Knott’s Berry Farm is a 160-acre amusement park in Buena Park, California, United States, owned by Cedar Fair. It was the twelfth-most visited theme park in North America in 2015. The park features 35 rides including roller coasters, family rides, children's rides, water rides, and historical rides, and it employs about 10,000 seasonal and full-time employees.
The theme park sits on the site of a former berry farm established by Walter Knott, Cordelia Knott, and their family. Beginning around 1920, the Knott family sold berries, berry preserves, and pies from a roadside stand along State Route 39. In 1934, the Knotts began selling fried chicken dinners in a tea room on the property, and the Knotts built several shops and other attractions to entertain visitors. Cordelia Knott's efforts in the Mrs. Knott's Chicken Dinner Restaurant were essential to putting Knott's Berry Farm on the map, and the ensuing crowds prompted the creation of even more tourist attractions. In 1940, Walter Knott began constructing a replica ghost town on the property. Knott added several other attractions over the years, and began charging admission to the attractions in 1968. In 1983, Knott's Berry Farm added Camp Snoopy, which began the park's present-day association with the Peanuts characters.
In the 1990s, following the deaths of Walter and Cordelia Knott, their children sold the theme park to Cedar Fair and the family's food business to ConAgra Foods, which subsequently sold it to J. M. Smucker. Cedar Fair has continued to expand the theme park, adding Knott's Soak City in 1999 and adding new rides to the original park.
The theme park sits on the site of a former berry farm established by Walter Knott and his family. Beginning around 1920, the Knott family sold berries, berry preserves, and pies from a roadside stand along State Route 39. In 1934, the Knotts began selling fried chicken dinners in a tea room on the property, later called "Mrs. Knott's Chicken Dinner Restaurant". The dinners soon became a major tourist draw, and the Knotts built several shops and other attractions to entertain visitors while waiting for a seat in the restaurant. In 1940, Walter Knott began constructing a replica Ghost Town on the property, the beginning of the present-day theme park. The idea of an amusement park really picked up in the 1950s when Walter Knott opened a "summer-long county fair".
In 1968, for the first time, an admission price was required to get into the park, originally set at 25 cents. The Calico log ride was added in 1969. The park became a popular destination for conservative college students in the 1960s, especially as conservative organizations like the California Free Enterprise Association, the Libres Foundation, and the Americanism Educational League were based there. According to Assistant Professor Caroline Rolland-Diamond of the Paris West University Nanterre La Défense:
it also appealed to conservative Americans, young and old, because the idealized representation of a past devoid of social and racial tensions that it offered stood in sharp contrast with the political and social upheavals affecting California since the Free Speech Movement erupted at the University of California at Berkeley in 1964.— Caroline Rolland-Diamond, Revue française d’études américaines (2016)
On April 12, 1974, Cordelia Knott died. Walter turned his attention toward political causes, Roaring Twenties re-themed Gypsy Camp in the 1970s with the addition of a nostalgic traditional amusement area, Wheeler Dealer Bumper Cars, Knott's Bear-y Tales. Then with the northward expansion of a 1920s-era Knott's Airfield themed area featuring the Cloud 9 Dance Hall, Sky Cabin/Parachute Sky Jump and Motorcycle Chase steeplechase roller coaster above the electric guided rail Gasoline Alley car ride.
Sky Tower with the illuminated "K" in logo script at the top was built to support two attractions, the Parachute Sky Jump (now closed) and the Sky Cabin (now closed). Parachute Sky Jump boarded one or two standing riders anticipating the thrill of the drop into baskets beneath a faux parachute canopy. From the top, eight arms supported the vertical cable tracks of wire rope which lifted the baskets. The Sky Cabin ringed the support pole with a single floor of seats that are enclosed behind windows. The Sky Cabin ring revolves slowly as it rises to the top and back offering a pleasantly changing vista. Sky Cabin is very sensitive to weather and passenger motion, such as walking, which is prohibited during the trip. During winds 25+ mph or rain it is closed. When built, Sky Tower was the tallest structure in Orange County (a distinction briefly held by WindSeeker before its relocation to Worlds of Fun in 2012.)
