Knott's Berry Farm, 4-29-07 - Disappointment Big Time!!

Associated parks:

After enjoying three glorious days at Disney, we headed off to Knott’s Berry Farm. We arrived a tad after park opening and our first impression of the park was a very confusing parking situation. Apparently if you arrive before park opening, you can drive under the main road to the parking lot. After park opening, you have to basically make a huge U-turn around the block and enter what appears to be the water park lot. The signage was pretty bad in my opinion. I kept asking if we were going the wrong way because it seemed like a backasswards way to get to the parking lot. But we made it and walked through the nasty tunnel to arrive at the entrance gate. First impression, “Wow, this place is OLD and it shows”. After using our $15 off coupons (thank God), we went inside. I had to peruse the park map since neither of us had been here before. We then headed off on our day. I’ll break it down by ride now to keep it simple – or at least try to.

GhostRider – I’m not really a fan of wooden coasters because I think they’re too rough. But, I actually liked this one a lot. Someone got ejected from the line too which impressed me. Our first ride of the day and people are already being asked to leave the line. Bonus points especially after our disaster of line jumpers at Space Mountain the night before! There were some really intense corners on the circuit which surprised me. I also didn’t feel it was too rough. All in all, it was a really good start to the day.

Screamin’ Swing – Not really worth the $5. I thought the one at Dorney offered a longer cycle time, but that could be a bad memory on my part too. We were the only people riding and I asked the ride op for a double cycle, but he just laughed at me. Oh well, can’t hurt to ask. :)

Wilderness Scrambler – It was a scrambler. Pretty fun, but it was REALLY old and made me a tad nervous. LOL!! The ride op was AWFUL too. He never smiled, was pretty unpleasant and looked like he HATED his job. I don’t think he could’ve moved any slower either. This was just the start to the awful ride ops at Knott’s.

Riptide – Didn’t ride it since you get soaked. Why do all the top spins now include water? I don’t get it. We stopped and watched people get soaked though. I guess that was fun. While we were watching, we noticed this ride sways back and forth a LOT. I’ve never noticed a top spin rack that much before. Again, it made me a tad nervous.

Boomerang – I normally DESPISE these coasters. But, I came all the way to California to ride coasters, so we rode it. I was pleasantly surprised. It wasn’t nearly as rough as I thought it would be. We rode it twice during the day and it didn’t really hurt either time. The ride op again was horrific. She actually started talking to an employee on the other side of the loading platform over the loud speaker about people’s shifts and other stuff. I was thinking to myself, “This isn’t professional at all!”

Xcelerator – I can’t even count the number of times we rode this. It’s a REALLY fun ride with a ton of airtime on the top hat. Has it always been cotton candy pink though? To me it seemed quite faded. Plus, the trains were in horrific condition. All of the seats and foam padding on the restraints were black and crumbling apart. The ride ops here though were actually pretty cool. Whoever was doing the spiels sucked, but the people checking restraints were friendly and fun. Well, except for the chick that was like, “Did you just call my coaster dirty?” :) The cars seemed to be more compact than on TTD, but the restraints and seat belts appeared to be more accommodating. They have these cool red/green indicators on the lap bar too that show if the restraint is down far enough. This was my second favorite coaster in the park. Oh yeah, the launch was REALLY short and seemed to just end before going up the hill. I actually jerked forward each time when the launch was over. This seemed a little odd to me. But, like I said, I still really liked the ride. It broke down once while we were in line, but I don’t think it was down for long.

Supreme Scream – It’s an S&S drop tower. I have a love/hate relationship with these rides because I think they’re awesome, but HATE sitting at the top. But, that’s always why I love them so much! I wasn’t impressed with the ride ops again, but oh well. I was starting to learn I was expecting too much and wasn’t going to be happy with anyone working there. As someone in line said to us, “Cedar Point employees are seasonal and want to be there. Knott’s employees are year-round and see it as just a job.” That was truly evident during our stay.

Wave Swinger, Dragon Swing, La Revolucion – Typical flat rides. La Revolucion was my favorite. I like the one at Dorney better but that’s just because it’s bigger I think. This also had a really long cycle time which I liked a lot. The ride ops here were actually pretty cool. They were younger and really got involved with the guests on the ride. They kept encouraging people to scream and it made the ride really fun. I think they were the best ops at the park.

