Knott's Berry Farm - October 28, 2007 trip report

Having lived in Southern California for most of my life, I'm definitely no stranger to amusement parks. As an adult, I've had an annual pass to almost all of the amusement parks in the Southern California area at one time or another, with the exception of Magic Mountain. I've had a pass to Knott's for several years now. We hadn't gone in a while, and we then organized a trip to go with some friends. We decided that we liked it enough, and that the annual pass was inexpensive enough that it was worth getting to be able to visit periodically. The husband and I both got the single park pass (instead of the ones that include admission to the water park, locally and elsewhere), and since we didn't figure we both needed parking and he'd be more likely to go without me than the other way around, we only bought parking for him.

Most of the reason for me wanting the pass was Ghostrider. I'm not a huge coaster enthusiast, but I do like some of them. Ghostrider was such a terrific ride, with its length, the fact that it crossed over the street, and all the wonderful drops - I had a great time, and the prospect of being able to ride it on a regular basis definitely made having a pass worth it.

And then things changed. Because of various issues, I am often unable to handle riding even tame coasters, so some of the more adventurous ones at Knott's was out of the question. And even Ghostrider became unavailable to me. About a year or two ago, as I was on the ride, it was shortly after launch that I noticed how incredibly rough the ride had gotten. It didn't just jerk you around - it bounced you painfully. I spent most of the ride trying to adjust myself into positions that would cause me the least amount of pain. No fun at all. Since then, I've thought about attempting it again, thinking maybe it was just a temp thing. The husband knows my difficulties in riding some coasters, and while he can tolerate what Ghostrider now does, he cautioned that it hadn't changed from my last ride and would be equally as painful for me. So, I can no longer ride my favorite ride in the park, the one that was the main reason for me getting a pass in the first place.

Knott's is also not one of those places where you can really just hang around, enjoy the atmosphere and people-watch. It's mostly about rides - and without rides, there's not much else. On one occasion, I decided to throw caution to the wind and live with the consequences - I went on both Xcelerator and Silver Bullet on the same day. I tried Xcelerator first. Most of the coaster didn't seem that big a deal - it was really just the one up and down that I knew was going to bother me. I'm not into vertical climbs or drops - and this ride has both in succession. So I was nervous. The up wasn't nearly as bad - I think the worst part was the anticipation of the down. The down was pretty bad. I like drops on coasters, but vertical drops not so much. I managed to make it through that part so that I could enjoy the rest of it - and as the husband and a friend had told me, the rest was just really boring.

Silver Bullet, on the other hand, was a much more fun ride. It reminded me a lot of the Batman ride at Magic Mountain as far as loops and upside down parts and all that. I had a great time - but doing both rides in the same day really overtaxed my system, so it took a bit of rest to recover from that. They are rides I can definitely only do on really good days, and even then, that's if I want to pay the consequence of feeling like crap for at least a little while thereafter. Xcelerator probably wouldn't require as much recovery time, but it's not as fun a ride. Silver Bullet is a much more fun ride and more worth it - but also, the price to be paid is much higher in terms of recovery.

We enjoy going to the restaurant in Ghost Town, but it's not spectacular enough to be worth having a pass for. We don't generally do the water rides. I like the sky tower ok and tend to go on that every visit, but again, not enough to justify having a pass. We rarely spend a full day there - it's usually a couple hours at most and that includes having lunch. A new coaster called Sidewinder opened a couple months ago, and I wasn't sure I could handle it, so the husband went on when we were there previously. He said he didn't think it would be a problem for me, so I thought I might try it on a future visit.

My current pass expires on October 31, and I've decided that it's not worth it to renew for me. The husband will still be renewing since he can still get enough use out of it to make it worthwhile. I wanted to make one last visit before my pass expired, so we stopped by today. I knew I wasn't going to be able to handle Sidewinder today, so I wouldn't be able to go on it at all, but that was ok with me.