Motorcycle Chase, modernized steeplechase rollercoaster built in 1976 by Arrow Development, featured single motorbike themed vehicles racing side-by-side, each on one of four parallel tracks, launched together. One or two riders straddled each "Indian motorcycle" attraction vehicle. The tubular steel monorail track closely followed dips and bumps in "the road" and tilted to lean riders about the curves. Gasoline Alley, an electric steel-guiderail car ride below, was built together and intimately intertwined, which enhanced ride-to-ride interaction thrill value. Rider safety concerns of the high center of gravity coupled with the method of rider restraints caused it to be re-themed Wacky Soap Box Racers with vehicles themed to look like soap box racers, each seating two riders, strapped in low (nearly straddling the track), surrounded by the close fitting car sides, and the dips and bumps of the track were straightened flat in 1980. Motorcycle Chase/Wacky Soap Box Racers was removed 1996 for a dueling loop coaster Windjammer Surf Racers and now Xcelerator, a vertical launch coaster, takes its place.
On December 3, 1981, Walter Knott died, survived by his children who would continue to operate Knott's as a family business for another fourteen years.
In the 1980s, Knott's built the Barn Dance featured Bobbi & Clyde as the house band. It was during the height of the "Urban Cowboy" era. The "Barn Dance" was featured in Knott's TV Commercials.
During the 1980s, Knott's met the competition in Southern California theme parks by theming a new land and building two massive attractions:
Mystery Lodge (1994), inspired by General Motors "Spirit Lodge" pavilion, was a live show augmented with Pepper's ghost and other special effects, which was among the most popular exhibits at Expo 86 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, which was produced by Bob Rogers of BRC Imagination Arts and created with the assistance of the Kwagulth Native reserve in the village of Alert Bay, British Columbia. Mystery Lodge recreates a quiet summer night in Alert Bay, then guests "move inside" the longhouse and listen to the storyteller weave a tale of the importance of family from the smoke of the bonfire.
The Jaguar! was opened June 17, 1995, to add another roller coaster to the mix of Fiesta Village alongside Montezooma's Revenge.
In the 1990s, after Walter and Cordelia died, their children decided to sell off their businesses:
In the late 1990s Cedar Fair acquired the Buena Park Hotel at the corner of Grand Ave. and Crescent. It was then brought up to Radisson standards and branded Radisson Resort Hotel as a franchise. In 2004, the park renamed the Radisson Resort Hotel the Knott's Berry Farm Resort Hotel.
In 1997, the Knott family sold the amusement park operations to Cedar Fair Entertainment Company. Initially, the Knotts were given an opportunity to sell the park to The Walt Disney Company. The park would have been amalgamated into the Disneyland Resort and converted into Disney's America, which had previously failed to be built near Washington, D.C. The Knotts refused to sell the park to Disney out of fear most of what Walter Knott had built would be eliminated.
Since being acquired by Cedar Fair, the park has seen an aggressive shift towards thrill rides, with the construction of a number of large roller coasters and the addition of a high-performance Shoot-the-Chutes ride Perilous Plunge. Perilous Plunge had the record of being the tallest and steepest water ride in the world until September 2012 when it was closed and removed. Also, in 2013, Knott's Berry Farm announced that the most popular ride at the park, the Timber Mountain Log Ride, would be closed for a major five-month refurbishment, led by Garner Holt Productions, Inc.
On May 25, 2013, Knott's Berry Farm added three new family rides on the site of former Perilous Plunge. They include: Coast Rider (wild mouse roller coaster), Pacific Scrambler (Scrambler ride) and Surfside Gliders. All three of the rides added to the Boardwalk theme. The old bridge which connected the exit of Perlious Plunge and the boardwalk is now used as the entrance to Surfside Gliders and Pacific Scrambler. The Boomerang roller coaster was also repainted a lime-green color as part of the Boardwalk expansion.
On September 2, 2013, Knott's Berry Farm announced that Windseeker would be removed from the park. The ride was removed and sent to Worlds of Fun for the 2014 season.
On November 22, 2013, Knott's Berry Farm made a major announcement for the 2014 operating season; the famous and historical Calico Mine Ride would be closed for a major six-month refurbishment beginning in January 2014.
