Knott’s Berry Farm Guide
Awhile ago I did a post sharing my tips for visiting Disneyland. Today, I am turning my focus to Knott’s Berry Farm! Offering up a little guide to help you on your next, or perhaps first ever visit to Knott’s!
Knott’s Berry Farm is home to two theme parks, Knott’s Berry Farm, a more typical amusement park, and Knott’s Soak City, a waterpark. However this post will focus purely on Knott’s Berry Farm. Additionally, it should be noted that Knott’s is a member of the larger Cedar Fairs Amusement Parks family, who have amusement parks across the United States and Canada.
Throughout the post I will refer to Knott’s Berry Farm as Knott’s, the Farm, or simply KBF.
Please note I am writing this post in the present, with minor updates here and there, and things can become out of date.
Unlike Disneyland, which started its life as a theme park, and was planned as such, Knott’s Berry Farm, as we know it today, was, well, for lack of a better word, an accident. A theme park was never the original intention when Walter Knott arrived in Buena Park in 1920. Knott’s Berry Farm was in fact originally a berry farm, and the Knott family sold berries, along with pies and preserves. But when the Great Depression arrived, Walter’s wife, Cordelia, decided to start selling fried chicken. This chicken was so good that people began coming from miles around just to eat it. The small tea room built next to the berry market grew into a large restaurant, and people were soon waiting over three hours for a table. To entertain the waiting customers, Walter began building a Ghost Town, which soon grew to have a life of its own and transformed into the theme park we know today. Because of this humble beginning, Knott’s Berry Farm grew organically, and that is something I think should be kept in mind when you visit. You can read more on Knott’s Berry Farm history in my review of the book Knott’s Preserved, which you can pick up a copy for yourself during your visit!
Today, Knott’s Berry Farm is split up into four areas, first is of course Ghost Town. Keeping with the western theming, Fiesta Village became the second “land” when it was added in 1969, offering a mixture of thrills and family rides. Then there is The Boardwalk, an area that has had its fair share of re-theming over the years, but today it’s 50s pier inspired, and is home to many thrill rides, as well as classic carnival-type rides and games. Camp Snoopy was added in 1983 when Knott’s secured the Peanuts gang to be their icon, and offers the most kid-friendly rides.
Throughout the post I will provide links to specific portions of Knott’s Berry Farm’s website for you to gain more information directly from Knott’s.
If you plan to visit Knott’s Berry Farm for one day, purchase your ticket(s) on KBF’s website, where you can typically receive some pretty steep discounts! There are also discounted tickets for active and retired military (with valid ID), children ages 3-11, and seniors over the age of 62.
Knott’s Berry Farm does have an app for iPhone and Android devices, which you can purchase tickets through as well.
Tickets are also available at the gate, after you pass through security, however they will be more expensive than purchasing on-line.
For the most part, Knott’s Berry Farm can be enjoyed in its entirety within one day. Due to the low price tag of its season pass, if you plan on visiting for more than one day, a season pass is actually more beneficial. Knott’s offers three tiers of season passes. There are no block out dates for any level of pass. The only day you cannot go to Knott’s Berry Farm is Christmas Day, as they are closed. Soak City and other Cedar Fair parks operate seasonally.
A Regular Season Pass gives you unlimited entry into Knott’s Berry Farm, along with discounts on select food and merchandise.
A Gold Season Pass gets you into both Knott’s Berry Farm and Soak City, along with the same discounts as a Regular pass.
A Platinum Season Pass gets you into every amusement park owned by Cedar Fair, as well as free parking, and some slightly larger discounts. So if you plan on visiting another park owned by Cedar Fair later in the year, this would be an excellent choice.
To learn more about Knott’s Berry Farm’s season pass, please visit their website.
