Knott's Berry Farm for Beginners
Knott's Berry Farm, which bills itself as "America's First Theme Park," is probably the least known LA area theme park for visitors, but a favorite with Southern California locals. Its original Old West Ghost Town charm, Peanuts theme and family-friendly rides combined with a bounty of killer coasters make for an odd juxtaposition, but a fun experience for all kinds of theme park fans. Knott's has more rides than its nearby neighbor, Disneyland, and tickets can usually be found for half the price.
Highlights at Knott's include extreme coasters like the Xcelerator launched coaster, the Silver Bullet inverted coaster, and Ghostrider wooden coaster, as well as classics like the Calico Mine Ride and Timber Mountain Log Ride.
Knott's Berry Farm has an associated water park, Knott's Soak City, next door that shares parking, but requires a separate (or joint) ticket. The park is also known for having the oldest Halloween theme park event, Knott's Scary Farm. At Christmas time, it becomes Knott's Merry Farm.
Knott's Berry Farm is located in Buena Park, in Orange County California. It's about 10 minutes (7 miles) from Disneyland, 25 minutes from John Wayne (Orange County) Airport (SNA), half hour from LAX or Downtown Los Angeles, and 40 minutes from Hollywood, with no traffic. There's almost always traffic, so you may have to multiply those times by 2 to 4 in real time. The nearest freeway access is from the 5 or the 91 freeways.
Entrance to the park is on Grand Avenue, which is a right fork off Beach Boulevard into the park. Once you've taken the Grand Avenue fork, stay in the left lane to go back under Beach Blvd to get to the theme park parking. The right lane goes to hotel and short term Marketplace parking.
Why Berry Farm?
The name confuses people. What does a berry farm have to do with theme park rides, right? Walter and Cordelia Knott started out with a berry farm at this location in the 1920s and built a stand to sell berries, jams, and pies. In 1934 they added a café where Mrs. Knott served fried chicken dinners. It became so popular that there was always a long line, so in 1940, Walter Knott started building the Ghost Town to entertain visitors while they were waiting, and it just kept growing from there, with the first rides added in the 1950s. In the 1990s, the Knott heirs sold the park to Cedar Fair Entertainment Company, which has continued to expand the park offerings with new rides, shows, and attractions. You can still get Knott's jams, pies, and chicken at Mrs. Knott's Fried Chicken Restaurant.
Making the Most of Your Knott's Visit
One of the frustrating things about visiting Knott's Berry Farm is that the signage is terrible and the park map is pretty useless if you don't already know the names of the rides. There is a Knott's smartphone app. You can see all these amazing coaster loops over your head, but finding the entrance is a challenge, especially when you don't know the name of the coaster you're looking at. So it's best to do a little preparation in advance so you don't get frustrated trying to wing it.
Fortunately, there are a lot of random western characters and other staff around who can direct you when you do get confused. It helps to know that most of the kiddie rides are in Camp Snoopy and the entrances to most of the big coasters and thrill rides are in the Boardwalk area, but there are also exceptions, with entrances to some big coasters and thrill rides tucked into corners of Ghost Town and more family rides scattered around the park.
There are more family-friendly shows at Knott's Berry Farm than you can possibly see in a day - from a Snoopy-themed ice skating show to wild west stunts, Native American culture, Hillbilly and Latin bands, and Peanuts characters on stage. Most of the shows have two or more days off every week, so a particular show may not be scheduled the day you're there. Even with some shows being off, you'll have 10 to 12 shows to choose from every day.
Tickets and Discounts
There are more ways to get discount tickets to Knott's Berry Farm than any other LA theme park. There are single day, single park tickets, combo tickets with Knott's Soak City and a variety of Season Passes.
Knott's offers tickets on their website for a significantly discounted price from the gate price and 3-day advance tickets for even less. Be sure if you're visiting with kids to get the Junior ticket, which does not have a 3-day advance discount, but is still less than the discounted adult ticket. You can also get a discount ticket on the website for entering after 4 pm.
Goldstar.com sometimes has discount Knott's Tickets for less than Knott's.
