It all started as a berries stand next to a family farm in Orange County CA. Soon the Knott family added preserves and pies then the very popular Mrs. Knott’s chicken restaurant. To keep customers waiting to be seated entertained, the Knott’s added some shops and attractions then built a ghost town.
Now the property is owned by a major entertainment company and has grown into a major theme park with several themed towns and many rides to satisfy every taste.
On our recent visit to Knott’s the kids and I had blast. We went on a Friday and we were lucky that the park was not crowded. We went on many rides and we were able to ride more than once on some of the popular ones. The high summer temperatures did not discourage us. Whenever we started to feel overheated we would go on a water ride (Bigfoot Rapids, Perilous Plunge or Timber Mountain Log Ride).
The park has several main areas of attractions and shops. It is very large and it is almost impossible to see and try all the rides and shows in one day. One way to try and accomplish this impossible feat is to buy Fast Lane tickets. Fast lane ticket holders have a separate queue and it is usually empty. Another way is to go during the week, but crowds and queues on any particular day are unpredictable.
Step back in time and experience life as it used to be in the old west. The ghost town has many shops and relics from a long-gone era. You can find craftsmen working on their crafts, a one-room schoolhouse, a museum, a jailhouse, a few shops, and food stands, and a stagecoach that takes you around the park.
Within the boundaries of ghost town, you will also find Wild Water Wilderness with several rides.
The ride is easy with no sudden movements or deep plunges, but you expect to get wet. That is the whole idea of a water ride.
If you want to enjoy it without getting wet, buy or bring a poncho. Remember to keep your cameras and other water-sensitive items in the compartment provided in the middle of the raft.
Pony express is a fast rollercoaster ride with a quick launch. The seats are designed to simulate a galloping horse but to me, they felt more like motorcycles. You straddle the seat and sit leaning forward, which adds to the excitement of the ride.
Like any rollercoaster, it goes through several twists and turns and ups and downs. This one is considered easy and appropriate for young children. It was fun to ride but ended too quickly.
The lines are usually very long, but the wait is entertaining. You will start by going through a mining tunnel then you will go through a mine-themed structure. Once your wait is over you will board gold, silver, and copper-colored trains and start your climb to your first big drop. The whole experience feels like a runaway mining cart.
This is another very fast and thrilling rollercoaster ride with a twist. The ride lasts 2 minutes and 9 seconds and is full of vertical, sideways, and corkscrew loops. Expect to be tossed around and flipped upside down 6 times during this ride.
A lot of people are afraid of upside-down loops, but I noticed that when you are in the loop you really don’t feel you are upside down. You just feel that you are smashed into your seat – which is one reason why they warn pregnant women and people with back problems to avoid those types of rides.
If you want to see Silver Bullet in action watch the movie “Knocked Up”. It is prominent in the opening credits.
Timber Mountain Log Ride
One of the classic water rides at Knott’s. You will ride a boat shaped like a log and a tunnel through darkened mountain waterway. The highlight of the ride is the big plunge through a rushing water flume at the end.
Dining at Ghost Town
If you are very hungry go to Spurs where you can enjoy an all-you-can-eat BBQ. Other options include Sutter’s; Ghost Town Bakery.
Fiesta Village is a Mexican pop-culture area with several Mexican-themed rides and restaurants.
Here you find heart-stopping rides like La Revolución, Jaguar, and Montezooma's Revenge along with more relaxed rides like Dragon Swing; Hat Dance, and Merry-Go-Round.
Whatever you do, don’t go on this ride after a big meal. You may lose it. This is a fast-spinning ride – and while you are spinning, one side is lifted up to 120 degrees. So you are going up and down and spinning at the same time.
Your fun starts when you get in the queue by entering an ancient Aztec temple shaped like a pyramid. Throughout the temple, you will see drawings and paintings from the Aztec empire. On one side of the bottom floor, you will see skeletons of long-dead prisoners. While on another side you can see a giant Aztec idol. To add to the eerie atmosphere, you will be hearing the beat of drums and other sound effects.
Once you complete your journey through the temple you will ride on one of 2 trains and start your first ascent. After that, you go several typical twists and turns and a few bunny hills, and a second hill. The ride goes through or close to several other rides and rollercoasters which adds to the excitement.
The ride takes about 2 minutes.
You first get launched from 0 to 55 miles per hour in 3 seconds. Then you go through a giant 7 story vertical loop and keep going, almost straight up, until you run out of tracks. The train then starts falling backward, going through the loop in reverse, passing the boarding station, and going up to the other end of the track. Finally, you will be sent forward to disembark. A very thrilling 35 seconds.
It is always fun to ride on a dragon swing – if you can handle the feeling of being weightless for a few seconds.
The ride is shaped like a giant pirate ship. Once everyone is seated and properly secured with the lap restraint, the ship will start swinging. The angle of swinging will keep getting sharper until you are almost vertical to the ground. For a few seconds, while the wing is switching from up to down motion, you will feel weightless.