The park's annual Knott's Scary Farm has drawn crowds since 1973. The idea for this event was presented at one of the regularly scheduled round table meetings for managers by Patricia Pawson. The actual event was created by Bill Hollingshead, Gary Salisbury, Martha Boyd and Gene Witham, along with other members of the Knott's Berry Farm Entertainment Department as documented in the DVD Season of Screams. Initially fake corpses and other static figures were rented from Hollywood prop house, but Bud Hurlbut, the creator/concessionaire of the Mine Ride, Log Ride and other rides at Knott's, decided that this wasn't enough. He dressed up in a gorilla suit, and started scaring guests on the Mine Ride. Halloween Haunt was an instant hit, and by the next year, the event sold out nightly. During this special ticketed event, the entire park (or major portions of it) re-themes itself into a "haunted house" style attraction in the form of mazes and "scare zones" in the evening. Over a thousand specially employed monsters are also scattered—often hidden out of view—throughout the park at this time. Some of the characters have become well-known, such as the green witch, which has been portrayed by Charlene Parker since 1983, the longest of any performer. Several attractions are decorated for the event including the Timber Mountain Log Ride and Calico Mine Train and there are 13 mazes of various themes. Elvira (actress Cassandra Peterson) was introduced into the Halloween Event in 1982 and was prominently featured in many Halloween Haunt events until 2001. According to postings on her My Space page, Cassandra was released from her contract by the park's new owners due to their wanting a more family friendly appeal, although she returned for one night in 2012 for the 40th anniversary of the event and has returned as a regular performer throughout the run of the event for the last several years. During the month of October, Knott's Scary Farm generates half the revenue for Knott's Berry Farm's fiscal year.
Season of Screams is a DVD produced by an independent company which traces the beginnings of Halloween Haunt and the story behind how it all got started back in 1973. Season of Screams also highlights recent Halloween Haunts.
Winter Coaster Solace is an event that takes place in the first or second weekend of March every year when roller coaster enthusiasts can come before the park opens and stay after the park closes to ride the rides and eat at the Chicken Dinner Restaurant. It is intended to provide "solace" to visitors from other parts of the country where theme parks and roller coasters are seasonal, not year-round operations like the Southern California parks. Knott's Berry Farm also used to give attendees behind the scenes tours of the rides.
Every year since 1991, Knott's has offered free admission to veterans and their families during the month of November. Though this was originally started as a tribute to returning Gulf War veterans, they subsequently expanded it to include all veterans and have run it every year since.
A Christmas event known as "Knott's Merry Farm" also happens annually. Previous Merry Farm events have included manufactured snow, handcrafts exhibits, and a visit with Santa Claus. This event was originally created by Gary Salisbury in the Fall of 1985.
Praise (festival) has been a Christian themed celebration presented many years as a mix-in special event of music and comedy on New Year's Eve.
The park consists of five themed areas:
Craftsmen in Ghost Town demonstrate the arts of the blacksmith, woodcarver, glass-blower, sign cutter, and spinner. Demonstrations of narrow gauge railroading and farm equipment hobbyists accompany additional merchant stalls of cottage-craft fairs seasonally at discounted admission which is restricted to Ghost Town only.
Western Trails Museum, relocated between the candy store and the General Store to accommodate Bigfoot Rapids, still features historical western artifacts large and small, from a hand powered horse-drawn fire engine to miniature replica of a borax hauling "Twenty Mule Team" and utensils necessary to survive the prairie and wilderness.
The Ghost Town area has a few other notable attractions. The Bird Cage Theatre only hosts two seasonal entertainments—during "Knott's Merry Farm," two small productions of "The Gift of the Magi" and "A Christmas Carol," and a Halloween Haunt thrill show. The Calico Stage, a large open-air stage in Calico Square, hosts a variety of shows and acts, big and small, from those of elementary school students, Gallagher, a local band, and the summer-spectacular All Wheels Extreme stunt show featuring youthful performers demonstrating aerial tricks with acrobatics, trampolines, and riding ramps with skates, scooters, skateboards, and freestyle bikes to popular music. Calico Saloon recreates the revelry of music, singing and dancing, with Cameo Kate hosting a variety of acts. Jersey Lily, Judge Roy Bean's combination courthouse/saloon, offers certified comical "genuine illegal hitchin'" alongside pickles, candy, and sports/soft drinks.
Many parts of Ghost Town are forever lost to progress. The conversion of the Silver Dollar Saloon to a shooting gallery, Hunters Paradise shooting gallery to Panda Express and the original Berry Stand, moved several times with its last location now occupied by the Silver Bullet station.
