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  1. #1

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    Knott's Berry Farm Trip Report - Sat. 5/21 - WARNING LONG

    (This is a really long and personal trip report, so I've italicized things I feel I most important, and bolded attraction names)

    This was my first trip to Knott's Berry Farm in more than a year, and I went hearing horrible rumors from local newspapers and magazines about its historical delipidation and a rollercoaster boom.

    I arrived with my roommate, comp'ed tickets in tow, at 9:45 am, figuring we'd beat the main rush. But we had to park in a lot to the right of Beach, in a dirt lot with some grass and trees across the street from Knott's. No tram, no underground mural, lewd honking from drivers, and still $9. That's ridiculous. Parking is $10 at DL and there's a nice tram and a covered parking structure with good security. This lot was right off the street. Anyone could have walked up. Plus, it was in direct sunlight on Saturday. It was 90 degrees F on Saturday. Ouch.

    Walked the block to the park, where I discovered that the bronze statue of the 49er above the Knott's sign is actually made of foamcore or plexiglass. Some of the "bronze" had been broken off in places. We walked right in with our tickets, with no bag check, which made me a little nervous, and the first place we headed to was the Silver Bullet. My roommate didn't ride, but I waited ten minutes to, and I must admit that I was sorely disappointed. I'm a big roller coaster connoisseur, and I felt that for the spins and turns it made, it moved WAY too fast to be enjoyable, and a la Goliath at Six Flags, I nearly blacked out at one point from the sheer speed. I know I'm not getting old; I guess it's just built for their "main audience", i.e. 12-15 year old kids from youth centers and field trips and day care centers.

    Next, we headed to the Fiesta Village, and in the 10 o clock hour, we rode La Revolucion (this is a new installation here, but a fairly common carnival ride. It felt safer than something at the county fair, but it was just as unenjoyable, and like Silver Bullet, created just to try and get the 12-15 set to dare each other to ride it. That mentality is so... well... 12-15.), Montezooma's Revenge, Jaguar, Wave Swinger (which no longer has an original, "Fiesta Village" inspired name), and the Dragon Swing. I don't think anyone shows up to this park before noon.

    After this, we headed across the train tracks, and my roommate went to snag a Dippin Dots while I rode Supreme Scream (can you tell she's not a big thrill fan?). I loved it, and got a side facing the park, which was really beautiful, and enjoyed it just as much as the first time I rode it. I will keep returning to Knott's no matter what so long as they KEEP THIS RIDE! It's SO THRILLING. And it reminds me of the old parachutes... The Knott Tower is still there, but it doesn't do anything but occasionally send a Sky Cabin up and down. But nothing can replace my memories of shrieking and clinging to the bars of the parachutes, praying we wouldn't just fly off the cords in our little metal cages. Course, Supreme Scream helps me cope!!

    After I got off, I found out my roommate couldn't get Dippin Dots because they didn't accept debit/credit. We are both so used to DL's willingness to take our money in whatever form that we didn't think to bring much cash. We found that only sit-down restaurants and shops take credit, and none give cashback. So, we went to the 50's Diner on "The Boardwalk" and got a kid's bucket of chicken tenders, a massive amount of fries, and some 8 oz kids drink for $7.99. Rip off, compared to DL kids meals, even with the free plastic bucket and "collector's cup". And enough fries to feed five. No reason to give kids that many.

    After this, we rode the Timber Mountain Log Ride, probably our longest wait in the park, at 25 minutes. It appeared that the water had just been changed. Also, the bridge over the flume at the loading area had been completely rebuilt with some very cheap wood. If you're going to fix it, just spend the money. Now you'll have to replace it every year. But the money spent on this minor refurb did not extend to the wooden woodsmen in the ride (I can hardly call them anamatronics!!) Many of them were not moving at all, and one or two were missing limbs. Most of the taxidermied animals were gone excet a bear, and it looked like the "moon" effect from Kingdom of the Dinosaurs was placed in the outdoors scene. The ride was overfull and we got drenched. And while I normally hate getting this wet on rides, with the weather as hot as it was, I appreciated it.

