After 10 years of being empty the Knott's Dark Ride show building has once again emerged to host a new kind of dark ride.
Below you will find some pictures from the great media day event, a full ride-through of Voyage to the Iron Reef and my review of the ride. I won't say "our" review as some members of the Park Journey staff may have different opinions. =)
This last Wednesday was Media Day for Knott's new dark ride Voyage to the Iron Reef.
Written by Gregg Condon
Of course, no event at Knott's is complete without amazing food!
Yes they had Mrs. Knott's Chicken. Yes I of course had some. Yes it was delicious.
Even Snoopy is ready to go into the Iron Reef.
After eating it was time to head up for a birds eye view of the opening ceremonies.
Ready to Launch!!!
Lots of streamers!!!
Time to go for a ride ... the inside portion of the queue, it looks great.
Lots of great Steampunk'y touches.
The ride entry, looks great. Nice that they were able to blend this into the new ride.
The blue roof adds a great touch to the queue area.
The ride loading area
Michael from SoCal M.U.S.E. is happy with the ride!!
Getting ready to board
Iron Reef Safety Guide. Be sure to read our review below for info on movement, etc.
Below is our full ride-through video of the ride and below that our review of Voyage to the Iron Reef.
We also were filmed doing a reverse POV that we'll upload when we receive it.
Below the review is some pictures from the new Iron Reef Store - Nautilus.
When rumors started of a new dark ride for the old Beary Tales/Kingdom of the Dinosaurs building it wasn't surprising that people were looking at Knott's recent history to try and figure out what was coming. Was it going to be something from Garner Holt? Would it be made by another company like Sally Corp? Maybe some kind of Peanuts ride or perhaps a re-creation of Knott's Beary Tales.
Last year, Wonder Mountain's Guardian, an interactive dark ride, opened at Canada's Wonderland made by Triotech. Once video came out of this ride it was pretty clear that this was likely the direction Knott's was going in. And I have to be honest, I was very unimpressed by online video's I saw of this attraction. I don't usually like to base rides just on video, but shooting bugs just isn't my thing. Plus the building had no themeing which isn't the direction many felt Knott's should go in. Plus, Wonder Mountain's Guardian has a coaster element to the ride which the ride at Knott's wouldn't feature.
Knott's announced Voyage to the Iron Reef in 2014 and almost instantly the feedback wasn't good. Not the right fit for Knott's. How is this going to blend in with the existing Boardwalk/Roaring 20's area and many others. I have to admit, I was one of those but we took a cautiously optimistic approach.
As the months went on and exterior work was done you could start to see how they were going to incorporate the area to fit the existing Boardwalk. If you look from the bright and shiny area's of the boardwalk, to Iron Reef and then down towards the theater there is a color transition going on, it's subtle but it works very well.
Still, even with that we had some reservations about the ride. Hoping that there would be some themed elements other than just screens in an otherwise empty building as is the case in Canada. For me, that was my biggest concern. I figured the interactive elements of the ride would be fun, but I didn't want to just sit and play a video game. I like to look at actual things other than a screen.
Fortunately, once we finished our first ride Wednesday most of those reservations were gone, at least for me. What we found inside the building is a fun, repeatable and appropriately themed ride.
Are you going to find "Disney Level" themeing in Voyage to the Iron Reef? No. And if you go in expecting that you are going to be disappointed. That said, the themeing in Iron Reef is on the same level as Toy Story Midway Mania in the next park over. And the budget for Iron Reef is probably about 1/10th of the budget for that ride. That really says more about Disney than it does about Knott's. Obviously the real difference in budget between Toy Story and Iron Reef is in the ride vehicles and game-play media itself.
That's not to say the Iron Reef Ride Vehicles aren't impressive, because they are. There's not a whole lot of motion in the ride, probably on-par with something like Haunted Mansion. The ride vehicles are comfortable and have a rather unique loading style. So those of you with motion or physical issues should be fine. The 3D in the ride is also very subtle. I'm not typically a huge fan of 3D movies, but this one works well.
My major complaint about that ride is that it simply wasn't loud enough. I think an increase in the volume in both the ride vehicles and show building would increase the excitement of the ride. Not sure if that would require a different in-building sound system, but I really do think it could add to the overall experience. But if that's the major complaint about the ride, then that's a good thing, because it's minor in the grand scheme of things.
The only other thing that could be a factor is capacity. No officially capacity numbers have been released, but there are at most, 8 riders sent through the ride every minute or so (between load/unload). So at max, that's about 480 people per hour. Obviously with different scenarios such as Fast Lane, ADA, slower load/unload or ride issues that number will go down.
From what we saw Wednesday once you are on the ride platform (under the blue translucent cover) it is about a 20 minute wait. So keep that in mind. Also keep in mind that the ride is new, so there will be the occasional mechanical issues as they work out the bugs.
So in conclusion, while I would have rather seen a "traditional" dark ride in this spot I think that's more of a generational thing. I don't mind being a passive audience, but that's because that's what I grew up with and loved. I did find myself looking at the scenery more at certain times than the gameplay, which probably impacted my low scores. =)
The Season Passholders we rode with after the park opened absolutely loved the ride and I think if you go in with proper expectations of having 4 or 5 minutes of fun, you won't be disappointed.
Voyage to the Iron Reef is definitely joining our normal "Must Rides" when we go to the park (along with Timber Mountain Log Ride, Calico Mine Train, Montezooma's Revenge and Xcelerator).
Great job to everybody involved for making a great ride that the entire family can enjoy!!
Of course, what's a new ride without a new store. Let's take a peek inside.
Lots of great Iron Reef apparel and trinkets.
A lot of really cool Steampunk stuff as well.
Shirts for the kids
Good call going with shirts for the guys and the ladies.
While Sweatshirts may seem odd for this time of year, with June Gloom coming these could sell really well.
The rest of the store is stocked with many of the same things that were in the previous store, band shirts and stuff.
And then there's Doctor Who stuff, which is kind of awesome.
If you don't watch Doctor Who I dare you to watch the episode this shirt is from (Blink) and not get hooked. And if you do, go back and start with the 9th Doctor. He's kind of awesome too.
Hmmm ... Cool stuff though. =)
Overall it was another great event put on by Knott's, the ride is fun so be sure you go check it out soon!!
Thanks again to Knott's for having us out. Until next time ... we'll see you in the Iron Reef.