Knott's Berry Farm admission is included, along with over 30 other attractions, in the Go Los Angeles Card attraction pass.
The Entertainment Book or Membership for Los Angeles or Orange County each contain a $20 off coupon for Knott's Berry Farm.
Fast Lane Tickets
Fast Lane is Knott's Berry Farm's front-of-the-line system. You purchase a wristband in addition to your admission ticket, that lets you bypass the long wait and go in the exit to the front of the line on some of the most popular rides.
Fast Lane Tickets are only available through Knott's but can be added to discount tickets purchased elsewhere.
Knott's Berry Farm offers three levels of season passes. The Regular Season Pass includes unlimited access to only Knott's Berry Farm, the Gold Pass includes both Knott's Berry Farm and Knott's Soak City. The Platinum Pass includes all Cedar Fair parks in the country, plus free parking. They all include hotel, food and merchandise discounts, early ride times, Knott's Scary Farm discounts and Bring a Friend Days.
Knott's Scary Farm Tickets
Knott's Scary Farm Halloween tickets are separate from the regular theme park tickets and are valid for the specific night requested. The price varies from early to late in the season and from weekday to weekends.
There is an additional fee for parking.
Fast Lane Rides
Fast Lane is a wristband that you can purchase for an additional fee, on top of your Knott's Berry Farm admission, that gives you priority access to some of the most popular rides. It can save a lot of time and allow you to fit in more rides and shows.
Fast Lane rides are not identified on the map or the app, and there are very few badly positioned signs, so it can be a challenge to figure out which rides have Fast Lane and how to access the Fast Lane entrance. For most rides, it's through the EXIT.
The rides below accept Fast Lane. Depending on how many of them you intend to ride, it may, or may not be worth your while to invest in Fast Lane.
None of these rides are suitable for small children. They're all listed as 4 or 5 out of 5 on the thrill scale. If you only have a couple of people in your group who want to do the extreme rides, it might be worth getting Fast Lane just for them, so they can zip through those rides and rejoin the group, rather than being gone for hours on a whole separate trip.
If you're buying the Fast Lane wristband, write these down or print this page.
- Bigfoot Rapids – whitewater rafting ride (min 46")
- Ghostrider – extreme wooden coaster (min 48")
- Pony Express – family coaster (min 48")
- Silver Bullet – extreme coaster (min 54")
- Timber Mountain Log Ride – log water ride (min 46" or 36" with supervising companion)
- Boomerang – extreme roller coaster (min 48")
- Coast Rider – family roller coaster (min 54" or 44" with supervising companion)
- Supreme Scream – extreme drop ride (min 52")
- Jaguar – family coaster (min 48")
- Montezooma's Revenge – extreme coaster (min 48")
- Sierra Sidewinder – family coaster (min 48" or 42" with supervising companion)
Ghost Town Rides and Attractions
Ghost Town, the original part of the park, has the best theming, and an interesting collection of old west characters that roam around and interact with visitors. They all have interesting tales to tell if you stop and listen. A one-room schoolhouse, a blacksmith shop, and a glass-blowing shop are among the historic exhibits.
You can also find Sad-Eyed Joe, who has been entertaining kids from his jail cell since 1941. Stop and have a chat with him. He has a lot to say. The 8 and 10-year-old on our visit spent a good 5 minutes chatting with the carved wooden figure behind bars. If you happen to notice the gentleman at a microphone in the window of the building just to the front and to the right of the jail, you might sneakily give him your child's name so Sad-Eyed Joe can call out to him or her by name as they're passing.
Most of the rides and attractions stick with the western theme, but the Silver Bullet coaster seems out of place, (and hard to find if you're actually looking for it) and the Screamin' Swing seems just kind of plopped in where they could squeeze it.
There are multiple shows worth checking out, from a Wild West Stunt Show to the cirque-style Boom Town acrobatics to an old-time saloon show at the Calico Saloon. The Indian Trails area is listed separately on the park map, but it's really part of the same location and theme, so I've included that stage here.