    After this, we decided to walk through Ghost Town. Unfortunately, yet unsurprisedly, we found it to be an ACTUAL Ghost Town. The only places we saw people were in the shops that sold candy. The old museum was deserted except for us and the nice old woman attendant, who was submitted to the menial labor of moving "pennies in a bottle" from one box to another. I was as fascinated with the artifacts as I was as a child, but it seems like the children of today are unimpressed.

    In the graveyard, we got our "good luck" from the heartbeating grave. I went to look at the old sculpture of the 49er in the river, sifting sand to look for gold, and found him to be in horrible disrepair. He was falling apart, and you could tell he was made from wood. The paint was completely faded. I almost felt it would look better if it wasn't there at all, then I realized that no matter how delipidated he got, I wanted him there, to preserve some of Knott's rich history. Panning for gold cost a whopping $5. We opted out. We walked over the back bridge, and saw yet another new fence, built from the cheapest wood materials. When we rounded the bend, I was horrified to find that the candle shop was all closed and boarded up, and falling apart, literally. At least the window display was still there.. but when I walked up the street some more, I saw that they had put it in where the "ladies shop" was. Now dipping your own candle costs $9.99 for a very limited selection of candles. When I was a kid it was $3-$7, depending on the size of the candle you picked. Needless to say, it was deserted.

    The glass blower's shop was beautiful as always, and retains some of the charm which Disneyland's crystal shop doesn't have, because they create the pieces on site at Knotts. We saw a man working on starting a new piece, linking shorter pieces of glass together to make long pieces. Someday, I will buy my mother her crystal, hand-made at Knott's Cinderella carriage like she always wanted.

    We headed over to the old schoolhouse, which I was ecstatic to find still in place. An old man sat at the schoolmaster's desk, and he didn't seem very optimistic about the schoolhouse staying there much longer. "Oh," he said, "Kids don't want history nowadays, they want rides. They'll probably put another roller coaster here fore long" Truer words we never spoken, and it made me very sad. In the whole fifteen minutes we spent inside the schoolhous,e reading the posters and sitting in the desks and soaking in a probably soon-to-be-extinct part of California theme park history, no one else entered the schoolhouse. Nobody.

    We walked through the Gun/cigar shop, and the man working there said it was probably his busiest day. But again, we were the only ones there in the entire seven minutes or so we spent inside.

    Outside, a woman was making lace!! This was a nice touch, and I was awestruck to finally see an attention paid to history, no matter how small it was. I don't know whether she was getting paid, but there was a mom and her daughters there, and they were as impressed as we were at how meticulous making something as delicate as lace is.

    We looked through some of the old windows that told California's history, and they were all filled with cobwebs and dirt and no lighting. If you remember the old cabinet California mission models towards the end, the condition is very similar. At least the sound still worked. The Chinese man sang his silly song while he did laundry. But the wooden figures take on a very eerie quality without any lighting on them. Looking at those things as a kid is probably where my odd fear of wax figures originates from.

    I was delighted to see that the old man in the prison who talks to the people who visit him was still running. My roommate's parents had never spooked her in this way like my parents had, and so I sent her back, but she didn't stay long enough to get the joke. I was thrilled to see this still running, the man in the front still calling out names in the very back, to awed kids who don't know what's going on. Then again, these kids are so jaded now that maybe they DO know. But it awed me when I was little.

    Leather shop was still there, ladies shop was moved to the front, but like Disneyland, most of the shops have become very generic, all offering similar merchendise. Apparently Knott's has a large Red Hat Society population, because many stores had related merchandise, including Victoria's Gift Shop.

    The Bottle House was still there, and still empty. Mostly I think because few people come to Knott's to buy $80 mocassins.

    The Geode Shop was pretty busy, as always, but I'm a little bored of it, since they haven't added any new pieces to their collection or even moved any of the pieces in at least six years. After this, we left.

