It’s been more than a decade since Knott’s Berry Farm added a serious steel roller coaster, but that could be changing soon.
Knott’s officials have declined to comment on speculation about a new coaster, saying only that an announcement will be made this summer about new attractions planned for 2018.
But a series of recent signs point to the likelihood that the Orange County theme park may be starting construction soon on a major new coaster.
In 2016, Knott’s removed a stomach-churning Chance Trabant flat ride known as Wipeout and a head-spinning Huss Top Spin ride called Riptide from the Boardwalk section of the park. In recent weeks, the park announced that the adjacent 1990 Vekoma Boomerang looping shuttle coaster would be closing April 23.
The combined footprints of the three rides form a continuous one-acre swath of land stretching from the Sky Cabin observation tower to Johnny Rockets restaurant. The space would be ideal for a large coaster along the Boardwalk midway. Ground clearance has already begun between the Boomerang coaster and the Boardwalk Ballroom.
Knott’s went through a coaster boom at the beginning of the millennium with Xcelerator (2002), Silver Bullet (2004), Sierra Sidewinder (2007) and Pony Express (2008). Since then, the park has added only the Coast Rider wild mouse family ride in 2013. Over the last decade, Knott’s has steered clear of major new thrill rides, positioning itself as the family-friendly alternative to the coaster-centric Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia.
The Silver Bullet, with seats that hang beneath the track, was the last major coaster added to the park. The Bolliger & Mabillard coaster features six inversions, including a cobra roll, a pair of corkscrews and a 105-foot-tall loop.
Cedar Fair, Knott’s parent company, has a long history with the Switzerland-based ride maker. A new B&M coaster at a Cedar Fair park is a near-annual tradition. It makes sense that the amusement park chain would continue to maintain relationships with ride manufacturers they have worked with in the past. Among the top B&M contenders for Knott’s: a 200-foot-tall hyper coaster similar to Diamondback at Ohio’s Kings Island, a wing coaster with cantilevered seats like Gatekeeper at Ohio’s Cedar Point or a dive coaster with a 90-degree drop like Valravn (also at Cedar Point).
Over the last decade, Cedar Fair has added two coasters from Switzerland-based ride-maker Intamin that could also work at Knott’s: a 300-foot-tall Intimidator 305 giga coaster at Virginia’s Kings Dominion and the Maverick multi-launch blitz coaster at Cedar Point.
Knott’s is also home to a pair of coasters from Germany-based Mack Rides: The Sierra Sidewinder with spinning cars and the Coast Rider. Mack makes a mega coaster with a 60 mph launch and four inversions that would be ideal for Knott’s Boardwalk area.
A wooden coaster would also be a natural fit for the Boardwalk area. Cedar Fair has a long-standing relationship with Pennsylvania-based Great Coasters International, which just completed a rehabilitation project on Knott’s 1998 Ghostrider wooden coaster.
GCI built Renegade at Minnesota’s Valleyfair in 2007, Prowler at Missouri’s Worlds of Fun in 2009, Gold Striker at California’s Great America in Santa Clara in 2013 and Mystic Timbers at Kings Island opening this summer. A twister-style wooden coaster would be a perfect complement to Ghostrider’s out-and-back layout.
A pair of Cedar Fair parks have been dropping hints about upcoming conversion projects involving Rocky Mountain Construction, an Idaho-based ride-maker that converts aging wooden coasters into looping wood-steel hybrids.
It’s possible that Knott’s could tap Rocky Mountain to build a hybrid coaster from the ground up, but less likely after passing up the opportunity to hybridize Ghostrider.
The real question is whether Knott’s will opt for a thrilling coaster with multiple inversions or a family coaster that appeals to a broader audience.
We will find out soon enough as online sleuths begin decoding survey markers and footing supports that typically mark the beginning of the construction process. Speculation has already begun.