Hello there and Happy Halloween! It’s Wednesday 31st October 2018 and the weather in Los Angeles is beautiful as always. After yesterday’s visit to Six Flags Magic Mountain, we decided that rollercoasters are fun, but some theming is needed to enhance the overall experience. Luckily, our next stop is a theme park which is known to have the best of two worlds. Knott’s Berry Farm has a decent selection of thrill rides, but decoration plays an important role in this park as well.
Knott’s Berry Farm is located only a few miles from the world-famous Disneyland Resort, in the city of Buena Park. We could have visited Knott’s as a day trip during our stay in Anaheim, but we didn’t. Instead, we booked a night at Knott’s Berry Farm Hotel. Honestly, I wouldn’t consider this as a necessity: the hotel is good, but not outstanding. However, it’s fun to know that Knott’s Berry Farm’s main entrance is within a 5 minutes’ walk from our room.
During Halloween time, the park’s name is slightly modified to Knott’s Scary Farm. Just like most other theme parks, a Halloween event is hosted on select evenings in September and October. My interest for these kinds of Horror Nights is non-existent, but Americans seem to adore it.
Horror mazes and scary creatures aren’t my favourite things, but I do love a good B&M inverted coaster. That’s why we start our day at Knott’s Berry Farm with a ride on Silver Bullet.
Silver Bullet is often considered as one of the weakest B&M inverted coasters, but I don’t agree. True… the first descent should have been slightly steeper, but every other element is pure perfection. In my opinion, a ride doesn’t have to be overly intense to make an impression. And that’s what I love about Silver Bullet: it’s not extreme, but it is incredibly fun and smooth. And just watch that beautiful colour scheme…
I expected a decent-sized crowd on Halloween day, but that’s clearly not the case. Knott’s Berry Farm feels very deserted today, which enables us to make multiple rides on our favourite rollercoasters.
Just to be clear… this isn’t one of those favourite coasters. Coast Rider looks shiny and modern, but it’s one of the worst Mack wild mouse coasters ever. The leg restraints are horrible and the ride is braked to death. Knott’s officials should pay a visit to Europa-Park, where Matterhorn Blitz proves that a similar ride can be fun and nicely decorated.
During my first visit to Knott’s Berry Farm, this location was still ocupied by Perilous Plunge. It’s a shame that they replaced this great water ride by a weak wild mouse.
Coast Rider might be disappointing, but its surroundings are beautiful. The Boardwalk area isn’t overly themed, but it’s got a good vibe and the ride selection is interesting.
The Boardwalk is also home to the park’s latest addition: HangTime. This Gerstlauer Infinity Coaster was opened only five months ago and looks impressive. The ride is 45 metres tall, it features a beyond-vertical drop and a total of five inversions.
Afraid of long queues for the park’s newest ride? Just visit Knott’s on a weekday in October and you’ll be able to ride and ride and ride. I didn’t expect it, but HangTime would remain in a walk-on state for the remainder of the day.
This brand-new ride looks cool and the colour palette is stunning. But how about the ride itself?
Honestly… I didn’t hate the ride, but didn’t love it either. Just like nearly every other Gerstlauer creation, it’s not entirely smooth and the lay-out feels rather unnatural. This could be a great coaster design if it were built by B&M, Intamin, Vekoma or Mack. Gerstlauer is just one of those few manufacturers who don’t seem to get it right. They should stick to family coasters (Firechaser Express and Pégase Express are amazing) and leave the thrill machines to others.
From one brightly coloured thrill machine to another. Let’s hope this one performs better than HangTime.
Yes, it does. In fact, Xcelerator remains one of the best rollercoasters in California. The launch is extremely powerful and the rest of the lay-out provides great thrills. Xcelerator became a little rougher over the past few years, but that didn’t make the ride less enjoyable. This is one of those coasters I’d like to do again and again.
Pink rides aren’t necessarily tame rides.
During yesterday’s visit to Six Flags Magic Mountain, I really missed some theming. Knott’s Berry Farm makes up for that with nicely themed areas and a good atmosphere throughout the park.
Knott’s Berry Farm even provided some Coco theming in preparation for our upcoming visit to Disneyland.
I’m here with a first-timer, which makes is necessary to ride every single coaster credit. That’s why we visit Camp Snoopy for Timberline Twister (a very cheap-looking kiddie coaster) and Sierra Sidewinder, a short but intense spinning coaster. Afterwards, we head to the Mexican section for Montezooma’s Revenge (a classic Schwarzkopf shuttle loop, still delivering loads of fun) and Jaguar. This is probably the world’s longest Zierer Tivoli Coaster, but not the best. The trains aren’t comfortable and the ride isn’t smooth at all. This stunning station building is actually one of the few things I like about Jaguar.
Halloween is a big deal at Knott’s Berry Farm and decorations are added throughout the park.
The park even adapts its log flume to the season. The Timber Mountain Log Ride Halloween Hootenanny is a surprisingly good overlay with special music and additional audio-animatronics. This is a great log flume anyway, but it becomes even better thanks to these creepy touches. Don’t miss it if you visit Knott’s during the Halloween season.
Timber Mountain Log Ride features a sizeable dark ride portion and there’s another big dark ride just accross the street. The Calico Mine Ride opened in 1960 and it became a true classic in the world of dark rides. It didn’t become outdated, though. Calico Mine Ride was refurbished several times and it still provides a spectacular ride experience with some good-looking scenes. The Knott’s Berry Farm website describes it as a Legendary Attraction and that’s absolutely true.
Knott’s Berry Farm has a thing with trains. You board a classic mine train at the Calico Mine Ride, but you can also circle the park in this stunning steam train.
The best area to take in Knott’s unique atmosphere is the famous Ghost Town. This far west themed village features beautiful facades, craftsmen, many shops and food stalls.
Ghost Town is also the centre of the Halloween celebrations. Today, the area is filled with (gentle) scare actors and trick or treat trails. Free chocolate… I like!
Free chocolate is great, but an empty queue for GhostRider is even better. The ride is known for its long, slow-moving lines, but the crew is literally waiting for passengers today.
This coaster was originally built by Custom Coasters International in 1998. It was popular, but it became considerably rougher over the years. One of my friends once described it as ‘falling from the stairs, but in a fun way’ and that was actually very close to the feeling GhostRider evoked. A major refurbishment, carried out by GCI in 2016, has made the ride experience even more enjoyable. The lay-out got retracked and trains were replaced by GCI’s characteristic Millennium Flyers. The result is simply incredible. If you ask me, GhostRider has become one of the world’s best wooden coasters. Great Coasters International once again proved that they chose the right name.
A lot less spectacular (but nontheless great for younger visitors) is Pony Express. Zamperla coasters are never earth-shattering and that’s not any different in this case. The decoration looks nice, but it’s a short and uninspiring ride.
I admit it… I forgot to take photos in some areas of the park and I didn’t talk about all those lovely flat rides. But believe me, Knott’s Berry Farm is an awesome place. I’ve got the impression that it’s often considered as a mediocre amusement park within close proximity to Disneyland, but it’s more than that. The park offers a great variety of coasters and there are lots of flat rides, family attractions and dark rides. Furthermore, the theming is decent and the park offers some good entertainment. Knott’s Berry Farm doesn’t transport you into another world like Disney does, but it’s still an outstanding amusement park. Searching for a way to escape the magical (very busy) Disneyland Bubble for a while? Knott’s Berry Farm is the place to go.