Parking worked out fine today, with the entire main parking lot open. A Halloween Haunt event was planned for the evening, so I expect that was the reason for it. One of the things that Knott's does on occasion that infuriates me is that it rents out its main parking lot to outside vendors, usually car shows and other things like that. So on the off-season, when you'd figure parking is a breeze, there's no convenient parking. Most of the main lot is roped off for this third party, and sometimes, even the closer secondary lots are closed. So, you've paid for parking already as an annual passholder, but you have to park at a lot that's blocks away, with no transportation other than your own two feet to get to the main gate. What an insulting way to treat your customers!

Instead of our normal restaurant, the husband decided today that he wanted to see if the barbeque place was open, which it was, so we ate there. The choices were a bit limited, but I opted for the 1/4 chicken and pork ribs. As I got my tray and was standing there waiting for my food, I couldn't help but lament the now non-existence of Disneyland's Big Thunder BBQ. As I looked over at the grill, I was surprised to see whole corn on the cob sitting on the grill. It's available at a nearby location, but I hadn't seen it on the menu of the restaurant at all, and I would have preferred to have the corn rather than the baked potato that came with my lunch. I had thought about mentioning it to the person preparing my plate, but she first gave me the wrong order, and then when she fixed it and then gave me my correct order, it was clear that she had no interest in speaking to me at all.

We found a seat at a nearby table to enjoy our lunch. It was actually quite tasty. Both the pork ribs and chicken were very moist and tender, and the flavoring was quite good, with not too much sauce - I tend to dislike bbq that's heavy on sauce. The husband had gotten the beef ribs, and he enjoyed his lunch as well, though there was more sauce than he liked, so he scraped some off, and his order was such a large portion that he didn't finish all his ribs. The seating for the restaurant is outdoors, pretty much in the middle of other stuff. There were various street shows that were happening around us, which wasn't too bad, except for the periodic and frequent shooting of loud guns. The seating is also right next to a shop that has lots of toys, so kids were playing with the pop guns incessantly. Not a particularly quiet or peaceful meal.

After lunch, we wandered off to Camp Snoopy, which is turned into Camp Spooky for kids at this time. Young kids could trick or treat at various stations. We wandered around and looked at a few things. I did notice that they decided Camp Spooky was a great place to put out quite a number of large, fuzzy, dark-colored fake spiders. They were all over the place. I'm not afraid of spiders, but I have friends who are, and even I was creeped out by some of them. I can't imagine what their reactions would be. I was really just happy that snakes, which I am seriously afraid of, aren't attached to any particular holiday or occasion and that people don't generally feel the need to put up huge fake snakes everywhere.

We then headed over for a ride on the skyway, which was nice. We also watched people ride Perilous Plunge, which reminds me of Tidal Wave at Magic Mountain. It's an extremely short ride, with no purpose other than to get you completely wet.

We looked around in various shops and saw some interesting/cute merchandise. I saw one t-shirt which I really liked. It had the Peanuts characters (who mostly populate Camp Snoopy, unsurprisingly) in Coaster Class 101 with a list of coasters at Knott's. However, I was surprised that both Perilous Plunge and Supreme Scream were both on that list. Umm, Perilous Plunge can't begin to be called a coaster and calling Supreme Scream a coaster is just flat-out wrong. Points for the idea, but minus points for the execution.

It was a fairly warm day out, and there wasn't really much else to do, so we headed out. Including lunch, we probably spent a total of about 3 hours there. It was a relatively uncrowded day, but with so many rides that I couldn't go on, and really nowhere to just hang out and enjoy the atmosphere, there seemed no point in staying.

One of the other things that I notice about Knott's and other non-Disney amusement parks is the demeanor of the employees. Many employees at Knott's that we came across were either uninterested or disinterested or outright bored. We were surprised as we were getting up from lunch that two costumed employees were sitting at a nearby table on a break. One of them even yelled over quite loudly to another employee walking by who hadn't noticed her. You would never see that kind of thing at a Disney park, and if you did, it would be quite shocking. One of the things that Disney impresses upon its employees is their interaction with customers and park visitors. They may not be as happy as they pretend to be - but they pretend to be, and they do it well, and that's part of your job. We stopped by Disneyland for a couple hours after leaving Knott's, and the difference in the attitude of the employees is remarkable. It's one of the many reasons why Disney is so extremely superior when it comes to running an amusement park. And it's one of the many reasons why I had decided not to renew my Knott's pass.



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