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Knott's Berry Farm

Knott's Berry Farm is a brand name of two separate entities in the United States: a theme park in Buena Park, California, and a manufacturer of food specialty products (primarily jams and preserves) based in Placentia, California. Together, the two entities have almost a 90-year legacy in the United States. In addition, Knott's has developed three Soak City USA water parks in Southern California.

Originally established by Walter Knott, the theme park and Water Parks are now owned and operated by Cedar Fair Entertainment Company, and the food products are now part of Smucker's.


In the 1920s, Walter Knott (December 11, 1889December 3, 1981) and his family sold berries, berry plants and pies from a roadside stand beside State Route 39, near the small town of Buena Park. In the 1930s, Walter Knott was introduced to a new berry which had been cultivated by Rudolph Boysen. The plant was a combination of the red raspberry, blackberry, and loganberry. Walter planted a few plants he had received on a visit to Boysen's farm, and later started to sell them at their roadside stand. When people asked him what they were called he said "boysenberries".

In 1934, to make ends meet, Knott's wife Cordelia (1890–1974) reluctantly began serving fried chicken dinners on their wedding china. For dessert, Knott's trademark boysenberry pie was also served to guests dining in the small tea room. As Southern California developed, Highway 39 became the major north-south connection between Los Angeles County and the beaches of Orange County, and the restaurant's location was a popular stopping point for drivers making what at the time was a two-hour trip. Until the development of the 605 and 57 freeways in the late 1960s, Highway 39 (now known in Orange County as Beach Boulevard) continued to carry the bulk of the traffic between eastern Los Angeles and Orange Counties.

Within a few years, lines outside the restaurant were often several hours long. To entertain the waiting crowds, Walter began to build a ghost town in 1940, using buildings relocated from real old west towns such as Calico, California and Prescott, Arizona. They added attractions such as a narrow-gauge train ride, a pan-for-gold area, and the Calico Mine Ride. Frequent activities at what Knott called a "summer-long county fair" included -- naturally -- boysenberry pie eating contests. When Disneyland was built in nearby Anaheim, the two attractions were not seen as direct competitors, due to the different nature of each. Walt Disney visited Knott's Berry Farm on a number of occasions, and hosted the Knotts at his own park (including inviting the Knotts to Disneyland's opening day). The two Walters had a cordial relationship, and worked together on a number of community causes.

In 1968, the Knott family fenced in the property and charged an admission fee for the first time. In the 1970s the park included three theme areas: Old West Ghost Town, Fiesta Village (portraying Spanish California) and the Roaring Twenties, a nostalgic traditional amusement area with a 1920s-era airfield. In 1975 the Corkscrew debuted as the first modern-day roller coaster to perform a 360-degree inverting element. It was designed by Arrow Dynamics of Utah.

In the 1980s, Knott's built the "Barn Dance" featured Bobbi & Clyde as the house band. It was during the height of the "Urban Cowboy" era. The "Barn Dance" was featured in Knott's TV Commercials. Also during the 1980s, Knott's met the competition in Southern California theme parks by building two massive attractions: Kingdom of the Dinosaurs and Wild Water Wilderness, a whitewater raft ride. In 1990 the Boomerang roller coaster was introduced.

In 1995, the Knott family sold the food specialty business to ConAgra. In 1997, the Knott family sold the amusement park operations to Cedar Fair. Initially, the Knotts were given an opportunity to sell the park to The Walt Disney Company. The park would have been amalgamated into the Disneyland Resort and converted into Disney's America, which had previously failed to be built near Washington, D.C. The Knotts refused to sell the park to Disney out of fear that most of what Walter had built would be eliminated, but ironically, Cedar Fair ended up eliminating more than what Disney had planned to.

Since being acquired by Cedar Fair, the park has seen an aggressive shift towards thrill rides, with the construction of a number of large roller coasters and the addition of a high-performance Shoot-the-Chutes ride.

The present

In contrast to the early rustic days of Knott, the vicinity of the park is now heavily suburbanized and thus some visitors to the park may perceive the phrase "berry farm" as something of a misnomer. The landscape of the park is now dominated by the roller coasters, and much of the original theming and atmosphere of the park have been disrupted. The park serves as an anchor for other tourist-oriented businesses such as Medieval Times and Pirate's Dinner Adventure, and the Movieland Wax Museum which was located nearby until it closed in 2005. Buena Park Downtown, a series of shopping centers containing Wal-Mart and Kohl's stores, is located near Knott's Berry Farm.

In 2004, the park renamed the Radisson Resort Hotel the Knott's Berry Farm Resort Hotel. The hotel was formerly the Buena Park Hotel that Cedar Fair acquired in the late 1990s.