Jaguar – This coaster gets the “most unlikely to be loved” award for Knott’s. I thought we were just getting on a kiddy coaster for the credit. LOL!! This thing just kept going and going and going. I was like, “Where the hell are we going!” It was fun. Really smooth, didn’t really do much as far as forces go, but I was impressed none the less. I can imagine if the queue were full, waiting in the “temple” would be a royal pain, but luckily each time we rode, it was a full walk on.

Montezooma’s Revenge – Closed. Boooo. It actually looked pretty fun. But, it was obvious they were working on the launch mechanism. Well, I didn’t actually see anybody working on it, but there were ladders and buckets all over the place. :)

Silver Bullet – This was really the ONLY part of the park that looked like Cedar Fair had touched. It was nice and clean, well laid out and looked pretty well maintained. I realize this is the newest CF addition, but still. It was the only part of the park I liked. The ride itself kicked ass too. I was impressed. There was an element near the end of the ride I wasn’t expecting at all and I really enjoyed. I believe it was coming out of a roll and then diving towards the water right away. But, I can’t remember exactly where it was. I just know it rocked. Again, sucky ride ops. They were making random animal sounds (I think) in the microphone. Plus, they were purposely making it sound like a drive through speaker so no one could understand anything they said. Very unprofessional. This is why I like auto spiels!!

Log Ride – Closed. BOOOOO. I had read a lot of awesome things about this and was looking forward to it. Oh well. The fake Christmas trees on the mountain were pretty funny though!

Calico Mine Ride – This ride thoroughly confused me at first. Before we got in line, I thought it was a coaster. Then when I saw it loading, I was like, “Uh, what is this?” :) It started off pretty slow and lackluster, but as it went on, I really enjoyed it. I think I read in the park map how old it was, and then I was even more impressed. This ride was a nice surprise to the day. It definitely didn’t have Disney Animatronics in it, but what they did have was pretty good. My only suggestion would be to take the black light out of the stalactite cave or at least hide it better so you can’t see it. Oh yeah, get a ride op that people can understand. :)

We didn’t do the Stagecoach or Railroad which I thought looked pretty cool. But, we just ran out of time since we did the coasters at least twice (if not more) and the park closed wicked early. We also didn’t make it into Camp Snoopy. From the outside of Camp Snoopy though, Sierra Sidewinder looks like it’s going to be really fun.

Ride Photos – I noticed here and at Magic Mountain that these two parks do a horrible job of presenting the ride photos to guests. They were REALLY hard to see, so we just kept walking. Granted, we don’t buy ride photos all that often, but there was no chance we’d buy them here. If they made the monitors so you could SEE the pictures, we may have bought one or two if they were good. But, they just did a really bad job in this regard. Saved us money though, so no big deal! If you’re trying to sell a product though, don’t make the guests try to figure out what the product looks like. Entice them with a really sexy product and they’ll WANT to buy it. I would assume the profit margin on ride photos is pretty high, so invest some money into the technology behind the product.

Overall, I was disappointed with Knott’s. Knowing it is a Cedar Fair park, I had high hopes. The only other CF owned park I have been to recently was Dorney and that place really impressed me. But, Knott’s was dirtier and in greater disrepair than Geauga Lake was before Six Flags took over. It saddens me to say I liked Magic Mountain better than Knott’s because I really don’t like Six Flags at all. But, if I lived in the LA area (or even nearby), I’d be giving my money to Magic Mountain. Knott’s definitely had some quality coasters, but they need to kick the rest of the park in the ass and bring it up to par. For the highest attendance park in their chain, they should really be investing more money into it. Also, had this not been a low attendance Sunday, I think I would’ve been in agony queing for the coasters. They would’ve moved slower than a snail’s pace and most were out in the blazing sun with no shade. Xcelerator’s queue was probably the worst. With only two trains that load pretty slowly, the line could easily be hours long. They didn’t even have one shade structure in the queue either.

Come on Cedar Fair, get on the ball! *** Edited 5/8/2007 4:45:16 AM UTC by halltd***

Was Sierra Sidewinder open yet?

Bolliger/Mabillard for President in '08 NOT Dinn/Summers

Not even close. They're saying Memorial Day. The track looked fun though.
Actually, Wilderness Scrambler is not very old. *** Edited 5/8/2007 12:46:17 AM UTC by Jazma***
I'm surprised you thought Knott's was dirty and below CF standards. I was there in early January and had a great time. I agree that the parking situation was a little strange, but I thought the park was up to par on cleanliness. I'm sure they're busier now than in January, so maybe that's why I saw it as being nice and clean and you didn't. The park is nice for being squeezed into such a small plot of land.

