Make the Most of Your Day at Knott’s!
The Big Picture
Here are some tips, tidbits and suggestions based on our own experience, and from others (including employee scuttlebutt), to help you get the most from your trip. You might also skim our page on Disney tips, especially those that relate to visiting with small children, as some of them could apply to any theme park in Southern California.
Some are worth repeating:
- Decide ahead of time on a place to meet if you get separated, either deliberately or on accident. With so many unique attractions, you’ll have no trouble thinking of a good spot. Also, make sure everyone has the ability to know what time it is or it won’t matter where you decided to meet.
- Check out some nice air conditioned shops in the hot afternoon; kids like the Snoopy shop across from the Marketplace shops.
- You might find lines at certain rides to be a bit shorter during some of the major shows so keep your eye on the daily schdedule.
- Most of the theme parks dress up for the holidays and Knott’s is no exception. Starting in November, the park kicks into a holiday theme, with decorations, shows, carolers, etc. If you plan to visit between mid November and early January, check the official web site for specific details on operating hours, special activities, etc. A trip to Knott’s Merry Farm can be a fun break during a Christmas visit to Southern California relatives. Soak City will be less alluring, safe to say.
Planning Your Knott’s Berry Farm Resort Visit
- You’re on a mission to maximize the fun element in the few hours you have available. Common wisdom has it that you should make a run for Xcelerator as a first priority in the morning. This killer ride takes you to 80 mph in 2.3 seconds; you can feel your blood separating into plasma and platelets (or however it’s supposed to separate). A lot of people want the thrill of such stress on their bodily fluids, but it’s a good stress if you’re a coaster fan. So if this applies to you, get over there. It is worth the wait.
- Other rides not to be missed by thrill seekers are Supreme Scream (245-foot drop), Ghost Rider (a rough wooden coaster—one of the finest I’m told—that is particularly cool at night, Pony Express (the newest cool ride) and Silver Bullet (a 2-minute-long suspended coaster ride that will fling you silly, going upside down 6 times). So block out time for these, not that Jaguar and Montezooma’s Revenge aren’t also cool. You may find the lines shorter late at night; our ex-employee notes that if you show up in line one minute before closing they will let you on, so watch your watch for that last late-night shot on your favorite, notably Ghost Rider.
- If you’re a true coaster fan, you absolutely must wait at least once in the longer line to ride in the front on Xcelerator. Apparently you’re nothing if you don’t do this.
- Try to sit in the front on Silver Bullet; the very back is also considered to be good also.
- Try to sit in the back on Ghost Rider.
- You will get soaked on Perilous Plunge! Feels great on a hot summer day—not so good in January…
- The Disneyland fireworks happen nightly during the summer at around 9:30, plus or minus 5 minutes or so. The show runs for awhile, so if you can get on Supreme Scream at say 9:40, you’ll be lifted up the tower with a potentially terrific view of the fireworks (try for a seat that is not facing west or north, as Disneyland is roughly southeast of Knott’s). Those cool pyrotechnics will be the last thing you’ll see before blacking out…
- Ghost Rider, being kinda rickety and bumpy as wooden coasters are wont to be, is especially effective at night.
- Shoot for the high-profile rides first thing and later at night. In between you can take in Ghost Town, Camp Snoopy, Fiesta Village and the other locales at a more leisurely pace. Take a break in the afternoon, especially if you have kids. This is an advantage to staying at the Knott’s resort hotel, as you can take a nap or hit the pool for a couple of hours to refresh for the evening’s activities.
- The park takes on a different feel at night (see Ghost Rider tip above) so do try and spend some hours after dark.
- Kids (and adults) will enjoy panning for gold; it’s not often that you can do something interactive like this at a modern theme park so take advantage of it.
- Whereas Disney has a boatload of beloved characters, most other theme parks have none (Universal now has Homer Simpson, a major coup!). Knott’s has the Snoopy gang. You can help make the visit more memorable for you little ones by playing up Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy and the gang. There are shows, rides and a nice store for Snoopy stuff. You might watch some Peanuts videos ahead of time to get them in the mood.
