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.
In the 1920s, Walter Knott (December 11, 1889 – December 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
|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.|
|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.|