Once upon a time, in the Ghost Town section of Knott's Berry Farm, there was nothing much to do other than tour the amazingly beautiful replica of an old ghost town set in the west. There were remodeled shops, a blacksmith, an old-fashioned school house, and a few saloons. Park visitors could even pan for gold, but as far as actual rides went, Ghost Town was a little lacking...
Then came the folks at Cedar Fair L.P., owners of such famous parks as Cedar Point and Dorney Park. They came in and revitalized things, proving their commitment to high thrills. Their first installment was an S&S tower ride that rose over 250 feet into the air and shot riders down to the ground. Entitled Supreme Scream, this beautiful white reverse space shot opened in 1998 to mark the transfer of ownership, but the Cedar Fair folks weren't done for that year. Seeing that good ol' Ghost Town needed a boost in a big way, they opened the "Best Wooden Coaster in the West," Ghostrider, a Custom Coasters woodie that provide great thrills, amazing airtime, and plenty of rough fun.
Ghostrider is located on the southeastern corner of the Knott's Berry Farm park property. From the entrance, guests can easily turn left and be upon the entrance within a minute or two. The start of the line itself, though, can sometimes be easily missed. It's actually a hole on the side of a rock, sort of like the entrance to an abandoned mine shaft. The story for this thrill ride goes, a long time ago, there was an old mysterious man who helped the poor. Kind of a Robin Hood figure. He was mysterious, of course, and legends say that he just kept on riding. It's a mix between a Wild West tale and a ghost story.
Anyway, those who miss the mine shaft entrance need not fear if the line is short, because near the actual station (it's a rustic-looking two story wooden building) there's a gate for those who feel like backing out on the ride. Guests may be able to enter there as well. Of course, one the busiest days, Ghostrider can garner a line that stretches out of the entrance and into the main pathway. Such a wait can last up to three hours. Yet, even waiting that long may very well be worth it to experience arguably the best wooden roller coaster on the West Coast.
The line enters the station, then runs upstairs to the actual loading dock. Ghostrider can run up to three trains (gold, silver, and bronze), though usually, there is only two. The safety equipment is limited to a simple lap bar and seat belts, and as always, the best thrills can be found in the back of the train.
Riders exit the station and make a nice drop to the left, picking up speed as they turn back to the right, making a U-turn before beginning their ascent. The top of the lift hill is shaded with some canvas material to protect against the sun, but that has no effect on the furious first drop, straight forward into the southern pine timber. Before the train even levels out, it lunges hard to the left, past a quickly flashing on-ride photo camera. Up a nice camel back hill that provides some sweet airtime, riders then plunge back down before rising again for the first turnaround, where the train dips to the left then rises again before straightening out and dropping to begin its second traverse over Grand Avenue.
The ride is wild and rough, and if riders are not strapped in tightly, they can be taken for a buckling ride and tossed around like dolls. Of course, some coaster fans like it that way...
After hitting a few hills, Ghostrider turns right, leaping over a couple more bunny hops before climbing up a taller incline, leaning to the left, and making a U-turn high over the start of the lift hill. Here, the mid-course trim brakes luckily have practically no effect on the ride, and here lies one of Ghostrider's surprises. After clearing the trims, the train dives down and proceeds to navigate a bunny hop, sending its passengers' laps floating off the seat. The wonderful sensation of airtime is as close to flying as one can get, and it thrills coaster seekers like nothing else. Crossing over Grand Avenue for a third time, Ghostrider hops over more hills before making a similar turnaround to the first. Only this one dips to the right and rises. And of course, this turnaround is not as high as the first.
More gorgeous airtime follows before Ghostrider's thrilling finale: a 540 degree tight helix within the wooden structure. With beams flying by the riders with blazing speed, it is hard to keep the arms raised in excitement. Tossing and turning, Ghostrider finally hits the brakes, slowly rolling back to the station to begin its ride all over again.
Ghostrider is certainly one of the best wooden roller coasters in the world and is probably the best there is to offer on the West Coast. Only Roar, located up in Six Flags Marine World, poses any serious challenge to that title. It is yet another wooden masterpiece from the designers at Custom Coasters, International.
Knott's Berry Farm
Custom Coasters, Int.
2 minutes 40 seconds
- 4 crossings over Grand Ave.
- Two dipping turnarounds
- 540 degree helix
- PHOTOS -
Photos courtesy of America Coasters Network.
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