What started as a simple berry farm is now a sprawling 160-acre operation with rides, live shows and lovable Peanuts characters roaming the grounds. Knott’s Berry Farm is California’s oldest theme park and it might take the title for best food, too. The fried chicken dinners that made the farm a sensation back in the 1930s are still served today. As for the berries, they’re around too, and you’ll find them in surprisingly scrumptious dishes throughout the park. Come for the coasters, stay for the boysenberry confections.
History of Knott’s Berry Farm
The name of the game was originally berries when Walter and Cordelia Knott moved to Buena Park, California in 1920 to farm. But when Cordelia started a fried chicken restaurant as a side business in 1934, the focus began to shift. Word spread about the delectable dinners and soon visitors flocked to the farm, sometimes waiting three hours to eat. Walter added attractions to entertain the poultry patrons and the seeds of a theme park began to take root.
By 1947, Walter had built a Ghost Town, and the name Knott’s Berry Farm was official. The attractionsl—a saloon, railroad, log ride, roller coaster and much morel—kept coming. Snoopy and his Peanuts friends entered the picture in the 80s, giving the park family-friendly characters. The 90s brought more thrilling rides, as well as the sale of the farm by the Knott’s children to Cedar Fair, who continues to operate the park today.
Tickets and practicalities
Daily admission tickets and season passes are available online at knotts.com/daily-tickets, as well as in person at the park’s front gate. Discounts are available for both active and retired military personnel, plus their immediate family members.
Purchasing a Fast Lane wristband gives you priority boarding on select rides, and FunPix passes provide unlimited digital photos from certain rides and character meet-and-greets. Budget-friendly dining passes are also available. Choose from all-day drink refills in a souvenir bottle, a single meal deal, all-day dining (an entree and a side every 90 minutes!) and all-season dining.
Knott’s Berry Farm is open every day except Christmas. Hours vary depending on the day and season (closing is sometimes 5pm, while Knott’s Scary Farm stays open as late as 1am). Always check the park’s calendar before your visit.
In Buena Park (Orange County), Knott’s is 20 minutes from John Wayne Airport and 30 minutes from LAX.
Daily parking is available for a fee, plus parking can be purchased for season passes. For guests heading to the California Marketplace, which is outside the park, there’s complimentary parking for up to one hour in the Shopping and Dining Lot.
Lay of the land
Knott’s is divided into four themed areas: Old West Ghost Town, Camp Snoopy, Fiesta Village and the Boardwalk. Head to knotts.com/directions for a detailed park map.
Popular rides at Knott’s Berry Farm
When it comes to legendary amusements, Timber Mountain Log Ride, which originally opened in 1969 and takes thrill seekers up an 85-foot mountain, tops the list. Even more extreme, the Xcelerator roller coaster rockets riders from 0-82 mph in 2.3 seconds. But if kid friendly is more your speed, the Linus Launcher gives little ones the sensation of soaring on the comic-strip character’s blanket.
Entertainment at Knott’s Berry Farm
Live shows are half the fun at Knott’s and highlights include can-can and comedy in the Calico Saloon, as well as the action-packed Wild West Stunt Show. For a real California classic, Bob Baker Marionette Theater, founded in LA in 1963, brings puppetry to the park in the Birdcage Theatre.
Food at Knott’s Berry Farm
All-day and all-season dining plans are available so that you can feast on everything from a gourmet berry salad (Boardwalk BBQ) to tamales (Cantina) and chili-cheese tater tots (Calico Tater Bites).
Overall, Knott’s has about three dozen different dining options for meals, snacks and drinks (the Starbucks in the California Marketplace is the only location in the world to serve boysenberry Frapuccinos). But if you have time for just one meal, let it be at Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner Restaurant (also in the Marketplace). Though the setting has changed, the recipes haven’t. The classic chicken meal is the same as what Mrs. Knott served back in 1934.
Best time to visit Knott’s Berry Farm
Thanks to Southern California’s warm weather, the park is open year round. Weekends tend to be busier, so visit midweek for shorter lines. Generally, you’ll beat the crowds any time California kids are in school.
Also, keep an eye on the calendar for seasonal attractions. The year kicks off with Knott’s Peanuts Celebration, an ode to Charles Schultz’s comic strip that takes place weekends in winter (January-March). Boysenberry Festival happens each spring, and summer brings nighttime music events. Autumn is all about Knott’s Scary Farm, a terrifyingly transformed version of the park (special admission required), and Knott’s Spooky Farm, which is more fun than freaky. Finally, the park becomes Knott’s Merry Farm between November and January. ‘Tis the season for holiday decor, a Snoopy ice show and a Christmas crafts market.
Hotels near Knott’s Berry Farm
You can’t get any closer to the park than its very own Knott’s Berry Farm Hotel, which is just a five-minute stroll to the main gates. In addition to convenience, the hotel features a Snoopy-themed wing, outdoor pool, restaurant, vacation packages and a complimentary shuttle to the Disneyland Resort, which is only seven miles away.
Did You Know?
The world’s first commercially grown boysenberries—a cross between red raspberries, blackberries and loganberries—were cultivated here on the farm by Walter Knott. That’s why you’ll see the fruit in everything from pork shawarma to kimchi and quesadillas.