Knott's Berry Farm isn't a place where they grow fruit. Instead, it's a theme park with extreme thrill rides, mixed with the kind of attractions you might find in a good regional theme park, an Old West-themed ghost town, and lots of shows to watch.
The park has five themed areas spread over 57 acres (about two-thirds the size of Disneyland) and easily walkable.
Knott's 100th Anniversary
From May 15 through August 30, 2020, Knott's Berry Farm celebrates its 100th anniversary. The park isn't a century old yet (the first ride was built in the 1950s). They are honoring the beginnings of Knott's Berry Farm, the roadside stand Walter and Cordelia Knott started in1920 to sell home-grown berries, jams, and pies. The nostalgic celebration features themed food items, unique entertainment, and exclusive merchandise.
Is Knott's Berry Farm Right for You?
If you have a family and a limited budget, Knott's can be a fun place to visit. It may also appeal to you if you like thrill rides or old-fashioned rides and shows.
Depending on your tastes and age, Knott's has 13 fast roller coasters and thrill rides and 27 other attractions. Anyone shorter than 36 inches tall can only enjoy five of the rides (compared to dozens of things they could enjoy at nearby Disneyland or at Legoland near San Diego.
People like Knotts for its affordability, but many of them also complain about customer service and mediocre, expensive food.
When to Go
The park is busiest in summer. If crowds are your major concern, check the predicted crowd levels at isitpacked.com. Summer also has the hottest weather. Advantages of going then include extended park hours, fireworks, special entertainment, and the Ghost Town Alive! Experience.
Off-season, mid-week is least crowded, and you can enjoy walking around without fear of being trampled. But the hours are shorter, so you get less time for your money. Check the local weather guide to find times when temperatures are more comfortable.
What's New in 2020
In 2020, Voyage to the Iron Reef closed. The attraction returns to its roots as "Knott's Bear-y Tales: Return to the Fair" with re-imagined scenes from the 1970s Beary-Tales ride.
Ghost Town Alive! also returns in 2020. It's not a ride but an interactive story for guests to unravel alongside the characters of Calico.
How to Plan the Perfect Trip
Getting around Knott's is frustrating unless you know the names of the rides you're looking for. Before you go, decide what you're interested in, and your day will go much smoother.
You'll pay full price if you buy tickets at the entrance, but the hassle/planning factor is low. For other options and ways to get discounts, check the Knott's Berry Farm ticket guide.
Most Knott's Berry Farm thrill rides have minimum height requirements ranging from 32 to 54 inches. For some, riders must be at least ten years old. To prevent last-minute tantrums, measure the kids before you leave home and be sure they know what to expect.
What to Wear
Knott's strictly enforces their dress code: Shoes and shirts or blouses are required at all times. Profanity and pictures of illegal substances on clothing are not allowed.
If you plan to go on the water rides, avoid jeans and heavy cotton fabrics, which take hours to dry. Instead, wear quick-dry attire and take an extra pair of dry socks.
There's a lot of asphalt at Knott's and not much shade, making hats and sunscreen essential. Take something to secure your hat on the faster rides, or wear one you can stuff into a pocket.
Don't embarrass yourself. Be prepared for inspections of yourself and your bags, including metal detection and other screening measures.
Tips and Tricks
Where to Eat: Mrs. Knott's Chicken Dinner Restaurant is outside the park entrance, and some people say the chicken is better there than inside. Other food is standard amusement park fare but anything includes berries is worth a try. If you have special dietary needs, check what Knott's can help you with.
Keep Track of Your Car: The parking areas are vast, and they don't have lane numbers or lot names, making it all too easy to forget where you parked. To avoid hassles, use the Knott's app's Car Finder feature to mark your car's location.
Get Around Without Getting Lost: The paper map they hand out at the gate will help you get around, but if you're directionally challenged, try using the app which has a "go here" function that shows exactly how to get from place to place.