Fast Lane Add-On
Fast Lane is KBF’s answer to Disneyland’s Fastpass system. Fast Lane however is a paid add-on service, costing somewhere around $60-80, depending on what day you want to visit the Farm, and if you buy on-line or at the gate. Once again, purchasing on-line gives you a discount. Fast Lane gives you “priority boarding” (typically meaning, but not guaranteeing, a shorter wait time) to select rides, including GhostRider, Sliver Bullet, the technologically advanced and interactive ride Voyage to the Iron Reef, the newest ride, HangTime, and more. You can enjoy these Fast Lane rides as many times and whenever you want to, as opposed to Disneyland’s Fastpass which gives you a return time. Fast Lane is only available on select days, typically weekends, and peek seasons, like summer. To learn more about Fast Lane from Knott’s, click here.
Food & Drink Add-On
Knott’s Berry Farm also offers a mean plan, where you can purchase an all-day meal plan for a pretty reasonable price. However, this meal plan is only good on select items at select restaurants throughout the park. So it isn’t something I recommend if you are a person or have a family with strict dietary needs or a picky eater. But if you are interested in a better understanding of the meal plan, read it on Knott’s website here. I’ll touch on my food recommendations later on in this post.
There is also an all-season meal plan, which Patrick and I do have added on our season pass, and offers the same selections as the all-day meal plan offered to regular park guests, so I can say that many of the offerings are quite good! And I’ll get more into my favorite places to eat later on. The meal plan is something I highly recommend for season passholders who plan on visiting Knott’s seven or eight times within one year.
You can also purchase one of the two “Souvenir Bottles” that are offered. One offers free refills day of purchase, with $1 refills throughout the rest of the year, and the other offers free refills all year. They are available for purchase throughout the park at various dining locations.
If you plan on purchasing an annual pass, you can also add on parking for an additional fee, so you don’t have to pay for it each time you arrive. It typically works out to four visits to make your parking worth it.
FunPix is much like Disneyland’s PhotoPass, but unlike Disneyland, Knott’s doesn’t have quite as many photo opt moments. So, I haven’t actually used FunPix outside of having my picture taken, just because there was a FunPix photographer present. I’ve never even bothered to look at their photos. However, for the larger family, FunPix is a nice way to have some photo memories, including ride photos and character meet-and-greets. You can purchase single photos, or a FunPix pass. To learn more about FunPix on Knott’s website, click here.
Upon arriving at Knott’s Berry Farm’s gates, you will go through a metal detector, and have your bags searched. Knott’s Berry Farm does not allow outside food and drink (water is allowed), however I have seen families who have packed picnic baskets and coolers and return to their cars for lunch.
If you purchase your tickets on-line, and have printed out your ticket, or have it on your phone, then you have no need to go to the ticket booths, proceed directly to a turnstile.
Upon entering, pick up a map and an entertainment guide, which will be a small, solid colored sheet of paper. This displays the times of various entertainment throughout the day.
Lockers are offered at Knott’s, and have one location, within Ghost Town, to the left, pass GhostRider, and next to Guest Services, along with First Aid.
Knott’s Berry Farm has a thrill guide going from 1, a “low thrill,” to 5, an “aggressive thrill” to help guests better select what rides they want to enjoy. These thrills are noted on both the map, and the signs near ride entrances.
Some of KBF’s rides are unique, while, others are not. For example, The Calico Mine Ride located in Ghost Town is unique, and one of KBF’s first ever attractions, while the Pacific Scrambler is a standard carnival type ride. To have the most unique, Knott’s experience, I recommend keeping with the rides that were created for the park. There are also some other offerings that aren’t really rides, but are unique and fun experiences, and they should not be missed! Below is a list of what I think you cannot pass up on when you visit, along with some other recommendations.
Boot Hill, Ghost Town – Visit Ghost Town’s Boot Hill and pay a visit to Hiram McTavish to see if you’ll be saddled with good luck.