Two of Knott's Berry Farm's most recent areas of concern are that its parking lot is landlocked and cannot be expanded, and the closest train station was several miles away in Fullerton. Both have made travel to the park something of an inconvenience. That problem is expected to be solved in part by Buena Park's new Metrolink station which was completed in 2007.

Independence Hall

Also on the property (but on the east side of Beach Blvd.) is a replica of Independence Hall and Knott's Soak City, USA. Independence Hall was so well recreated that the original Hall in Philadelphia asked for the Knott's blueprints during its recent renovation, and the replica also was used in the 2004 film National Treasure. Displays have included a replica of the Liberty Bell and a replica of the original "Star Spangled Banner," the flag which flew over Fort McHenry through a British attack during the War of 1812. An audio presentation, with speakers located at appropriate tables, recalls the debate which led to the United States Declaration of Independence.

Prior to the development of Camp Snoopy, an artificial lake, covering more than an acre, was located north of Independence Hall. The lake featured row- and paddle-boats, and a popular activity for local residents was feeding the ducks who lived there year-round; as well as Jungle Island, where children found adventure and played hide and seek games all day. Camp Snoopy was built in an area which had formerly been a parking lot, so the lake was removed to put in a replacement parking area. Some ducks moved to other parks and lakes, but many ducks still live and gather in a small river like body of water right next to Independence Hall, and many guests still stop by and feed the ducks on a regular basis.

Ghost Town

Ghost Town is the oldest part of the Knott's amusement park, and includes most of the buildings Walter brought to the property in the 1940s and 1950s.

This themed area includes attractions such as the narrow gauge Ghost Town & Calico Railway (using much historic equipment from Colorado narrow-gauge lines including C-19 engines 340 and 41 from the Rio Grande & Southern). The Butterfield Stagecoach ride includes 3 original Butterfield coaches, 1 Halloday coach, 1 Overland Southern coach and the Knotts Berry Farm coach that was built for the farm in 1954. Also there is a Pan-for-Gold attraction, the Calico Mine Ride dark ride, Timber Mountain Log Ride, Calico Saloon Show and The Wild West Stunt Show.

More recently, the much-acclaimed GhostRider wooden roller coaster has been added. In late 2004 Knott's opened the longest inverted roller coaster on the West Coast, Silver Bullet along with Screamin' Swing: the world's first air-powered swing.

Ghost Town itself has a place in history aside from the buildings brought here. The Bird Cage Theatre melodrama theater (currently only used during the Christmas season) has launched many acting careers, including that of Steve Martin. The Calico stage is a venue that has hosted acts ranging from elementary school singers & dancers to the melon smashing Gallagher.

The Ghost Town section is based upon the real ghost town of Calico, California near Barstow, and other ghost towns in the Western United States. Walter Knott purchased the Calico ghost town in 1951 and restored it. In 1966 he donated the town to San Bernardino County, which made it a regional park.

The summer of 2007 had Knott's Nature Center being relocated to the Ghost Town area from the Wild Water section of the park. The building was once the 1-room Rivera School house in Rivera California. Arachnids, insects, amphibians and creepy-crawlies are here for your inspection.

Fiesta Village

Fiesta Village is a Mexican-themed area which features a number of carnival-style attractions, including the Montezooma's Revenge roller coaster and the Jaguar! family roller coaster. A classic Merry-Go-Round by Reflection Lake tops off this village. Other rides include the Dragon Swing, La Revolucion (Frisbee), Hat Dance (themed Tea Cups), and Wave Swinger. Fiesta Village was built in 1969.

The Boardwalk

Originally themed as a gypsy camp, and later re-themed to the "Roaring 20's" and "Knott's Airfield", this area is home to most of the park's major thrill rides. It is also home to the Sky Cabin Tower, which once also housed the Parachute Sky Jump attraction and was, at one time, the tallest structure in Orange County. Current rides include the recently constructed Xcelerator (which replaced the failed Windjammer Surf Racers, known to be a mechanical nightmare by employees), Supreme Scream, Riptide, and Perilous Plunge, and the roller coaster Boomerang. Supreme Scream is now the tallest structure in Orange County, at 312 feet in height. Other rides include the Wheeler Dealer Bumper Cars, Wipeout, and Screamin' Swing. The Boardwalk was built in 1969 as the "Roaring 20's" area. The Corkscrew roller coaster was installed in the "Roaring 20s" area in 1975 and was notable for being the first modern-day roller coaster to perform a 360-degree inverting element. The Corkscrew is currently located at Silverwood Theme Park in Athol, Idaho.

