Reopening Date for the Historic Calico Mine Ride Announced by Knotts

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

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Published on May 01, 2014 at 11:50 am with 106 Comments

Knott’s has just announced Saturday June 14th as the reopening of the completely refurbished Calico Mine Train and revitalized Camp Snoopy.  This is great news and will mark the return of two iconic and important areas of Knott’s Berry Farm. The park continues to focus on its heritage and what has made it a beloved destination for locals and international visitors alike.


Please scroll down to the bottom of the article to see who won.




Here is the press release, along with some commentary by us.

BUENA PARK, CA (May 2014) Knott’s Berry Farm is proud to announce that the Calico Mine Ride will reopen on June 14, 2014. The top-to-bottom refurbishment began in early January and includes dozens of new richly-detailed animatronic figures, state-of-the art lighting, audio, and all-new special effects.  When the classic railroad adventure reopens in June, passengers will embark on the most immersive mining journeys the “Calico Mining Company” has ever offered.

The basis of the iconic attraction was a simple handshake agreement between Knott’s founder, Walter Knott, and theme park pioneer Bud Hurlbut in 1959. From that handshake emerged a first-of-its-kind “dark ride” with elaborate show scenes and full-sized human figures.

Keep in mind that this attraction was built a full 7 years before Pirates of the Caribbean.

The attraction was an instant hit with guests at its original November 22, 1960 opening, and earned back Hurlbut’s initial $1 million investment in less than two years.  The groundbreaking attraction had a special place in Walter Knott’s heart, who worked in actual mines around the turn of the century in the Calico mining region of San Bernardino County before calling Buena Park home.  Hurlbut worked tirelessly to incorporate authentic touches into the attraction.   For the real stories of men who worked in the frequently dangerous mining world, he befriended actual miners and visited dozens of mining sites around California to observe the workmen, their tools and environment.



Knott’s Berry Farm’s Design Team, in partnership with Garner Holt Productions, Inc., has elevated Hurlbut’s 1960 design while preserving the original mining experience. Nearly fifty animatronic humans and dozens more animals populate the updated adventure, with more than 120 characters spread through classic and re-imagined scenes.  New denizens of the mountain include an old miner just inside the first tunnel who will welcome guests into the Calico Mine and warn them of dangers that lie along the rails ahead. Despite the massive mining operation depicted inside the Calico Mine, since the attraction first opened, no character has ever actually found gold in the mountain. As part of the renovation, beginning June 14, one lucky miner will be seen striking it rich with gold in-hand!

Garner Holt and Knott’s are infusing the historically accurate attraction with more storyline.  This is another step in the right direction in our opinion.

New excitement is also coming to the “chain lift”, where trains will pass by a nervous miner carrying a canary in a cage for safety into the unknown diggings ahead. The animatronic canary is just one of many new animals coming to the attraction.  Other wildlife will include a donkey, vultures, a playful dog, countless bats, and blind fish in the eerie Lake Room.


All told the attraction, when finished, should boast around 120 major figures.

The attraction’s rustic wooden loading platform has been refreshed and now includes a “peek-in” similar to those found throughout Ghost Town, offering guests windows into the rich mining history of the 1850s on their way toward boarding the mine train car. A new guest and employee elevator has been installed to improve access to the attraction, especially for guests seeking ADA accommodations.

Guests will soon embark on the eight minute journey aboard fully refurbished, hand painted mining cars featuring new speakers and a digital amplification system, pulled by beautifully-detailed locomotives. Garner Holt Productions, Inc. installed a cutting-edge RFID playback system in the ride vehicles to play the all-new on-ride narration and audio effects through the crystal-clear digital system.

Did you catch that?  The spiel will no longer be delivered by the driver of the train, but rather a crystal clear digital prerecorded narration.  This will deliver a more consistent experience for all riders and, as long as the narration is done right, it is an interesting step.  There are those that will miss the live delivery, but to us, this attraction has never been about the host driving the train.  It’s about the experience of going into the mines. A narration you can actually hear and understand will be a step in the right direction. Keep reading below for information on the multiple versions of the script you might hear.

