Knotts Berry Farm Update: Refurbishments and the Fight Against Breast Cancer

Written by Norman Gidney. Posted in In the Parks, Knott's Berry Farm

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Published on February 02, 2014 at 3:00 am with 28 Comments

Yesterday, Knotts Berry Farm joined the fight agains breast cancer by teaming up with the Susan G. Komen foundation.  A wonderful event was held to mark the beginning of the relationship.  We’ll also take you on a tour of the park to check up on the progress of major projects happening throughout the park.  This includes the massive overhaul of the classic Calico Mine Train and the renovation of Camp Snoopy.

Knotts Berry Farm and the Susan G. Komen Foundation

Knott’s Berry Farm is known for its charitable nature.  Every year they offer thousands of Firemen, Police officers, and Servicemen and their families free and discounted admission into the park.  Now they have expanded their generous spirit, donating $25,000 to the Susan G. Komen foundation and holding a charity drive to increase the total donation.

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The buffet was delicious and also vegetarian.

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Yesterday morning the partnership commenced with a special event honoring cancer survivors and co-cancer survivors with a breakfast and ride on the park’s Pony Express coaster.

Executive Director of the Susan G. Komen Foundation OC, Lisa Wolter and Knott's General Manager, Raffi Kaprelyan

Executive Director of the Susan G. Komen Foundation OC, Lisa Wolter and Knott’s General Manager, Raffi Kaprelyan

The event, inside the Boardwalk Ballroom, began with Kaprelyan addressing the crowd and welcoming those in attendance.  Next Executive Director of the Susan G. Komen Foundation OC, Lisa Wolter offered a rather stirring rally cry, asking all to continue the fight against the insidious disease.
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After the breakfast, cancer survivors made their way over to Pony Express for a symbolic ride of cancer survival.

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Throughout the month of February and March guests are invited to visit any one of the participating gift shops in the park.  Here they will find Susan G. Komen foundation t-shirts ($10.00) and magnets ($1.99) for purchase with ALL proceeds benefiting the Komen Foundation.  Guests can also purchase specially discounted Pink Tickets online at $39.00 with proceeds from the sales benefiting Susan G. Komen Orange County.

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At the main entrance of the park there is a special photo op where visitors can pose with the Peanuts™ characters and add their magnet to the survivor wall.

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It is heartening to see Knott’s continue to give back to the community and to good causes.  It’s another reason why we love them.

BIG Short Term Parking Changes

It used to be that the lower end season pass holders to Knott’s Berry Farm never really needed to pay the additional cost to add parking.  It was common practice for pass holders to take advantage of the free three hour parking in front of Knott’s Marketplace along Grand Avenue or inside the ticketed three hour parking lot (West of TGI Fridays), popping in for a few of their favorite attractions, then hopping into their car to leave the lot, just under the wire.  But with the growing number of pass holders at this rapidly improving park, changes were inevitable.

It was a logical progression when Knott’s Berry Farm recently removed the rows of the two-hour parking directly in front of the Marketplace shops (along Grand Avenue), much of which was disabled parking.  The Marketplace, of course, is the area that includes the world famous Knott’s chicken dinner restaurant, TGIFriday’s and the collection of gift shops.  That wasn’t such a big deal, as they took all of the disabled parking spaces and moved them just behind TGI Fridays in the three hour lot. It makes the drive through Grand Avenue a little easier and safer for everyone.

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Looking towards Ghostrider, TGIFriday’s to the left, Knott’s Chicken Dinner to the right. The old parking spots are being turned into gardens. No more guests backing up into busy traffic, creating dangerous situations.

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TGIFriday’s no longer has any parking spaces in front of it, disabled or otherwise.

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The convenient parking just outside of the Chicken-to-go counter service location has also been removed.

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Logically, they moved all of the disabled parking to the nearest spot, just inside the the ticketed parking.

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These changes are understandable as it keeps the traffic flowing along Grand Avenue, without the back up that often occurred. And the occasional accident and associated guest safety issues.

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A new policy regarding the “three hour lot” will soon go into effect that will change the current rules entirely.  Beginning March 1st, vehicles in this lot will only be allowed to park for free for 1 hour.  But guests that dine at Knott’s chicken dinner restaurant or shop in any of the establishments in the Market Place can receive validation for a full 3 hours of free parking.  However, if you are in the lot one minute more than 3 hours you will be charged the full price for parking, a whopping $25.

Individual Season Pass holders ($84.00) and Gold Season Pass holders ($102.00) always had the option to add parking to their pass for an additional $55.   The only Season Pass that automatically included parking was the Platinum Pass ($192.00) which included admission to all Cedar Fair Parks nationwide.

It’s clear that Knott’s wants folks who are visiting the park to use the regular theme park lot (a flat $15 daily rate). The 3 hour lot is intended for in and out visiting of the Marketplace shops and restaurants. The $25 penalty is designed to make that point clear.

This new parking arrangement is sure to raise the ire of those accustomed to swinging by the farm for a quick spin on the log ride, but who didn’t want to pay extra to park a bit farther away in the regular parking lot. It is also understandable for Knott’s to reconsider existing policies as the number of pass holders increases. Disney has similar challenges with Downtown Disney. However, in our opinion, Knott’s is charging too much for too little time . . . and they are doing so far too fast. To instantly demand $25 from any car over the allotted 3 hour time, even with validation, is just absurd.

Compare that with what Downtown Disney offers just down the freeway.  At Downtown Disney, anybody can park in the lot for 3 hours for free, no validation.  But, guests receive validation from any one of the many shops, restaurants or movie theaters in Downtown Disney, they get an additional 2 hours (for a total of 5 free hours of parking with validation). After that 5 hours, Disney charges $6 per hour (charged in 20 minute increments) with a max daily rate of $30.

It seems to us that Knott’s is justified in adjusting their parking situation to meet the supply and demand of their 3 hour lot. But why go from 0-$25 in an instant?  Especially when you are a park that is doing everything it can to build up its season pass holder population and associated repeat business.  It might be a wiser path to take a page out of the Downtown Disney playbook for now and see if that levels out the parking situation without an overly punitive fee levied on guests who go over the 3 hours by even a little bit.

Knott’s is clearly going through some growing pains here.  What would you suggest they do about the 3 hour lot?

Calico Mine Ride Refurbishment

The multi-million dollar refurbishment of the Calico Mine Train is well along now.  The gunite on the lower levels has been replaced and the whole mountain will be receiving a repaint.

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Last Year’s Projects Today

Let’s take a look at how the projects from last year are holding up.  Granted, it wasn’t even a year ago that the Boardwalk expansion and the Timber Mountain Log ride were opened.  But let’s be honest, Knott’s hasn’t had the best track record with maintenance, until the recent management change. We were wondering how the maintenance on the animatronic and effects-filled log ride is going.  The worry, among some park enthusiasts, was that while things looked great initially, they would quickly fall into disrepair.  Were those fears founded?

We start with the Boardwalk.  Three family attractions were added last year; Pacific Scrambler, Surfside Glider and the Coast Rider.

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While this is a pretty simple expansion, they have maintained this area nicely.  The foliage is still vibrant and growing in, the water feature still clean.  Even the rides themselves have been kept up.  No chipped paint, lights are still on and the roller coaster still rides smooth as glass.  Our only notes here would be to plus the area with a few small water fountains.  Overall, nice work.  Keep it up. Onto the Log RIde

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As the ride begins we see that the spinning water wheel, that was initially not working at the opening of the ride last year, is fully operational. So far, better than opening day!  We also note that the exterior smoke stacks are still billowing away.

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Going through the saw mill, all of the animatronics are working.  Truth be told, the figures in the first scene have been a little problematic and spotty.  But the day we rode, they were all working perfectly.

We enter the second interior scene and again, all figures were working perfectly.  In fact, even the scent machines were working, shooting the fresh smell of pine at passing logs.

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sad to note that the water gag here has rarely worked since the refurb. Not imperative but fun.