The world's largest Johnny Rockets restaurant franchise is located in this section of the park, featuring over 5,900 square feet of indoor dining space for more than 260 guests.

Camp Snoopy

Camp Snoopy is targeted towards younger visitors, with many of the rides and attractions being built specifically for children. It is themed around Charles M. Schulz' "Peanuts" comic strip characters. Snoopy has been the mascot of Knott's Berry Farm since 1983, and the characters can now be seen at all of Cedar Fair's parks, barring Valleyfair. The 13 rides include a mini roller coaster called the Timberline Twister, a mini-scrambler called the Log Peeler, a Zamperla Rockin' Tug called Lucy's Tugboat.

Knott's Berry Farm also built the Mall of America's indoor theme park, which itself was originally called Camp Snoopy. (In fact, Charles M. Schulz hailed from St. Paul.) However, today the park is no longer affiliated with Knott's or Cedar Fair, and is now called Nickelodeon Universe.

Wild Water Wilderness

Wild Water Wilderness is a small area that features two major rides: the Bigfoot Rapids river rafting adventure, and Pony Express, a horse themed family roller coaster installed in 2008.. Nearby Bigfoot Rapids is Rapids Trader, a small merchandise stand. It is also home to Mystery Lodge, a multimedia show based on an Expo 86 pavilion featuring a Native American storyteller.

Indian Trails

Located near Reflection Lake, Indian Trails is a small area sandwiched between Camp Snoopy, Ghost Town, and Fiesta Village. It features no actual "rides", but instead is a showcase of Native American art, crafts, and dance.

Annual park events

The park's annual Knott's Halloween Haunt has drawn crowds since 1973. The idea for this event was presented at one of the regularly scheduled round table meetings for managers by Patricia Pawson. The actual event was created by Bill Hollingshead, Gary Salisbury, Martha Boyd and Gene Witham, along with other members of the Knott's Berry Farm Entertainment Department as documented in the DVD Season of Screams. During this special ticketed event, the entire park (or major portions of it) re-themes itself into a "haunted house" style attraction in the form of "mazes" and "scare zones" in the evening. Over a thousand specially employed monsters are also scattered - often hidden out of view - throughout the park at this time. Several attractions are decorated for the event including the Timber Mountain Log Ride and Calico Mine Train and there are 10 or more mazes of various themes from aliens to spiders to clowns from outer-space. Elvira (actress Cassandra Peterson) was introduced into the Halloween Event in 1982 and was prominently featured in many Halloween Haunt events until 2001. According to postings on her My Space page, Cassandra was released from her contract by the park's new owners due to their wanting a more family friendly appeal. Interesting facts: During the month of October, Knott's Scary Farm generates half the revenue for Knott's Berry Farm's fiscal year.

Season of Screams is a DVD produced by an independent company which traces the beginnings of Halloween Haunt and the story behind how it all got started back in 1973. Season of Screams also highlights recent Halloween Haunts.

Winter Coaster Solace is an event that takes place in the first or second weekend of March every year where roller coaster enthusiasts can come before the park opens and stay after the park closes to ride the rides, eat at the Chicken Dinner Restaurant, and where they used to receive behind the scenes tours of the rides.

Every year since 1991, Knott's has offered free admission to Veterans and their families during the month of November. Originally started as a tribute to returning Gulf War veterans, they subsequently expanded it to include all Veterans and have run it every year since.

Every year Knott's has offered free and reduced admission to employees of law enforcement and firefighters and their families also in the month of November during the week of Thanksgiving.

A Christmas event known as "Knott's Merry Farm" also happens annually. Previous "Merry Farm" events have included manufactured snow, handcrafts exhibits, and a "visit with Santa Claus." This event was originally created by Gary Salisbury in the Fall of 1985.

Current Roller Coasters

Ride Year Opened Manufacturer Description
Montezooma's Revenge 1978 Anton Schwarzkopf A steel roller coaster with an open-circuit that catapults riders through a 7-story loop.
Timberline Twister 1983 Bradley & Kaye Small steel coaster designed specifically for young children.
Boomerang 1990 Vekoma Steel roller coaster with an open-circuit takes riders upside-down a total of six times.
Jaguar! 1995 Zierer GmbH Family-oriented roller coaster.
GhostRider 1998 Custom Coasters International The longest wooden roller coaster west of the Mississippi River.
Xcelerator 2002 Intamin Accelerator Coaster that plunges passengers at 82 mph in 2.3 seconds,entire ride time is 24 seconds.
Silver Bullet 2004 B&M Floorless coaches suspended beneath an overhead track whip around steeply banked turns and six inversions.
Sierra Sidewinder 2007 MACK Rides GmbH & Co KG America's first free-spinning multiple-car train roller coaster.
Pony Express 2008 Zamperla America's Second "motorbike" roller coaster featuring sweeping turns. OCC MotoCoaster at Darien Lake, in Buffalo NY was the first to open in North America.