Butterfield Stagecoach, Ghost Town – Board either an authentic 1800s stagecoach or the single stagecoach that was built for Knott’s Berry Farm back in the 1950s, either way you will embark on a horse-drawn journey around the farm. Thrill: 1
Calico Mine Ride, Ghost Town – Opening in 1960, the Calico Mine Ride was one of the first rides to elevate Knott’s Berry Farm to an amusement park level. It is a classic that you cannot miss. Thrill: 3
Calico Railroad, Ghost Town – Board an authentic narrow gauge steam powered train for a journey around the Farm, and you never know what nefarious characters may show up. The Calico Railroad opened in 1952. It is important to note that the magnificent steam train operates during peek season (summer and winter break) and weekends. If you find yourself at KBF on a weekday in the off-season you might spy the interesting sight of The Galloping Goose, a piece of history in its own right; a hybrid of a school bus and a train car built in 1931 and used for passengers and freight in the Rockies. Thrill: 1 (However it should be noted that guests are met with bandits who sometimes attempt to rob passengers with replica firearms. Sorry to spoil the surprise, but in today’s society, we have become very sensitive of the firearms issue, and I think it is important information to share.)
GhostRider, Ghost Town – GhostRider is the longest wooden rollercoaster on the west coast, and reaches an intense speed of 56 mph. Thrill: 5
Hat Dance, Fiesta Village – If you’re a fan of the Mad Tea Party at Disneyland, then you’ll love the Hat Dance, as it spins even faster. It is also one of the original Fiesta Village rides. Thrill: 3
Sad Eye Joe, Ghost Town – Have a chat with Sad Eye Joe, the lone inmate of the Ghost Town Jail. Sad Eye Joe has been serving time since 1941, and is one of the original icons of the Farm, having his likeness on many souvenirs over the years.
Timber Mountain Log Ride, Ghost Town – Long before there was Splash Mountain, Knott’s had their very own log flume ride, which opened to the public in 1969, with John Wayne speaking at the opening. Riders board a log and float through timber country. Thrill: 5 – but I think it’s more like a 4.
Calico River Rapids, Ghost Town – A river raft adventure through the backwoods of Ghost Town where critters abound! Note, you will get wet! Thrill: 5.
HangTime, Boardwalk – Brand new for 2018, HangTime is the west coast’s only “dive coaster” feature an intense drop and loops.
Montezooma’s Revenge, Fiesta Village – Montezooma’s Revenge takes guests up high before dropping them down and thrust into a loop and up high again, then letting them go back down, and backward again through the loop. Built in 1978, it just celebrated its 40th birthday, and is the last rollercoaster the Knott family built while they were still in full control of the park.
Pony Express, Ghost Town – Pony Express is a unique rollercoaster where guests mount a horse for a quick, but thrilling ride over Ghost Town. I recommend it because of its unique ride vehicle design. Thrill: 4
It is important to note that lines for the higher thrill type rides, such as GhostRider, HangTime, and other roller coasters can get long. It is recommended to do those earlier in the day.
Knott’s Berry Farm does not have parades, and only does fireworks on select holidays, like Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and New Year’s Eve. However there are range of a stage shows, some of which change seasonally.
Birdcage Theatre, Ghost Town – The entertainment at the Birdcage varies with the seasons, sometimes it is home to plays, other times it is home to magicians, or Krazy Kirk and the Hillbillies (formerly of Disneyland, where they were known as Billy Hill and the Hillbillies), a talented band playing bluegrass music, with elements of humor thrown in. Here Steve Martin performed in the 1960s in the daily operating melodrama. The melodrama now only returns during Boysenberry Festival.
Calico Mine Stage, Ghost Town – This newly built stage has entertainment that changes seasonally. Sometimes it is stunt based, other times musical revue type shows.
Calico Saloon Show, Ghost Town – Enjoy old-timey entertainment with a song bird and her beau from the old west, and on select days there are even can-can girls! Be sure to order a sarsaparilla!
Camp Snoopy Theatre, Camp Snoopy – Here the Peanuts gang entertains children in an outdoor show that changes with the seasons. Definitely targeted more towards the kiddos.
