Knott’s Berry Farm has made great use of an area of Boardwalk that has housed a couple of beloved attractions over the years. The newest to go into the theme park is Voyage to the Iron Reef, an interactive game ride using 3D screens and blasters.
Guests go through a fictional steam-punk inspired Boardwalk area of Knott’s, and it’s almost post-apocalyptic. The park has gone underwater and is at the mercy of the Kraken Queen. The Captain helps guide everyone on their way to fight the mechanical creatures and eventually the queen herself. Guests shoot their way through with freeze blasters in submarine vehicles.
The opening to the attraction featured a couple of big name people to greet the crowd. Raffia Kaprelyan, vice-president and general manager of Knott’s welcomed everyone to the exciting new addition. He brought up Bob Gurr (yes that Bob Gurr) who has collaborated with Knott’s over attractions like Kingdom of the Dinosaurs, which was once housed in the same building as Iron Reef. Later I heard him talking about the technology that is used in the Voyage to the Iron Reef attraction and how great it will be to keep up with changing audiences. At the end of the ceremony, Captain McCallister broke the ceremonial champagne bottle to christen the Voyage to the Iron Reef. As streamers shot out of the top of the ride, guests started to take their voyage.
The vehicles sit 4 guests per car, and two cars per train. There are 10 interactive screens throughout the ride. A beautiful mural is painted in the loading area, and even has a hidden Snoopy located in it. Snoopy isn’t the only easter egg in the attraction. Several icons of the theme park’s past are located in different scenes. Some, such as the Roaring 20’s sign, interact if they are blasted.
Movement seemed fast and frantic, though we were mostly stationary with the screens. Shooting the targets were easy as each gun has a color code you can see in front of you at the beginning of the ride. Scores are kept according to the number of beasts defeated. Also, star medallion type things that can be shot at are kept track as well. At the exit you can see the top scores of the day, as well as recent scores. Photos are also taken on the ride during a crucial moment, and can be seen with a ranking as you reach the unloading platform.
Though much of the attraction uses screens, there are real scene elements laden throughout the attraction. It keeps the feel of an underwater steam-punk adventure. It also helped not disorient me as I traveled through with 3D glasses.
Along with the new ride is a new shop called the Nautilus, which features a great deal of steam-punk inspired items, and of course logo decorated memorabilia. Tumblers, shot glasses, and even snow globes are among things to buy with the Voyage to the Iron Reef logo. Steam-punk glasses and hats are available as well. Knott’s Berry Farm brand merchandise is also available, as well as a variety of other non-related items.
The ride also exits into the revamped Boardwalk arcade, which has been around for a number of years. Later on, the laser tag compound will be available again.
This part of Boardwalk has always been near and dear for me, from the first Bear-y Tales ride to Kingdom of the Dinosaurs, it has been one of the most memorable attraction buildings at any theme park. Now with Voyage to the Iron Reef I have another great memory. I love that there are hidden homages to Knott’s past within the attraction. Having an original steam-punk story makes this unique and brings a great mythology to the park. The game itself is a great feature. It’s more video game like than other 3D attractions, but I think that adds to the fun of it. It has more action because of it, and even more competition. It’s whimsical and exciting as a ride. It’s something I will easily ride over and over again, and even make a trip to the park to go on. Voyage to the Iron Reef shows that Knott’s is headed in a fantastic direction, and is getting some fun and timeless attractions again. Be sure to check it out and the rest of the park!