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America's First Theme Park, And What A Theme Park It Is!

Updated on June 20, 2008

My Introduction to Knott's Berry Farm

Knott's Berry Farm is widely known, but lately I've realized that there is a lot of people out there that just believe it's a company that produces Jams and Jellies to most of the resturants around the USA. When I kept hearing this I figured, why not hub about it? Knott's Berry Farm is a popular theme park here in Southern California and, as a matter of fact, it's my favorite one.

It all started back in 1993 for me when my family took me on a trip to my first theme park, that park being Knott's Berry Farm. At the time I was four years old and I still remember that day as if it was yesterday. The park was truly amazing and ever since has been a place that I've held close to my heart. From the real life stylings of Ghost Town to the kid friendly Camp Snoopy this park was great. The guest services were great and all the employee's really seemed to enjoy being there. Now as a kid of age four I didn't really pay much attention to how the employees acted seeing as, well to put it simply, I was amazed by the theming, the shows and of course the rides.

At the time of my first trip I had no idea that I would end up becoming a regular visitor to the park and eventually work for it. From 1995 to 2004 I didn't go without a pass to Knott's and I became a regular customer for them, going almost every weekend and every day in the summer. The nice thing about it not being that well known is it didn't even have ridiculously long lines like Disneyland, and fortunatelly too seeing as I have issues with being patient. It came down to the end of September of 2006 and I needed a job, I was in an independent study school and only went once a week, not only that but my dad was having major money issues so I wanted to help him out. So I figured what better place to work then Knott's? I always heard good things from all my family members about when they worked there and I knew they were hiring because Halloween Haunt was about to start I went down, put in my application, got an interview and not even two hours later had the job.

The perks of working there were great. I got free admission, discounts and free tickets for friends and family every 3 months. So I thought, great! I get all these perks and I get to work in a friendly environment. Little did I know working there would be what would almost kill the park for me. The management at the park, as I came to find out, were complete and utter pricks to the lower employee's and Haunt only made things worse. Now, mind you, this was my first job and since then I have came to find out that almost every job has crappy management, but this was ridiculous. So October and November came and passed and eventually, to make a long story short I ended up getting fired. I wont go into the reasons behind that one though.

After that you can imagine I was slightly sour toward the place and didn't venture back to Knott's until my husband, boyfriend at the time, moved in with me in April of 2007. He ended up going to work for Knott's because it was the fastest solution and ended up getting tickets for the park. After about three hours of talking me into it, he convinced me to go to the park as a guest. Needless to say, the day I did that I felt like I was four again, seeing the park for the first time in a year rekindled the love I had for it. This park is truly a timeless classic and even working there can't make you give up the visits.

Knott's Berry Farm's Start

The name says it all really, Knott's Berry Farm did in fact start of as just that. Walter and Cordeila Knott moved the Buena Park, California in 1920 to farm 20 acres of rented land. As years passed Walter ended up buying ten acres of land to farm in 1927, then another ten when the depression hit in 1928 due to the decrease in land prices. The last of the family's money was spent on building an 80 foot long building which house a tea room, nursery where he sold berry plants and a berry market. Now at this time the theme park wasn't even thought of, this was just a family trying to survive through the depression and that they did.

Most people that know of the Knott's Berry Farm name are very familiar with the boysenberry. At least I hope so seeing as the boysenberry is the Knott's family trademark. Rudolph Boysen was the man that started experimenting with this strain of berry, but the plants kept dying on the vine. This berry was a mix of Loganberries, red raspberries and blackberries. In 1930 Walter Knott took the dying plants and nurtured them back to health, when they were successfully living he named the berries after Boysen. This was the start of one of the Knott's family trademarks.

The depression started to get worse for the Knott's family and Cordeila Knott started selling Jam's and Jellies, which eventually turned into not only selling those but also home-baked pies, biscuits and sandwiches. Eventually it lead up to one of the main reasons Knott's Berry Farm got so popular.

Mrs. Knott's Chicken Dinner Restaurant

One night in June of 1934 Cordeila Knott served eight fried chicken dinners for the price of 65 cents a piece. Man, if only prices were that low now a days. That day history was make for the Berry Farm. By 1940 Cordeila Knott's chicken dinners were famous. The high intake of about 4,000 customers on a Sunday night got the gears in Walter Knott's head spinning, which brought on the start of Knott's Berry Farm.