What is left of Ghost Town today was based on Calico ghost town and other real ghost towns in the Western United States such as Prescott, Arizona. Walter Knott inherited his uncle's silver mill and land, then bought more of the actual Calico ghost town in 1951 and developed it. In 1966, he donated that property to the corporate-municipal County of San Bernardino which then made the town of Calico, California into a public historic park, for which it charged an entrance/parking fee. See 'History – Ghost Town – Calico' section above.
|Thrill level (out of 5)|
|1 (low) 2 (mild) 3 (moderate) 4 (high) 5 (aggressive)|
|A family stagecoach ride which takes guests through the areas of Fiesta Village, Camp Snoopy and Indian Trails.||1|
|Calico Mine Ride||1960||Bud Hurlbut||A 2 ft (610 mm) narrow gauge mine train and dark ride. Riders board ore cars pulled by battery-powered locomotives and journey deep into a faux mining excavation site. The ride closed for refurbishment in January 2014 and reopened on June 14, 2014.||3|
|Ghost Town & Calico Railroad||1952||An authentic 3 ft (914 mm) narrow gauge train ride around the park. The ten-minute ride takes guests through the Wild Wilderness area, the Boardwalk area and through Fiesta Village. All of the Passenger Cars came from the D&RGW, while one came from the Rio Grande Southern. Some of the D&RGW cars were used on the San Juan Express.||1|
|GhostRider||1998||Custom Coasters International||A wooden roller coaster featuring multiple banked turns.||5|
|Silver Bullet||2004||Bolliger & Mabillard||An inverted roller coaster.||5|
|Timber Mountain Log Ride||1969||Bud Hurlbut & Arrow Development||A classic themed log flume attraction. The five-minute ride features two major drops, of which the final drop is 42 feet. The ride opened in 1969, and re-opened in 2013 after an extensive refurbishment.||4|
Wild Water Wilderness is a section of Ghost Town that features two major rides: the Bigfoot Rapids river rafting adventure, and Pony Express, a horse themed family roller coaster installed in 2008. Nearby Bigfoot Rapids is Rapids Trader, a small merchandise stand. It is also home to Mystery Lodge, a multimedia show based on an Expo 86 pavilion featuring a Native American storyteller.
|Ride||Picture||Year Opened||Manufacturer||Description||Thrill level|
|Bigfoot Rapids||1988||Intamin||An Intamin family river rafting ride in which riders board circular watercraft and journey down a faux white water river.||5|
|Pony Express||2008||Zamperla||A steel roller coaster in which riders dip, turn and dive while harnessed in vehicles intended to simulate equestrianism.||4|
Fiesta Village was built in 1969 with a pop-culture Mexican theme. It was the second area constructed after the completion of Ghost Town. Stores like Casa California, restaurants like Pancho's Tacos, La Papa Loca, and La Victoria Cantina, games like Shoot If Yucan, and the themed rides like La Revolución, Jaguar!, and Montezooma's Revenge, along with the former attraction Tampico Tumbler, all contribute to the Mexican and Aztec theme of the area. In 2013 colorful string lights were added for the summer season.
|Ride||Picture||Year opened||Manufacturer||Description||Thrill level|
|Dragon Swing||1980||Chance-Morgan||A swinging pirate ship||3|
|Hat Dance||1969||A Teacups type ride. Riders spin sombrero themed cuencos as they rotate on counterrevolutionary turntables. Originally named Happy Sombrero||3|
|Jaguar!||1995||Zierer||A Steel roller coaster designed specifically for families with young children.||4|
|La Revolucion||2003||Chance-Morgan||Riders rotate 360-degrees while simultaneously swinging back and forth in a pendulum motion.||5|
|Merry-Go-Round||1955||Dentzel Carousel||One of the world's oldest working Dentzel Carousel, this 100-year-old ridestill revolves to the strains of its antique Band Organ. Mmenagerie carousel's 48 hand-carved animals including lions, tigers, ostriches, camels, zebras, giraffes, pigs, cats and horses.||2|
|Montezooma's Revenge||1978||Anton Schwarzkopf||Riders accelerate from 0 to 55 mph (89 km/h) in 4.5 seconds.||5|
|Sol Spin||2017||Mondial||A thrilling topsy-turvy adventure over 6 stories high as they rotate in all directions on one of six spinning arms.||5|
|Waveswinger||1987||Zierer||A classic family swing ride. Riders board individual swing sets before orbiting a central tower. Originally named Slingshot. Riders cannot ride if the person's weight is above 230 lbs.||3|
Boardwalk Games include physical challenges such as a rock wall, soccer, basketball and a rope ladder crawl. A variety of traditional pitch three balls and win a prize type games, such as squirt gun into clowns mouth, knock off milk bottles, pitch a quarter onto a plate are pitched by hawkers along the Boardwalk Games midway. In September 2012, Perilous Plunge closed for an expansion of the Boardwalk. Perilous Plunge was noticeably known as one of Knott's major thrill rides. The boardwalk reopened after a year transformation with two flat rides and a new family roller coaster taking the spot of Perilous Plunge. The Boomerang roller coaster also got repainted with a new vibrant green and yellow color scheme.