Former rides/attractions

Mexican Whip 1969 Sellner Manufacturing A classic Tilt-A-Whirl ride that was removed in 1986 along with Fiesta Wheel to make room for the Tampico Tumbler.
Fiesta Wheel 1969 Chance-Morgan A Chance Trabant ride that spun and tilted riders at the same time as the ride changed direction rapidly. It was removed in 1986 to make room for the Dragon Swing.
Tampico Tumbler 1987 Zierer A Zierer Hexentanz or Fireball ride. Two cars are mounted on each arm (eight arms total.) The entire ride lifts so that each arm can rotate both cars over each other at a rapid pace. Removed to make room for La Revolucion in 2004.
Grand Slammer 1987 Chance-Morgan A Chance Falling Star pendulum ride removed in 2004 to make room for La Revolucion's queue line.
Tijuana Taxi 1969 Arrow Dynamics This standard automobile track ride was torn down to make room for Fiesta Village's expansion in 1976.
Henry's Auto Livery Unknown Walter Beckman This ride was located out of the main park near the corner of Beach Blvd. and Crescent. The ride had no tracks, just bumpers to keep you on the road. Removed sometime in the 80s
Corkscrew 1975 Arrow Dynamics This was the first modern roller coaster ever to take passengers upside down. It was sold to Silverwood in 1990 to make room for the Boomerang.
Motorcycle Chase/Soap Box Racers 1976 Arrow Dynamics This steeplechase roller coaster had four tracks parallel to each other. A favorite of many parkgoers, it was taken out in 1996 to make room for the Windjammer Surf Racers and later, the Xcelerator.
HammerHead 1996 Zamperla This Zamperla Rotoshake ride flipped riders upside down on a theater-like platform while the main arm itself turned 360 degrees. Due to pricy mechanical problems, it was removed in 2003 to make room for RipTide.
XK-1 1990 Intamin AG This rare Intamin Flight Trainer ride had a short eight-year run. After 1999, it was removed to make room for Supreme Scream.
Knott's Bear-y Tales/Kingdom of the Dinosaurs 1973 unknown manufacturer A ride whose manufacturer is unknown, this dark ride first took riders past a fairy-tale like plot with bears and other animated creatures. It later was revamped with a dinosaur theme and then removed in 2004 due to aging parts and lack of popularity. Many guests today complain about this loss. The thematic design for Bear-y Tales was by the former Disney Imagineer Rolly Crump.
VertiGo 2001 S & S This S & S "Totally Insane" ride was taken out because Knott's sister park, Cedar Point, had its similar ride demolished due to an accident.
Whirlwind/Greased Lightning/HeadAche 1976 Reverchon This standard Himalaya ride was a favorite for almost 30 years. In 2001, the ride was removed to make room for Perilous Plunge.
Propeller Spin 1976 Frank Hrubetz and Co. This Hrubetz Round up ride operated from 1976 to 1989, until this space was vacated. Today, it is part of Perilous Plunge's track layout.
Loop Trainer Flying Machine 1976 Schwarzkopf A standard Enterprise ride that was a bit smaller than most park models operating today. In 1989, this ride was removed to make room for the XK-1 in 1990.
Sky Jump 1976 Intamin AG This parachute jump freefall ride was the highest ride in the park until its more modern successor, Supreme Scream was built 25 years later. However, the ride's tower still stands, along with its companion ride, Sky Cabin.
Walter K. Steamboat 1969 Arrow Dynamics This steam-powered ferry boat took riders across from Camp Snoopy to the Boardwalk section. It was removed in 2006 for part of Sierra Sidewinder's track layout.
Gasoline Alley 1969 Arrow Dynamics This second car-track was under the motorcycle chase/wacky soapbox racer they both rides was removed in 1996 to make room for Windjammer Surf Racers, and later, Xcelerator.
Whirlpool/Headspin/Wilderness Scrambler 1976 Eli Bridge Company The "Whirlpool" was a classic scrambler carnival ride originally housed inside a building which included 'undersea' murals on the walls, a music soundtrack, and club style lighting effects. It was latter renamed "Headspin" in 1996 with the re-themeing of the 'Roaring 20's' to 'The Boardwalk'. It was later repainted and moved to a new outdoor location under the Windjammer to make room for the Perilous Plunge. In 2001 it was relocated again to the Wild Water Wilderness area and renamed "Wilderness Scrambler" to make room for the Xcelerator. Finally it was removed permanently in 2007 to make room for the 2008 Pony Express roller coaster.

