X-mas at Knott's!

Monday, December 9, 2013 12:23 PM

With the end looming for our season passes, we made plans to visit Knott's one last time before we moved on with Legoland passes for the coming year. I ended up renewing anyway. $79 for a year, what the heck? And it turns out that I made a good decision...

We went with our usual itinerary, which involves leaving around 7:30 to drive 90 miles up the 5 and arrive for a table at Mrs. Knott's at 9. Gotta fuel up on fried chicken and eggs for our session.

It was in the 40's, which is freezing by Southern California standards, but also kept the crowds to a minimum that morning. So after our last gulp of coffee, a little shopping in Viginia's store, and listening to Whitney belt out the anthem, we bee-lined for Ghostrider as requested by our 8-year old.

As expected, it was a bit rough in the back. I'm not sure if it was due to my intentionally relaxed riding position, but it didn't seem as painful as previous rides, but it is still extremely intense.

With light crowds, we decided to compact the chicken with a couple of rides on Xcelerator and Supreme Scream. And with the chicken, eggs, biscuits, gravy, and hashbrowns fully mixed, we settled down with obligatory excursions on Timber Mountain and Calico Mine.

The park is decorated festively, and one thing I'd like to point out is the amazing character actors everywhere. There was a Dicken's theme to the cast with carolers, bell ringers, and various oddballs everywhere. They were even interacting with guests on the steam train, presumably giving the usual bank robbers a break. At one point we were walking through a crowded pathway when I headed towards a nefarious looking "limey" who was handling what looked to be a snowball. And just when it clicked that he was eyeballing me and that he had a snowball, he feigned a throw at me just to get me to duck and expose my kid, who was the real target. Way to go Dad.

They also were hosting plays in the Birdcage Theater. We saw A Christmas Carol (170 year-old story!) performed by a very talented group of actors, which was accompanied by a live pianist. It came in at 30 minutes, which was perfect for our 8-year old's attention span.

After the play, we shared a steak sandwich from the grill across the way, grabbed some hand made Quebec style maple snow lollipops (Wow!), and then hit up Ghostrider to shake it all down. We did a little shopping (Ghosttown hosts a plethora of local craftspeople and artists to sell their wares for Christmas), and bought up a nice hand-blown glass piece for my Mom.

After another round on Timber Mountain and a jaunt on Jaguar per request (got up close and personal with the big blank spot where Windseeker no longer seeks wind; how about a nice flat there?), we picked up our glass piece and made our Merry way back home.

As you might have read in my previous posts, we are enamored with the place, and I'm glad we renewed. You just can't beat the value. In a way, they are competing with the mouse down the road, and are stealing away Disney geeks like us. You gotta love competition! (To be fair, I've always loved Knott's.)

Last edited by janfrederick, Monday, December 9, 2013 2:07 PM
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Thursday, December 12, 2013 2:13 PM

I'd heard how terrible Ghost Rider was but I loved it in the back of the train last December when I rode it. Other than the slowdown at the MCBR, it was as good as I remembered.

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Thursday, December 12, 2013 4:49 PM

I didn't mind going a second time. During previous visits, I was only able to bear one ride, or avoided it altogether.

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Thursday, December 12, 2013 5:02 PM

Knott's does a very nice job with Christmas. While I'm not sure if they could make it translate to the other Cedar Fair parks it is certainly nice to see that at least one park in the chain is able to make a special holiday event. Knott's has a character all its own so it might be hard to duplicate.

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Friday, December 13, 2013 9:50 AM

That's true, I believe most of the other Cedar Fair parks are blanketed in snow right now. Unseasonable in some areas maybe, but a reality. The southern California park is best suited for a holiday event. Plus they have the SoCal talent pool to draw from for shows, characters, etc. While not very wintry, granted, Knott's just makes sense in terms of location and local December weather. At least they get people through the gates.

