While Knott’s Berry Farm’s Ghost Town offers plenty of adventures for everyone, none has a history richer than the wonderful Bird Cage Theatre. After opening its doors for the first time in 1954, the theatre has played home to hundreds of shows, from spreading holiday cheer during Merry Farm to the beloved melodramas, which return during this year’s Boysenberry Festival.
The Theatre’s history at the Berry Farm goes back to when Walter Knott first laid eyes on the original Bird Cage Theatre, located in Tombstone, AZ, for the first time. Knott was a fan of the Theatre’s history and wanted to preserve it. He proposed transporting the building out of the desert, much like he did with many other authentic Western, memorabilia, and into his theme park for guests to enjoy. However, he was unable to do so when the Theatre was declared a historic landmark, and thus, not able to be moved to the Berry Farm.
But that didn’t deter Knott. A stickler for historical accuracy, as evidenced by the replica of Independence Hall that can be found nearby, Knott built a replica of the theatre in Ghost Town.
The Theatre has also helped launch the careers of several pop culture icons, such as Dean Jones (That Darn Cat! and The Love Bug series), Skip Young of The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, and perhaps most famously, Steve Martin.
Martin started performing at the Bird Cage Theatre in 1963 when he was 18 and stayed until he was 22. He honed the craft of acting there while making $2 a show, at twenty-five shows a week.
The Stuart and Wilson partnership continued until Wilson’s passing, but even though, Stuart continued to carry the torch. However, in 1991, Knott’s Berry Farm bought out the trope. The melodramas continued on until Knott’s closed the Bird Cage Theatre in 1997.
Growing up in Los Angeles in the 70s/80s we visited Disneyland on a regular basis and often after school, before "Annual Passes".