This past Saturday we were invited out to Knott's for the kick-off of their summer celebration.
This included a plethora of all new shows, events, ghost town citizens and of course, extended summer hours. Below we'll look at the shows and also a review of the Knott's Fast-Lane which was amazing to have on a busy Saturday.
Pictures and Words by Gregg Condon
We arrived at the park around 11:30 ready to check-in for the event
After a quick ride on Ghostrider and the all new Iron Reef thanks to our Fast Lane, it was time for the ice show.
The Ice Show is always a welcome break from the summer heat.
We decided to take a front row seat over to the side, which turned out to be a good decision as lots of action takes place on stage left.
The dancers and skaters are, as always top notch.
The story shouldn't be surprising based on the name, it's really a tribute to Hollywood using the Peanuts characters with a great mix of music and fun.
All of the lead skaters get a chance to shine, sometimes multiple chances, which means the show runs about 35-40 minutes. Not sure if they'll cut some segments as the run goes on to give people a day off, but it wouldn't be the worst thing to cut it down by 5 minutes or so.
That said, the talent on display is tremendous and as always, the show is a lot of fun.
After the show it was time to head over to one of the picnic area's for a great lunch provided by the park. If you've never had one of Knott's picnic area buffet's, you are totally missing out.
Then it was back into the park to put our Fast Lane to use. The longest wait we had all day was probably GhostRider at about 10 minutes but only because we waited for the front row.
From about 3:00 to 5:30 we rode the following rides with minimal wait. This also included doing some shopping and refilling our souvenir bottle with boysenberry punch a few times. =)
Overall we had an amazing day at the park, we missed a few of the shows we wanted to see due to just having fun so we'll have to be sure to head back soon to check them out.
But if you are planning on going to the park on a weekend during the summer, you can't go wrong with the Fast Lane. It really does make you able to enjoy all the great stuff at Knott's with no stress.
Be sure to get to Knott's this summer for the extended hours, new shows and apparently there are some new nighttime effects on Montezooma's Revenge. Unfortunately we didn't hear about them until we left the park for the day. But we definitely want to check that out.
The park will also most likely be doing their 4th of July event this year, so we'll certainly share that information with you when the park sends it to us.
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.
Today we have a very brief Iron Reef update. The ride is getting closer to it's grand opening on May 15th with a lot of great work being done outside the building.
Now that the area is going to be part of the "Boardwalk" we're anticipating many more bright colors in the next couple of weeks.
Thanks to CoasterMatt for the pictures.
The roof awning has been installed which is a nice translucent plastic, which should look great day or night.
The shiny bits extend down to the station. Not sure if that's queue up there or scaffolding. It looks like queue though.
Pulling back a bit, you can see the boardwalk colors extending over in the top right of this picture.
Will be interesting to see what else is added over the next few weeks.
Not sure if that's the actual exit stairs or if the ride will continue to exit through the arcade like Kingdom of the Dinosaurs did. All indications are that it will no longer exit from downstairs.
That's going to wrap it up for this quick update. Thanks again to CoasterMatt for the pictures. Are you heading out to ride Iron Reef when it opens in two short weeks? We'll have more as Media Day/Opening Day approaches.
Earlier this week we shared our Boysenberry Festival Update so today we're going to continue with Knott's and take a look around the park and a general park update.
Lots of updates on Iron Reef as well as a lot of "offseason" refurbishments. Get your Fun Bun and Boysenberry Coffee ready.
Before we get started, the other day we joked with Knott's that we'd LOVE it if the FunBun theme song would be released as a Ring Tone. Well, never ones to disappoint, they put it up in a DropBox yesterday and tweeted it out. So be sure to download it if you want some FunBun love every time your phone rings.
We'll start off with Iron Reef, which, as you'll see the old Beary Tales/KOD building is getting a huge facelift.
These are supports for the roof which the awesome @ParkandCons tweeted pictures of out yesterday.
Some cool artwork
A peek inside, nothing really to see here.
Some cool chalk artwork is out in the boardwalk. They even tell you where to stand to get the best picture. But we don't play by the rules. =)
From the Sky Cabin
Elsewhere in the Boardwalk the water is drained as it's getting ready to be re-painted. It seems to have faded very quickly.
Xcelerator pieces. :(
The FastLane queue is also open on the ride.
There's an awesome new mural in Virginia's but there were a LOT of people checking it out. We'll try to get some nice pictures on a less busy day.
Lastly, how about some ride photo's.
Got a nice pic of Xcelerator from the Sky Cabin.
Some in our group hadn't ridden the new Peanuts train, so I was able to get some Sierra Sidewinder pics.
How about some Zoooooom from the train as well.
That's going to wrap it up for this update. We should have another Knott's update in a week or two as some of our site contributors have yet to get down to the Boysenberry Festival.
Have a great weekend everybody!!!
We'll start off with some nice panoramic views of the new park entrance. This looks really great.
Review of Fury 325 from Lauren:
It was great! For the typical audience that is going to ride this coaster, it's going to be a really great experience. There's a lot of whishy-washy reviews on this, but most of the people at media day are roller coaster fanatics. The roller coaster fanatics are jaded and have traveled all over the wild to ride the tallest, fastest, and wildest coasters. This ride compared to Helix in Sweden? Helix wins 10x over, but this ride wasn't built exclusively for these roller coaster fanatics. This coaster is an awesome addition to Carowinds and is going to bring a lot of excitement to the park. The front seat was my favorite by far, which is very uncommon for me to say about a B&M coaster. The front seat was full of an insane amount of wind, beautiful views, and it's fair share of airtime. The back seat was also a close second to my favorite seat. However there was a shake to the row 3 end seat I rode on towards the end, enough shake to it to give me a slight headache and sit out on a few other rides on it. If your looking for airtime, intimidator does give you a little more. But if your looking for a great thrill, plenty of adrenaline, and a really good ride overall then Fury is it. Don't let the jaded ones fool you, it's definitely a must do and worth the trip to Carowinds!!!
Before the festivities begin, let's take a look at some Fury merchandise
Prior to the ride opening, they were doing some more testing.
The ceremony kicked off with Mike Fennel Carowinds VP and some words from South Carolina Gov, North Carolina Gov, the Mayor of Charlotte
After the ceremony it was time to get some pictures of the ride in action, and of course ride the coaster.
Alright, that's going to wrap it up for our Media Day report. We'll likely have some more pics and info in a few days. The coaster and park opens for the 2015 season this Saturday (3/28) so be sure to head out to Carowinds and take in their new amazing coaster.
Thanks to Carowinds for inviting us out to their festivities and a VERY special thank you to Matt and Lauren who were able to cover the event for us. It's very much appreciated.