The world's largest Johnny Rockets restaurant franchise is located at Knott's Boardwalk, featuring over 5,900 square feet (550 m2) of indoor dining space for more than 260 guests.
|Ride||Picture||Year opened||Manufacturer||Description||Thrill level|
|Coast Rider||2013||Mack Rides||A steel wild mouse roller coaster. The ride's layout is on the former site of Perilous Plunge.||5|
|HangTime||Summer 2018||Gerstlauer||A steel Diving Coaster. The ride's layout is on the former site of Boomerang.||5|
|2013||Eli Bridge Company||Originally "Whirlpool" from 1989 to 1996, Pacific Scrambler is a classic scrambler amusement ride. As Whirlpool, it was housed inside a building which featured 'undersea' murals on the walls, musical soundtrack effects, and concert-style lighting effects. With the opening of the Boardwalk expansion, it was renamed and moved to a new location.||3|
|Sky Cabin||1974||Intamin||Ascend over 180 feet in the slow-moving Sky Cabin for a 360-degree panoramic view of Orange County and the LA basin.||2|
|1998||S&S Worldwide||Supreme Scream features the highest drop in the park. A vertical ascending and descending drop ride. It features 3 Turbo Drop towers.||5|
|2013||Larson International||A Flying Scooters ride with a height of 28 feet. Riders can pilot and move the gilders as it offers them a good view of the Boardwalk area.||3|
the Iron Reef
|}||2015||Triotech||A 4-D interactive dark ride attraction where riders aim and shoot at animated targets to score points||2|
|Wheeler Dealer Bumper Cars||A classic family bumper cars attraction.||4|
|Xcelerator||2002||Intamin||A launched roller coaster in which riders accelerate from 0 to 82 mph (132 km/h) in 2.3 seconds and climb 20 stories into the air. Xcelerator is currently the tallest roller coaster at Knotts Berry Farm. Pictured is Xcelerator's tower structure. Xcelerator features the park's second highest drop.||5|
Camp Snoopy is home to the park's family and children's rides, with many of the rides and attractions being built specifically for children and guests who cannot ride the park's more aggressive attractions. Its theme is Charles M. Schulz' "Peanuts" comic strip characters. Snoopy has been the mascot of Knott's Berry Farm since 1983, and the characters can now be seen at all of Cedar Fair's parks, except Gilroy Gardens, which is managed by Cedar Fair and owned by the city of Gilroy. The 14 rides include a mini roller coaster called the Timberline Twister, a mini-scrambler called the Log Peeler, a Zamperla Rockin' Tug called Lucy's Tugboat, and a steel spinning roller coaster called Sierra Sidewinder. Snoopy Bounce is a small attraction for kids. However, it is not considered a ride at the park. For guests who cannot ride the park's more aggressive and thrilled rides, Camp Snoopy contains a good number of rides for guests of all ages including infants, children, and seniors. With the exception of Sierra Sidewinder and Timberline Twister, the rides are relativity tame and not aggressive.
Knott's Berry Farm also built the Mall of America's indoor theme park, which itself was originally called Camp Snoopy. (In fact, Charles M. Schulz hailed from St. Paul.) However, today the park is no longer affiliated with Knott's or Cedar Fair, and is now called Nickelodeon Universe.
