Knott's Berry Farm Review (First Trip in 21 years)

Discussion in 'Non-Disney Theme Parks and Destinations' started by See Post, Jan 13, 2015.

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  1. See Post

    See Post New Member

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    Originally Posted By SafariRob

    Brief Background

    Just to give you an idea of our family dynamic and what we did/did not enjoy, here is some background. My last visit was 1993, when I was single. My wife's last visit was the late 1980's (as a child). Family size is seven, with four boys and one girl. Ages are 14-3. Oldest son (14) has Down Syndrome and a multipurpose service dog. We went to the park on 12/30 and 12/31/14.

    Spoiler Alert

    I have to warn you that I will talk about attractions in detail. Skip ahead if you don’t want to know.

    Knott's Hotel

    You cannot beat the convenience! Our package included hotel, breakfast, and tickets. The staff was super-friendly and helpful. Buffet breakfast is perfect for families. Plenty of choices: eggs, bacon, french toast, hash browns, oatmeal, muffins, fruit, juice, coffee...you get the picture. We ate a nice full breakfast around 9:00 am and then we weren't hungry until about 1:00 or 2:00...after the lunch rush. Snoopy dropped by each table for photos, which was an unexpected surprise. The hotel has entrances in front and in back, so getting to the park is super-fast. Five minute walk at a normal pace. The rooms themselves are pretty good, depending on how many people are in your party. We had an over-sized room with two queens and two roll-away beds. Plenty of room for everyone. The only downside is the small bathroom with no tub. Only a shower. That's a bummer with small kids. Nevertheless, I highly recommend the hotel.

    First Impression

    I was like a fish out of water and shell-shocked for the first hour or two. The kids wanted to go in five different directions. I had to explain that it was my first time there in a long time and I didn't know the park very well. They are used to going with me to Six Flags Discovery Kingdom…a park that I know very well.

    Camp Snoopy

    It was much larger than I expected…much larger than the map suggests. Everyone flocks there first. The area was very congested, but beautiful and well-themed. Lot's of hidden gems to discover, like the walk-through cave and the back entrance to Grizzly Creek Lodge (Behind Timberline Twister). On the second day, we got Mrs. Knott's Chicken Dinner to go and ate it on the second floor balcony of Grizzly Creek Lodge. The train ride was cute. The Linus Launcher was…um...unique. I didn't ride it, but my kids liked it. I would love to hang out there with the younger kids on a slow day. Sierra Sidewinder was one of my favorite rides of the entire trip. It doesn't look like much, but it packs a lot of punch. My six year-old daughter rode with me and loved it. She screamed "That was awesome!" after the ride.

    Log Ride

    I couldn't wait to ride this again, especially after hearing about the refurb on The Season Pass Podcast. The ride seemed longer with more show scenes than I remember. That could just be my memory playing tricks on me. Did they change the track layout? I don't remember the mini-drop in the dark. I loved the various scenes...especially the final scene with the log rolling lumberjack. It seems like they have a few shout-outs to Disney, like the pipe-smoking old lady in a rocking chair on her porch (LOL) and the skull/crossbones up high to the right in one of the dark scenes. Very nice. Each time we rode it, we discovered new stuff. The kids and I LOVED this ride and went on it five times over two days.

    Mine Train

    We rode this one five times over two days like the log ride. What great memories it brought back. Several things I really liked. First, the animatronics are VERY close. It gives a very intimate feeling. Second, you sit sideways, so your view is much better. Yes, you have to turn around to see the other side, but no seat-belt provides that flexibility. The underground waterfalls give that amazing smell that I just love. I noticed that many of the animatronics don't speak...they kind of grunt. Interesting design choice. Was that to make it have more universal appeal? The grunting guy holding the canary in a cage just cracks me up every time. Like the Log Ride, each time we rode it, we discovered new stuff. Well done, Knott's and Garner Holt!

    Mystery Lodge

    It was my first time. I didn't know what to expect. The pre-show scared my three year-old and my wife took him out. It was very cool and unexpected when the wall opened up to the theater. Minor complaint (and there aren't many for this trip): crowd-control for this attraction could be better. It was a mad house getting to our seats. We sat in the front part of the second section because of our dog. The show itself was engaging. Again, I had no idea what to expect. The disappearing trick at the end was fantastic. I spent the rest of the day thinking about it. I had to Google it back at the hotel. Pepper's Ghost. Still very impressive. I wanted to go back the second day but the family outvoted me. :-( Thank God for YouTube.

    Pony Express

    One of the biggest surprises of the entire trip. I have never seen a seating configuration like that in my life. Me and three of my sons were like, "What is this? You sit like this?" Strange feeling at first. Then...the launch. Totally not expecting that! (I didn't watch the previous trains because we use the handicapped accessible entrance.) What a rush! Short but great ride. One of my favorites.

    Merry Christmas Snoopy Ice Show

    I cannot really do the show justice by describing it. It's really one of those things you just have to see. The ice skating, though fantastic, was not the only thing about the show I loved. The set design, the lighting, the costumes, the music...it was so well done that I found myself saying "wow" a lot. I have a theater background so I admit that I can be picky and hard to please. This show blew me away. The way they make it snow inside the theater...pure magic. "Do You Hear What I Hear" was so beautifully done that I was on the verge of tears. I also loved Linus' speech where he quotes the Gospel of Luke. The crowd applauded. One of my only regrets is that we didn't go back and see the show again the second day. Part of me was afraid that the second time wouldn't be as good and I wanted to remember that first time.

    Boardwalk Area

    It was okay. The kids enjoyed Coast Rider. Some of the rides are identical (or very similar) to what you see at SFDK. In fact, Boomerang even has the same name! Anyway, not much to say about the Boardwalk area. I cannot wait for the opening of Voyage to the Iron Reef. That will help the area a lot.

