While it’s hard to imagine exhausting all the attractions at the Disneyland Resort, Anaheim-area visitors looking for even more fun have another option just down the street in Buena Park. Today, we look at four reasons why Knott’s Berry Farm may be worth leaving the Disney bubble for.
Many people assume that Disneyland was the first-ever theme park, but it isn’t even the oldest such establishment in Southern California. That honor goes to Knott’s Berry Farm, which can credibly lay claim to being America’s first true theme park, predating nearby Disneyland by decades. Here are four reasons why Disneyland devotees may want to add a day at Knott’s to their itinerary:
Knott’s Berry Farm Classic Dark Rides
Although thrill seekers will love the park’s intense roller coasters—like GhostRider, Xcelerator, and HangTime—the heart of Knott’s Berry Farm is the richly themed old west Ghost Town, which is home to a couple of world-class dark rides that compare favorably to Disneyland’s classics.
The Calico Mine Ride is a close cousin to Disneyland’s Mine Train through Nature’s Wonderland (the extinct ancestor of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad) and is a slow-moving train tour with elaborate indoor and outdoor show scenes.
The attraction dates back to 1960 and was upgraded with dozens of animatronics by Garner Holt, who also creates figures for Disney’s attractions. Take a ride through the Calico Mine with this video:
Right next door is the Timber Mountain Log Ride, which inspired Imagineer Tony Baxter (who attended the 1969 opening as a boy) to build Splash Mountain.
This ride also received new Garner Holt animatronics and is often dressed for seasonal events. Enjoy a splash down Knott’s mountain in this video:
Completing the Disney connection, Knott’s now has Beary Tales: Return to the Fair, a 3-D shooter similar to Toy Story Mania inspired by a 1970s ride designed by Disney Legend Rolly Crump.
Although Knott’s doesn’t have as many highly themed E-Ticket rides as Disneyland, its live entertainment lineup is second to none. There are numerous indoor and open-air venues around the park. There are always daily performances appealing to every age range, from Snoopy and the Peanuts gang shows for the kids, to vintage vaudeville and musical acts in the Bird Cage Theater.
The number-one not-to-be-missed act at Knott’s Berry Farm is Krazy Kirk and the Hillbillies, who were formerly Billy Hill and The Hillbillies of Disneyland’s Golden Horseshow Saloon.
They are even better at Knott’s than they were in Frontierland, and it’s far easier to get a seat in the ample outdoor stadium where they perform on select nights. Enjoy an audience with Krazy Kirk and the Hillbillies with this video:
As a special treat at certain times of year, Knott’s welcomes guest artists like the Bob Baker Marionette Theatre, whose late founder created the vintage animated window displays for Main Street U.S.A. Emporium.
Their charming puppet shows—like Alegre, which was featured in the summer of 2021—are fun for the whole family. If you missed the Bob Baker Marionettes in person, you can relive the show with this video:
Knott’s has been rightly renowned for its food since the operation’s origins as an actual farm; although food inside the park can be even pricier than at Disneyland, the quality of the barbecue and other home-style snacks is usually quite good.
Seasonal events like the springtime Boysenberry food festival draw big crowds for the tasting booths offering tempting berry-based treats.
Be sure to invest in a discounted tasting lanyard if you are indulging in more than a few bites, and be prepare to wait in lines.
Of course, the most iconic entrée on the menu here is Mrs. Knott’s famous fried chicken. Some people think the fried chicken served at Disneyland’s Plaza Inn is nearly as good, but there is a good reason why the restaurant right outside Knott’s Berry Farm’s theme park gates is always full.
Mrs. Knott’s famous chicken dinner should definitely be on your bucket list, so if the wait for a table inside is too long, get your dinner to go from the takeaway window.
The good news is that admission to Knott’s Berry Farm is far less expensive than Disneyland, and it doesn’t require reserving a park pass in advance. Single tickets start around $84 for adults and $54 ages 3–11 and 62+. Season passes are also significantly cheaper than Disneyland’s at $98–$218.
As a result, Knott’s attracts lots of locals, and it can frequently feel overcrowded, especially on the weekends and during special events like Knott’s Scary Farm. Queues for the top rides can often exceed 2 hours, which may encourage you to purchase a Fast Lane pass for $89 and up. However, even with Fast Lane, you can expect to wait a half hour or more for each roller coaster.
Finally, rooms at Knott’s on-site hotel are far cheaper than Disneyland’s official hotels, but it is badly in need of a refurbishment (which it should receive in 2022). The area immediately around the park isn’t as tourist-friendly as the Anaheim Resort, with the walk from Knott’s secondary parking lots being particularly unappealing, so consider staying closer to Disneyland and making the brief commute for the day.
For all there is to see and do at Disneyland, check out The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland by Seth Kubersky with Bob Sehlinger, Len Testa, and Guy Selga Jr. All Disneyland fans should also check out The Disneyland Story: The Unofficial Guide to the Evolution of Walt Disney’s Dream by Sam Gennawey. If you enjoyed this post, please subscribe to our YouTube channel and sign up for our newsletter here. Be sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube.