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  1. #1

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    My first trip to Knott's in 15 years...

    I have been going to Knott's since my parents pushed me around in a stroller and I went there almost every other week as a kid but I hadn't gone into the park, or even visited the area, since 1992 so I was really scared at the prospect of going there in 2008, the era of Ceder Fair. I have MANY fond memories of that place, it's equivalent to Disneyland for me in terms of nostalgia and I didn't want to be hurt by seeing the park decimated by an unseen foe more than 2,000 miles away. I was really expecting to find my park in utter ruins by the time I got there.

    First of all, I have to commend the employees of Knott's Berry Farm because they pour their heart and souls into the job. Everyone there was so friendly and went out of their way to entertain or make people feel good. My favorite was the bandits waiting outside the train when it was parked and they sang this birthday song that was SO funny. I can't remember the lyrics, but it sounded like it was going to be this long drawn out song, but it was cut off quickly and the lyrics mentioned it was really short. You had to be there, but it was a really funny moment! I know that everyone's experience is different, even the same person can experience different things on different days, but I have to say that I was more impressed with the crew at Knott's Berry Farm than Disneyland. I truly feel that Disneyland's CM reputation is running on previous momentum and although there are still some absolutely wonderful people working at DL, it just feels that overall the workers at Knott's just try so much harder. Again, I don't want to take anything away from the amazing CMs at Disneyland, but the general experience I got was just better at Knott's.

    One difference between that park and Disneyland is the train. OMG, if you like trains, you'll be mesmerized by the behemoth that they have there. This train is so big and powerful, it literally rumbles the ground and you have to yell over the overpowering sound! I sat there for 3 times for around 10 minutes just waiting for it to take off. It was so amazing in this day and age with hybrid cars, lithium ion batteries and 500-HP computer-controlled cars to see something so simple and yet so huge. I mean, the thing runs off nothing but steam! There's no electricity, no alternator or generator, the only gas is to power the fire and it runs off nothing but water and fire. The engineer was great as well and took the time to explain the history behind the train. He even showed us the fire...it was massive! The engineers at Knott's take just as much pride in their amazing trains as the Disneyland CMs. There's even a rivalry between them, which I found to be quite amusing since they didn't know I am a huge Disney fan. He said the Disneyland Railroad is 3/4 scale, but I guess it was close enough. It's actually 5/8 scale and I'm glad it is because something the size of the Knott's Berry Farm train would be as big as the stations!

    As I feared, when I first got there I noticed that the Marketplace had been completely untouched, however upon further inspection I noticed that it was only the front. The entire back section, including the pan for gold section, was wiped out, replaced by Ghost Rider! Now, this is not a mark on Cedar Fair, I heard it was the Knott family's decision to build it as a last ditch effort to "save" the park and the ride bankrupted them (hence, the buyout by Cedar Fair), but it hurt to know that that peaceful part of the park is now gone forever. Not even the *volcano* with the little devil is there anymore! But as painful as it was to see how much had been removed, it is quickly solaced by just how much has remained completely untouched. It was like being able to walk inside my memory, nothing has changed in the Marketplace for at least 25 years. The only change was complete removal, and although there are some minor changes here and there, overall it was identical.

    I honestly don't know what to say about how I feel about the park now. It's *definitely* taken on a new feel but I don't know if I like it or not. There's a huge conflict between my old views of Knott's and the fun that I have there today. It almost feels like I'm betraying my decade of memories if I forget about the Knott's of yesterday and consider the current park to be the "true" Knott's Berry Farm. That seems to be the only way I could ever truly enjoy the new park, but it's hard to let go of the past since the old Knott's was so fun and memorable. It is a REALLY fun park, no doubt about that, it's just that it conflicts so heavily with my memories and nostalgia.

    I thought the rollercoasters would detract from the area and make it look more like Magic Mountain, but they really built them well. There are new fun areas to stand in now that weren't there before. For instance, Perilous Plunge is something that I don't consider to be fun, but standing on the bridge and watching the thing drop right in front of you, and getting a HUGE wave of air a few seconds after it passes you is really something. I must've stood on that bridge for half an hour, just watching the boats drop. And there's one spot where Jaguar, Montezuma's Revenge and the Sidewinder all mix together to form an almost artistic sense of movement around the area. The tracks are so close together that you almost can't even tell which is which! I know Cedar Fair takes a lot of flak, so I just want to commend them for their attention to detail in adding Sidewinder so close to the other coasters.