The first exterior animatronic is still functioning.  But his clothing has been covered in a white film due to the smoke effect from the smoke stack nearby, the faux trees behind him are also covered.  They have since converted the effect to a light mist here, but they have yet to reclothe the figure.  Not a deal breaker.

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We round the corner and come across the hitchhiker.  Sadly, his arm is broken again.  This continues to happen as a result of riders swatting at the figure, who’s arm is just in reach of mischievous guests.  Unfortunately, the solution may be to move or remove the figure entirely.

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After the first drop, the cavern room is lit perfectly again, dark and brooding.  we move to the tent scene and see that all is operable here.  Even the amazing bear animatronics.  Everything looks wonderful in here.

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The finale room is still loud, boisterous and kinetic.  Our favorite figure, the log roller, is operating perfectly.

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Finally, the blast effect at the end of the attraction is still working as it was on day one.  It would be great to see them finally get the smoke effect working at the top of the hill.

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Overall we are very impressed with the upkeep and maintenance on this crown jewel of an attraction.  With close to 60 animatronics, lighting, scent, sound and special effects, Knott’s really deserves credit here.  Let’s hope that the attraction is maintained at this level for years to come.

Silver Bullet

Recently the Silver Bullet suspended coaster enjoyed a full repainting.  While we have misgivings about the placement of the coaster and the tranquility lost in the heart of the park, we have to admit this ride looks stunning.  The colors are vibrant and eye-popping again as they were when the attraction opened.

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The supports literally gleam.

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No More Windseeker.

As our regular readers already know, Windseeker has been swept off to World’s of Fun in Kansas City. The area is now an empty covered queue and a flowerbed.

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Honestly, it is a lovely display, and a lot more than Knott’s would have ever done in the past. Kudos!

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They also made themed displays out of the old attraction signage. Another nice touch that would have been ruled unnecessary by less attentive management.

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Camp Snoopy Refurbishment

Celebrating 30 years, this kid-centric area of the park is getting a full update, including three new attractions.

Camp Snoopy New Attractions Rendering

Charlie Brown’s Kite Flyer invites campers to “fly a kite” with Charlie Brown and soar above the land’s winding paths and babbling streams – but watch out for the kite-eating tree!  This 32-passenger adventure allows guests to sit side-by-side on 16 swings for a spin that whisks riders up to 18 feet above the ground. As the tree rises, good ol’ Charlie Brown is revealed upside down and all tied up in kite string!  Charlie Brown’s Kite Flyer will replace Snoopy Bounce.

Pig Pen’s Mud Buggies lets tykes climb aboard their very own all-terrain vehicle for an adventurous ride around the High Sierras.  Six four-seater ATVs will spin, bounce, and bump up to 24 guests at a time, while Pig Pen looks on from his center perch.  Pig Pen’s Mud Buggies will replace Log Peeler.

Linus Launcher recreates that classic Peanut’s moment when Snoopy grabs Linus’ blanket and launches him on a wild ride.  On Linus Launcher, guests lay on one of twelve “blankets” as they fly round and round.  Up to 24 guests lay side-by-side while Snoopy launches them up almost 10 feet in the air.  Guests will enjoy a Woodstock’s-eye view of Huff ‘n Puff, The Grizzly Creek Lodge, and all of Camp Snoopy below! Linus Launcher will replace Charlie Brown’s Speedway.

Currently most of the attractions in the land are still operating.  Even the freshly painted Sierra Sidewinder is spinning and twirling along its tracks.  If only they would build the High Sierra mountain themeing for this coaster.  Just imagine this amazing track, zooming in and out of a mountain peak, with waterfalls and trees.

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The area in front of the SIerra Sidewinder is being resurfaced and, subsequently, access is cut off.

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Over at the Timberline Twister, the station is being rebuilt and the area in front of it is getting a resurfacing.

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And that does it for this visit to the farm.  We will be sure to keep you updated on all the developments in Camp Snoopy and the Calico Mine Ride.