I am not sure if this is myth or truth, but people say that the middle seats are easier than the last seats on either side. Maybe you can try both and let us know. I picked the middle seats, but my kids went for the side ones.
Hat dance is very similar to the mad hatter at Disneyland. You basically pick your sombrero and start spinning to your heart’s content. The ride usually turns into a contest between kids or kids and their parents to see who will say uncle first.
This is one of the oldest running merry-go-rounds. It has been running for more than a century. While riding the large assortment of animals you can enjoy the music of the old organ.
This is one of the newest rides at Knott’s. The ride is a very tall tower 301 with long swigs attach to it. The ride starts while the swings are close to the ground. Once you are safely sitting in your assigned seat and the restraint bar is in place, the swings start rising to the top of the tower.
The whole swing assembly starts spinning with increasing speed. By the time you reach the highest point, the swings will be spinning at 30 miles an hour.
Along with the thrill of being so high up and quickly spinning you will have the added advantage of a great view of Orange County.
The ride has a different feel at night when the specially designed lighting effects are let up.
The ride is about 3 minutes long.
Fiesta village has only 2 main dining venues: La Victoria Cantina and Pancho's Tacos. Both offer Mexican food. La Victoria has a better selection and a nice shaded area to enjoy your food.
If you don’t like Mexican food, you can get a Fries snack at Papa Loca.
This is where you can find most of the thrill rides along with many arcade games. This includes physical challenges like rock climbing, basketball, and rope ladder crawl.
On this rollercoaster, you will start your trip going backwards through some loops then reverse directions to go back through the station for another set of loops. You will then be sent backwards yet again to come to rest at the station.
Your ride will last about 1.5 minutes and you feel like a boomerang at the end of the ride.
Have you ever fantasized about running the Niagara Falls in a barrel? Probably not, but if you go on this ride you will come very close to doing so.
It starts as a typical water ride, riding a log through a stream of water, but the final plunge is nothing but typical. Your log boat will be plunging from a height of 115 feet at a very sharp 75-degree angle. This is 34-foot shy of the Niagara Falls height.
Note: Perilous Plunge will be closing for good on Sept 3 to make way for a new ride.
If you would like to experience the great views of Orange County without the adrenaline rush of Wind Seeker, this is the ride for you. Just sit down and relax while the rotating cabin climbs the high tower to the top. Enjoy the view from the top for a while before descending slowly to the ground.
If you are not a thrill-seeker or if you are afraid of heights then avoid this ride. Otherwise, enjoy the thrill of being propelled at high speed to a height of 254 feet and then being rendered weightless while you are dropping back to the ground level. You will bounce a few times until you settle back down.
This is similar to La Revolución ay Fiesta Village but not as intense. The ride spins fast while undulating up and down.
Two riders can share one seat. The centrifugal force will make the inside rider crush into the outside rider. So hopefully you let the smaller of you ride on the inside.
The ride was exhilarating but I was happy when it was over.
The train then quickly ascends a 205 ft loop (about 20 stories) – a 90-degree angle. After this epic climb, you will still have to navigate through several large loops before landing back at the station.
The ride is about 62 seconds.
Note: There are 2 different lines for this ride. If you want additional thrills, go to the line that takes to the first seats on the train. This line takes longer but it is worth the wait.
Johnny Rockets is my favorite dining place at the boardwalk. It is a well-known chain that resembles 50’s diners and offers great American food. Hollywood Hits and Boardwalk Barbeque are other good options.
Some of the children's rides are: Ca Bus; High Sierra Ferris Wheel; Snoopy Bounce; Joe Cool's Gr8 Sk8 and Charlie Brown's Speedway.
It also has one new rollercoaster that would be fun for all ages. It is the Sierra Sidewinder.
The Sierra Sidewinder is a rollercoaster with a split personality. It has trains that run on winding tracks, but each car is actually freely spinning along the way. This makes the ride more interesting because you can never predict which way you will be facing after each turn or climb.
The ride is about 2 minutes long.
The only diner here is Grizzly Creek Lodge. You enjoy hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken sandwiches, fresh salads, or Snoopy's Kids Meals. They indoors and outdoors dining areas.
For a quick snack grab some dipping dots at Cave Inn.
New Year's Eve Celebration
Knott's Berry Farm puts on its festive decorations, rock bands, and special shows to celebrate the new year. Everywhere you go you are greeted with bright colors and happy music. At 7 PM the cast start distributing free party favors to all (while supplies last). If are lucky you will get a hat and a noisemaker.
If you are in the mood, you can dance to great music at the Calico Square. Every year Knott's presents different acts.
In 2015/2016 they had DJ Howly who played an eclectic mix of high-energy music and the cover band The Reflexx who played 80's songs like "Send Me An Angel".
At the stroke of midnight, a spectacular fireworks show starts in western skies above Knott's. It was an exciting way to welcome the new year.