Knott’s Berry Farm Puts A New Focus On Food

Written by MiceChat Staff. Posted in Features, In the Parks, Knott's Berry Farm, Knott's Scary Farm, Southern California Parks

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Published on July 22, 2012 at 10:51 pm with 24 Comments

As summer presses on, Knott’s Berry Farm continues to make improvements which add value and substance to the park. Management has been investing in infrastructure, landscaping and set decoration which has truly improved the overall park experience.  But, the one thing that really stands out lately is the focus on improving the quality of food throughout the park.  There is also a continued effort to further fill the park with the little vignettes and peek-ins, that add a bit of extra magic. Knott’s was the one local park which didn’t add a new attraction this year. However, with all of the efforts they have made to improve the value of the Knott’s experience,the reward has been higher attendance levels and increased guest satisfaction. It’s been a great summer for Knott’s Berry Farm so far.

Knott’s has been very eager to re-brand the food offerings, and for good reason. Knott’s may be known as a theme park today, but it really started as a berry farm and chicken dinner restaurant. The Mrs. Knott’s restaurant was so popular, that Walter Knott began building a ghost town and adding attractions to keep folks entertained. However, once the Knott family sold the park, the focus on food slowly faded.

As with many of the problems that current management has had to tackle, they took this situation very seriously.  Bringing in the big guns, Knott’s called on Russ Knibbs.  Russ, a boisterous food evangelist, began to reinvent the food items park-wide with a commitment to quality ingredients and unique menu items.

MiceChat was invited to a special event this past Friday evening, which featured many of the brand new food items in the park. Here is what they had there for us.

The Wilderness Dance Hall was flanked with tables and samples of the food, served by the managers of the individual restaurants.  We can honestly tell you that we were beyond impressed.


Vegetarian, black bean Burger – a nice alternative for the vegetarian set.

11 hour slow cooked ribs, with meat so tender it was falling off the bone. Simply fantastic.

The flank steak sandwich was a delightful surprise. Tender, fresh and filled with flavor.

There was even an ahi tuna poke on wonton which was a favorite of Dusty’s.

BBQ ribbletts make a great addition to the menu and were quite tasty.

Many of the items, like this meatball sandwich, serve to fill a comfort food niche.

And one of our absolute favorites was the new jalepeño burger. Even better than it sounds.

Even Knott’s Soak City is getting new menu items. Subs and Veggie Wraps

Glutten Free Pizza – Soak City

The funnel cakes aren’t new, but we’ve learned that Knott’s will soon begin making churros fresh in the park!

But the surprise delicious treat was the chipwhich ice cream sandwich which they make from fresh chocolate chip cookies. a-ma-zing

If Knott’s wants their guests to return loyally (not just once every year or so, but frequently), food is the surest way to their hearts.  Food has always been a fundamental ingredient in the history of the park, and it was high time that Knott’s rediscovered one of its core strengths.  What is the result?  Not just good, but very good food options.

Russ Knibbs, Vice President of food and beverage, spearheaded the changes. He started at some of the  smaller locations, places like Coasters, near Xcelerator and Fireman’s Barbecue in Ghost Town. A particular favorite of ours is the Jalapeño Burger at Coasters, that adds just the right amount of zing and fresh ingredients to create a substantial meal.  Really, we never thought we could like a theme park burger, but this one is great.

The team has even begun to serve fresh squeezed lemonade in Ghost Town and they opened a fresh fruit cart in Camp Snoopy.  Everywhere, they are adding fresh, natural ingredients.

Russ Knibbs, Vice President, Food and Beverage

Russ Promises that they are far from done.  One week ago, the Ghost Town Grill debuted a new menu that he is very proud of and suggests that everyone give it a try.

The exterior menus have yet to be replaced.

Russ’ favorite particular item of the new offerings in the park?  The flank steak sandwich at the Fireman’s Brigade Barbecue.  But there is more.  He was quick to mention the new, patio table service at Spurs on Friday through Monday nights.  A tapas style menu offering ahi poke, bruschetta, sliders and other items, is complimented with cocktails and live music. The goal is to provide a relaxing evening escape for adults. What a fantastic change of pace.

One bit of delicious news that Russ offered to us was pretty interesting.  While he insists that they will never be finished improving on the food offerings, he mentioned that they will be putting an end to the  sad state of churros in the park (you know, the frozen sticks which are toasted in those conveyor belt mini ovens).  In fact, they plan on making their own Churros soon, from scratch.  We cannot wait!

Granted, this event was a showcase for the food, and we’ve yet to try them out in the various restaurants on a regular business day..  We have already gone back for the Jalapeño Burger at Coasters and it was just as good as it was Friday.  We will continue to report on the park foods and the enticing new items as they are added.

As we have said before, Knott’s continues to plus the park experience and make that affordable gate fee seem like a better and better deal.  The rising amount of guests in the park are a testament to the fact that the Knott’s strategy is working.

