Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Like It Or Knotts

Ok, so this is a couple weeks old now, but on Mother's Day I had my first taste of Knott's Berry Farm. I had heard that there was a lot of fun stuff and that in its heyday it rivaled Disneyland. While I wouldn't quite go that far, it was an enjoyable experience, overall. The Ghost Town area especially was nicely themed. For example, I got my picture taken in the cemetery, and from inside the coffin you could hear a Western preacher giving a eulogy:
Jenny's Visit May 2009 001
However, theming in general felt like the park was what Disneyland would be if it stopped trying so hard. The Mine Train ride, in which you get on a train and a conductor drones on slyly (I think, I could hardly understand what he said since he apparently swallowed the microphone while speaking) as you pass "animatronic" miners was especially embarrassing. They were clearly going for a Jungle Cruise meets Pirates of the Caribbean thing and it just didn't work. The sets were kind of pretty, but the miners were basically wax mannequins with a rotating motor in their shoulder. Kind of sad.

Another area where the park didn't live up to Disney was in overall maintenance. Disney freaks like to point out every time they see chipped paint or debris on the ground, but I don't think they realize how good they have it. Many of the rides and buildings (especially outside of Ghost Town) looked like they hadn't been renovated in decades. It's little touches that can make a park feel like something special. In the end, Knott's felt more like Six Flags than Magic Kingdom, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. The food was good (I bought some Boysenberry and Strawberry jams for sandwich making) and the rides were fun, overall. One piece of advice- go on Mother's Day! We didn't wait in a single line for anything all day. It was incredible. Like we had the park to ourselves. Anyway, here's some thoughts on a few specific rides:

Ghost Rider: Our first ride of the day. It was a monsterous wooden coaster. Very fast, a lot of good hills. One of the bumpiest wooden coasters I've ever been on, though, and the second trip hurt my neck.
Silver Bullet: A pretty standard inverted (hanging) coaster. Melissa rode it once and that was the last of her big thrill rides (she's not a coaster person). A lot of inversions and speed, but the highlight was the 360 degree helix spin at the end, where the G-Force nearly blacked me out.
Jaguar: A fantastic, Aztec (or maybe it was Mayan, I can never tell) themed line leads to- a pretty lame and boring coaster. Oh well.
Sierra Sidewinder: An interesting coaster where you sit in a kind of disc vehicle and you spin around (not unlike a teacup) as you go through the dips and curves. An interesting sensation, though maybe a little too short.
Pony Express: A neat idea- The cars are shaped like horses, and they strap your legs into "stirrups" and the support bar presses on your back, not your stomach. It was kind of a cool feeling. Unfortunately, the ride is basically one short oval with a couple of hills and a tunnel, like the kiddie coaster at a touring carnival. Wasn't the pony express a LONG and grueling trail? I couldn't help but think that Disney could have built a killer themed indoor coaster with the horse car- maybe even simulating the varying landscapes of the pony express. A disappointing use of innovative design.
Xcelerator: This was one of the most unique experiences I've ever had. It's a "launch" coaster (like so many are these days), that shoots you off and then straight up at a near 90 degree corkscrew, then you crest and drop 90 degrees straight down. The rest of the ride is a couple of hills, but it doesn't matter because all you're doing is recovering from the initial thrill. Most launchers I've been on go 0-60 or so in about 3 seconds. This one goes 0-80 in about the same time. It's intense. Then the thrill of dropping straight down face first? Incredible. It seems like nothing special, but it was a super-cool feeling that I had to ride twice. Very neat.

And that's about that. There were other rides (a couple of coasters, a fun steam train, a log ride) but these were the ones that stood out. Back again tomorrow.


1 comment:

  1. Other than the rides it doesn't sound like it has changed since I was there 35 years ago. Kudos to Disney for continuing to be the standard by which others are measured.