When I was there I did choose to spend an extra day at Magic Mountain instead of Knott's, even though my hotel was about a mile from Knott's. I liked both parks about the same, but the admissions people at Knott's had no idea what they were doing when it came to my season pass from CP. It took almost an hour to get into the park, so I wasn't going to deal with that crap again. Other than that, I had no complaints about Knott's.

And then one day you find ten years have got behind you
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun

Hmm, when I went to Knott's I was pleasantly surprised. Maybe my expectations were low enough for me to really enjoy it.

I agree with Xcelerator. I loved it! I never noticed the drag immediately after the launch though.

Ironically, Montezuma's Revenge was closed the day I was there too. I share your pain about that. I was less impressed than you with Silver Bullet. But I'm biased because I've been unimpressed with B&M as of late.

I don't remember the ride ops good or bad. But from your descriptions, I don't know if I would have noticed.

Mildly amused since 2003.
I hate to sound like a fanboy but when I visited Knott's there were several times that I was struck how much it wasn't Cedar Point. The ride ops were slow and didn't have any enthusiasm for their jobs.

Maybe it was the day or time of year but I thought SFMM had a better group of ride ops. Nothing compared to Disney of course.

As someone who lives currently and grew up in OC about 5 miles from Knott's, and having visited all Cedar Fair parks, with the exception of a few of the new Paramount parks, I agree with you on staffing.

But, you have to understand the market out here which is very different from most of the locations of the other parks. Anyone with any ability would go work for Disney up the road for more money, and even that, you have fast food chains (such as In n Out) that pay several dollars more per hour than Knott's.

Since Cedar Fair seems to want to pay everyone at or slighly above the minimum wage, there is no way they can retain good talent for long. They have no housing such as at Cedar Point, for their employees, and housing is not cheap.

It's been a problem for quite a while, but if you ask any "old timer" who works there still, they will all tell you things were better (in terms of salary and benefits) under Knott family ownership.

You can understand now why the park's old slogan "The Friendliest Place in the West" is no longer used.

The park was a lot nicer to visit back under Knott family ownership. Sure, Cedar Fair took the ailing park and dropped new mega-bucks thrill rides and maintained attendance, but only at the expense of a corporate looking environment and attitude.

Years ago, one would differentiate Knott's from Magic Mountain (aside from the rides) by the friendly atmosphere and curteous staff, but that's no longer the case.

kRaXLeRidAh said:The park was a lot nicer to visit back under Knott family ownership. Sure, Cedar Fair took the ailing park and dropped new mega-bucks thrill rides and maintained attendance, but only at the expense of a corporate looking environment and attitude.

How can you say that? Did you miss the part where he says the only part of the park he actually liked was the part that Cedar Fair has touched. He liked the area around Silver Bullet, which in my opinion pales in comparison to how the area used to look.

-- In response to the original trip report. --

What's wrong with "old"? I happen to enjoy the parks with a little history. You mention Dorney Park, but my impression of Dorney Park is exactly the opposite of yours. I've felt Dorney is a dirty park with very little character or charm. It's basically a concrete jungle with a bunch of rides. The CF park that I really like is Cedar Point.

In regards to the parking situation at Knott's. It really isn't that confusing. You need to remember that Knott's theme park came to be after the city was already built up around it. Knott's has had to make do with what they have and they are also somewhat limited in the amount of signage they can put up on city streets and city property.The park has been land locked forever.

I'm sorry you didn't enjoy the park.

It was quite noticeable how Xcelerator reached its max launch speed but had enough track left at the end of the launch track that it could still go faster. The train only sustained its speed the rest of the way. It had me saying "Come on." I'm glad you could enjoy a Vekoma Boomerang. After my Knott's visit I wished I rode the Stagecoach because it's a unique part of the park. The coasters too tied me up. I just barely got on Xcelerator when I went.
I don't think there's anything wrong with "old". Cedar Point is the second oldest park in the US. But, it doesn't LOOK like it's the second oldest. They maintain the park, keep it looking spiffy and actually paint things. To me, Knott's is showing its age big time. There was a stand of some sort right outside the main gate. Paint was peeling off of it, the doors were all broken and it just looked in major disrepair. This was one of the first things I saw before even entering the park and was thinking to myself, "This is Cedar Fair?"