Fortunately, the park has a tremendous capacity to handle crowds and the park is still very manageable and enjoyable.

The planters in Charleston Circle are being refreshed again.  We caught them in transition.

Here’s what they looked like last week.

They have replaced the petunias with salvia and celosia.  These will do well in the full sun.

When Knott’s began to spruce the place up it was an encouraging thing to see.  But many wondered if they would be keeping it up or if the improvements were just lipstick on a pig.  Happily, we can report that they have been maintaining the new touches nicely.

Deadwood Dick’s grave is still planted and kept up

Just inside the Ghost Town Depot the “Ticket Office” has been lovingly decorated.

The telegraph machine taps out letters that were to and from Walter and Cordelia Knott.

Sadly, if people don’t get wise soon, they may have to remove the charming water pump on Main Street in Ghost Town.  Folks just can’t help themselves when there is water nearby.  They have to get in it and/or drink it.

It’s for the “Horsez Only”

We did run into the charming streetmosphere townspeople again,

They are always ready with a smile.

Back in Calico Square, we are waiting for the Windmill to make a return.  (We hope)

They have also gone in and dressed the Saloon a bit more.

Now with more fake booze!

We are on Haunt watch 2012 now.  So far, all of the action has been happening backstage.  Construction has begun on four of the mazes backstage, Delerium, Dominion of the Dead, Endgames, and Trick Or Treat.  However, we have yet to see any real construction or changes on stage.

A fancy new VIP up-charge maze called “Trapped” will make its home in this location. We are very interested to see how this new maze will be handled.

Please come join us on Saturday September 22nd  for MiceChat’s KNOTT’S SCARY FARM 40th Anniversary HALLOWEEN HAUNT SPOOCTACULAR 9.22.12.  Tickets will be on sale soon for this extra special Haunt event! If you haven’t signed up for MiceChat’s newsletters, please do so today, so you don’t miss out on any of our great events.

And that’s our delicious news from Knott’s for this week.


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  • SkyfireScar

    Hmm.. Noble Ale Works now at Knotts? awesome.. the Breakaway Pale is my favorite coming out of their brewery in Anaheim. :)

  • Malin

    jcruise86 to me it looked like the Six Flags reference is in the script. I just feel taking a shot at Six Flags kind of indicates Knott’s see’s them as there biggest competition. Perhaps this was the case with the old Management at Cedar. But the recent direction I’m seeing from Knott’s appears the park wants to return to its old roots. Which I’m in full support of them doing….

    I got nothing against the train robbers poking fun at Guests for visiting Disneyland. Just the Six Flags reference in the Stunt Show. I would like Knott’s to skip the Six Flags comparrisons.

  • DisWedWay

    I’m with Dusty on the Ahi Tuna Poke. Would still like a Tuna Melt Burger from the the Captain Hook’s Galley. I do hope they get the restored windmill back on it’s tower at Knott’s. Coming from a farm family, you get to appreciate that sound they all produce when turning in a breeze or strong wind. At Disneyland Paris I could hear Circle D Ranch’s 100 year old windmill while on Mainstreet. There are some battle stories but it’s still turning today. PD

  • Wendygirl

    Went over to Knotts this afternoon after Disneyland. I mainly went to see the Ghost Town Miners and decided to eat at the patio for Spurs. It was very nice to sit and eat and listen to the Miners. I had the Pulled Pork Sliders and they were very good. Tender meat with good BarBQ Sauce and topped with cold slaw. I will eat there again and try the mini Cheeseburger Sliders. I also agree with the merchandise they are featuring, especially in the Ghost Town area. Looks more like the crud you could find at OC or LA Fair. Do appreciate the fix up of the area, the better music and street entertainers. Keep it up Knotts!

  • Terrytiger

    One thing never mentioned in the article is “cost”. On my last visit to Knott’s for Halloween Haunt last year I was shocked to see the food and beverage prices. They were much higher than Disneyland. $4.25 for a regular soda? It was pure and simple “price gouging” and I will NOT return there because of it.

  • ralzap

    I was at Knott’s on Monday. I had the Chicken Dinner. It was excellent, and the waiter was good. They did not have KBF Boysenberry jam. The waiter said that the company that makes it in the small containers no longer manufatures it. Con Agri bought the original KBF brand, and now it is owned by Smuckers. This is why the Knott’s family made the difference.

    3 suggestions:
    1. Take the Pony express, and make the engine into a mountain. Boothill made the park, and the hurst with the story of sanora Jim, to a tree he was risen cuz the horese was’nt hisn.
    2.Get rid of the skate park in Calico Square. You can theme it to the old west.
    3.Make it obvious that people need to take kids to Sad Eye Joe.

    The Calico Mine ride looked great. Congrats.

    KBF is a great value, just theme the coasters. Next bring back Fiesta village.