Over the weekend, we adventured to Knott’s Berry Farm to experience Ghost Town Alive, the fully immersive Westworld-style storytelling experience on National Cowboys Day. Watch a video of our experience and see why I believe that Knott’s is successfully doing what Disneyland’s Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is missing.
Ghost Town Alive Has What Galaxy’s Edge is Missing
The video comes from our new YouTube channel Ordinary Adventures, so please subscribe if you haven’t done so already! We have a lot of coverage of theme parks, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, and Comic-Con. Watch the video above to see our Knott’s Berry Farm adventure!
Five years ago, Disneyland ran Legends of Frontierland, which put park guests inside an immersive game experience where two different factions competed to own the most land and take ownership of Frontierland. It wasn’t a secret: the game was a test for the company’s upcoming fully immersive Star Wars land. The early announcements for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge even touted how the land would be innovative, putting you into your own Star Wars story. You would create a character and all the decisions you make throughout the land would affect your interactions with the Batuu locals, who at the time were described as a mix of alien species and droids.
But when Galaxy’s Edge opened to the public, much of that interactive storytelling experience had ended up as a side note on the Star Wars datapad app. Most people who go into the land don’t even use the app, and the only walk around characters I’ve seen in the land are Rey, Chewbacca, Vi, First Order Stormtroopers, a First Order officer, and Kylo Ren. I was once told by a shop owner in the marketplace that they heard I messed up the Millennium Falcon, but that’s nowhere close to the promise that I might be confronted by a Bounty Hunter in the Cantina because of my actions in the Smuggler’s Run ride. Batuu is one of the most immersive theme park lands ever created, but it’s sorely lacking the characters, aliens, and droids that were promised by Disney Imagineering.
Knott’s Berry Farm’s Ghost Town Alive attempts to do some of the insane Westworld-style fully immersive storytelling adventure that was promised for Galaxy’s Edge. The seasonal event was launched a few years ago and has gotten bigger and better every year, but this was the first year I’ve attended the event — and I was extremely impressed. This is what is missing from Galaxy’s Edge.
In the video above you can watch as Kitra and I experience Ghost Town Alive for the first time, on National Cowboy Day. What starts as Calico’s Founders Day celebration quickly becomes an opportunity for this small western town to become the jewel of the West, if that pesky Mayfield family doesn’t ruin things with their attempt to rob the bank. The story is simple, maybe even corny at times, but filled with some fun twists. But what really makes this experience special is the interactions with the characters, who are found all over this land. Some of them, like the Mayor, are truly hilarious with snappy unscripted responses to all of your interactions.
We did go on some rides, which you will see in another video later in the week, but you could go to Knott’s Berry Farm and spend the whole morning and afternoon enveloped in this Ghost Town Alive experience and it would still be worth the price of admission alone. I know Kitra and I left the event sold, and are planning to return next year to continue the story.
Much like the rest of the park (and Knott’s Scary Farm), what Knott’s lacks from big-budget production value of Disneyland or Universal Studios, they make up with charm and genuine care-driven effort. You might not feel like you’re in another world like you do when you are in Batuu, but your interactions with the people of Calico will warm your heart and fill your day with joy.
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