- Independence Park (which has the very accurate reproduction of Independence Hall complete with Liberty Bell) might seem out of place, but remember that Walter Knott was a patriot who took pride in this exceptional recreation of the original structure. So after you’ve hit some of the more exciting attractions, check this out as it will enrich the day.
- We’ve talked about thrill rides; that’s one part of the appeal of Knott’s. The original appeal was to attractions like the Calico Mine Train and the Ghost Town Calico Railway (and, of course, the chicken dinners and pie). The mine ride is not the latest technology, but it is still a lot of fun. The railroad is a good way to rest your bones; you can’t help but smile when “visitors” jump the train (they do this like dozens of times daily; you’d think that park security would know they are coming and be able to stop them).
- You can cool down by taking a break and wandering through the couple dozen shops in the park. Especially notable are the Marketplace shops where original Knott’s jam and jellies are available.
- Get some cotton candy; it’s as good here as anywhere.
Enhance Your Safety and Convenience
- Try and stay away from weekends, as they get very busy (true of all SoCal theme parks). One employee suggested Tuesdays and Thursdays as being better for lighter attendance. Early summer is better, say by the first week of June although you may find school groups in the park then. This is also true after Labor Day. Operating hours are reduced but so are the lines.
- The thrill rides attract older kids, and some adults dealing with certain ares of arrested development. The ride operators feel a bit of joy when they can toss out a line crasher. So don’t be afraid to inform on some idiot who cuts in line; it’s not OK and the Knott’s folks don’t like it either.
- Use Parent Swap, where two parents with one or more small children can take turns riding a height-restricted attraction. One parent stays with the kids as the other rides, and then they swap places without standing in line twice.
- The height restrictions are not dumb rules to be broken. People have gotten hurt by not being tall enough to fully engage the safety systems on these dynamic thrill rides. Parents, don’t encourage your shorter children to walk on tiptoes or do things with their hair. The employees can get in a lot of trouble if they miss a short guest, even if no harm results. This is one of the more important, if less fun, of the Knott’s Berry Farm tips and advice.
- Speaking of thrill-ride safety, there are some rides where you really, really don’t want to have your glasses or cell phone in your pocket. Get straps for prescription glasses if possible. We heard that a stagecoach horse was killed by a falling shoe or something from Silver Bullet. The ride operators will tell you when you should not carry something with you; believe them!
- Ask for ice water from food places in the park. Or if you get a soft drink, you can likely get a free refill on ice. You then fill up at a drinking fountain or let the ice melt.
- There is a Walgreen’s pharmacy and store just outside the south end of the park, within walking distance. It is open 24 hours, so keep that in mind for that unexpected late-night cough or lack of sunscreen.
Get the Most Bang for Your Buck!
- Consider the reduced entry fee for arriving later in the afternoon, especially if you have a very busy vacation schedule. You can get in a lot of fun in 5-6 hours, particularly if you go on a weekday evening.
- Knott’s is more inclined than Disney to offer discounted tickets. Do not buy your admission tickets way in advance unless you get a really great price. Local stores such as Ralphs (supermarket) and Del Taco (fast food) may offer discount tickets.
- One employee says the best food value in the whole park is the Kid’s Fun Bucket at All-American Fries and Burgers near Xcelerator. Enough food for an older kid at a lower price.
- Consider walking down to McDonald’s, Subway or IHOP for a meal rather than eating in the park. It’s not that far.
- Consider staying in one of the moderately priced hotels that are a few blocks away from the park; they are not within easy walking distance, but the bus line runs up Beach Boulevard and you can take a taxi for a very modest fee if you can’t wait for the bus schedule. Of course, you might find the cost to stay within walking distance is less than the cost of bus transportation for a family.
- If you’re staying within walking distance, you can buy some food and keep it in an ice chest in your room (or in your car if you’re driving). Grab your picnic lunch and eat at the tables provided for that purpose. Save your dine-out budget for dinner.
- Although not exactly a Knott’s Berry Farm tip, don’t forget that there is the Pirate’s Dinner Adventure (866/439-2469) and the Medieval Times Dinner show, (888/935-6878) within walking distance north of the park.