Ghost Town

Walter Knott had a love with the old west so with the popularity of the Chicken Dinner Restaurant Walter Knott ended up building the Grand Trails Hotel, an old west building originally from Prescott, AZ. Over the years he brought in more buildings from ghost towns all over and just like that Knott's Ghost Town was created. To entertain the dinner guests while they waited for tables to open up. I guess Walter didn't think a theme was good enough without rides because in the 1960s he added The Calico Mine Ride and The Timber Mountain Log Ride to Ghost Town. These two rides are still standing and ridable in the park today, along with all of the original Ghost Town Buildings.

Fiesta Village, The Roaring 20's and Independence Hall

Other then the log ride and the mine ride, the 1960s brought another theme. Fiesta Village was introduced to the growing popularity of Knott's Berry Farm. Walter created this part of the park to pay his respects to the early Spanish history of California. Following the building of Fiesta Village, the next theme that came in was The Roaring 20's, now known as Boardwalk. This one goes without explaining due to the fact that its all in the name.

Another thing built in the sixties for Knott's was something Walter Knott had always dreamed about having in his beloved park. On July 4, 1966 his dream came true when the construction on his exact, brick by brick, replica of Independence Hall came alive, accompanied by 2075 pound liberty bell only 5 pounds short of the original one in Penn. Knott's Independence Hall is a truly amazing site, when you actually look at it you can even see finger prints in the bricks just like the ones on the original Independence Hall.

The Saddening Deaths

In 1974 Cordeila Knott ended up passing away at the ripe old age of 84. Surely she was missed by all but her Chicken Dinner Restaurant still stands tall using her same exact recipes. Walter Knott continued to live on the farm he loved until 1981, when he unfortunately passed on too at the age of 91. However, before Walter's death in 1981. With both of the original minds behind Knott's Berry Farm gone the park still continued on in there name.

The Park Grows

After Walter and Cordeila's death the park continued to grow. The year 1983 brought on the amusement park industry's first themed land specially made for kids, Camp Snoopy. This part of the park is every kids dream of a great playground. It features things from rides such as, a mini train that circles part of Camp Snoopy's six acres, a few bridges surrounded by water falls, the Peanuts Playhouse and a huge Snoopy jumper. Come on now, what kid doesn't love jumpers? In addition to Camp Snoopy the build of the Wild Water Wildress theme was born. This theme was based around the outdoors and rapids. In 1988 Big Foot Rapids was added to Wild Water Wilderness shortly followed by Indain Trails in 1993.

Cedar Fair, L.P.

Walter and Cordeila's kids continued to run the park until signing it over to Cedar Fair, L.P. in December of 1997. There was a lot of people upset about this but Cedar Fair continues to do great things with Knott's. Before they came in, if I remember rightly, Knott's Berry Farms ticket sales were down, Cedar Fair brought them back up, however like most new companies taking over a business they did make a few ride mistakes. Cedar Fair has put in rides that just didn't last, and to be honest, if I can't even remember the name of them, they must have been bad. However, the mistakes started being made after they put in there first ride. The first ride Cedar Fair ever put into Knott's was the hit Thrill Ride Supreme Scream. This was by far one of there best choices in ride construction due to the fact that Knott's was lacking some good thrill rides.

Knott's Berry Farms Shows And Attractions

Now as most theme park, Knott's Berry Farm has many entertainment shows for there guest. Some of the shows that are there would be The Calico Saloon Show, The Wild West Stunt Show (Who's name recently changed to The Fool's Gold Stunt Show.), Snoopy's Big Bow Wow (Which is a show on ice, in there Charles M. Shultz Theatre.), and many more.

Amongst the entertainment of the shows that Knott's features they also have a blacksmith shop in Ghost Town where you can actually watch the blacksmith make something you request, a Western Museum, and a pan for gold site, and one of the things that have been going on forever, Country Line Dancing USA's own little show you how to line dance special. To be honest there is really too many attractions and shows to name them all for you, but they all bring a little something different to Knott's Berry Farms table.