Charles M. Schulz Theatre, Boardwalk – Here a combination of the Peanuts gang and a group of marvelous dancers or ice skaters entertain guests in this massive, indoor theatre that also changes with the seasons. I highly recommend the Christmas show.
Indian Trails, Ghost Town – On select days you can catch authentic Native American dance.
Wagon Camp, Ghost Town – During the day the Wagon Camp is home to a stunt show, and on select nights during spring and summer Krazy Kirk and the Hillbillies perform.
It is important to refer to your Entertainment Guide for showtimes, as not all performances are every day, and venues can sometimes change.
Knott’s Berry Farm is home to the Peanuts gang, the beloved cartoon strip creations of Charles M. Schulz. The gang even have their very own area of the park, Camp Snoopy, which is where you can meet Snoopy, Charlie Brown, Lucy, and others. Additionally, sometimes Snoopy and other members of the Peanuts gang hang out just past the turnstiles when the park opens. One thing I’ve noticed about Knott’s is that sometimes my friends and I are the only adults in line to meet the Peanuts characters. But that doesn’t keep me from visiting with them!
Aboard the Calico Railroad guests come face to face with wild west outlaws trying their best to rob innocent passengers, however sometimes they end up a little more bumbling than scary, and at the end, it is all harmless fun. You can even interact with the bandits after your ride, or before as they tend to hang around the Calico train station while the train is boarding.
During summer the Ghost Town portion of KBF becomes a thriving old west town with the unique interactive entertainment that is Ghost Town Alive. I’ll explain more on what Ghost Town Alive is further down, but it also means that there are more “characters” or “citizens” as they are called, to interact with and meet. They love chatting, sending guests on fun errands, and of course having their picture taken with guests.
While not “real” in the sense you can interact with them, Handsome Brady and Whiskey Bill and Marilyn and Cecelia are icons of Knott’s Berry Farm. They are hand carved figures, done by Claude Bell in 1947, and are likely the most photographed things in the park.
Knott’s Berry Farm offers my favorite type of souvenir, the pressed penny, and unlike other amusement parks, where you have to hunt for all of the machines, Knott’s has put all of theirs in one spot, near the Mystery Lodge.
But perhaps my favorite souvenir at Knott’s is Pan for Gold. When you enter Ghost Town, turn left and just past the entrance for GhostRider is Pan for Gold, where guests can pan for real gold in a sluice box and take it home! It’s a fun, unique activity and souvenir, complete with vial and sticker. Guests have been panning for gold since 1947.
Hop aboard a bucking bronco or show some leg at the saloon inside the Ghost Town Pitcher Gallery, which offers a wide variety of costumes for guests to wear and have their souvenir photo taken. The Pitcher Gallery has been a staple of Ghost Town since the 1940s, and while various photo opts have come and gone within its walls, the bucking bronco is the oldest.
Take home a hand-made horseshoe with your name stamped on it from Ghost Town’s very own blacksmith. Select a life-size horseshoe, or opt for a smaller one, which can even become a key-chain. If this is of interest, then I recommend placing your order early in the day so you can pick it up later, as these items do take some time to make.
Inside Ghost Town’s Leather Shop you can get a variety of personal and unique leather goods, including my favorite, the leather barrette.
Souvenirs are somewhat tailored throughout the park, with western themed items being available in Ghost Town, and Peanuts items mostly available in Camp Snoopy. So if you’re looking for something special, keep that in mind.