The Ghost Town section of the park was cool. It was probably the cleanest section of the park. Unfortunately, we didn't spend much time in there because we were riding things, not shopping or eating. But, the part in the back by the Schulz Theatre, the Boardwalk, and Fiesta Village looked trashy in my opinion. Scrub the midways, paint some buildings, plant some flowering plants or shrubs or something and make the place look nice. It's really not that hard.

I have no idea what the park used to be like, so all I can comment on is my first impression of the park. I guess my expectations were higher than they should have been.

I guess I've always liked that Knott's doesn't "look like Cedar Fairs."
I agree with egieszl. I thought Knotts was a lot nicer than Dorney, although it perhaps doesn't hold up quite as well against the Disney parks, in terms of theming and landscaping.

Tim, I'm glad you liked Calico Mine Ride. That to me was one of the nicest and most unique attractions at the park. Same goes for Jaguar. Too bad you didn't get to ride the stagecoach. My wife dragged me on there, and it's one of the things I remember most fondly from our trip last year.

As far as ride ops go, I thought that KBF sort of ran the gamut, about like any other Cedar Fair or Paramount (or, grudgingly, Six Flags) park. Sure there were surly types. I remember the chick running the kiddy disk-o was pretty mealy-mouthed. But on the other hand, we got the last ride of the night on the boat ride, and the ride op was just terrific. We talked to her for fifteen minutes, and she was just the kindest and sweetest lady. I also remember one of the women on the staff who spotted my daughter Ava (four at the time) and complimented how beautiful she was; hours later, as the park was closing, she walked by and said, "Bye, Ava! Hope you had a nice time today!"

At least you seem fairly satisfied with most of the rides, n'est-ce pas?

Mamoosh's avatar I read the report. Where is the "Big Time Disappointment" mentioned in the subject header? He seemed to like most everything...what am I missing?
Park was dirty.
Park was poorly maintained.
Xcelerator trains needed a complete overhaul.
Employees were annoying and unprofessional.

That's why I was disappointed. If I was just looking at the coasters for their ride, then sure, they were fun. But, I look at a park for more than just the ride itself. Like I said before, my expectations were pretty high for this park knowing it is Cedar Fair's highest attendance park. Plus, they have Disneyland right down the road. That alone should encourage the park to have a better atmosphere.

But didn't learning about the employees' schedules and shift switching plans over Boomerang's PA at least prevent some boredom from standing in line??

And I'm sure there had to be some comedy in hearing that ride op's DJ audition!?

Kick The Sky's avatar
I hate to sounds like a fanboy, but...I am when it comes to Knott's. I've actually flown out to Cali JUST to do Knott's during Halloween.

Yeah, the park is old and there are parts that needs some work, but I do believe that the old gives the park a lot of charm. The mine ride that you were talking is a good example. You mentioned that Disney had better animatronics on it's rides. Would it surprise you that if it was not for that ride, those animatronics at Disney may have never happened? The ride pre-dates Disneyland and many say it is what inspired Walt on animatronics. There is a certain "cool" factor to that.

Other examples are the stagecoach ride and the train ride, both of which you missed. The stagecoach ride is the only place you can ride a stagecoach in the United States. The train ride comes complete with train robbers!

I will give you your point about the employees. It seems that the service has been getting worse and worse on every visit I make down there. The one redeeming factor seems to be the number of older people working in the park, perhaps post-retirement. They are always friendly and can often share a story or two about the park.

A lot of your report focused in on the rides at the park. I think people who "get" Knott's are typically your "park" enthusiast rather than a "coaster" enthusiast. To get the most out of the park you really need to slow down and take the park in. See a few shows like the Wild West stunt show, or especially the spirit lodge. Get some chicken over at Mrs. Knott's. Ride the train. Ride the flume. Do a lot of non-coaster activities. Also, don't go in expecting Disney quality theming and be able to appreciate something that is a bit kitsch.

If you are more of a "coaster" enthusiast then Knott's wont be for you. It's not a bad thing. Just means you have different tastes.

Thanks for the report. Always nice to hear about my favorite park once in awhile seeing it is only a few thousand miles away from me. *** Edited 5/9/2007 6:37:49 PM UTC by Kick The Sky***

Certain victory.

I agree with you. Go to Knotts expecting Disney or even Cedar Point, and your setting yourself up for disappointment. The park's charm (or what remains of it), is that it is a bit run down and old fashioned. It's suppose to look like an abandoned town come to life.

I do agree about the employees, which in some cases carry that LA "I don't care about anything but my hair and cell phone" attitude.

It could just be the time of year.

Timbers crew 08

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