“The spiel is based on the original 1960 script, and will have all-new points of interest and stories in the voices of three all-new character narrators so that each trip through the Mine will be unique,” explains Garner Holt, founder and president of the San Bernardino based Garner Holt Productions, Inc.  “The updated script includes references to a number of real historic mining practices and personalities. The on-board audio narrator will also interact with animatronics and special effects in some scenes.”



The twisting, turning tunnels and expansive caverns were completely repainted, including a brilliant new color scheme in the spectacular “Heaven Room.”  Here, guests will thrill to the glorious sight of the thousands of spectacular stalagmite and stalactites accompanied by the original musical score, which has been digitally re-recorded. Original special effects have been lovingly re-created, like real steam in the Bubbling Pots scene with its surprising steam geyser and tipping barrels and other effects in the Explosion Room finale.

Beginning June 14, 2014, Knott’s Berry Farm invites guests to embark on new mining adventures through the twisting tunnels and unforgettable scenes of the beautifully resorted Calico Mine Ride.  Also celebrating its grand reopening on June 14 is a fresh Camp Snoopy, featuring three new rides and exciting surprises around every corner of the high sierra playground for kids and families.

We are very excited to get back into the mines and experience this attraction like new again.

Want to go to a preview of the reimagined Mine Ride?

To celebrate the reopening of this historic attraction, Knott’s is inviting 50 lucky MiceChat readers to be  part of their media event on Thursday, June 12th!  Follow the simple rules below to enter. Winners will be chosen at random from a pool of eligible entries. Winners will receive 2 tickets.

How do you enter?

Simply tell us your favorite thing about Knott’s, your favorite Knott’s experience, or even your favorite Knott’s memory in the comments below.  Begin your post with “I want to go to Knott’s because…”  Winners will be randomly selected from the qualified entries and notified via this article one week from today.

Good luck!



CONGRATULATIONS!  Here is our list of the lucky winners in the Re-Imagined Calico Mine Train Media Day Event on Thursday, June 12th.  Each winner is allowed to bring ONE GUEST with them to enjoy the preview of the new Calico Mine Ride and a full day of fun at Knott’s Berry Farm.

The Rocketeer
[email protected]
Edward Allen

Winners have received an email detailing what to expect next and how to redeem their prize.  If you see your username on the list, but did not receive an email, please contact us at [email protected] for further instructions.  If, for any reason, a winner is not able to attend, another winner will be selected.


Are you looking forward to a better than new version of the Calico Mine Ride?

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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  • Frevr3fan

    I want to go to Knotts because I wanna see how the Mine Train looks now that it is finished. I worked on the ride during the first phase of the renovation, overseeing the asbestos removal that took place. It was pretty cool to walk the tracks and snap photos of the work that went on, and I also took a picture inside one of the carts that is at the bottom of the glory hole. A lot of hard work and imagination went into the renovation, and I’d like see it before it opens to the public. Thanks.

  • ErikaBaker

    I want to go to Knott’s because: we have never been!

  • asoc

    I want to go to Knott’s because it has been 6 years since I last visited! I haven’t had a chance to check out any of the latest additions. In fact, the last time I went several rides were closed because it was raining, so it’s been quite some time since I had a proper Knott’s experience. I’ll be back home in SoCal this summer and hopefully I can celebrate with a trip to Knott’s!

  • Tigger1134

    I want to go to Knott’s because I’ve recently re-discovered what a great theme park it really is. They have done a fantastic job upgrading the log ride and I can’t wait to see what they do with the Calico Mine Ride! I’ve also been very impressed with their live entertainment and food offerings. They have also done a great job making the park more friendly to people of all ages, not just those who only like thrill rides. Keep up the good work, Knott’s!

  • Calicojoe

    “I want to go to knotts because”..(Now I see it) LOL..