    I guess I got what I expected. All the history was unkept and ignored, almost intentionally destroyed from lack of maintenance. All the roller coasters were in top shape, and the kids from their youth centers just loved em. But I am not impressed. I don't want Ghost Town to be a real Ghost Town.

    Ironically, I've heard that when the Knott family wanted to sell their theme park, Disney made an offer, but The Knotts refused, because they were worried that they would change the park too much. I guess you reap what you sow, because Cedar Fair is quickly destroying everything that made Knott's more magical for me as a child than even Disneyland.

    When I was a kid, I panned for gold. I dipped candles. I ate funnel cakes. I opened a geode. I stood on the "lucky grave". I didn't believe that there really were 10,000 buttons on the wall in the museum in Ghost Town. I rode the stagecoach. I remember when the Wilderness Scramble was inside of a room and "underwater". I wanted to get married in that Chapel. I learned Indian prayers inside of the old "Indian church". I sat inside a tepee.

    I want that Knott's Berry Farm back.

    I grew up at Knott's Berry Farm. More than I ever did at Disneyland. I think I must have visited at least three times a year. I think I'm going to be visiting very often in the next year, because I'm watching everything I love about it fading away, and I don't want to get caught off guard.

    I didn't get to ride Calico Mine Train, and I feel like I need to return to do this immediately, because I feel that it is on its last legs. I didn't check out the area near Kingdom of the Dinosaurs. I didn't ride the train. I didn't ride a stagecoach. I found out that the Wedding Chapel was not destroyed, but just relocated across the street, near Independance Hall. I did cry a little at everything I felt that I had personally lost on this trip.

    Melissa Cruz
    Trip Report
    Knott's Berry Farm
    Saturday, May 22, 2005.

  2. #2

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    Wow, that's kinda funny, Silver Bullet is one of the tamer B&M inverted coasters...

  3. #3

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    Knott's was the best..

    Quote Originally Posted by melmel
    (
    When I was a kid, I panned for gold. I dipped candles. I ate funnel cakes. I opened a geode. I stood on the "lucky grave". I didn't believe that there really were 10,000 buttons on the wall in the museum in Ghost Town. I rode the stagecoach. I remember when the Wilderness Scramble was inside of a room and "underwater". I wanted to get married in that Chapel. I learned Indian prayers inside of the old "Indian church". I sat inside a tepee.

    I want that Knott's Berry Farm back.

    I grew up at Knott's Berry Farm. More than I ever did at Disneyland. I think I must have visited at least three times a year. I think I'm going to be visiting very often in the next year, because I'm watching everything I love about it fading away, and I don't want to get caught off guard.
    You are killing me with your post. I feel the same way. I want the chickens to roam the parking lot. And real Boysenberry punch. That's what made Knott's a more real and warm place. The pressure never existed "to get it all in". It was laid back with this naive low tech, family feel. They never tried to be Disney. You always felt like you were over at a neighbor's house, because as you know, Knott's actually IS your neighbor's house!!! That place will someday be a big phenonemon when they destroy just enough for people to storm out and want it back. KBF was a man's obsession for America, and a reminder of the sacrifices that his parents made in a simpler time. For Walter Knott, it was the west, to his younger Collegue Walt Disney is was the Midwest. Both men saw the steamroller of big city progress and a changing country as a threat to their own nostalgia and they created living time capsules spun to their own recollection of that history. What an achievement, and to kids like us, we just loved and learned from it. My childhood has the toothpick ferris wheel (Gold Trails museum) Paul von Klieben, and train robberies embedded in it forever.