On November 22, 2013, Knott's Berry Farm announced major improvements in the area of Camp Snoopy. Camp Snoopy will receive a makeover as the section is approaching its 30th anniversary. In summer 2014, Knott's Berry Farm will open up new rides in Camp Snoopy.
|Charlie Brown Kite Flyers||2014||Zamperla||2|
|Grand Sierra Scenic Railroad||Re-Themed 2014||Crown Metal||1|
|High Sierra Ferris Wheel||1983||Eli Bridge||3|
|Huff and Puff||1983||1|
|Pig Pen's Mud Buggies||2014||Zamperla||2|
|Rapid River Run||2004 Re-themed 2014||Zamperla||2|
|Rocky Mountain Trucking Company||Re-Themed 2014||Zamperla||1|
|Sierra Sidewinder||2007||Mack Rides||4|
|Timberline Twister||1983||Bradley and Kaye||4|
Located next to the Bottle House in Ghost Town, Indian Trails is a small area sandwiched between Camp Snoopy, Ghost Town, and Fiesta Village, showcasing Native American art, crafts, and dance. One ride is located in this area. It is called Butterfield Stagecoach which is a family ride where an actual stagecoach take guest on a circular ride through Fiesta Village and Camp Snoopy. It is one of the original rides at the park. The ride was developed directly by the park and it opened in 1949.
Many of the original attractions are outside the gates of the current-day theme park along Grand Ave. at the California Marketplace, mostly things which would no longer be considered interesting to today's audience, or things which were merely there for decoration. Near the restrooms behind Berry Place are the waterfall overshooting the water wheel and historic gristmill grindstone, a replica of George Washington's Mount Vernon estate fireplace hearth, and what remains of the visible beehive. Some attractions still exist, but have been incorporated into backstage areas, such as the Rock Garden, now an employee smoking area. Other attractions have been removed, such as the historic volcano, and the cross-section of giant sequoia with age rings denoting historic events such as Christopher Columbus visiting America.
The east side of the property, divided by Beach Blvd., features the main parking lot, Knott's Soak City a seasonal water park that requires separate admission, the picnic grounds rental areas, complementary admission to Independence Hall and gift shop, and the Church of Reflections which was moved outside the theme park in 2004 and held non-denominational Sunday services until 2010, but is still used for wedding ceremonies. A tunnel and pedestrian underpass beneath Beach Blvd. connects the main parking lot to the shops, restaurants and theme park.
For Halloween Haunt in 2016, Knott's Berry Farm introduced FearVR: 5150, a virtual reality attraction that was met with controversy from the mental health community regarding the negative portrayal of mental illness. The ten-minute-long attraction immersed guests inside of a chaotic mental hospital haunted by a supernatural central character named Katie and zombie-like patients. The initial controversy came from the attraction's name, with 5150 referring to the California law that allows a law enforcement officer or clinician to involuntarily commit a person suspected of having a mental illness and determined "a danger to themselves or others". The backlash was focused on Cedar Fair's use of painful experiences suffered by those dealing with mental illness and to have it "transmogrified into spooky entertainment". In response, Cedar Fair removed "5150" from the name, and after continued opposition, permanently closed the attraction on September 28, 2016, only six days after its debut. A petition was signed by more than 2,000 people hoping Cedar Fair would bring it back, with the petition's organizer stating that Cedar Fair shouldn't be "forced to shut down an attraction based on the words of people who had not even experienced the attraction".
Knott's Soak City is Knott's Berry Farm's water park. It opened in 1999 as Soak City U.S.A. It requires separate admission from Knott's Berry Farm.
Fast Lane is Knott's Berry Farm's virtual queue system. For an extra fee, visitors get a wrist band that enables them to get to the front of the line on some of the most popular attractions without queuing.
In November 2013, Knott's Berry Farm began selling their "Berry Market" brand of preserves at the park. The Berry Market brand is all-natural and uses the Knott family's original recipe. They are unable to use "Knott's" on the label, since Smucker's owns the rights to the name.
Knott's Berry Farm can easily be accessed by public transportation. Service is available by both Los Angeles Metro and the Orange County Transportation Authority. Bus routes serving the park include Metro Express Line 460 which provides direct express service between Downtown Los Angeles and Disneyland and OCTA bus routes 29 and 38.
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