Price Guide (per person)
$ = $14.99 and under
$$ = $15.00 – $29.99
Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner Restaurant, Marketplace – The restaurant that started it all. Here at this table service restaurant dine on a variety of chicken dishes, including the famed Chicken Dinner that started it all. The Chicken Dinner is rather large, and Patrick and I often split it. It is important to note that Chicken Dinner is located outside the gates of the Knott’s Berry Farm amusement park area, in the Marketplace, which you walk by on your way to the gates. Guests often dine here for dinner after a day inside the park. $$
Boardwalk BBQ, Boardwalk – At this cafeteria style restaurant everything here is absolutely delicious. Patrick especially likes the rotisserie chicken salad. $
Calico Fry Company, Ghost Town – I absolutely adore the Cowboy Fries at this quick, walk-up window. $
Calico Saloon, Ghost Town – Belly up to the bar and order a Calico Soda, a hand-crafted boysenberry cream soda, or get yourself a sarsaparilla. If those don’t wet your whistle, guests over 21 can enjoy a beer. There is also a small selection of snacks. $
Fireman’s BBQ, Ghost Town – The BBQ chicken and ribs plate at this quick service BBQ stand is absolutely the best! I order it nearly every time I’m in the park. $$
Ghost Town Bakery, Ghost Town – Inside this small bakery you can get your day started with a ham and cheese croissant, or satisfy your sweet tooth with cakes and cookies. Might I also recommend the boysenberry cronut? It’s pure bliss! $
Ghost Town Grill, Ghost Town – This table service restaurant was one of the first inside Ghost Town, and has wonderful paintings and makes you feel like you’re in old gold country. $$
Special Dietary Needs
For vegans, vegetarians, and those with food allergies, please visit Special Dietary Needs page here.
I think it’s important to discuss the seasons when talking about Knott’s Berry Farm, because portions of the park can change wildly depending upon the season.
In 2018 Knott’s introduced Peanuts Celebration, a new “season” for the Farm, that runs on weekends during the later part of January into early March. During Peanuts Celebration, Charles M. Schultz’s beloved characters take over the entire park, with games, Peanuts Sketch School, where you can learn to draw the Peanuts Gang, lots of shows, unique photo opportunities, and a ton of themed food! You can read more about Peanuts Celebration here on the Knott’s Berry Farm website.
Boysenberry Festival is one of my favorite new traditions since we moved. The boysenberry helped put Knott’s Berry Farm on the map, and the festival is completely dedicated to the berry. The Farm creates crazy and wonderful new dishes that feature the flavor of the boysenberry, while also featuring a craft fair and entertainment. The festival is a perfect time to visit if you are a foodie! To learn more about Boysenberry Festival from KBF’s website, click here.
Summer and Ghost Town Alive
This year marks the third year for the unique, interactive experience that is Ghost Town Alive. Prior to 2016 Ghost Town’s buildings featured a mixture of hand carved figures, as well as regular, department store style mannequins, and guests could peek into the windows of these buildings to see things such as a barber giving a rather suspicious man a shave, the sheriff hosting a poker game, and more. When Knott’s celebrated its 75th anniversary they decided to really bring Ghost Town alive, and they removed the mannequins and they were replaced with real people. Ghost Town Alive is best described as family friendly Westworld, but with a few more restrictions. If you are unfamiliar with Westworld, (either the original 1973 film, or the new HBO series) I can explain it as an eight hour interactive, structured improv, where the entire Ghost Town area is the stage. Here, guests get to become part of the story, and participate as much or as little as they want. If this is something of interest to you, and you want to watch it play out in its entirety, then perhaps planning for two days is best, as Ghost Town Alive does take up the majority of the day, leaving little time for actual rides. Learn more about Ghost Town Alive from KBF’s website here.
2019 UPDATE: In 2019, Knott’s Berry Farm introduced Summer Nights. After the sun goes down, portions of Ghost Town are turned into the biggest summer block party you’ve ever seen, with multiple bands, a DJ, games, and lots of food! Read about my experience during its inaugural year here.
Spooky Farm happens on weekends during the month of October, and is a kid-friendly Halloween experience, offering trick-or-treat locations and fun entertainment. The Peanuts gang even wears costumes, and there are friendly ghosts to chat with in Ghost Town. Read more about Spooky Farm on KBF’s website, here.
