An Afternoon At Knott’s Berry Farm

Knott's Berry FarmAs part of my birthday celebration, I planned to get a room up in Anaheim for the night of September 2nd, so that on my birthday I could get an early start at Disneyland. Since went ahead and booked a room through Priceline and got a great deal on a hotel, the decision to be made was should I just head up early in the afternoon, or go up in the evening. I thought I might consider going into Disney a day early but didn’t really want to spend that much money as a day at Disneyland isn’t cheap.

After passing by the discount wall at work, I saw they had coupons for Knott’s Berry Farm that would drop the admission price down to $29.99 from the regular $52.99 price, so it sounded like it might be worth doing since I haven’t been to Knott’s Berry Farm in at least a decade or so. It could be fun. Well the only thing that had me a little concerned was I wasn’t sure what time I would get to the park because I had a few errands to run after work before I could finally hit the road and get there. The concern was due to the fact the park was only staying open until 6pm. This just seemed crazy to me as it’s still technically summer, and labor day isn’t until this coming weekend, so the early closing time sounds a little premature.

I managed to get to the park right around 3pm which means I’d have about three hours to enjoy the park. Not a lot, but I thought I’d see how much I could get done. Again, it’s been ages since I’d last been to the park, so I didn’t really recognize much of the layout outside of the Ghost Town section of the park as it’s remained pretty much unchanged, but not the most entertaining section of the park either. It’s mostly just shops and things. I did see the Old Time Photo shop which lets you get into late 1800’s costumes and take old time photographs. I’d done that one of the last times I’d been to the park and thought about it, but seems like not as much fun on a day at the park by yourself.

The first ride I went on was the Ghostrider roller coaster. It’s a big wooden roller coaster, and it has a surprisingly long track for a wooden coaster. It covers a lot of ground thats for sure and I literally walked right on to it. I got into the line which was non-existent, and as soon as I walked up the line area to the loading platform I walked right on to a seat on the coaster and we were off, I didn’t even have to wait for set of cars to approach the platform. However, I thought the ride was terrible, there just was no smoothness or finesse to the coaster’s ride down the tracks, you felt every minor bump as if it was a major pothole in the road. So definitely decided I wasn’t doing that one again.

Next I wandered my way around the park and found the Mystery Lodge which was a Native American show. It wasn’t starting anytime soon, so I kept going and found the Bigfoot Rapids. I wasn’t in the mood to get wet so I skipped it. I tried the new Pony Express coaster where the cars are more like motorcycles shaped like horses, so you sit on your pony and get strapped in by these braces for your legs and a backrest that moves into position to hold you in. Apparently this is more of a kiddie coaster disguised as a real one as the track was awfully tame and the ride ended up feeling pretty darn lame. I give it points for the being something different. But it should have been in the kiddie area as far as I’m concerned.

I then wandered through the old “Roaring 20’s” area where it looks like they kind of mixed it up with the 50’s too as there was a big Johnny Rocket’s 50’s style burger joint in there. Pretty much nothing in this area was open, the bumper cars were closed in preparation for conversion to something for Halloween. There was no big show at the Charles M. Schulz Theatre. Just a few open shops to give the section of the park some sense of life.

The Boardwalk area of the park is where I ended up next. I watched the Perilous Plunge water ride for a moment, There isn’t much to it other than a boat like coaster car gets loaded up with people, starts the climb up to the top only to float along the canal at the top a short distance before it makes a big plunge, the water from it was falling literally straight down as the top part of the track pulls back from the fall of the water until it slopes down and meets up with the falling water again and allowing for the boat to give a sense of free falling down the plunge before it races down into the water to splash a huge amount of water with a bridge for crazy onlookers to get splashed on if they so choose to be. I was fine watching safe and dry from the side. Not a ride a ride for me.

I did try the Boomerang, which looked a lot scarier than it really is. It’s a coaster like ride that has two high tracks, the first one is where the car is pulled back from the station house all the way up, kind of like winding up the car to go down the slope racing past the station house, up a tower that curves the track upside down and takes it sideways before another pass upside down and down another straightaway that feeds into a 360 degree loop, from there the car loses speed as it races up the tall track and then forces the car to race backwards through the path again until it reaches the station house. Essentially a more modern and fancy version of the Montezuma’s Revenge ride that’s also here in the park. I liked it, but only felt the need to ride it once.