    There are some dark points to Cedar Fair that I had always been aware of that I saw in the park. First of all, the Boothill Cemetery was always a favorite of mine. That new ride is going in that area and they've already torn up part of the cemetery! I was so depressed and angry when I saw one of the markers completely uprooted and laying on the ground, it's underground concrete base still intact. This was a historical and very special place for me and they treated it like it was a parking lot or something, tearing it up like it didn't mean a thing. Sure, it's a small area, probably long forgotten by kids but it was what made Knott's special and unique. A portion of it's already gone, and I have no doubt they'll rip the whole thing out in time, but it's no more than a side thought barely even worth the time in its current state now. And I didn't think Kingdom of the Dinosaurs was any big loss, but sitting there at the base of the old building just brought back so many memories and it saddened me more than I could've expected. I went into the old arcade just to ease the pain, but the exit ramp to the ride is still there! I actually saw the exit and it was so depressing seeing the lonely exit with almost no one around except me. I could practically feel the old energy and vibrancy it had back in the day, but it's all gone now.

    There is just simply no comparison to this park and Disneyland in terms of upkeep and cleanliness. Some of the rides (XL-erator) were so badly faded it made you wonder if they had ever been re-painted. And there were lots of broken things that needed to be repaired. I know we complain a lot about how "bad" Disneyland has gotten when it comes to vandalism and burnt out light bulbs, but seeing other parks just makes you appreciate the incredible amount of work it must be to keep Disneyland so pristine. And it's not just Knott's, it's every other park like Universal Studios and Magic Mountain. It takes a LOT of work to maintain a park.

    When I first heard about a TGI Fridays going into the Marketplace, I was furious. I really thought Cedar Point had lost its mind putting a chain in that place but it wasn't bad. It's across the street and it doesn't stand out at all. In fact, it's a welcome addition when the Chicken Restaurant is packed. And you can see Ghost Rider from the windows which is cool since you tend to forget you're at Knott's Berry Farm inside the restaurant. It's actually a weird feeling because it looks like every other TGI Fridays so seeing Ghost Rider and the park outside is like a different world. The Panda Express is kind of unnerving because it shows that Cedar Fair wants to load the park with more chains instead of unique Knott's places. I don't mind chains inside amusement parks, in fact I prefer chains at places like Magic Mountain since I know what I can get there, but when it comes to theme parks like Knott's I really don't like it. Even the Fry Cart at Disneyland gets me frustrated whenever I see it.

    Part of me feels that Knott's has to move on and Cedar Fair is the one to do it. The world has changed so much in the past 15 years and the old Knott's would slip into oblivion if something was not done. Cedar Fair, overall, has done a terrific job of blending the old with the new. Rollercoasters and thrill rides are simply the price we must pay for "progress". I would love NOTHING more than to go back to the old days at Knott's, but it's just not possible in the 21st century. Right now all we can do is watch Knott's get brought up to the present and reminisce with the old and classic rides I hope they never take out. I really feel that Cedar Fair has brought more energy to the park, while at the same time keeping the classic rides. However, considering the HUGE size of the rides they've decided to keep, it's entirely possible that Cedar Fair cares *nothing* about keeping the old rides and it's just a matter of the logistics of knocking down a huge ride like the Log Ride and Calico Mine Train. After what I've seen, I've decided to give Cedar Fair the benefit of the doubt and go on their side. I wish Knott's didn't have to change, but it clearly isn't Cedar Fair's fault that the world has moved so quickly into the high-speed information and technology era. I could be wrong, Knott's could probably still be fun today in its 1992 state, but it just couldn't survive financially and that's where Cedar Fair has rescued the park.

    If you're worried about the park being destroyed by Cedar Fair, I strongly recommend still going. There's still a LOT left of Knott's and if you enjoyed the old Knott's, you'll still find a lot to love about the current park if you keep an open mind and realize that it's not the same park it was 20 years ago. I know that I'd hate it if I had gone every few years over the past decade, but after such a long absence from the park, it's great to see what I've been missing all these years.

  2. #2

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    Re: My first trip to Knott's in 15 years...

    Thanks for the report. It's always nice to get a perspective from somebody who hasn't seen the park in 15 years.

