One of the things we get asked about is “Do we visit other theme parks?” while we’re in Disney. The answer varies based on the trip, but we have made time for other theme parks from time to time. We talk about Universal Studios Hollywood here and LEGOLAND California in this post.
This summer my family decided to do LEGOLAND and Knott’s Berry Farm because nearly every single year, in the last 11 years since my oldest has been born, we’ve done Disney at least once. I recently counted that I’ve been to Disney a whopping 19 different times! Since we live 2400 km away, that’s a pretty big feat! That’s not the amount of days… that’s the amount of TRIPS! To read about that epic Road trip, click here.
Back to the point of the post…
Knott’s Berry Farm is a place that we’ve visited a couple of times over the last 20 years. I know that my dad REALLY enjoys it. I have fond memories of going there when I was 10, and then once more as a young adult, and once with our oldest when she was two. But let’s face it… it’s NOT Disneyland.
When we were in Walt Disney World two years ago, our kids REALLY enjoyed the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular. Like, we saw it twice. And I remember LOVING the Wild West Stunt Show at Knott’s Berry Farm when I was 10, so that was what made us look into going to Knott’s this time.
Now, as previously mentioned, it’s not Disneyland. But it’s definitely an entertaining day for the whole family. One of the definite upsides is that there’s more for the teenagers. When we were in LEGOLAND, we literally couldn’t imagine a teenager there. Whereas in Knott’s Berry Farm, there are a lot of extreme coasters that are worth doing. Plus there is Camp Snoopy for the littles, as well as some pretty decent family rides.
Here are my takeaways from Knott’s Berry Farm:
I did a fair amount of research beforehand to get the best deal on tickets. I saw that at local (SoCal) Subway restaurants you could get discounts, as well as at Ralphs supermarkets. The best deal that I found was actually at Goldstar.com. I downloaded the app, and then also found a discount code online for $10 off my first order. So the cost for our tickets, 2 adults and 3 kids (5-11), came to $235 USD for the day. Not too shabby! It was a bit of a gong show the night before because I ordered them and then discovered that you need to PRINT the tickets before getting there, and they wouldn’t budge on that. Thankfully the hotel we were staying at allowed us to email them the tickets and then printed them for us for free. You can spend extra money for a ticket with photo pass options (FunPix), as well as their own version of a FASTPASS (Fast Lane). We were there on a busy day and didn’t find it necessary, especially if you are strategic.
Hotels and Parking
We stayed at a pretty questionable local hotel in Buena Park. If you’re already at Disney, there’s no need to stay near Knott’s, as it’s only a 10-15 minute drive. The area is a bit shady, so really your best bets are going to be the name brand hotels (we liked the look of the Holiday Inn and Days Inn). Arrive nice and early at the park. Parking was incredibly hard to find… we actually ended up driving around the ENTIRE perimeter of Knott’s and then had to pull up at the Knott’s Berry Farm Hotel to ask how to get to the parking. Parking was $20 for the day… HEADS UP: it’s a one time entry which truthfully was a bit sad because it was 40 degrees Celsius that day (110 degrees Fahrenheit) and it would’ve been really nice to go back to the hotel pool that day. Another note about parking: it’s not clearly marked which way to walk to the park from the lot. We asked someone where the entrance was and were told the wrong way, so we ended up walking the length of the parking lot twice before figuring out where to go. You want to head towards Knott’s Soak City and then make a right to go under Beach Blvd. We also noticed people parking right up on the side of the parking lot on the grass, so they could be in the shade… I guess this is what happens without a parking attendant on site (not everyone can be as organized as Disney).
We noticed a LOT of wagons in both Knott’s Berry Farm and LEGOLAND… a fun option to be able to have a cooler and not have to carry it on your back. We have 3 girls (age 5-11)… we found that even with the EXTREME heat they were fine to walk, and my husband carried a backpack with everything we needed for the day. I’m also super old school in that I like to have a real camera and a real video camera (we always put our trip footage on DVD’s and watch the trips back. We find this really cements the memories! I’m sure the modern thing to do would be to just put them on a USB or something).
Our packing list for the day was:
- Tickets (had to be printed, couldn’t be electronic)
- Water bottles (refillable, filled with filtered water first)
- Water flavour enhancers (Crystal Light and hydralytes for really hot days)
- Glasses straps (for those extreme rides)
- Snacks (popcorn, rice chips, beef jerky, fruit, veg, pretzels, gummies, apple sauce pouches, and then cheese sticks and yogurt tubes in a very small soft cooler with a very small ice pack)
- Cameras x2 (video and still)
- Credit card or debit card and/or cash
- Meds (EpiPen, Band-Aids, Tylenol / Ibuprofen)
- Light sweater (we didn’t need this as it was SO SO hot this time)
When You Get There
There are a few shops that will be open, and a really nice Starbucks (there isn’t a Starbucks IN the park, although they do brew Starbucks and made a decent iced latte… nothing to write home about, but it did the job nicely). We wanted to be about an hour early, go to the bathroom, get the bag check over with, get in line and get in as soon as they let us. They let us take a picture right at the gate once inside with Snoopy, which was nice. They will offer you a card or wrist band for photos, but they had no problem using our camera for photos either.