Attraction/capital timeline

  • 2008: The Pony Express
  • 2007: Sierra Sidewinder; Wilderness Scrambler removed.
  • 2006: Pacific Spin (Soak City U.S.A.); Johnny Rockets restaurant; New Perilous Plunge boats put into operation; Walter K Steamboat removed; Woodstock's Airmail relocated.
  • 2005: T.G.I. Fridays restaurant (California Marketplace).
  • 2004: Silver Bullet; Church of Reflections relocated to outside of park; Lucy's Tugboat; Rip Tide; Screamin' Swing; Kingdom of the Dinosaurs closed; Radisson Resort Knott's Berry Farm renamed Knott's Berry Farm Resort Hotel.
  • 2003: Tampico Tumbler removed; Gran Slammer removed; La Revolución; Joe Cool's Gr8 Sk8; HammerHead removed.
  • 2002: Xcelerator; VertiGo removed.
  • 2001: VertiGo; Windjammer Surf Racers removed; Wipeout relocated; Headspin relocated and renamed Wilderness Scrambler.
  • 2000: Windjammer Surf Racers closes; Perilous Plunge; Soak City U.S.A. water park; Haunted Shack removed.
  • 1999: Wipeout; Coasters restaurant; Charlie Brown Speedway; Sky Jump removed; HeadAche removed; Pacific Pavilion removed; Radisson Resort Knott's Berry Farm.
  • 1998: GhostRider; XK-1 removed; Supreme Scream; Woodstock's Airmail; Slingshot renamed Wave Swinger; Mexican Hat Dance renamed Hat Dance.
  • 1997: Windjammer Surf Racers.
  • 1996: The Boardwalk themed area (retheme of Roaring 20's); HammerHead; Greased Lightning renamed HeadAche; Whirlpool renamed Headspin; Wacky Soap Box Racers removed; Gasoline Alley removed.
  • 1995: Jaguar!.
  • 1994: Mystery Lodge.
  • 1992: Indian Trails themed area.
  • 1991: Studio K closed.
  • 1990: Boomerang; XK-1; Whirlwind renamed Greased Lightning.
  • 1989: Corkscrew removed; Propeller Spin removed; Loop Trainer Flying Machine removed.
  • 1988: Bigfoot Rapids.
  • 1987: Kingdom of the Dinosaurs; Tampico Tumbler; Gran Slammer; Dragon Swing; Slingshot; Happy Sombrero renamed Mexican Hat Dance.
  • 1986: Bear-y Tales removed; Tijuana Taxi removed; Fiesta Wheel removed; Mexican Whip removed.
  • 1984: Studio K. Was the largest teen dance club in Southern California, built to take advantage of the Break Dance craze. Opening night Knotts produced a TV special called California Break Dance Championship which was aired on KHJ-TV (now KCAL) channel 9. Dick Clark also filmed a two hour special called "Rock Rolls On" in this new facility. Studio K was credited with increasing the teen attendance by over 200,000 per year. Disneyland copied Studio K the following year and opened Videopolis. Magic Mountain opened their version a year later and named it "After Hours". The concept for Studio K was proposed by Gary R. Salisbury on February 11, 1984
  • 1983: Barn Dance featured Bobbi & Clyde Country Western Dancing
  • 1983: Camp Snoopy themed area created, forcing removal of a lake which had been built north of Independence Hall, so that a parking area could be relocated.
  • 1978: Montezooma's Revenge.
  • 1976: Motorcycle Chase; Sky Jump; Sky Cabin; Propeller Spin; Loop Trainer Flying Machine; Whirlpool; Gasoline Alley; Whirlwind.
  • 1975: Corkscrew; Bear-y Tales.
  • 1974: Wild West Stunt Show Opens.
  • 1973: First annual Knott's Scary Farm Halloween Haunt
  • 1971: John Wayne Theatre.
  • 1969: Timber Mountain Log Ride; Fiesta Village themed area; Tijuana Taxi; Mexican Whip; Fiesta Wheel; Happy Sombrero.
  • 1966: Independence Hall
  • 1960: Calico Mine Ride.
  • 1958: Mott's Miniatures
  • 1955: Dentzel Carousel, Hunter's Paradise Shootin' Gallery
  • 1954: Haunted Shack, Bird Cage Theater
  • 1952: Ghost Town & Calico Railroad.
  • 1951: Calico Saloon


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