    While I do agree that there is still alot of "Old Knott's" there, the fact that the cemetary has survey markers for the new ride does have me a bit upset. Not as bad as taking out the Haunted Shack for VertiGO, but still, it sucks.


  3. #3

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    Re: My first trip to Knott's in 15 years...

    What a well thought out report. There are many on this board who revile Knott's, no matter what they do, and I have generally defended them, as I feel Knott's carries a lot more quality that most give it credit for. While certainly some of the changes may be disappointing, I agree that many have to be done as times change. Thanks for your insightful point of view.
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  4. #4

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    Re: My first trip to Knott's in 15 years...

    Thanks for the report! I haven't been to Knotts in about fourteen years, so it's nice to hear it didn't go completely to crap even with Cedar Fair.

  5. #5

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    Re: My first trip to Knott's in 15 years...

    Ah, the memories of KBF! I haven't been there in ages, but still I can recall the days.

    I remember when they put the Corkscrew in, and Knott's Berry Tales, and the parachute drop -- back with the big expansion.

    And -- before that -- the mine train, ghost town, stagecoach, and Cordelia K.

    It's too bad there isn't a Yesterland for Knott's -- or is there?

  6. #6

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    Re: My first trip to Knott's in 15 years...

    Thanks a lot for that report. I haven't been to Knotts since the mid 1980s and was almost resigned to never set foot there again. Your report has renewed my interest and for that I thank you!
    Last edited by All4dISNEY; 02-07-2008 at 09:03 PM.
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  7. #7

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    Re: My first trip to Knott's in 15 years...

    What has been done to Knott's over the past 20 years is so much worse than anything that will ever be done to Disneyland it's not even funny.

    It once had so much soul and vibrance. I would bet all I have that if they had kept that soul, it wouldn't be so empty all the time. Anyone remember how the Roarin' 20's area was back in the day. Last time I was there (after 10 years), I half expected to find a homeless man along the wall.

    A travesty...

    That said - glad you got some enjoyment out of it. ;-)

  8. #8

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    Re: My first trip to Knott's in 15 years...

    Quote Originally Posted by socal05 View Post
    What has been done to Knott's over the past 20 years is so much worse than anything that will ever be done to Disneyland it's not even funny.

    It once had so much soul and vibrance. I would bet all I have that if they had kept that soul, it wouldn't be so empty all the time. Anyone remember how the Roarin' 20's area was back in the day. Last time I was there (after 10 years), I half expected to find a homeless man along the wall.

    A travesty...

    That said - glad you got some enjoyment out of it. ;-)
    I completely disagree with your first statement. I mean, you call Tomorrowland 1998 a success???? Talk about soulless, alright.

    Knott's is improving. But it's audience isn't usually a Disney audience, it's the post-"kid"-Disney, pre-Magic Mountain crowd. It also focuses on unique ride experiences... no one else has Mystery Lodge, Sierra Sidewinder (the only one in the country), the upcoming Pony Express (the only one in the country), and was the first to have the Xcelerator.

    I would also argue that Sierra Sidewinder and the upcoming Pony Express ride will be some of the best family rides in sometime, even outdoing recent Disney family rides. What thrilling family ride has Disney put in recently? Tot? Screaming? Hardly family friendly. Buzz and Monsters Inc. are good, but a dark ride, hardly adrenaline pumping. Flick's Fun Fair is a parental bore.

    A lot has changed in 10 years. Maybe you should go more recently before casting current judgment.
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    Re: My first trip to Knott's in 15 years...

    Quote Originally Posted by JesterMn View Post
    I completely disagree with your first statement. I mean, you call Tomorrowland 1998 a success???? Talk about soulless, alright.
    Tomorrowland 98 was horrible (America Sings was my favorite ride), but it is nothing close to what has happened to Knott's. TL is doing fairly well right now, and with a bit of work could be back and thriving. Impossible to get back what Knott's had.

    Quote Originally Posted by JesterMn View Post
    Knott's is improving. But it's audience isn't usually a Disney audience, it's the post-"kid"-Disney, pre-Magic Mountain crowd. It also focuses on unique ride experiences... no one else has Mystery Lodge, Sierra Sidewinder (the only one in the country), the upcoming Pony Express (the only one in the country), and was the first to have the Xcelerator.
    You help make my point. Knott's of old had enough for the "post Disney crowd", but was actually a park that everyone could enjoy. It was an authentic experience that the entire family - EVERYONE - could enjoy. It had heart, and was the type of place that my family would take our out of town visitors to. A very unique experience. Now, we'd only take them if they are all 16-30 (and even then MM might be a better option.