About Norman Gidney

Norman Gidney, also known as Fishbulb, produces and edits many of the articles on MiceChat. Tune in every Tuesday for the Orlando Parkhopper and every Friday for In The Parks. But you'll also find his photos in the Weekly Round Up, SAMLAND, and numerous other columns on the site.

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28 Comments

Comments for Knotts Berry Farm Update: Refurbishments and the Fight Against Breast Cancer are now closed.

  1. Great article, love hearing about any updates from Knott’s!

    I’m sorry to hear about the new changes happening with the 3 hour parking, but as mentioned, it was bound to happen, sooner or later. Can someone tell me what the cost is to add parking to my season pass???

    • You can add on a year of parking for $55. The lowest cost annual pass is currently $84 (which they offer a payment plan for). For folks who buy the annual pass because it’s a great value, but won’t visit the park more than a few times, it probably isn’t worth getting the parking pass. But for folks who plan to stop by once or twice a month for meals and entertainment, than someone in the household should probably pick up a parking pass. That’s what we’ve done. We have one parking pass between us. Works out fine.

      • At $55 for parking, and $15 per day all day parking, that’ll pay for itself in 4 trips. Personally I’ll visit at least every other month, so that’s worth it for me.

  2. My mother and I visited Knott’s last Labor Day week as I wanted to see the refurbished Timber Mountain Log Ride. Ironically, you are mentioning the “Knott’s For the Cure” campaign and at the time of our visit, my mother had literally just completed 6 weeks of post surgical radiation therapy for breast cancer. As a result, she was not up to riding Timber Mountain, so I had to ride it alone. It was a beautiful, warm, sunny day at the park and virtually NO crowds at all. Luckily, I had the log ride all to myself and they let me ride through twice without exiting. Absolutely thrilled with the log rolling character and the bear attack out of the bushes was fun BOTH times :) We both did get to ride Calico Mine Ride however, and a rare (for me) ride on the Galloping Goose railroad. Thank you Knott’s for setting the bar higher again and continuing your remodel efforts, as well as exemplary park maintenance.

  3. I remember that some years when we didn’t go to Knott’s park on our annual Disneyland trip, we would at least park outside the restaurant for a chicken dinner one night. This will have an impact on restaurant revenue. $25!?!?!?

    • According to the slip of paper they handed me on the way out last night, you will still have 3 hours of free parking as long as you have a receipt in hand from the restaurant (or shops).

      • That’s right. 3 hours with a Marketplace validation.

      • Is there a stated minimum for purchase from the marketplace shops to receive validation?

  4. Could never understand why guest always has to ruin everything they can touch. Those figures from the log ride isn’t cheap. Its a shame.

    • It’s because humans in general are destructive. We are our own worst enemies.

  5. GREAT REPORT………..
    I just Love ,what Knott’s have done and doing with there PARK!

    This is just me……….I still hate the Silver Bullet……for, I think it take
    away so much of the park ,for one ride……..
    and I know they can do better…….

    But, they are trying and have ,clean alot up!
    I think it’s great they cleaning the area on Marketplace along Grand Avenue
    They do have do something about the parking.
    I can see thos going to the restaurants for a chicken dinner or TGIF,being there
    longer than 3 hour’s?
    I do have to say
    Knott’s Berry Farm is known for its charitable nature……..

  6. Is there a timeline on the refurbishment of the Calico Mine Train? Are they aiming for summer 2014 or will it take longer than that?

    • It should be open in time for Memorial Day.

  7. What they should do is add an on ride camera focused on the animatronic hitchhiker.
    Then when the log reaches the platform the guest that causes damage would be escorted to security and charged for vandalism.

  8. We bought a Knott’s Season Pass because of Billy Hill (now Krazy Kirk and the Hillbillies), can you add coverage of their new show? The one thing I’ve always noticed is that the food is better at Knott’s than at Disneyland. We got a cheeseburger combo, it might be pricey at $15, (or maybe not) but it was a huge half pounder, with seasoned fries and a large drink. We also got an all-beef corn dog, maybe a third larger than Disney’s, with a generous amount of waffle fries, for $7.99, Disney’s is $6.99 with a small bag of chips. Knott’s season pass is so cheap, maybe they make it up with food sales, but I would say their food is worth it.