Big Kid Rides
- Ghostrider (min. height 48") - extreme wooden coaster (very jerky)
- Silver Bullet (min. height 54") – extreme metal coaster
- Screamin’ Swing (min. height 48") – overhead extreme swing - additional fee applies
- Timber Mountain Log Ride (min. height 46" or 36" if accompanied by a supervising companion) – nice and long log, but not particularly extreme water ride – like Splash Mountain at Disney
- Bigfoot Rapids (min. height 46") – very wet rafting ride, like Grizzly River Run at Disney CA Adventure
- Pony Express (min. height 48") – roller coaster on horseback
Little Kids Rides
- Calico Railroad (min. height 46" or accompanied by a supervising companion) – real steam locomotive
- Calico Mine Ride (min. height 46" or accompanied by a supervising companion) – gentle mine ride, renovated in 2014, the explosion at the end could scare little ones
- Butterfield Stagecoach (min. height 46" or accompanied by a supervising companion) – old-fashioned fun for all ages. No seating preference. Families with toddlers and babies have to ride inside.
- Wagon Camp – Wild West Stunt Show
- Mystery Lodge – Native American Spiritual Special Effects Show
- Calico Square Stage – Boom Town Acrobatics
- Calico Saloon Show
- Calico Square – Shootout at Calico
- Bird Cage Theatre – Multiple shows, depending on the day
- Indian Trails Stage – Indian Dancer
- Blacksmith – living history demo
- Ghost Town Jail & Sad Eye Joe – interactive wooden man
- The Old School House
- Wilderness Dance Hall
- Pony Express Outpost
- Western Trails Museum
- Pemmican Pickle
- Sutter’s Grill/Funnel Cake
- Ghost Town Bakery
- Spurs Grill – Sit down restaurant
- Ghost Town Grill – Sit down restaurant
- Ghost Town Grub / Funnel Cake
- Fireman’s BBQ
- Bigfoot Broiler
- Gourmet Churro Factory
- Mix-It-Up/Fresh Lemonade
- Panda Express
- Log Ride Funnel Cake / Mix-It-Up
- Judge Roy Bean’s Hitchin’ Pos
Camp Snoopy Rides and Attractions
Camp Snoopy is designed for families with young children. There are rides where children as young as two can ride alone, but most of them require a supervising companion for kids under 3 (36 inches). Some rides may have a 36" height restriction, but be more thrilling than your 3-year-old is ready for. It's up to you to know what your child will enjoy, beyond the height restrictions.
Some rides in Camp Snoopy, like Huff and Puff, have a maximum height restriction, so only little kids can ride. Others, like Woodstock's Airmail, don't list a height restriction, but you'll see that it's only made for kids to fit in.
Camp Snoopy also has a Peanuts-themed outdoor stage show and a picnic area where you can take food from Grizzly Creek Lodge.
- Sierra Sidewinder (min. height 48" or 42" with a supervising companion) – spinny roller coaster
- Linus Launcher (min. height 42") – small carousel swing ride where you lay on your stomach like you're flying
- Rapid River Run (min. height 42" or accompanied by a supervising companion) – a big boat on an arm that rocks it around in the air
- High Sierra Ferris Wheel (min. height 54" or 36" with a supervising companion)
- Timberline Twister (between 36" and 69") – kiddie coaster
- Charlie Brown’s Kite Flyer (min. height 42” or with a supervising companion) carousel swing ride with bench seats so parents can sit with kids.
Little Kids Rides
- Camp Bus (min. height 42" or accompanied by a supervising companion)
- Flying Ace (between 32" and 54") - planes circling up and down
- Woodstock’s Airmail (min. height 36") – a mini lift ride like a kid-sized Supreme Scream
- Huff and Puff (under 52") – little carts that kids pump themselves around a track
- Balloon Race (min. height 36" or accompanied by a supervising companion) – carousel swing in hot air balloon baskets
- Rocky Mountain Trucking Co. (min. height 42" or accompanied by a supervising companion) – a convoy of kid-driven semis with room for parents as cargo
- Pig Pen’s Mud Buggies (min. height 36” or with a supervising companion) – little cars circling
- Grand Sierra Railroad (min. height 46" or accompanied by a supervising companion) – miniature train ride
- Camp Snoopy Theatre – Charlie Brown's Happy Campers
- Peanuts Characters Meet & Greet – Photo opportunities
- Grizzly Creek Lodge – counter service sandwiches, burgers, pizza (incl gluten free & vegan), salads with indoor & outdoor seating.