I then made my way over to the Xcelerator as that one looked particularly scary. But I was hoping it would be like the other rides I’ve been on so far, essentially looks intimidating, but really not bad once you’re on it. Unfortunately I didn’t quite find out how this ride went as I got on the car only to find I wasn’t going to be able to get the seat belt closed. Yeah, I’ve lost a lot of weight, but apparently still not quite yet enough for this coaster yet. So maybe another time.

Next I hit up the log ride, basically a less fancy version of Disneyland’s Splash Mountain, although I’d imagine the one at Knott’s predates Disney’s Splash mountain. I got a little bit wet here. And after I got off this ride, I thought I’d take advantage of the slowness of the park because they were offering caricature drawings to be done for half off their regular price. So got one for $15 instead of $30. I don’t know that I think the drawing is that good, but in any case, it’s not horrible. As soon as I get a chance to take a photo of it, I’ll be uploading and be using it for a profile picture on Twitter and maybe even Facebook for a while. Just click on the respective social networking names to be taken to my pages there and if I’ve gotten it uploaded then you see the caricature instead of my photo.

I was a little surprised to see so many “brand” name restaurants in the park. From the “Johnny Rockets” I passed by earlier in the Roaring 20’s section of the park to the “Panda Express” across from the log ride. There’s even a “Dippin’ Dots”, a “Cinnabon”, and a “TGI Fridays” at the park. Usually you see a themed restaurant that may have a major sponsor such as the Carnation Ice Cream Parlor that’s also in the park but those give the sense they’re run by the parks and just have name sake mentions by the major sponsor as opposed to being what looks more like outright franchised locations right inside the parks. I guess that’s another way to generate some revenue with some named brand food.

I then made my way around to the Silver Bullet which ended up being my favorite coaster at Knott’s. The coaster is one where the track is above the car, and so you’re actually dangling your feet over the park as you fly around the track. It was a lot of fun. Again because the park was not so full of people, I decided I wanted to ride it again, I just got right into another seat. I didn’t even have to exit the ride, I stayed on the platform. I thought about doing it a third time, but I still had other rides to get to in my limited amount of time.

The next ride I went on was the Jaguar coaster, which is another kiddie type coaster. This one has no drops or anything, just a fairly smooth ride. A portion of the track goes through the loop of Montezuma’s Revenge. About the most interesting part of the ride was really the line up area as it was made to resemble a South American temple so it had a neat theme, but the ride was just kind of boring.

Next I made my way over to Montezuma’s Revenge. The old classic ride that I was way too scared as an 7 year old in 1983 to ride. But have come to enjoy on my subsequent visits. This one was the usual 360 degree loop, up a track you never reach the end of, but sends you back through the loop in reverse. No doubt cutting edge at the time it was created, and now something that’s incorporated into most coaster designs, but sometimes it’s great to ride the classic where the single loop is the draw. I rode it twice, the first time near the back of the train, the second time near the front of the train.

Other than a quick roam around the kiddie area of the park, known as Camp Snoopy, as it’s licensed with Peanuts characters such as Snoopy and Charlie Brown. There was even a show going on with some one dressed in a costume like Lucy going on. It was funny to look at all the kiddie rides. I remember really enjoying this area of the park as a kid. I just passed through it quickly and then found the Sierra Sidewinder, a rather interesting coaster where the seats on the coaster spin around while the car itself moves on the track. It was fun.

And the last ride I did was the Calico Mine Ride, which is just a slow version of Disneyland’s “Big Thunder Mountain Railroad” ride with a guided tour. It had a little bit of story about the mining done back in the days of the gold rush, and was kind of a nice relaxing way to end my visit to Knott’s Berry Farm. I then did a quick walk through most of the park to make sure I didn’t miss out on anything I wanted to see or do. And was out of there about ten minutes before the close of the park. I wasn’t sure I’d get everything in, but the fact it was a slow day there and it was really hot out, I was able to get through the park in good time. All in all, not a bad way to spend three hours hours for $30.

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