    The Calico Mine ride, an attraction inspired by Knott's first job as a silver miner in the City of Calico. I learned that "Those wooden beams overhead are called "Square set" shorin', invented by Philip Dedisheimer back in the 1880s. Without them, the mining of the comstock lode would have been impossible". LOL..The things we remember. Thanks Mr. Knott.
    Last edited by Cousin Orville; 05-23-2005 at 07:36 AM.
    "As usual he's taken over the coolest spot in the house"- Father re: Orville 1963

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  4. #4

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    For those of you from out of state that may not be familiar with what were talking about or why it's so emotional, here's a bit of history from Lotta Living..

    http://www.lottaliving.com/knotts/history.shtml
    "As usual he's taken over the coolest spot in the house"- Father re: Orville 1963

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  5. #5

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    That is really sad .... I still remember the Wacky Soap Box Racers ... I miss those ... I miss the whole ambiance that Knotts used to have and it makes me really sad that they are losing that. If I want roller coasters I will go to six flags, not Knotts. But if I wanted a good park with lots of historical theming and more thrills than Disneyland then I would go to Knotts, but it sounds like Knotts is turning into another Six Flags.
    Quote Originally Posted by drunkmom
    this is my first buzzed post in the DMCA -- I'm really in this club because I'm a bitch more than anything. I've only had to hit the backspace 4 (oops, make that 5) times in (now 7) in this (now 9) (now 15) in this post! Damn, now I'm up to 18! Our neighbors were (19) (20) making tequilla sunrises. I thought I couldn't do tequilla (22) anymore but (24) this stuff (26) was good! It started (27) with an s



  6. #6

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    Your post made me cry.

    I miss that old Knott's too, God I love the candle making as a kid, the Beary Tales ride(I know i say that in EvERY KNOTTS POST) the relaxed non rushed feeling(except when it was time for Mrs. Knott's dinner!)Knott's had so much charm when I was a kid



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  7. #7

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    Be glad you didn't experience the train robbery - it's a shadow of its former self. Apparently, the idea of scaring children into believing they're being robbed is lawsuit fodder, so now the "robbers" come on board, don't fire their guns, and just crack jokes and insult their passengers before moving on. Bleh.

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  8. #8

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    Thanks for the Thread, MelMel. My memories of Knott's go back to '53 when we lived in Bellflower and went to Knott's almost every weekend. Free admission, of course and we loved it. I'm a history buff and was truly sad to read about the state of Ghost Town and how most guests ignore it these days.

    I, too remember the thrill of panning for gold, enjoying the past come to life and realizing how rough the pioneers' life truly was. The Western Movie was a staple at the box office back then and a trip to Knott's brought it all to life much better than film could ever achieve.

    The Steak House was considered upscale while the Chicken Dinner Restaurant catered to the average person. I had friends who worked there in the early '60s when Cordelia Knott still held court at the end of the food line. She would yell at the servers if they put too much of something on a plate and made them remove the jar of boysenberry jam from the table before the ice cream was served. The jam was for the biscuits and wasn't to be used to make an ice cream sundae.

    The hold-up on the train was thrilling for us kids, the stagecoach ride that jarred my teeth and butt like no other thrill ride since, having an icy cold sassaparilla in the Calico Saloon while watching the can can girls, the Wagon Circle where you had a free concert of real Western Music performed live around a roaring fire, the ornate Caroussel out on La Palma with its huge band organ that mesmerized me with its long ago tunes and tremendous sound.

    I last visited Knott's in the late '80s and while being very nostagic for me, I could see the place beginning to fade and morph into a mess of an amusement park that appeared to have lost its soul.

  9. #9

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    I'm only 19, so I'm too young to remember most of the things that made Knott's REALLY special for you guys. Never saw Knott's Bear-y Tales. Never had "real" boysenberry punch. And I have yet to eat at the Chicken House. I think I'm going to plan a trip just to eat there this weekend with the boyfriend. It's still pretty affordable!

    I'm a HUGE boysenberry fan, though. A PB&J is nothing without boysenberry jelly. It's the best berry on earth! I've bought boysenberry shortbread cookies, boysenberry juice concentrate to take home with me, of course boysenberry preserves, and just yesterday I found out that they make boysenberry candy canes, so I bought one. Anything boysenberry, I'll eat it right up. I asked and they don't make boysenberry taffy though.