- Cave Inn Dippin’ Dots
Boardwalk Rides and Attractions
The Boardwalk area is all along the back of the park and it is very easy to miss the entrance. It is in the back right corner where most of the thrill rides are located.
Big Kid Rides
- Boomerang (min 48")
- Xcelerator (min 52")
- Rip Tide (min 54" & 10 yrs old)
- Supreme Scream (min 52")
- Coast Rider (min 54" solo or 44"accompanied by a supervising companion) family coaster
- Wipeout (min 48") spinning wheel
- Wheeler Dealer Bumper Cars (min 48" or 42" accompanied by a supervising companion)
Little Kids Too
- Pacific Scrambler (min 48" or 36" accompanied by a supervising companion) - spinning cars on spinning arms
- Surfside Gliders (min 44" or 36" accompanied by a supervising companion) - carousel swing in multi-passenger cars
- Sky Cabin (min 46" or accompanied by a supervising companion) - circular viewing tower
Rides and Attractions in Fiesta Village
Fiesta Village is like one of those small towns along a highway where you blink and miss it. It's a small plaza with a couple of Mexican restaurants and a few rides. Live music is provided on the Fiesta Plaza stage by different bands throughout the week.
Big Kid Rides
- Montezooma’s Revenge (min. height 48") – extreme coaster
- La Revolucion (min. height 48") – Spinning and whirling in the air
- Jaguar! (min. height 48") – family coaster
- Dragon Swing (min. height 48" or 42" accompanied by a supervising companion) – side to side swing ride
- Waveswinger (min. height 48" and at least 6 years old) – traditional carousel swing ride
Little Kids Too
- Merry Go Round (min. height 46" or accompanied by a supervising companion)
- Hat Dance (min. height 42" or 36" if accompanied by a supervising companion) – like teacups, in hats
- Pancho’s Tacos
- La Papa Loca
- Casa Arcade
- Fiesta Plaza
Knott's Berry Farm Amenities
Signage is very limited at Knott's Berry Farm, so if you're going to need lockers or stroller, it's a good idea to know where to look for them and pick up a map when you walk in the gate. Amenities are easier to locate on the map than ride entrances.
Guest Relations Window
This is where you can get annual passes, validate discount cards and resolve other miscellaneous issues, are just beyond the ticket booths, before you enter the park. You can also get a 45-minute Shoppers Pass at Guest Relations to run in and get something (or someone), but you have to leave a deposit equal to admission.
The Information Office
You can register your kids for the parent locator service in case you get separated from them, and get other questions answered.
Lockers and Device Charging
In addition to standard locker rental, Knott's has lockers with Apple and Android device chargers inside, so you can leave your devices charging safely while you play. The lockers are located in Ghost Town, across from the Ghostrider, just beyond the Spurs Grill.
First Aid Center
Nurses are available at the First Aid Center next to the lockers in Ghost Town.
Stroller and Wheelchair Rental
A limited number of single and double seat strollers and manual and electric wheelchairs are available for rent just inside the Ghost Town entrance on the left, next to the Geode Shop. Electric wheelchairs can be reserved in advance.
Baby-Changing and Nursing Stations
Baby-changing and nursing stations are available in the California MarketPlace and Camp Snoopy
Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs)
There are 6 ATMs at the park, including one out front, One outside at the Marketplace, one each in Ghost Town and Camp Snoopy and two in the Boardwalk area.
Guests with Disabilities or Medical Conditions
Knott's has an extensive Guest Information Guide, with a link to a PDF that goes over every single ride, restrooms, dining facilities and which disabilities can or cannot be accommodated. You can also get a copy of the guide from the information office