Planning a trip to Knott's Berry Farm - The Points Guy (2024)

When people think of Southern California theme parks, Disneyland often comes to mind first. However, less than 7 miles away from Anaheim in nearby Buena Park, California, is a theme park that predates Disneyland by more than a decade.

Knott's Berry Farm, as the name suggests, began as a berry farm owned by Walter Knott in the 1920s. As the farm's popularity grew, so did its offerings.

In the 1930s, Knott's added a tea room and chicken dinner for guests who visited the berry stand. By the 1940s, the park's opened a themed land called Ghost Town, and by the 1950s, Knott's Berry Farm began operating attractions like a mine ride and a train ride powered by turn-of-the-century locomotives.

Today, Knott's Berry Farm is home to dozens of attractions and exciting special events, and, of course, you can still fill up on that delicious fried chicken. Here is the ultimate guide to planning a trip to Knott's Berry Farm, including when to go, where to stay, how to minimize wait times and ways to save some money.

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Where is Knott's Berry Farm

Knott's Berry Farm is a 160-acre theme park in Orange County, California. The closest airport is Orange County's John Wayne Airport (SNA), about 20 minutes away. It's separated from that other SoCal theme park (Disneyland) by a 15-minute drive on the Interstate 5 North freeway.

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Knott's Berry Farm has something for everyone

There is more than just its history as a berry farm that makes Knott's Berry Farm unique. The sheer variety of rides you can enjoy during your visit sets it apart from many theme parks. There are attractions the whole family can ride together, but there is also an entire section of the park just for kids.

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The Camp Snoopy section of the park features more than a dozen attractions designed for younger kids. Most have a minimum height requirement of 36 inches, and some are made for kids to ride all by themselves. Kids can also meet their favorite Peanuts characters in Camp Snoopy before heading out to see the rest of the park.

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If dangling over a 150-foot-high beyond vertical drop is more your style, Knott's Berry Farm has some of the tallest and fastest roller coasters in Southern California and beyond. Hang Time, pictured below, is California's first dive coaster and has the steepest drop (96 degrees to be exact) of any coaster in California.

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If you are a wooden coaster enthusiast (and why wouldn't you be?), Knott's Berry Farm has one of the tallest and fastest wooden roller coasters in the world. Ghost Rider takes guests on a wild two-minute ride at speeds of up to 56 miles per hour.

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Of course, there are rides everyone can enjoy together, including some of the park's original rides like the Calico Mine Ride and newer interactive attractions like Knott's Bear-y Tales: Return to the Fair.

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Best times to visit Knott's Berry Farm

If you're aiming to avoid crowds at Knott's Berry Farm, plan on a midweek, off-peak vacation. The park is packed during summer, spring break and three-day weekends. Basically, it will be busy any time that California kids are out of school. Special-event days can also bring in extra crowds, so note these on the site calendar before planning your trip.

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Knott's offers some fantastic seasonal offerings throughout the year, including the annual Boysenberry Festival. This popular event celebrates all things boysenberry with 75-plus foods for sale throughout the park. The festival is included with park admission and features boysenberry-themed shows and entertainment, as well.

When the spooky season rolls around, you can experience a darker side of Knott's during the separately ticketed Knott's Scary Farm event. The park transforms into a sinister spot for haunted houses, scary versions of popular attractions and more.

If you visit during the holiday season, you can enjoy the festive lights, decor and entertainment during Knott's Merry Farm, which is included with your regular theme park admission.

How to save on tickets

Families on a budget will appreciate the comparatively low ticket prices at Knott's Berry Farm. Single-day passes at other area theme parks run around $100 each or more. However, day passes at Knott's start at only $60 when you purchase online ahead of time. You can save up to $40 by purchasing your tickets in advance instead of at the gate.

If you want to add on a same-day visit to Knott's Soak City water park, multi-park tickets start at just under $100 per person and will save you up to $70 off the gate price.

Children 2 and younger can enter the park for free. There are also discounted tickets available for active and retired military members. If you plan to visit multiple times in a season, consider getting a season pass which starts at around $155 per person.

