extensive refurbishment in its 53 years of operation.  Knott’s Berry Farm teamed with MiceChat to offer folks one last look at the famous attraction before it went down for a complete refurbishment and enhancement.

The event was limited to 50 lucky individuals. We actually wanted to have more join us, but one train load of guests is a maximum capacity of 50 individuals.  Fortunately, we FINALLY got around to documenting the evening for you.  We hope you enjoy the pics and video and hope that you will be able to join us for our next big event.

Backstory

Originally opened in 1960, the Bud Hurlbut designed attraction served as a major crowd pleaser and draw with impressive theme and innovative technology. Over the years, the attraction only enjoyed a patchwork of updates.  While modestly maintained, the ride has never quite recaptured the glory days of the past.

As many readers know, Knott’s is wisely becoming very interested in its history and revitalizing what made the park great to begin with.  They are going back and studying the DNA of the park, so to speak.  Last year, Knott’s enjoyed tremendous success in teaming with the wizards at Garner Holt Productions, to restore the TImber Mountain Log Ride.  The project turned out to be a smash hit, drawing even larger crowds to what was already the most popular attraction in the park.  Now, it is the Calico Mine Train’s turn to get freshened up.

The Evening of January 5th, 2014

This was the agenda for the evening;

  • A ride on the Timber Mountain Log Ride so guests could get a good idea of what to expect from the redo of the Mine Train.
  • A delicious all you care to eat buffet in Spurs restaurant
  • A Presentation on the Calico Mine Ride by Knott’s historian, Eric Lynxwiler and Knott’s Legend, John Waite.
  • Discussion with Garner Holt and Bill Buttler on the future of the Mine Ride
  • A Lights-On ride through and Tour of the Calico Mine Ride
  • A seat on the last public ride-through on the Calico Mine Ride before the major refurbishment

The tickets for the Last Ride on the Mine Train event were $49.99, but quickly sold out in less than a day.

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Guests arrived at the Spurs Chophouse inside the park for registration.  After everyone was checked in, Fishbulb led the crew over to the TImber Mountain Log Ride for a look at the work that Garner Holt Productions did on that classic attraction last year.

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Returning to Spurs Chophouse, guests were greeted with a mouthwatering buffet of Knott’s home cooked vittles.  It was one of the best meals we’ve ever had. Truly amazing and a great example Knott’s new higher food standards established by Russ Knibbs, Vice President of park Food and Beverage.

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As the park closed to regular guests, we all settled in for dinner and a presentation on Mine Train past and future. Eric Lynxwiler took to the microphone and began to speak.  The video below is rather long, about an hour, and features interviews with John Waite, Bill Butler, and Garner Holt. If you’ve got some time, you’ll learn a lot about this amazing attraction.

LIGHTS ON RIDE THROUGH

The presentation finished and the guests took one last trip through the buffet.  We were then led through an empty Ghost Town to Calico Square and the waiting Calico Mine ride. The journey was in two parts. First, a lights on trip through the caverns with special narration by Eric Lynxwiler and Bill Buttler, followed by the last ride in show mode. To make things a little more comfortable we split the lights on tour into two groups of 25 people per train. You’d expect to see a lot of incomplete sets when viewing a dark ride with the lights on. But not here. Take a look at the beautifully detailed sets with a little extra illumination.

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Last Ride on the Calico Mine Ride

After the tours were taken, all 50 guests squeezed into the final train. It was a tight fit, but all the guests got in and the final train departed.  Here’s the final ride:

We are truly grateful to Knott’s Berry Farm’s Josh Mikkelsen, Jason Soyster, and Leidy Arévalo for coordinating the evening and executing it flawlessly.  We would also like to thank General Manager, Raffi Kaprelyan, along with Food and Beverage Vice President, Russ Knibbs, for their part in creating such a memorable night.  Finally, we want to thank all who were able to join us for a trip into the history of one of the most remarkable rides in the theme park industry. The evening was truly spectacular and one of the best MiceChat events ever held at this or any park.

We have two more events coming right up that you won’t want to miss, a history of Walt Disney’s youth and a chance to save his boyhood home as well as an event looking at the building of Disneyland Paris and the tremendous challenges which had to be overcome. Tickets will go on sale in the next day or two. Add your name to the list to be notified as soon as they become available:

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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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23 Comments

Comments for Knotts Berry Farm: One Last Ride on the Calico Mine Train are now closed.

  1. That looked like a great evening, wish I lived in the area so I could have joined.

  2. While I could care less about the Big Thunder refurbishment… I’m going to go out of my way to check this out when it re-opens. What a cool ride.

  3. I really appreciate your updates on Knotts. I’m glad they are beginning to take care of the heritage of the park. I have as many fond memories at Knotts as I do Disneyland. If they can just move the Pony express away for the grave yard, and get rid of the swing in Calico square, I would really feel good about the park. Also I appreciate the park supports our Military. My parents got to through the park as my Dad is retired Military. They really enjoyed it, and my 70+ year old Dad went on the log ride. Really cool. Thank you Knotts.

  4. I have great memories of the log ride and mine train. So great that they are giving the mine train the refurb it deserves.

  5. I for one,is looking forward to the re-opening
    New Calico Mine Train…..
    I think it’s great what Knott’s is doing !

  6. Here, here! This was a wonderful event and I’m thrilled MiceChat’s crew organized it so beautifully. The even was perfect and without a hitch.

    By the way, you’re so right about the food offerings that evening. The chefs at Knott’s went above and beyond with those amazing dishes. I hope the Boysenberry Barbeque sauce becomes a regular staple on their menus.

  7. Great job guys….Thanks so much.

    I moved to the OC, as an 8 year old, in March of ’61. Calico Mine was the newest attraction at Knotts and I loved it. Even with it’s “premium price” of .35 per ticket, I rode this every chance I got.

    Looks like you all had an excellent evening and I’m pleased to see Knotts in the hands of people who care about it’s history.

  8. Great job, I love hearing all the history of one of my all time favorite rides. Hats off to Knott’s for restoring these old rides that are just as great to ride 53 years later.I can’t wait to get to ride the new version.

  9. Does anybody know how I can contact Eric Lynxwiler via email? I have some information about the mine ride cavern organ music he might be interested in.

    • Hello Sound Hound! It’s me, Eric. Drop me a note through MiceChat.

      • PM Sent

  10. That was such a great night, and such amazing food.

  11. Spent 2 hours listening and viewing the event. Great job! Wish I could have been there…..
    Go Knotts!!! I will buy my pass that I may use only once.

  12. It was another wonderful event from MiceChat! Loved hearing from Eric Lynxwiler, Bill Butler, and Garner Holt…I definitely feel the attraction is in great hands, and finally I have to say that Knott’s went above and beyond as well, especially with the food!! Thanks MC!!

  13. Wow! I just finished reading the article and watching the three videos. I wish I could have been at the January 5th event, but I live in Illinois. Watching the online videos was the next best thing. Thank you so much for putting all this on MiceChat!

    I am thrilled that the same people who did such great job on the Timber Mountain Log Ride last year are now refurbishing and enhancing the Calico Mine Train. I hope to be there when the Calico Mine Train reopens.

  14. I have to say that Knott’s has been knocking it out the park lately! I have a goal on my next Cali trip to go explore Knight’s (and try to pick up a copy of Knott’s Preserved)!

    • Wendy Girl – I can get you a copy of the Knott’s Preserved book. I have access to a few extra copies. Send me private message.

  15. Loving all the exposure that Knott’s is getting on MiceChat. So happy to see everything being restored. I’m on Year #3 of continual season passes for just this reason.