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. What some folks aren’t realizing is that these parking changes will actually DISCOURAGE folks from going to the Marketplace. I’ve used the up-front parking on many occasions to make a quick purchase from the bakery or takeout location. Won’t be doing that anymore.

    The current parking situation is nowhere near the problem some of us have now started armchair imagining it to be.

    In-regards to the brunch; it’s already on the way out; going to a silly once a month schedule as of March. With the parking limit, it won’t be long before it’s eliminated completely. And that’s a shame, it’s a good meal.

    It’s bad decision-making. Knott’s management will realize it but, unfortunately, it’ll be after the loss of much goodwill.

  2. I’m only writing this as Knott’s reads these. 3 Hours is reasonable for parking and I know AP holders do taken advantage (2 times in 3 years). I’m one of them, but I have spent a lot of money on dinners and souvenirs. I actually look at my pass as a donation. You have done a lot to restore the park, but it is a 2.5 hour park at best. You only have 2 rides that people who went to the park will ride. The mine and the log ride. The rest either have lines that are too long, or are too crazy. I will not be a supporter of this change, and will not renew. So sad as I love the park, and I love the chicken dinner. My mom spends almost 2 hrs just checking out the shops. What would Virginia’s gift shop be without a steady steam of customers.

    • Knott’s,

      Beings that you read this, ralzap just called about an hour ago and said they would completely change their mind about the whole parking thing if you brought back Knott’s Beary Tales. They even said they would purposely park in that area just to pay the premium. That’s quite a commitment, so I think you should take them up on it.

      • They can bring back the Wacky Soap Box Racers while they’re at it, lol.