    • Knott’s = Best theme park Funnel Cakes!!!

  9. They’ve gone way overboard with the parking changes. Why eliminate ALL parking along Grand Avenue? It wasn’t a problem for decades, and now, suddenly, it’s an issue? Why not keep parking on one side of the street, with all disabled spaces?

    Regarding the three-hour lot, why a fine of $25, rather than a reasonable rate ($2 per 30-minutes?) for those parking past three hours? Dinner at the restaurant, after a 30-minute wait to get in, along with a little shopping, can easily put you over three hours.

    When the parks down the street in Anaheim offer a better value, you know you have a problem.

    For all the great improvements at Knott’s recently, this comes across as a big FAIL.

  10. Knott’s needs to have some middle ground for parking. Personally, I don’t usually stay long enough to justify $15 for parking…so this will deter me from using my pass as often as I would otherwise. I also dislike the other parking lot, especially if I’m only going to be there a couple hours, so I don’t want to buy a parking pass for that one.

    I think it would be fair if there was 4 hours free with Mrs. Knotts dinner and/or shopping (it can take that long anyway), or, if not eating, 2 hours free and $2 for every 20 minutes thereafter, with a maximum of $26. I would consider a higher priced parking pass for that lot…although I know they wouldn’t want to sell too many of them and discourage the people coming just to shop or eat.

  11. I just wish Knott’s was owned by a company that doesn’t care about roller coasters. I mean I love roller coasters but Knotts is a THEME park not an AMUSEMENT park. I wish the park had more experiences and theming than thrills because that’s how Knott’s used to be. Oh well, looks like Steele Giants dominating the skies of Buena Park for now. I’m already used to the screams anyway, my grandparents live a block away from Knotts and can see GhostRider, Independence Hall and some Slides at soak city from their front yard.

  12. I hope the repainting of the Mine Train is better than the blanket job they did on Timber Mountain. That paint job lacked any color variation or detail!

    While Silver Bullet took a good chunk out of a nice part of the park, I’d rather see the steel from Boomerang and Supreme Scream go away. Wouldn’t it be nice to remove Boomerang and bring back the burro ride???

  13. The reason that it’s $25 if you go over an hour is to completely prevent any AP’s from parking there and leaving those spaces available for what they are intended — for people visiting the marketplace. If they kept it at $15 or anything lower, then AP’s visiting the park would still park there because it’s a closer walk to the park. They have to make sure that the price is high enough that no one visiting the park will use those spaces. It is completely fair. What is not fair is when people who actually are there to go to the Marketplace have no where to park because all of the MarketPlace parking spaces are taken up by people visiting the park.

  14. There’s a lot of talk about Knott’s having roller coasters. I think it’s hard for Knott’s to be like Disneyland, they would have to have a lot of family rides with or without animatronics, but even those are getting dated compared to simulators like Universal has. I don’t like the roller coasters in the middle of the park, but I do have to admit that I enjoy them, otherwise I would have to go all the way to Magic Mountain for thrills. The thing Knott’s could do is theme the roller coasters, like building a mountain over Sierra Sidewinder, but it’s probably too costly and probably wouldn’t see an increase in ridership. Although, when we went, I noticed that the roller coasters were pretty much walk ons, and the more family-friendly rides had longer lines. So family rides definitely have a place.

    • Rides with animatronics are dated?????????????

  15. In regards of the Log Ride, I agree with having some smoke-like effect for the finale hill but they also could do misters to keep riders cool before they take the last plunge and mimic smoke of the dynamite.

    The parking situation is understandable but unreasonable for the patrons of the Mrs. Knotts restaurant. As a regular Brunch-er on Sundays, the usual crowd there likes to take their time and visit and also aren’t as able to walk from the marketplace lots, having the parking in front of the shops seemed like a nice gesture but I get why it could be troublesome but $25 dollars for a minute over seems too harsh.

    Hopefully the minimum for validation is fair though.