Tips for making the most of Knott’s Berry Farm

Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park, California is, in many ways, the OG of Southern California theme parks. Originally created around an actual berry farm, where the Knott family sold boysenberry jam and homemade desserts and comfort food, Knott’s has retained many of its quaint characteristics, from its famous fried chicken restaurant to its marketplace of artisan shops and holiday-themed decor.

knotts berry farm

Knott’s Berry Farm tips:

I appreciate that Knott’s still attempts to educate guests on California history, from information on the Pony Express outside its Pony Express ride to pioneer history in Ghost Town and Calico Park, as well as exhibits to explore such as an authentic frontier school house and displays throughout the park depicting the California mission system.

Over the years, thrill-type attractions have been added, allowing Knott’s to essentially become a hybrid of Six Flags-ike roller coasters and the slower-paced fun more aptly represented at Silver Dollar City.

Compared to Disneyland and California Adventure, or even to Universal Studios or Sea World San Diego, Knott’s is a smaller-sized park, easily tackled in one day. Because of its size, the park can feel crowded easily, but unlike Disney, Knott’s still enjoys an off-season: when I visited on a Sunday in October, practically no wait times existed.

Want to fuel up for Knott’s in the morning? Stop at Porto’s, a Southern California institution with a large location adjacent to the park. Plan to get there early and wait in a line at this Cuban bakery, but the crew here has crowd efficiency down to a science, and the prices cannot be beat for homemade pastries and roasted coffee.

Making the most of Knott’s:

1. Arrive at park opening, but there’s no need to rush to rope drop in the off-season.

2. Try to park in the South Lot, to avoid the need to ride a shuttle to the ticket booths, saving you time.

3. During peak season, upgrading to Fast Lane wristbands is worth the cash. That said, this $60 per ticket upgrade is NOT necessary outside the peak summer season. Fast Lane works essentially the same as Universal’s Front of the Line Pass (except it can be used on any ride offering a Fast Lane, as many times as desired, making it a better value). Most Fast Lane return gates are located at the attraction exit, which is a bummer: I dislike looking like a ‘VIP’ or special guest…I’d far rather merge into the regular line. However, during my visit testing the pass, it worked smoothly.

4. Start at the back of the park, and move forward, to avoid crowds that bottleneck near the entrance, where a few of the bigger coasters await. Additional top attractions are further back, and remain empty for longer.

5. Don’t neglect to take in the shows. Get a show schedule at the entrance along with your map, and make a plan for your day around at least a few offerings. Knott’s does a good job with performances.

6. Young kids will enjoy Camp Snoopy the most, with rides suitable for all ages, as well as some offerings in the Boardwalk section.

7. During the Halloween season, Knott’s transforms to Knott’s Scary Farm after 5 pm, requiring a separate ticket, and truly is very scary. I don’t recommend bringing young kids to Scary Farm, but the good news is, you can’t accidentally remain in the park after the transformation.

8. Knott’s Merry Farm, however, during the holiday season, is worth bringing the kids back to, and parents will enjoy the holiday decor, too. (During fall, some of the fall decorations are a bit scary, even in the daytime…be advised.)

9. If you think you may return to Knott’s Berry Farm at least one additional time during the year, consider Annual Passes. APs at Knott’s are only about $15 more than regular admission, making them a deal. Buy your day tickets online instead of at the window, for a big savings (as low as $45 instead of $75).

10. Use the Knott’s app to track wait times and show times.

Have you been to Knott’s Berry Farm? Share your tips!

About the author

Amy Whitley AUTHOR: Amy Whitley is the founding editor of Pit Stops for Kids and content editor of Trekaroo. She writes on staff monthly as a family travel expert at Go Green Travel Green and Practical Travel Gear, and contributes to Outdoors NW as an outdoor adventure traveler. Find Amy at Google.

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