TEA Connect Blog

04 June 2021

In-Person for Knott’s 100th Anniversary & Bear-y Tales: Return to the Fair

The TEA Nextgens from USC are so happy to be in-person,
they broke out in a socially-distanced wave!

by Jeff Dixon 

On Monday, May 10th, 2021, the TEA happily welcomed the first in-person event to take place in over a year. Roughly 100 TEA members were treated to a spectacular evening at Knott’s Berry Farm to celebrate their 100th Anniversary, and be among the first to experience their newest ride, Bear-y Tales: Return to the Fair. The entire occasion was a breath of fresh air and felt like a massive step back toward normalcy after a year’s long pandemic. Long-overdue and elated reunions triumphed, though most were still adapting to once again recognizing everyone behind their masks, and remembering that the elbow bump is now preferred to the handshake. 



The night began simple enough, being escorted through the park towards the stage. But it was amazing to witness how this simple experience held so much more weight than ever before. Strolling by roller coasters as the trains flew by and hearing the screams of the riders, had never felt more welcome. Further reminders that business was slowly returning to normal.

At the stage, the TEA members were spaced out across numerous picnic tables and greeted Knott’s famous Boysenberry Pie and an array of other treats. 




Throughout the panel, guests were greeted by numerous members of the Knott’s team, covering numerous aspects of Knott’s 100th Anniversary celebration plans. First up was Cherie Whyte, Director, Communications, Knott’s Berry Farm. She spoke about their key question for the marketing of this celebration — How do you summarize 100 years of Knott's in brief? The answer lies in the concept of family, and tapping into a connection with nostalgia. She presented many of the spots that combined old footage of the park with new footage from today.

Next to speak was Eric Lynxwiler, a local Knott’s historian. He not only provided a brief history of Knott’s itself, but also went specifically into the history of the original Bear-y Tales ride. This was a perfect segue into the next speaker, Jeff Gahagan, VP Maintenance, Knott’s. He provided a detailed behind-the-scenes look into the creation and installation of the new Bear-y Tales: Return to the Fair ride. One fascinating part of this discussion was how in this case, the Knott’s team was able to make the best of the pandemic. With the extra time the shutdown provided, Knott’s was able to fine tune the attraction and bring even more details to this fondly remembered attraction.

The next speakers then tackled their respective areas of expertise in celebrating the 100 year anniversary. There was Karl Busche, Manager, Merchandise, Knott’s, who came out wearing a costume tail to speak of the various merchandising the park had in store, including the 100 weeks of pins, which already have been a huge hit. Next up was Kenyo Smalling, Manager, Games, Knott’s, was spoke to the new games and prizes Knott’s had in store. One word – Squishmallows – a fun and breakout hit for the park. After this was Laura Brubaker, VP, food & Beverage, Knott’s, who spoke to the incredible menus planned for the park that really took advantage of nostalgia. She also showed of the 100 year anniversary cookbook, which revealed the recipes of Knott’s famous fried chicken and boysenberry pie for the first time. Wrapping up the evening was Ken Parks, VP, Entertainment, Knott’s, who spoke to all the character and photo experiences coming this year. Yes, the Haunted Shack is making a comeback for photo ops!

After the panel concluded, the TEA members headed toward the finale of the evening, a ride on the new 4D Interactive dark ride, Bear-y Tales: Return to the Fair. The ride is an enjoyable frenetic shooting gallery experience, filled with smells and action that guarantees smiles from ear to ear.




All in all, there couldn’t be a more fitting place for TEA’s first in-person event in over a year than at “California’s 1st Theme Park”. If the overall vibe of the 100th anniversary of Knott’s Berry Farm is that of a “family reunion”, then there really isn’t a better place for the TEA family to stage a “reunion” of their own. Thank you to Knott’s and everyone that made this possible.


For all event pictures follow us on Facebook, and see the event photos here.


Posted by Christine Mack



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