I wouldn't look for the other Cedar Fair parks to follow suit. Look at Paramount's dismal attempt to bring back Winterfest to a couple of parks on their last season and you'll know. (We attended the event at KI and it was underwhelming to say the least...) Until CF can guarantee the kind of quality event that occurs at parks like Dollywood, Silver Dollar City, or Busch it'll never happen. And given the uncertainty of weather and tourism for the areas involved I have a feeling that CF, in the long run, wouldn't consider a chain-wide holiday event to be worthwhile.

I remember when Cedar Point tried a holiday event, years ago. I didn't go, wisely, but I heard it tanked really bad. It was bitter cold there along the lake (duh), there were no rides, except maybe the Midway Carousel, and the main feature was a carriage ride back through the closed areas of the park, where they had done their best to light up the roller coasters. No thanks.

Now that I think about it, doesn't CF's Great America have a Christmas thing of some sort? Something tells me it's an independent charity event, or something, and the park isn't really open, but decorations are brought in as well as a few portable carnival rides. I'll have to check, maybe I'm making that up.

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Friday, December 13, 2013 2:08 PM

After doing Kennywood's Holiday Lights event last weekend, I'm totally in love with the idea of park holiday events. That being said, at 30 degrees during the lighter hours it was OK, but as the night wore on, and the temperature turned into 23, and then 19, I could feel the warmth draining from the inside out.

Part of me wished the event lasted longer than 4 hours, so I could take in more sights, sit and relax and enjoy the atmosphere, drink hot beverages around the fire, and enjoy some hot patch fries, by 9:00 - I was completely frozen and ready for the butt warmers in my car. I was bundled up tight, too. Flannel shirt, scarf, wool peacoat with double collar and zipper/button combo, leather gloves, boots and thick boot socks - but there's only so long you can keep the cold at bay. That event is in the middle of Pittsburgh - there's no way I could stand 4 hours outside on Lake Erie.

We rode the Turtle before we left, and thanks to those metal seats, I was numb and couldn't feel the heat for at least 45 minutes.

I wish it wasn't going to snow so heavily this weekend, because I'd head back out there in a hurry.

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Friday, December 13, 2013 2:35 PM

Hey Josh...

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Friday, December 13, 2013 3:46 PM

Maybe the key to a successful holiday event is enough places for people to warm up.

I never really thought about it much until reading Josh's story, but Kennywood has very little indoor space, if any, for warming up. There's the old Casino building, hardly big enough to accommodate a crowd of cold people, and there's maybe two or three small stores where you can actually walk in, the rest of the retail spots are more like stalls. There's also no indoor theater, is there? I don't know what they offer, but a solution might be to temporarily enclose a few of those large picnic shelters for a Christmas market, and food. Maybe they do that already.

We went to Kings Islands' original Winterfest a couple of times when it was really cold, but they provided shelter in the form of the Festhaus for a stage show and food, International Street for shopping, and the big theater for shows. The biggest challenge there was getting from the car to the gate. The cold wind whipped so hard across the parking lot we almost froze. Once in the park it was better.

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Friday, December 13, 2013 4:47 PM

I almost feel bad for living where I live now....almost. :)

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Friday, December 13, 2013 5:52 PM

Vater said:
Hey Josh...

Hey, I didn't complain about he cold. I was just giving a recap of my night, and being out in it for x amount of hours. The metal turtle seats really did me in, though.

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Friday, December 13, 2013 6:21 PM

Those Dopey Turtle seats....

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Sunday, December 15, 2013 9:48 AM

Raven-Phile said:

Hey, I didn't complain about he cold.

I know. But I couldn't pass up an opportunity to post the Batman smacking Robin upside the head meme.

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Sunday, December 15, 2013 11:15 AM

OK, I'll let you have that one, then :).

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Sunday, December 15, 2013 11:47 AM

I don't feel guilty about the temperate FL winters any more than the PA/OH kids do from May thru October about living within driving distance of the best parks in the US.

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