    I wanna go and try some boysenberry pie!!

  10. #10

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    Didn't Mr. Knott "invent" the boysenberry?

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by DifrntDrmr
    Didn't Mr. Knott "invent" the boysenberry?
    Yup. It originated at the Berry Farm in Buena Park in 1934.

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by melmel
    Yup. It originated at the Berry Farm in Buena Park in 1934.
    NOPE! Walter Knott did NOT invent the Boysenberry, he named it and sold it

    In the late 1920's, George Darrow of the USDA began tracking down reports of a large, reddish-purple berry that had been grown by a man named Rudolf Boysen. He enlisted the help of Walter Knott, a Southern California farmer known as something of a berry expert. Knott hadn't heard of the new berry, but agreed to help Darrow in his search. The pair soon learned that Rudolf Boysen had abandoned his growing experiments several years earlier and sold his farm. Undaunted by this news, Darrow and Knott headed out to Boysen's old farm, where they found several frail vines surviving in a field choked with weeds. They transplanted the vines to Knott's farm where he nurtured them back to fruit-bearing health. Walter Knott's began selling the berries at his farm stand in 1935 and soon noticed that people kept returning to buy the large tasty berries. When asked what they were called, Knott said, "Boysenberries." As their popularity grew, Mrs. Knott began making preserves which ultimately made Knott's Berry Farm in Buena Park, California world famous.

  13. #13

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    The boysenberry was not invented by Walter Knott but Anaheim Parks Superintendent Rudolph Boysen in the 30s. Walter Knott took the berry and "perfected" it and named if after its originator.

    We haven't been to KBF since last year and I saw so many changes that I was not happy with. Being a former employee under the Knott Family and being there when the change was made to Cedar Fair, I thought things would be for the best but I was wrong. Cedar Fair was supposed to bring state of the art thrill rides while still keeping its special charm but after our visit last year, I saw it becoming another Six Flags park w/o the true thrill rides. My kids loved Camp Snoopy and I was glad they didn't change it much but as far as the other areas, I could tell that Cedar Fair was NOT putting much money into the park upkeep. I remember when the Cedar Fair big wigs came out to talk to the employees and they promised so much but in my opinion, I did not see much. A lot of the owners of some of the specialty shops in Ghost Town started to think about leaving (as many have) and I am surprised that the others still remain..ie Geode Shop and Pan for Gold (think its under same ownership). From personal experience the maintenance staff is one of the best and they do so much with what little they have. When Cedar Fair became the new owners, Knotts lost some of its management staff, unfortunately the many of the good ones left and the bad ones stayed (I can think of a couple of names too).

    Changes could also be felt by the employees as what I loved about KBF under the Knott family is that they seemed to care about their employees or at least what family represented. We got Christmas Day off and they also gave each employee a turkey for the holidays as well as a special ornament. We also got a lot more perks but too much to list. In addition, each time a new ride opened, we got a shirt for employees only as well as staff shirts for Halloween Haunt (those were cool!!!) and that is what the company paid for. But when Cedar Fair came along, most of those perks went away!

  14. #14

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    Oh Marion... such a fool for selling...

    But it's ok, the profits from that deal are going into building a new film school at my alma mater, Chapman.

    But it's sad to see the park of childhood gone.

  15. #15

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    Found this info on there website, someone should drop them a line!
    ____________________________________________
    Knott's Berry Farm
    8039 Beach Boulevard
    Buena Park, CA 90620
    (714) 220-5200


    Guest Relations:
    [email protected] (714) 220-5200

    Cedar Fair, L.P. Mission Statement:
    Cedar Fair, L.P., is dedicated to providing our guests with world-class thrills, fun and family entertainment, guided by the principles of safety, service, courtesy, cleanliness and integrity.


    Guest Relations:
    Great guest service is one of our highest priorities throughout Knott’s Southern California Resort. Let us answer your questions and provide you with all the information you need to make your day a memorable one.

    "This guy!"

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