Shorten the Wait
Get in the Fast Lane: If you want to avoid standing in line at Knott's, you can pay for their Fast Lane wristband, which will get you onto these popular rides faster. Buy it ahead if you're going during busy times to avoid sellouts. Save money by getting it only for the members of your group who want to enjoy the rides it covers.
Tackle the Park Clockwise: Knott's regulars recommend arriving before the gates open. As soon as you get in, go to the back right corner, then move clockwise to go on the big rides first. After that, fill in the day with smaller rides and shows.
Ride Late: The clockwise tip is well-known, but it might put you in those long lines you were trying to avoid. Instead, try this: When the park is open late, many people leave before closing time. If a ride's wait time is long during the day, save it for the last hour or two.
Get Wait Times on the App: If you sign up for an account and use the Knott's app, you can get in-park wait times, which can help you find rides with the shortest wait times.
Use Parent Swap: If the adults want to go on a ride with a height limit that the kids don't meet, you don't have to stand in line twice. Instead, go through the line as a family, and tell the staff that you want to do a Parent Swap. One partner waits with the little ones, and as soon as they get off, the second one gets on.
You'll find all the rides listed on the Knott's ride page, with height limits and whether they take the Fast Lane pass.
The extreme thrill rides are mostly in the Boardwalk area. Among the best are Xceletetor, known for its super-fast takeoff and GhostRider, a brain-scrambling, herky-jerky ride that is one of the world's longest and tallest wooden roller coasters.
Family rides include a merry go round and a Ferris wheel, bumper cars, and two rides guaranteed to get you wet: Calico Rapids and the Timber Mountain Log Ride.
Camp Snoopy and the Boardwalk are where you'll find many of the kids' rides, but you'll find things they like in other areas, too.
Besides the rides, you can watch lots of shows at Knott's. The indoor shows make good places to sit down and cool off on a hot day, or to rest your feet no matter what the temperature. You'll get a schedule when you enter the front gate.
If you want to see a specific show, know that they take two or more days off each week and check the schedule ahead of time.
Ghost Town shows include a gunfight in Calico Square, something you may want to avoid if you don't want your kids exposed to the fake violence.
Other Things to Do
You can take a ride around the park on the horse-drawn Butterfield Stagecoach or the Calico Railroad, drawn by a real steam locomotive.
In Ghost Town, look for western characters who love to talk to curious kids. You can pose for photos with costumed Peanuts characters in Camp Snoopy.
In Ghost Town, you can also pan for gold (for a small extra fee), watch the blacksmith at work, visit the horses in the livery stable, or check out the museum. From late May through early September, try Ghost Town Alive! an experience that includes bandits, cowboys, robberies, judges, and a western hoedown.
Holidays and Events
In the spring, the park celebrates the berries that made Knott’s famous during the Knott’s Boysenberry Festival.
For Christmas, it's Knott’s Merry Farm, a Christmas celebration for all ages.
You can get dates and details for all of these events on the Knott's Berry Farm website.
Where to Stay
Most of Knott's guests are locals who drive in for the day. If you want to stay overnight, visit the Knott's Berry Farm hotel page for packages and rates. You can also look for hotels in the city of Buena Park or nearby Anaheim.
What You Need to Know
Knott's is open year-round, with longer hours during the summer and holiday weekends. Check their hours on the calendar page.
The park accommodates guests with disabilities. Get all the details on their website.
A limited number of strollers, manual wheelchairs, and battery-powered wheelchairs are available for rent in the Ghost Town area.
You can drop people off in front of the gate, and they have marked parking spots for vehicles with a state-issued placard or disabled person license plate.
How to Get There
Knott's Berry Farm's official address is 8039 Beach Boulevard, Buena Park, California. The entrance is on Grand Avenue, a one-way street that branches off Beach just south of La Palma.
You can drive to Knott's and parking is free, but check out the other ways to get there.
On busy days, they open a second gate Western Avenue, and there's a parking lot right across the street from it.