    Quote Originally Posted by JesterMn View Post
    I would also argue that Sierra Sidewinder and the upcoming Pony Express ride will be some of the best family rides in sometime, even outdoing recent Disney family rides. What thrilling family ride has Disney put in recently? Tot? Screaming? Hardly family friendly. Buzz and Monsters Inc. are good, but a dark ride, hardly adrenaline pumping. Flick's Fun Fair is a parental bore.

    A lot has changed in 10 years. Maybe you should go more recently before casting current judgment.
    I'd hardly call those "family" rides. And I was there about 3 years ago, after not visiting in 10 years. Doubt anything has changed in 3 years. Sounds as if, with the Graveyard potentially going, that it's actually getting worse.

  10. #10

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    Re: My first trip to Knott's in 15 years...

    Quote Originally Posted by JesterMn View Post
    I completely disagree with your first statement. I mean, you call Tomorrowland 1998 a success???? Talk about soulless, alright.

    Knott's is improving. But it's audience isn't usually a Disney audience, it's the post-"kid"-Disney, pre-Magic Mountain crowd. It also focuses on unique ride experiences... no one else has Mystery Lodge, Sierra Sidewinder (the only one in the country), the upcoming Pony Express (the only one in the country), and was the first to have the Xcelerator.
    So Knott's is basically turning into Magic Mountain Jr.
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  11. #11

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    Re: My first trip to Knott's in 15 years...

    well I do agree with knotts being a post kid- disney. And I do love wild rides.

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    Re: My first trip to Knott's in 15 years...

    I haven't been to Knotts in about 10 years. I went to a conference at the hotel this past weekend. I didn't get a chance to go into the park, but the hotel was horrible. We arrived on Saturday and left Tuesday. I ended up having to go to the front desk at least 2 times each day over something and they never fixed it correctly no matter how many times they said that were going to. I will be curious to see what my credit card statement looks like. I did wander around the marketplace a bit and I would have to saw that TGI Fridays was the best thing. The bakery people were just as rude as the hotel people. I don't expect a lot when I go to a hotel. I like people to be nice and the rooms clean. Neither one of those happened at the hotel. OK, end of rant

  13. #13

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    Re: My first trip to Knott's in 15 years...

    Quote Originally Posted by socal05 View Post
    What has been done to Knott's over the past 20 years is so much worse than anything that will ever be done to Disneyland it's not even funny.
    I disagree simply based on the fact that the Knott family sold Knott's Berry Farm. I mean, if they didn't care about the legacy of the park why should anyone else?

    If Walt Disney had sold Disney to some other company, I would feel the same way about Disneyland. Unfortunately he died in his prime.

    And I agree completely about Knott's steam train. I went to the park today JUST to see it and potentially ride it, but it was closed. It was in the corner of the park somewhere.

    The steam train is great when it's a busy day and there are people milling about the area. It looks like one of those old photos where a steam train was getting ready to go and people were crowded around it, you know, in the era where people actually took trains.
    Quote Originally Posted by Athlonacon View Post
    There is just simply no comparison to this park and Disneyland in terms of upkeep and cleanliness. Some of the rides (XL-erator) were so badly faded it made you wonder if they had ever been re-painted. And there were lots of broken things that needed to be repaired. I know we complain a lot about how "bad" Disneyland has gotten when it comes to vandalism and burnt out light bulbs, but seeing other parks just makes you appreciate the incredible amount of work it must be to keep Disneyland so pristine.
    But you also have to take into account that most people get into Knott's 20-25 bucks and Disneyland is much more expensive.
    Last edited by Spokker; 02-08-2008 at 05:29 PM.

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    Re: My first trip to Knott's in 15 years...

    Quote Originally Posted by Spokker View Post
    And I agree completely about Knott's steam train. I went to the park today JUST to see it and potentially ride it, but it was closed. It was in the corner of the park somewhere.

    The steam train is great when it's a busy day and there are people milling about the area. It looks like one of those old photos where a steam train was getting ready to go and people were crowded around it, you know, in the era where people actually took trains.
    Was the Galloping Goose running? While nothing can match the big train, I've got a soft spot for the little off-season Goose doodlebug, which has quite a history of its own.

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