Just outside Los Angeles, traveling families have numerous choices for theme park entertainment. From Six Flags, to Universal, the mother of all theme parks –the original Disneyland, the Southern California area is full of big time thrills and attractions.
Buena Park, a small city adjacent to Anaheim, just about 30 minutes away from LAX, also boasts an incredible theme park: Knott’s Berry Farm. The park began as the name suggests, as a berry stand selling sweet bites of goodness to roadside families in the early 1920s. Expansions began in the 1930s and 40s as the Knott family began selling fried chicken, offering wares, and opening interesting attractions like petrified logs, wagons, and photo opportunities. From these humble beginnings, the park continually added themed lands and rides throughout the decades. Knott’s Berry Farm is now a major amusement park.
My family loves heading to Knott’s. It is smaller than Disneyland and is often less crowded, making it easier to maneuver through the park, and faster to get on the rides. Large portions of the original park and attractions are still intact, including the Ghost Town, a nostalgic look at the old fashioned life of a gold panning town in California.
We still spend a large amount of our time in Camp Snoopy, the land dedicated to the youngest visitors to the park. The rides here are safe, small and just right for tot-sized thrills. My oldest children are beginning to venture out to more mature rides, but height restrictions still prevent them (at eight and six) from riding the majority of the large attractions. Many family rides exist outside Camp Snoopy, and these are our current favorites. The Calico Mine Ride is a slow journey through the gold-panning mountains with some surprises along the way, and kids love the chance to hop aboard a real stagecoach and working steam train, equipped with a “surprise robbery” that is sure to evoke some thrills. The Timber Mountain Log Ride and Bigfoot Rapids are perfect for cooling down on a warm, summer day.
The shows at Knott’s are also a great way to spend your time. Kid-friendly shows take place daily in Camp Snoopy, and a live western stunt show is fun and full of laughs.
If your little ones are old enough for big thrills, there are plenty of options at Knott’s. With 13 thrill rides including roller coasters and other sky-topping and quick dropping attractions, you won’t get bored quickly. Two of my personal favorites are the old-fashion Montezooma's Revenge and Xcelerator, which reaches a speed of 82mph in just 2.3 seconds! Not for the faint of heart, but totally exhilarating.
Knott’s Berry Farm is open daily, excluding Christmas. Single day tickets are as low as $33.99 on their website.
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photo: Katie Bodell