Knott’s Berry Farm’s GhostRider is a wooden roller coaster located in Buena Park, California. It’s in the park’s Ghost Town portion, south of the main entrance. GhostRider, built by Custom Coasters International, is the tallest and longest wooden coaster on the West Coast of the United States, measuring 4,533 feet (1,382 m) in length and 118 feet (36 m) in height. The ride is an L-shaped double out and back with a station designed after a mining facility. There are three trains, each themed after a different valuable metal, but only two are operational.
GhostRider was unveiled in August 1997 as part of a Knott’s Berry Farm expansion. The coaster cost $24 million and opened on December 8, 1998, one day earlier than planned. GhostRider quickly became one of Knott’s most popular rides. Great Coasters International renovated the coaster extensively between 2015 and 2016, upgrading the track and trains. GhostRider has frequently been recognized among the world’s greatest wooden roller coasters in Amusement Today’s annual Golden Ticket Awards.
By 1997, the Knott family, who ran Knott’s Berry Farm amusement park in Buena Park, California, had announced plans to add a wooden roller coaster to the park. Knott’s already featured several important attractions, including the Calico Mine Ride, a prototype Corkscrew coaster, Montezooma’s Revenge, a looping shuttle roller coaster, and Bigfoot Rapids, a water ride. According to historian Eric Lynxwile, who authored a book about Knott’s Berry Farm, the only major attraction type missing from the park was a wooden roller coaster. Almost five years before GhostRider opened in 1998, the Knott family began developing a wooden coaster. Knott’s officials thought that building a wooden coaster would boost the park’s annual attendance to 4 million people.
GhostRider quickly became one of Knott’s most popular rides, and park managers estimated that it would double the resort’s yearly attendance from 3.4 million to 4 million.
During the second quarter of 1999, attendance at Knott’s climbed by more than 10% quarter over quarter, at a time when attendance at other Southern California amusement parks was declining. After an incident that injured five people, the coaster was briefly stopped for repairs in August 1999.
GhostRider had earned a reputation as a hard ride by 2015.
In August of that year, Knott’s officials revealed that GhostRider would be refurbished in honor of Ghost Town’s 75th anniversary.
The ride was briefly closed in September 2015 to allow Great Coasters International (GCI) to refurbish it.
The project took two years to complete, including the planning phase; the renovation itself took only nine months. Buena Park officials had to check that the remodeling plans met building requirements and that the attraction was earthquake resistant. The majority of the course was replaced and re-profiled, with the addition of banked turns and airtime hills. The mid-course brake run was also removed, and the trains were replaced. As part of the repair, GCI also changed the chain lift, installed magnetic brakes, and removed steel from the ride’s structure. GhostRider was supposed to reopen on May 27, 2016, however it didn’t happen until June 11.
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