McG's Photo Blog 2: Knott's Berry Farm B'day

Okay, so it's been a while since my last Photo Blog post, and I do apologize because I recently got a new job and things have been quite fast-paced lately, especially with my 21st birthday being on the way at the time. There was just so much I had to do. I'm back now and since we are on the subject of birthdays, I think this photo blog post will be suitable for talking about my trip to Knott's Berry Farm with my nephew.

Link for photos:

It's been almost 10 years since I've visited Knott's. Since then, the park has drastically changed. The last time I went here, the park was losing its steam and very few people were coming here. Since then, though, the park has made some strong changes. New attractions have been added and the theming got a major overhaul. Today, it is the 10th most-visited theme park in North America and it is the most-visited Cedar Fair park. Hearing about these major changes, I've been eager to visit the park once again to see the improvements. I finally got my chance to visit the park on the August 18th (my birthday is on the 14th) with my younger nephew, and, of course, I took my camera to get loads of photos.

One thing to know about Knott's Berry Farm is that it's one of the oldest theme parks in the US, dating all the way back to 1920, which started as a simple family farm where berry products were sold on the roadside. With an increase in profit, the family began investing in various attractions at the farm to attract guests. This development soon evolved into a full-fledged theme park that was sold to Cedar Fair in 1990, now known as Knott's Berry Farm. It is a family theme park located in Buena Park, which is actually just a few blocks down from Disneyland.

One thing I found most interesting at the park is the ride choices here. While Disneyland is strictly family rides and Six Flags Magic Mountain is strictly thrill rides, Knott's Berry Farm has a balance of both. People who are looking for thrills and family attractions can come here to experience both, which is actually quite smart on the park's part. The park could use a few more thrill rides and the place as a whole isn't perfect, but there are a lot of reasons to visit this place if you're ever out in SoCal.

Once you walk into the park, you walk straight into Ghost Town. Probably the most notable thing about Knott's is its theming for Ghost Town. This area has incredible theming and design. It's like you're really stepping out of the city and into a real old western town. There are western-themed buildings and shops everywhere, canyons, western actors, a working railroad and train that you can ride, and you can even take a stagecoach ride. This park is simply bent on making the cowboy experience seem so real. There are even live shows and events that happen daily throughout the park, two of which I will get into later.

The closest ride to the entrance is GhostRider, which is a classic wooden coaster that dates back to 1998. Now, before I get into what I thought of the coaster, let me talk about my first and only experience on this coaster until now. I went on this coaster for the first time when I was 8. At this time, this coaster was extremely rickety. It was the bumpiest wooden coaster I've ever been on to this day, but that wasn't the only problem with it. Apparently, the height restrictions for this coaster were all wrong, because at every drop, I was being lifted out of my seat. If I hadn't hung onto the bar for dear life, I wouldn't be here writing this today. That's right. I almost died on this roller coaster. Until now, I never rode it again. In 2016, the coaster received a refurbishment. The coaster is now a lot smoother, it has new trains, and fresh wood. Me and my nephew tried to hit this ride up first but realized that the line was extremely long, so we saved it for night time when the line was a lot shorter, and fortunately it was. After riding it again, I must say that it is easily the best coaster in the entire park and the best wooden coaster I've been on yet. It has that slight bit of a rickety feel like any classic wooden coaster should, but the best thing about the coaster is that it maintains its high speed. The coaster is not really that tall but it feels way faster than it actually is and it has no brakes in between from drop to finish, which I thought was really interesting. So, if you happen to come to this park, I highly recommend riding it. It completely exceeded my expectations.

Our true first ride of the day was Silver Bullet, which is an inverted steel coaster that's also very close to the entrance. The line for this coaster was way shorter than GhostRider. We waited there for only about 10 minutes. The queue for it moves very fast in comparison to GhostRider. As far as the experience for this one, it's a pretty tame ride in comparison to GhostRider. I've been on plenty of inverted coasters before and this one doesn't really change the game that much. Still, it's a plenty fun coaster with some well-made inversions, and I honestly found it quite amusing hearing all of the coaster newbies screaming their lungs out on this coaster.