    Calico Railroad

    Much like I remember as a child. Wonderful train ride. I love the fact that the train robbers still come through. My kids were not expecting that. LOL. One of the robbers hung out after the ride and took a couple of pictures with us while asking about our dog. He even let my seven year-old son hold his gun for the picture (with his hand over my son's, of coarse!)

    Ghost Town

    We hit Ghost Town first thing on day two (12/31) and it was empty. We were able to really soak up the environment without a lot of people walking around, and it was really cool. The blacksmith was doing his thing, chatting it up with the kids. The wood-carver was there. Other townsfolk were walking around. We gave our dog a drink at the water pump. It was perfect. I got a picture. The kids panned for gold and the guide was fantastic. He played the part so well. "There's no cryin' in minin'!" He made sure each kid got some gold. We checked out the graveyard, which was hard to find. When we did, it was a bit distracting to see the steel beams for a roller coaster right there. Kind of ruined the illusion. The Haunted Museum was creepy. Yucky feeling in there. The wood-carver was fantastic. We got a carved bear. The first day it was a lady wood-carver. I did a double-take. My 10 year-old son said something very PC...something like, "Well, girls can be wood-carvers, too." Yes, son, but not in the old west. LOL. Oh, Ghost Rider. I knew going in that it would be a bumpy ride. We rode in front to minimize the bumpiness. What a ride! Me and my 14 year-old loved it. My seven year-old...not so much.

    Stagecoach

    I think I enjoyed it the most. The kids didn't seem that impressed. Looking back, I didn't really appreciate it until I was older and realized how rare of an experience it is. Where else can you ride in a stagecoach? I rode in the top back with our dog and two kids. The others were inside the coach. It went faster than I remember. Parts of the ride were so cool, like going by the moving train on one side and the log ride on the other. Other parts need help, like when you are riding past steel beams. They need to do something to conceal those beans. Plywood walls with paintings, foliage, or something else. No bandits on the stagecoach anymore. :-(

    Fiesta Village

    A lot like I remember it. Hat Dance, Dragon Swing, Wave Swinger (another Six Flags Discovery Kingdom clone), Merry Go-Round...all great for kids. Jaguar was a snoozer, sorry to say. My daughter was too short to ride but I think she would have been fine. My seven year-old rode Montezooma’s Revenge (no one else wanted to ride) and loved it.

    Independence Hall/Picnic Area

    I'm glad Independence Hall is still there. My kids were much less impressed with the show than I was at their age, but I guess that's to be expected. :-( It was still cool to bring my kids to a place that made such an impression on me at their age. It's nice to see the lake and ducks again...even if the lake has a picnic area in the middle of it.

    Food

    I don't go to theme parks for the food, but this trip changed me a bit. The chicken to-go was very tasty: chicken mashed potatoes, biscuits/jam. I got boysenberry punch so I could have that taste of Knott's. The family shared some funnel cake with (what else?) boysenberries. Yummy. The nachos in Fiesta Village were pretty good and the burgers in the Boardwalk area (from Coasters) were fine.

    Cast & Crew

    It was very obvious to me that much of the cast & crew at Knott's enjoy what they do very much. Some examples are the train robbers, the Native American line attendant at Mystery Lodge (who also provided the introduction), the gold panning guide, the blacksmith, the glass blower, the wood carver, and even the lip-syncing/dancing glow bracelet vendors at Merry Christmas Snoopy...they all contribute to creating this amazing environment that will hopefully stay with my kids for many years to come.

    Final Thoughts

    My kids are already asking to go back. It was refreshing to be in a park with truly themed areas and dark rides. The trip, though not cheap, was very affordable compared to a Disney vacation. We had a lot of great family time during those two days with experiences that you cannot get at Disney or anywhere else. Ghost Town puts Frontierland to shame, IMHO. The Snoopy on ice show was phenomenal. It's too bad Knott's is so land-locked and cannot expand. They would have to get very creative to do that. They have shoehorned about as much as they can in just about every nook and cranny in the park, and I found myself dazed and confused at times, as the natural flow of the park is just downright odd at times. The area right by the Silver Bullet and Indian Trails and Stagecoach was very confusing.

    I do wish the weather was warmer, but in spite of that, we had a very memorable trip. We did everything we wanted and no not left disappointed. We plan to go back again soon.
     
  2. See Post

    See Post New Member

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    Originally Posted By LuvsDsnyTrips

    Good report..
    I also love the log ride.
    My son loves the coasters..
     
  3. See Post

    See Post New Member

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    Originally Posted By amazedncal2

    I enjoyed reading your report :) It's been about 20 years since I've been there (other than a couple of HAUNTS nights 10ish years ago.) Sounds like a great family trip :)
     
  4. See Post

    See Post New Member

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    Originally Posted By FerretAfros

    Sounds great! I went to Haunt about 6 years ago and was unimpressed, but I otherwise have no experience with Knott's. It's great to hear that they've still got it and that you guys had such a good time!
     
  5. See Post

    See Post New Member

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    Originally Posted By familyguy

    Made me want to visit again....although I can't talk my wife into it.
     
  6. See Post

    See Post New Member

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    Originally Posted By SafariRob

    "Made me want to visit again....although I can't talk my wife into it."

    What is it about Knott's that she doesn't like?
     
  7. Rivkah86

    Rivkah86 Active Member

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    I know this is already almost two years ago, but thanks for the trip report! I am considering going there for my birthday on 11/12. I haven't been in many years, perhaps 15+, and I will be going with my husband, who has never been. This report was highly useful!
     
  8. SafariRob

    SafariRob Member

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    Rivkah86, did you end up going on your birthday? How was it?
     

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