We chose to hit up the Timber Mountain Log Ride first, as it was a family ride. Our youngest is 5 1/2 and didn’t really like it… we weren’t able to get her on it again. But as log rides go, it’s a good one. On the way to the log ride, we noticed the wooden roller coaster, GhostRider, was only about 20 min (this can get up to 3 hours for the day) so my husband and two older girls went on it. A note of caution… they rate their rides on a scale of 5, and this is one of the highest rated for thrills… a full 5. And let me tell you, it’s crazy. My mom got whiplash on it years ago, and I have a previous neck injury so chose not to ride it, which I know was the right decision even though it’s super fun.
There are lots of other rides. One of the things I found confusing on the website and app (more about that later) was the minimum requirement for height. A lot of them have two different requirements: one WITH an adult (over 14) and one WITHOUT an adult. It would be nice if they were more organized with their ride systems (getting on and off, getting into lines for the roller coasters, etc.) but not everyone can have Disneyland’s standards I guess.
In regards to their app, it’s a fun idea, but it was terrible about updating actual times for ride waits. It wasn’t even accurate ONE bit. But it was nice to be able to see times for shows and for when they open, etc. The other thing is unless you are IN the park, you can’t see wait times for rides, which means you can’t look at it ahead of time when planning your trip (I do this for Disneyland… doesn’t everyone? No? Just me? Mmmk.)
Our favorite family ride, which we did twice, was called Voyage to the Iron Reef and it was an interactive game ride, similar to Buzz Lightyear and Toy Story. Very fun.
As previously mentioned, the reason for us thinking about going in the first place was for the Wild West Stunt Show. When I went with my family when I was 10, we absolutely loved it. So we picked the afternoon show, looking forward to a shady break (if you get there early enough, you can sit in covered wagons). Unfortunately with it being so hot, the actors had a contract that they weren’t able to do the show with weather over 100 degrees, so someone came out 5 minutes before it was supposed to start, and told us it was cancelled. We quickly regrouped and decided to head on over to the air conditioned theatre to see “Beach Blanket Beagle”, which was a cheesy dance and beach show. It was a nice break, albeit a little kitschy. And if you’ve been around Disneyland in the last 20 years, you might remember Billy Hill and the Hillbillies. Fun fact, they have relocated to Knott’s Berry Farm under the clever name Krazy Kirk and the Hillbillies, so make sure to check them out if you so wish.
Food and Drink
Lastly, food and drinks. We started the day off at the bakery right by GhostRider, called Ghost Town Bakery, and had a really delicious Boysenberry Doughnut.
This held us off, along with our snacks until 1 pm, which is when we were so, so hot and ready to sit that we made the decision to sit down at the table service restaurant Johnny Rockets. This was quick service, but you do have to wait for a table and then order and pay. Our bill came to a whopping $58 for our family of 5… BUT we didn’t eat for the rest of the day so it kind of evened out!
Some other fun options are over in the Boardwalk and Fiesta Village sections of the park… if I was to go again I’d head over to get some carne asada fries at the Calico Fry Company. Delish! There’s also a Panda Express and lots of other options in the park.
Now, as previously mentioned ad nauseam, it was hot. Like, almost unbearably so.
We were constantly re-hydrating, and I even brought hydralyte tablets for our water. Midway through the day, our middle daughter was sweating so much that her eye actually swelled shut from sunscreen. They advised us to visit first aid, so she and I headed over there where they promptly and swiftly did an eye wash and we were good to go. There were droves of people at first aid who were sick from the heat; so on unexpectedly hot days, hydrate hydrate hydrate! Anyway, we then waited in the air conditioned bakery for the rest of the fam, and at one point I laid my head down on the table. Next thing I know, a family that had been watching us, plunked a giant refillable soda container and a cupcake onto the table and told us they wanted to pay it forward. And what a game changer that was!!!!! You can get these cups for $13.99 for the day, and then refill it EVERY 15 MINUTES at stations around the park. This is NOT something we would normally spend our money on… but between 2:30 and 10 pm we refilled it 28 times (because it was so hot, there were times we would down it and then immediately refill it and no one said anything). They had lots of options throughout the park, including Boysenberry Juice and Powerade. We even did plain soda water some of the time just to get liquids. This was a total game changer and was able to help keep us going. We then noticed that ALL the other guests had at least one per family (most had more than that). I would say, if you know it’s going to be a hot day, consider this option. Again, totally optional, and certainly not something sustainable for multiple days… but we were really blessed by it.
We enjoyed our day. We would’ve enjoyed it slightly more had the weather been more manageable, but it was still a very memorable, enjoyable time. It’s no Disneyland… but the workers stay in character and are great. I’m really glad we went.
Thanks for stopping by and have a magical day!