I can’t even remember the last time I had seen Knott’s in the day time. For the last 15 years, every October, my friends and I would go to Knott’s Scary Farm. But the last time I spent a regular day at the part escapes my memory. So on Saturday, December 15, 3 friends and I went to spend a day at the park. But a crappy day it was.
First, I had forgotten that Knott’s was offering a special deal this weekend. Bring in a $10 toy for the Toys for Tots / Marine toy drive and you get in free. The park was packed. It took 45 minutes to get from the Beach Blvd exit of the 91 to Knott’s parking lot. Parking was $10 and you were let into a half paved, half dirt parking lot. No parking attendants anywhere. It was every man/car for themselves. We ended up parking way in the back next to 2 San Diego County Sheriff’s jail buses (?????).
The line people were standing in to donate their toy for an admission ticket started near the main entrance ticket booths and went past the Chicken dinner restaurant, past the shops and almost to where the track for Ghostrider crosses the parking area. We had free tickets from Toyota so we just had to stand is a short ticket booth line to get our admission tickets. I would have been pretty pissed off if I had paid full price for the day we were about to have.
Ghost town is still a gem and the only reason Knott’s can call itself a theme park, other wise it has become just a permanent carnival/run of the mill amusement park. Too bad Cedar Fair is slowly destroying Ghost town (no more Haunted Shack…it has been replaced by big swing ride that you have to pay EXTRA to ride) or fouling up the authentic feel of Ghost town (hard to feel you are in the old west with the Silver Bullet rollercoaster flying over your head). There were a lot of extra booths set up for the Christmas craft fair but the area was so crowded we didn’t even slow down to look.
We stopped in at the Western Trials Museum. I had never been in here (it is usually closed for the Halloween Haunt). It was a little interesting. I am a fan of history so we spent about 30 minutes looking around. Next we were going to ride the Ghost town train. But there was a 45 minute wait. So we went on the Calico Mine Ride. Not too bad of a wait, maybe 20 minutes.
A brief stop at the Calico Saloon for some berry punch (love that stuff) and then over to see Mystery Lodge. This show is just shown a couple times a day, on the hour. I thought it use to run continuous but again, it has been forever since I came to the park on a regular day. It is a nice little show and I give it thumbs up.
After Mystery Lodge (my friend joked, saying he thought it was a show staring the guy from VH1’s Pickup Artist), we walked along Big Foot Rapids and into the north part of the park. Wow has this area gone to crap. I remember a dozen and a half years ago when this use to be the Roaring 20’s themed area. It had a good vibe about it back then, with 20’s era music in the background. Now it is just a hodge-posh of just random things. Gone is the Kingdom of the Dinosaurs (I really miss Knott’s Bear-y Tales), replaced by a closed Laser Tag room. There is no cohesive theme here what so ever. It get’s worse as you go into the area once know at the Roaring 20’s Airfield, now “The Boardwalk”. People bitch and Moan about Paradise Pier at DCA being too much like a carnival. Well, “The Boardwalk” is a carnival, complete with ring toss games in the middle of the walk ways. They made a half heart attempt to place some theme around Perilous Plunge but in front of the ride is a bunch of Pepsi vending machines (which are all over the park. Nothing looks tackier than a neon Pepsi machine in Ghost Town).
My friends wanted to ride Boomerang so they jumped in line. I didn’t want to stand in the long line for I told them I would just wait by the exit. I had no idea how long the line really was. 1 hour and 50 minutes later they got their 90 second rollercoaster ride. By now they were pissed off about waiting and I was pissed off about waiting. My friend said there was no organization in the line. He said people were cutting in line left and right and there were no employees around to do anything about it. He said they were to groups behind before they were going to get on the coaster and they suddenly shut their line down and used it for handicap access, forcing my friends to get to the back of another line.
While waiting for my friends in line for Boomerang, I walked around a little. The wait for Excellarator was well over 2 hours. This coaster, like Boomerang and Montezuma’s Revenge, could only run 1 train at a time. Walking around the park while waiting, all I saw was carnival games and spinning “vomit” style carnival rides. Supreme Scream had at least an hour wait, so did the log ride. Everything else was the iron carnival rides. Zero atmosphere to sit and people watch. The park was packed full of loud, pushy teenager.
Then while still waiting (1 hour 50 minutes for that stupid ride), I caught a surprise. Knott’s Christmas parade. Wow. It kinda reminded me of a high school prom parade. I guess they get a couple points for trying. But it was pretty sad. I felt sorry for the parade performers. The cast of the Disney Christmas parade seem proud to be in that show, these Knott’s employees looked like they wanted to hide their face. I watch it from the area near the entrance of Exellerator. I noticed that the crowds had created a circle and there was no place for the parade to go. I assumed the employees would force some people to move to open up the parade route but to my humorous surprise, the parade came down to where I was and then flipped a U turn and went right back the same way it came. It climaxed with the small Santa float having to do a 3 point turn because it could not made the U turn. Wow, what an experience.
After my friends got off Boomerang is was a unanimous decision to leave the park. It was too crowded, lines were a minimum of an hour long for even the spinning carnival rides. The park had nothing to offer us. “well this is the last time I ever come to Knott’s Berry Farm”, expressed 2 of my friends. I was pretty much on board with them about that. I enjoy Halloween Haunt but as a stand alone park, Knott’s has dropped to an all time low. The charming park I remember as a kid…the park with San Francisco style cable cars rolling through the parking lot, the gun fights in the streets of Ghost town, the high energy Roaring 20’s area, Jungle Island on the other side of the park, the petting zoo…..was all gone. Replaced by an any-where USA amusement park/carnival/County Fair. Once Cedar Fair finally removes the last parts of Ghost Town in exchange for more rollercoasters and iron carnival spin rides, a piece of Southern California history and my childhood will be dead. I guess a person could have a good time at Knott’s if they are into the spin rides and go during the week in the off season. But I can’t imagine spending full price and going to this dump of a place on a busy day. We had hoped that we could have dinner at Mrs. Knott’s Chicken restaurant, but the line was an hour long too. Granted, any place can be miserable when it is packed, but even if there were no lines when we went, Knott’s just doesn’t hardly any quality, unique attractions that I would be willing to pay for. I will still go to Halloween Haunt, but I don’t ever see myself paying to get into Knott’s Berry Farm again for a day of entertainment.