Scary Farm is a separate ticketed event at the Farm. It occurs after the park has closed for its regular operating day on select nights during the later part of September, and the entire month of October. The biggest draw is that Knott’s creates insane mazes and in between the mazes are “scare zones” filled with monsters of every sort. So you’ll get a good scare whether you are in or out of a maze. The mazes are attractions in their own right, but the regular rides also operate during Scary Farm. Scary Farm can be pretty intense, and is not recommended for children under the age of 13. Learn more about Scary Farm on KBF’s website here.
During late November and through December, Christmas is celebrated within Knott’s Berry Farm, including carolers, a festive tree lighting, performances of Gift of the Magi and A Christmas Carol, and various other entertainment. Oh, and you can meet Santa too! There is also a massive craft fair, with hand made goods, including soaps, crocheted hats, honey from local farms, and more. Learn more about Merry Farm on KBF’s website here.
One of my favorite oddities at Knott’s Berry Farm is the full-scale replica of Independence Hall that resides near Soak City. The building is free to visit, and open every day (with the exception of Christmas) from 10:00-4:00. The Fourth of July is a fun day to visit, complete with Benjamin Franklin and Abigail Adams re-enactors.
Boo-Boos and Other Aches and Pains
If you find yourself in need of a band-aid or simply not feeling well after churros and GhostRider, pop into First Aid, located between GhostRider and the Ghost Town Bakery in the Ghost Town portion of the Farm.
I honestly hate to even discuss this, but I am going to, having had multiple negative experiences. Please use common courtesy when visiting Knott’s Berry Farm, with both guests and employees alike. Please follow the rules. Rules are there for your safety and to provide the best experience for everyone. One big pet peeve I have is people talking during on rides. I view rides like a movie or play. It’s a show. So, if you must talk, try to whisper! And when it says “No flash pictures” there is a good reason. Bright flashes in dark rides ruin the atmosphere, and thus create an unpleasant experience for fellow guests. By taking a flash picture you are being selfish, saying your photos are more important than the experiences of everyone else. And you may never know who you will be on a ride with, it could be a family of five who has scrimped and saved for years to go for just one day and this may be their only time riding this ride. You taking a flash picture will certainly spoil the mood.
Knott’s Berry Farm permits smoking within designated smoking areas, which are marked on the map.
Questions, Guest Concerns (aka complaints), Guest Compliments, Disability Access
Guest Services, located between GhostRider and the Ghost Town Bakery can assist you with birthday buttons and disability access, as well as other guest issues. If you would like to upgrade your ticket to a pass, have other questions, concerns, or compliments, you can visit Guest Relations, located near the exit of the park.
Outside the main gates of Knott’s Berry Farm is Knott’s Marketplace, home of the original Berry Market, where you can still buy a variety preserves and other items, as well as a bakery, Chicken-To-Go, Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner and some shops.
Knott’s Berry Farm Hotel
Guests visiting Knott’s Berry Farm are welcome to also stay at the Knott’s Berry Farm Hotel, located within short walking distance to the Farm. To learn more about the Knott’s Berry Farm Hotel from KBF’s website, click here.
There are other hotels and motels scattered around the area surrounding Knott’s Berry Farm, however, unlike my Disneyland post, I am unable to make any personal recommendations.
One More Note
It’s extremely important to note that all of my notes, ride availability, shows, characters, and prices, are all as of June, 2018. Anything can change at any time. Everything is subject to change. But I hope that I have been of some help to anyone planning on visiting Knott’s Berry Farm soon!
I was not approached by Knott’s Berry Farm to write this post. I did it of my own accord because I believe Knott’s Berry Farm is a worthwhile place for people of all ages.
All photos were taken by either Patrick or myself.
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2 comments on “Knott’s Berry Farm Guide”
Season pass holder here. I could visit Knott’s every week and not be bored. The blacksmith is my absolute favorite stop. My 7 year old daredevil loves Hangtime.
Right? It’s that amazing of a place! And that is so spectacular! I hope they keep that fearlessness their entire life!