After that ride, we hit up two flat rides in Fiesta Village, which is a very small Mexican-themed area in the park. This area is rather quite small and includes several flat rides, Jaguar!, which is a steel family coaster, and Montezooma's Revenge, which is a looping steel shuttle coaster. The design for this area was actually really good, but I think it needs just a bit more to make the experience more immersive, especially for the area where Jaguar! is, which has more of an Aztec theme to it and even includes a replica of a Mayan temple. The first flat ride we went on was a new one that just released last year called Sol Spin, which is a classic Topsy-Turvy. This was actually the first time I've been on one of these, and it was a pretty intense experience. There are a few points in the ride where it just yanks you upwards and I found that to be most intense about the ride. Although, I also realized that the ride doesn't flip you upside-down as often as I thought it would. It only flipped us one time, and I'm not sure if it depends on where you sit or if it was how the ride was designed, but I was a little disappointed in that. Still, it's a pretty good flat ride. The other flat ride was La Revolucion, which is a classic small pendulum. These are, by far, my favorite flat rides because all of them simply make your stomach drop like a weight. Even the small ones at carnivals and the one I rode here pull some crazy forces, but if you've been on the massive ones at Six Flags parks, then you would be in for a brutal ride. Still remains to be an awesome flat ride.

Next up on the list was the latest ride in the park called HangTime, which is located at the Boardwalk area. This an oceanside-themed area of the park and includes many beach and pier themed rides and attractions like coasters and flat rides that are also found at oceanside piers in California. This area is home to several coasters, several flat rides, a 4-D interactive dark ride, and a myriad of carnival games where you can win various prizes (mainly stuffed animals). As for HangTime, this coaster just released this year and it serves as a replacement for the boomerang coaster and Riptide, which was a Top Spin flat ride. HangTime is a classic Gerstlauer steel Dive Coaster. Many of them can be found all around the US, but I was very excited to finally see one show up in the West Coast. The coaster climbs up a 90 degree lift, leaving you laying flat on your back as it climbs to the top. The coaster then approaches the first drop but holds you for a couple of seconds before letting you go. You then fall into a 96 degree drop and head through various inversions and hang-time moments, hence the name "HangTime". Overall, this coaster is great. It's honestly not the best and I would say that my favorite thing about it was the 90 degree lift, but the hang-time moments and inversions throughout the coaster were really well-designed, and I must say that it's definitely a keeper.

After HangTime, we rode Wipeout, which is an old-school Trabant circular ride. This was the first time I've ever been on one of these, and I must say that it's yet another intense flat ride. It started off pretty tame to the point where I could throw my hands up in enjoyment, but the spinning suddenly increased in speed and I was hanging on for dear life. That one definitely caught me off-guard. Near this flat ride, we got on the 4-D dark ride called Voyage to the Iron Reef. It's basically like Toy Story Mania at Disney's California Adventure. You ride through dark hallways and shoot at enemies to try and get a high score. It's basically a video game and a ride in one. Honestly, I did like the overall design of the ride, but I do think it could've had more special effects like flashing lights, smoke, explosions, and other things to make it more immersive. The hallways that you ride through are very well-designed, though. Overall, it's an okay ride, but it adds to the diversity in attractions at the park.

After this ride, we headed back to the Ghost Town to ride the Calico Mine Train. This is a slow dark ride mainly meant for younger riders, and regardless of its slow pace, it's a very well-designed dark ride that seems to take heavy influence from Disney parks. The inside of the ride has amazing animatronics and cavern environments and the outside of it looks outstanding in its design. The one downside with my ride on this day is that the lights were out in one very important area of the ride. Normally, the area is supposed to be lit up in various colors, but when I rode, all of those lights were out and we were just sitting there in this dark and creepy cavern. I was quite underwhelmed by that part because it's my favorite part of the ride. If you ever visit this park, I hope you don't get the same result because it wasn't supposed to look like that. Next to Ghost Town, there are two sub-areas called Wild Water Wilderness and Indian Trails. Wild Water Wilderness holds two rides: Bigfoot River Rapids, which is a family river rafting ride, and Pony Express, which is a small launching steel coaster that is intended to simulate riding a horse.