Knott's Scary Farm

From thrills to chills, spooks to scares, screaming to monsters, Knott's Scary Farm provides it all. Better known as Halloween Haunt, Knott's Scary Farm is one of Knott's most profitable events and it only happens in October. The months of creeps, spooks, chills and hauntings. It started in 1973 and has been an amazingly popular event ever since. Starting out Haunt was a major hit, selling out almost every night.

Knott's soon discovered that they had something with this creepy, frightening and entertaining transformation on the park and have built it bigger and better ever since. The year I worked Haunt, 2006 in case anyone forgot, there wasn't one of my two days off that they didn't call me in to work because of the crowds or selling out that had happened. The slowest day of Haunt was Wednesday and that was mainly because most of the kids had school. This is definitely an event to check out if you live in California or even visit California.

Some Rides

Some Of The Top Rides

Timber Mountain Log Ride - This ride is one of the best, even with its old age it still remains the most popular ride to date. Easily 90 percent of Knott's guest head to log ride every day.

Supreme Scream - As I said early on in this hub, this is one of the best Thrill Rides Knott's has to offer. This one is even more popular then Cedar Fair's original stationed at Cedar Point. The new version stationed at Knott's is larger and faster, standing at 30 stories tall. Supreme Scream is the largest man made structure in Orange County, passing up Knott's own trademarked Sky Cabin Tower.

Big Foot Rapids - This is one of my personal favorite rides. Big Foot takes you through white water rapids, fast twists and turns. This is another popular ride in Knott's also, especially in the Summer time. Unfortunately the two water falls that the raft passed under have been stopped. Though, if you happen to be at Knott's one day this ride is a must.

Xcelerator - Now I know this ride became a fast hit but I still have yet to go on it. Actually I don't plan on going on it anytime soon, but if your looking for a ride to take you from zero to 82 miles per hour in 2.3 seconds, forcing three g's through your body at the same time, as your brought up a large arch that goes strait up 205 feet, and then straight down, through three sharp turns and then back to the station. This ride is a must for you. By the way, you can thank my husband for that bit of info, he's somewhat of a Knott's whiz.

Perilous Plunge - Another one of Knott's water rides. This one is fairly short and there's no other way to put it then getting in a boat, going up to a 115 feet then dropping you down at a 75 degree angle and getting soaked from head to toe. Doesn't that sound fun? FYI Girls, do not wear white shirts if you plan on going on this ride. I made that mistake and believe me, wearing a sweater in the summer isn't fun.

Ghost Rider - Other then the classic Log Ride, Ghostrider is in fact one of the parks most popular rides. This wooden roller coaster has fun written all over it and how can it not with the longest banked wooden rollercoaster drop in the western US?

Seirra Sidewinder - Unfortunately I can't really say much about this one, but I would love nothing more but to take a ride on it. This rollercoaster sits in Camp Snoopy and is the first of its kind to hit Knott's. Instead of sitting in a normal coaster care you are sat in a circled car that spins on your journey along the tracks. Another feature of this ride includes an on board camera built into each one of the cars to capture your footage on the ride. You can buy this footage after leaving the ride.

These are only a few of Knott's Berry Farms rides, for more information on the rides they have you can visit there site. If you don't have the link to it just type in KBF on the google search engine.

Fun Facts

With a lot of history behind Knott's comes some interesting and sometimes quite interesting facts about the park. The ones I know best are going to be listed below.

Kingdom of the Dinosaurs - This was a ride that Knott's had for as long as I can remember. It took back in time, starting from the Ice Age all the way up to the Prehistoric Age and then back to the time you belong in. Now even though this ride was pretty much a history class on wheels it was still pretty popular. I couldn't see why it was seeing as it wasn't only a history lesson on wheels it was also extremely slow and very annoying at times. When I started working at Knott's in 2006 I noticed the ride had finally closed down and for some reason didn't have any explaination as to why. So one of the nights of Haunt a friend and I got a little too curious about the situation and asked one of the managers about it. There response was, even after they put the cars together like trains there was teenages using the ride as a place to, well as my husband and I refer to it, 'boom boom'. If you don't understand that then watch a movie called Overboard with Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russel.