    I would like to go to the Opening of The Calico Mine ride in part that I have lived down the street from knotts for 58 years. I used to see Walter knott stroll the grounds and I would wave to him. A fast walker, sure of his step.
    I knew Bud Hurlbut. His parents lived on my street for years back in the 1960′s. His parents moved to the next street, bud lived a few doors down. I used to wave to him as he entered our housing tract when I would see him on occasion.
    I have not ridden the Mine Ride in years. It would be a nostalgic to say the least.
    It would be interesting to see what they have done to the ride…Cant wait to see it

  • hockeyland

    I want to go to Knott’s because… Knott’s is classic America. The legacy of a self-made family that through dedication, hard work and a little luck created a lasting monument to the best of what we strive to be. I’m a huge Disney fan, but Knott’s is different. Knott’s is feisty. Knott’s is grit. And despite being owned by a huge corporation today, current management has discovered the hidden classic the boys from Ohio never knew they had. They are doing wonderful things (with the help of another incredible self made man, Garner Holt) to awaken their sleeping beauty. I want to go to Knott’s to celebrate with them.

  • disneylandkitty

    I want to go to knotts because I loce the calico mind train. It is my fav ride at knotts. I am a train lover so all trains make me happy. I am really glad they are upgrading this great ride. I would love to be one one the first to ride this ride again. Please and thank u. Also I love snoopy. :-)

  • RSZero1

    I want to go to Knotts’ because some of my earliest memories of that park include riding the locomotive around the park, and hunting the red baron with snoopy

  • Wendygirl

    I want to go to Knotts because – I love it! I think Knotts has really come through in recent years to upgrade this Park that is California’s FIRST theme park. I used to go to Knotts as a child – we are talking with memories going back to 1952 and old home movies of the place, when there was no fences and chickens roamed freely. I have many fond memories of Knotts through the years. Unfortunately after Cedar Fair took over, there was a slow slide in quality. I hated that they took out so many iconic things and put up those massive roller coasters. At one point several years ago I went and when I left I said “I’m never coming back to this place again!” But now they have new management in place that “gets it” and has a sense of history. I applaud all the work they are doing and love the newly refurbished Log Ride. I am so looking forward to what they have done to the Mine Train Ride and am excited to start riding into the mine once again.

  • theasc

    I want to go to Knott’s because when my daughter was little, we spent the whole day at Knott’s as a family and it was so magical. She played the whole day, saw Snoopy, loved the rides. My husband is a veteran, and we are so grateful to Knott’s for always being so generous to vets and their families. Would love to help celebrate the new attraction and introduce my youngest to Knott’s. He hasn’t been yet! :)

  • brianpinsky

    I want to go to Knott’s because I love their funnel cake!. It is to die for. Also I have not been for a few years and I would love to ride a refurbished classic attraction and I have not been on the log ride so it was refurbed. Sounds like a fund day!

  • rkorn123

    I want to go to Knott’s because it will be the first time my kids get to experience the park. Would like them to see the new Mine ride and experience the rides I remember going on at their age like the log ride and stage coach!

  • Idiotgenius

    I want to go to Knott’s because, like Disneyland recently, the park management has embraced the idea that the guest experience is not only what you offer, but also how you offer it. Through affordable yearly passes, the upkeep and refurbishment of beloved classic rides and the addition of new rides and attractions. I grew up with Knott’s and experienced it through its rough period, so I recognize when there are improvements. Although for the past few years, I’ve only visited Knott’s during the Halloween Haunt period. But during that period I’ve partaken in the delicious fried chicken, and even revisited the Calico Mine Town, that has that wonderful Knott’s feel. I’m excited to get back into enjoying the park on a yearly and maybe even seasonal basis. Plus, June 9th is my birthday and to win would make it so much more special and give me a great feeling, apart from the usual depression of currently being out of work. I know this a random drawing, but I would love if you’d consider me. Thank you. And keep up the great work on the websites and podcasts. I love them all. -tony

  • tafoster4000

    I want to go to Knott’s because I would love to see the new refurbished mine train. I have fond memories of going to Knott’s as a kid and love how Cedar Fair is bringing back some of the old Knotts.

  • CalicoBrad

    I want to go to Knott’s grand re-opening of the Calico Mine Ride because I have so many great memories of riding the attraction over the years. I first went on the ride during my 3rd grade field trip. I can’t wait to see what the Knott’s team and Garner Holt Productions have created.