Indian Trails is a Native American-themed part of Ghost Town featuring Native American art, crafts, merchandise, and shows. The most notable attraction here is the Mystery Lodge, which is a show featuring storytelling through Native American heritage. It is one of the most spectacular shows you could possibly see at a theme park, which features incredible special effects and magic illusions that I still have yet to figure out how they're done. This show is definitely a must-see if you come here, and I hope they never get rid of it. Not to mention, the merchandise for this area is amazing. I bought myself an awesome wolf spirit t-shirt from the nearest store here. There's also a gunsmith store nearby that sells faux replicas of western handguns and melee weapons (except the knives were real). Not to mention some really cool keychains and other weapon-related merch.

We headed back into the Ghost Town to ride the popular Timber Mountain Log Ride, which is a log flume that's similar to Splash Mountain. Like the Calico Mine Train, this water ride has incredible theming and design throughout, which simulates riding through a wood factory and a forest filled with wildlife. It's yet another amazing ride here for families, and it's another high recommendation for the park.

After leaving the Log Ride, we were just in time to watch a hoedown that took place in the center of the town. I got to interact and talk with all of the actors participating in the show, and let me tell you, these actors are amazing. They stay in character so well and simply make the experience even more immersive. I talked to the town mayor and told him that I was taking photos, and he said that I could be the photographer of the town's newspaper. I actually thought that was pretty funny when he said that. I only watched part of the hoedown, and it was basically how you would expect a hoedown to happen. The actors got multiple people to participate and they did routine dances with each other. They pretty much were just having a good time. The smaller children seemed to be the most into it because they were getting down.

We had to eat at a TGI Fridays across the street, and the park does let you leave and re-enter, which is definitely necessary for any amusement park. After eating we went back to the park to grab a funnel cake and get on Xcelerator, which is quite a well-known coaster across the country. Honestly, I've never eaten this park's food before besides their funnel cakes. Their cakes are really good, and if you get the fully loaded cake, they put a massive swirl of ice-cream on top. Another thing that is a must-try here is the berry punch, which you can get at any concession stand. The punch is really addicting and you could definitely tell that real berries were used in the drink. As far as the coaster Xcelerator, what makes the ride so good is it's launch. It's one of the quickest launches you'll ever experience, reaching 0-82 mph in just 2.3 seconds.

That was our last ride for the day. After that, we played a bunch of carnival games at the Boardwalk. At Knott's, it's very easy to win prizes from their games. You just have to play the right game. The main tip is that any game with a very large prize are the hardest ones. Games with smaller prizes are the easiest to win, and while it was tempting to get ahold of a giant stuffed Pikachu, I didn't want to spend my money and win nothing. A big fact about me is that I hate gambling, and those games are basically that. Instead, we played simpler games like one was throwing ping-pong balls into cups that circled around in water. You were bound to get a ball into a cup at least once considering the amount of balls that they give you. We got three balls in and won 3 stuffed penguins. There was also another game that required 2 people to play and it was basically a simple game of whack-a-mole. I eventually won the match and we won a stuffed puppy. These were very simple games that guaranteed wins, which I really liked. I think the biggest gamble we made was for a 3-point basketball challenge. I was surprised to see that my 13-year-old nephew literally outscored all of the adults that went before him and he ended up winning a free basketball. I found it satisfying knowing that my young dude could ball.

Besides playing a couple of videogames at the arcade, that was the end of our day at Knott's. The park closes at 11:00 p.m. which is a great time for the place to close because I always love getting some night time experience at amusement parks. Knott's Berry Farm has improved so much since my last visit, and if you ever plan on visiting a park in California, Knott's definitely gets my stamp of approval, especially for families.


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