Peanuts Playhouse - This is one of the Knott's stories I find fairly interesting. Camp Snoopy's Peanuts Playhouse is said to be haunted by a little girl that got killed in a fire in the park. The story goes that a fire broke out in one of the rides in the park a long time ago, this was back when Kingdom of the Dinosaurs was The Binstein Bears ride. In the fire a little girl, little boy and maintenance worker died. The little girl is said to follow the bears where ever they go and currently they reside in a storage locker in the Peanuts Playhouse. Employee's have reported seeing lights going on and off in the Playhouse after the park has closed, guests have said they seen a little girl appear in the mirror room of the attraction when no one was standing in front of them, cold spots and even little girls voices after the park has closed. The really interesting part about this is the mirror room has recently been taken out. Hmm, I wonder why.

Kingdom of the Dinosaurs - Same story as the one before, only this ride is said to be haunted by the little boys ghost in the Ice Age area. Many people, guests and employees alike have mentioned seeing a little boy standing by the mechanical wolves in the Ice Age era. Here's the thing though, no one is allowed out of there cars, not only that but they get strapped down in them. The maintenance worker that died is also said to be seen in this ride, however he is said to be seen in the Prehistoric era. I'm guessing those claims have stopped though, seeing as the ride is no longer running.

The Ghost Town Calico Railroad - Two facts about this one. The first one is a classic ghost story. The train that runs on these tracks has been brought from Colorado and is in fact an old west train. Employees have commented about hearing voices in the train after the park has closed. The second fact is about a knott's employee that got killed. He was uncoupling two of the train cars and they ended up moving together crushing him between them. This was a sad day for my family seeing as the man was a close friend of my sisters.

Perilous Plunge - A woman fell from the boat in this ride, she didn't die instantly and wouldn't have died if it wasn't for the boat hitting her. From what I heard about this one the woman was too big for the ride and threatened to file a discrimination lawsuit on Knott's if they didn't let her ride it.. However the other popular story is that she was in fact to big, but she didn't fight with the ride attendants, instead she simply undid her restraints after the ride started due to being uncomfortable.

If I can think of anymore things I've heard about Knott's I'll add them later.


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    • profile image

      linda fusco 

      6 years ago

      Hi I was a frequent guest at Knotts and I loved the entertainers they had in the 60s they kind of western influence I dont recall the name of the group I do not think they were famous but I just went last week and I was dissapointed they had some western type 3 stooges not my fav

    • Jerilee Wei profile image

      Jerilee Wei 

      10 years ago from United States

      Nice hub! As a baby boomer, I remember Knott's Berry Farm a lot more fondly than Disneyland, it was a little more laid back. I especially remember the ghost town and paning for gold.

    • Rochelle Frank profile image

      Rochelle Frank 

      10 years ago from California Gold Country

      great comprehensive article. I remember the place when it was just the restaurants and ghost towm with the train and stagecoach ride-- used to be free admission, a cheap date when you bought a cup of boysenberry punch for 25c. And we always had to go see grandpa's clock (see above post).

    • Glenn Frank profile image

      Glenn Frank 

      10 years ago from Southern California

      Great article Courtney! I thought you might be interested in a project related to Knotts Berry Farm... My Great Grandfather was the man who built the old fashioned multi-faced town clock that used to be mrs Knott's rose garden near the candy store. (later it was moved to the ticket booth plaza). The clock was removed from public view sometime last year and was sold. I tracked it down and now I am helping the Buena Park Historical Society get it refurbished and put back up in a public place (north of Knotts Berry Farm on Beach) for the community to enjoy once again.

      Here is the website about the project:

      my mom also wrote a hub article about it:

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      This is a great article. I had never heard of this park before. It is well written and I love your descriptions. Makes me think I am there.

    • Courtney_CollinsD profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Las Vegas

      I love this park with a passion lol, I think I spent almost five hours non stop writing this hub. I did a search on it in hubpages and everything and found nothing explaining it and was just like HUH!? So I'm extremely glad you enjoyed it.

    • Eileen Hughes profile image

      Eileen Hughes 

      10 years ago from Northam Western Australia

      Wowie!!!! You sure put a lot of effort into this article. Well done Shame we cant visit this. We have some similar theme thingys, like gold towns, etc in oz.

      Thanks for sharing


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