Beyond the rides

History buffs

One of the original sections of the park, the Ghost Town section of Knott's offers a unique perspective. Families can pan for gold (for an additional fee), visit the Old School House (a historic school building) and see the horses, or watch the blacksmith make horseshoes at the Livery Stable.

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If you visit during the seasonal Ghost Town Alive event each summer, you can meet cowboys, bandits and all the citizens of Calico. They'll interact with you and send you on tasks like stopping a bank robbery or, depending on who you meet, helping the bank robbers with their crimes. You can spend hours bouncing around Ghost Town and becoming part of the action.

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Knott's Berry Farm for foodies

Mrs. Knott's fried chicken dinners have been a staple of Knott's Berry Farm since long before the first ride was built, and you can still order one today from Mrs. Knott's Chicken Dinner Restaurant. The meal is delicious (and big, so prepare to share). As a plus, the restaurant is outside of the park gates, so you can eat there even without a park ticket.

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Another Knott's Berry Farm culinary staple is anything and everything boysenberry. Walter Knott didn't create this hybrid berry (a cross between a blackberry, a red raspberry and a loganberry). However, he did cultivate and sell the berries at his roadside stand, which garnered him enough business to turn Knott's into what it is today.

You can order boysenberry stuffed churros, boysenberry Icees, boysenberry corn dogs and even just plain boysenberries.

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How to minimize wait times

If riding all the fastest coasters at Knott's Berry Farm is a top priority, consider purchasing a Fast Lane wristband. The wristband offers unlimited access to popular rides starting at about $74 per person — in addition to the admission price. You can purchase Fast Lane passes directly on Knott's Berry Farm's website or at the park.

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With your Fast Lane wristband, you can skip the standby line on Knott's Berry Farm's most popular attractions by using a special entrance. There is no limit to how many times per day you can ride each participating ride, but the service does sell out. If you think you'll want to use this during your visit, purchase it beforehand.

Where to stay

The Knott's Hotel

When you stay at the Knott's Hotel, a five-minute walk is all that stands between you and Knott's Berry Farm's front gates. The property is currently being renovated and is expected to be completed in the fall of 2023. The hotel is open during renovations, but certain amenities may be limited or unavailable.

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Once complete, the 322-room Knott's Hotel will feature farmhouse-style rooms, a rustic outdoor courtyard, a full-service bar and restaurant, a spacious outdoor pool and convenient access to the park. Hotel and ticket packages start as low as $50 per person per night for a family of four.

Eligible Captial One cardholders can book the Knott's Hotel through the Capital One Travel Portal to earn up to 10 points per dollar spent on hotel reservations. Similarly, you can book the Knott's Hotel on the American Express Travel Portal and the Chase Travel Portal.

Nearby points hotels

Buena Park is also home to many points hotels. Whether you are loyal to Marriott Bonvoy properties or hotels in the Hilton family of hotel brands, you'll likely find a hotel near Knott's Berry Farm where you can earn or spend your rewards points.

Here are a couple of the closest to the park:

  • Courtyard Anaheim Buena Park: This hotel is less than a 15-minute walk from the park. The rooms are spacious, and the hotel has an outdoor pool, a bistro and a 24-hour convenience store. Rates start from $144 or 21,000 Marriott Bonvoy points per night.
  • DoubleTree by Hilton Buena Park: This hotel is less than one mile from Knott's Berry Farm and offers a large pool and hot tub, a complimentary shuttle to all area theme parks (including Knott's) and DoubleTree's famous warm chocolate chip cookies at check-in. Rates start from $149 or 36,000 Hilton Honors points per night.

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Bottom line

You won't regret saving one or two of your SoCal vacation days for Knott's Berry Farm. With the park's rich history, low price point, unique menu items and mix of rides, the whole family will find something to love at Knott's Berry Farm.

Related reading:

  • Southern charm and thrill rides: Ultimate guide to Dollywood
  • The most wheelchair-friendly theme parks in the US
  • 8 quirky US theme parks you have to see to believe
  • 11 regional theme parks that are closer to home but just as fun as the big names
  • 8 ways to make the most out of a theme park trip

Additional reporting by Julie Bigboy.

Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Planning a trip to Knott's Berry Farm - The Points Guy (2024)
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