Friday, 22 June 2012

Knott's Berry Farm

The next park was within walking distance from our motelish hotel, and so a decision was made to give the coach driver the day off and head over on foot like a group of tourists, sticking out like sore thumbs. 

Here's the next elephant on the trip, Xcelerator the rather scary looking launched coaster that was down for maintenance. 10 years ago we got to watch it testing, so this coaster is now my credit-nemesis in that I've been 100% unsuccessful in riding it. 

I'm more than happy however for a ride to undergo maintenance than have this happen to me. (Xcelerator cable snap of 2009)

The park proudly claims to be "America's 1st Theme Park" although I'm quite sure the owners of Lake Compounce will have something to say about that, having been opened over 60 years earlier. The more observant amongst you would notice that there are no people in sight, that's because we were being given a headstart with a rather excellent morning exclusive session.

The new ride in the park was Windseeker,  a large Starflyer type attraction.

Before entering the park Nick did his daily morning prayer, or perhaps he was just taking a long time photographing a plaque commemorating the park in some way or another. 

The first coaster in the ride session (yes there was more than one) was Ghostrider, the park's wooden coaster. Back in 2002 we had a similar ride session and I promptly left the coaster after one go vowing never to ride it again. 10 years on I thought I'd give it a second chance. 

A rather apprehensive group get ready to depart on the first train of the day. It's a brave or stupid man who chooses to ride this in the back.

They never made it back.

Actually the ride was more worse than I remembered it and again I rode it once and then headed off elsewhere into the park. It's perhaps not a coincidence that the name of this coaster is an anagram of "gets horrid".


So it was time to head over to the other side of the park for their B&M Inverted rollercoaster, Silver Bullet. Unlike Ghostrider this was a coaster that I hadn't ridden before and one that I knew would be good.


and I wasn't disappointed. Despite being sand filled to keep the noise down and missing the roar that usually comes with these rides, the layout was unique and offered a really fun ride, even offering a little pop of airtime, which you don't usually get on these. 


The third coaster in our exclusive riding was Montezooma's revenge a rather excellent version of the Schwarzkopf shuttle loop ride. With less than half a dozen of these left in the world it's surprised to find it running really well.


and I think everybody liked this one. It certainly had more re-rideability than the wooden coaster, although personally I still preferred Silver Bullet.



With the public making their way into the park and us having an excellent head start it was time to mop up the other rides. Sierra Sidewinder is a rather peculiar spinning coaster where the trains don't feel like they free spin at all but suffer a controlled rotation instead. Quite a cute ride though.

We didn't ride this one because although some people could make an argument that this met the criteria of a coaster, it wasn't. This is the second one I've seen with the first being in a much more precarious location atop the Stratosphere hotel in Las Vegas.

Windseeker was a safe version of Starflyer rides that rely on chains to hold the car rather than the metal poles that these have. This version of the ride also lacks the spinning of the seats that you can get on the cheaper model. Starflyers scare me, this didn't.


Pony Express is their launched rollercoaster and the only ride in the park where I had to remove my glasses to ride. A bit weird considering this isn't the most extreme of rides in the park. 

Still once they worked through the breakdowns it was suffering, it was quite an OK ride.

The park does have some real good theming such as this elixir van that reminded me of Red Dead Redemption

The park has an S&S swing and for a $5 upcharge you can ride it. I can only assume the charge is to control the throughput, which would be challenged on busier days. We paid up and the ride program was fairly short, something that we may have seen and might have changed my decision had anyone else had a go before us.

Nice looking diner franchise in the park and this one is actually the largest one in the chain.

The park now has a double-sided topspin ride, in the past they used to have a hammerhead ride that offered a more complex ride. Perhaps it was changed for throughput reasons again. They can probably get double the numbers on this one.


Next up, the boomerang coaster which only those who hadn't ridden before or the stupid would ride again. I'll leave you to decide which camp I was in.

Perhaps this is for the best.

Perilous Plunge still looks really really impressive and having ridden it in 2002 and recalling how torrential the splash was, I stayed well clear on this occasion.


It was a shame that Xcelerator wasn't open for us. Ironically a week or so after our visit this reopened and they closed Ghostrider. Now I know which one I'd have preferred. 


Knotts has a strong relationship with the Peanuts cartoon but rather strangely you can't buy peanuts in the park.


The original birdcage theatre is in Texas but there was one in Orange County CA where a number of now celebs got their stage performance wings. The most famous was Steve Martin who isn't funny any more.



(thanks to Dennis Pennis for that one).


Up next, Jaguar, a rather lengthy kiddy style but popular rollercoaster. This had the longest queue of the day and with most of it hidden inside a cool Mayan temple we weren't to know. 


Still the ride wasn't too bad. More memorable for the noise it makes than the experience though. It sounds like a jet engine.


The Calico train ride is a quite unique experience as you sit in wagons on a slow train journey through a simply themed mountain. There's a small case of justifying this as a coaster but the excessive braking and regular stops perhaps discounts it. 

For those that prefer their trains full-sized there is also a cool train ride around the park complete with robbers.


The final coaster of the day was the challenge for me at least. Timberline Twister is a kids ride that isn't really designed for fatties like me. First time I sat in the centre of the car and couldn't get the lap bar to click so I was denied. When I tried later I sat to the side and leant back into the corner, somehow I was able to get the bar down with no problem. Relief!

For those interested in model rides, the park has it's own little selection, which are of a really good calibre.

For those interested in bad singing, the park also had a school in to do some entertaining. Whilst not my thing, well done to the kids for giving their all.

and if you're from the UK and wondering where you may have seen the park before it features in this rather excellent ident for Channel 4. Now you know!

We finished everything in the park earlier than expected so checked a nearby mall (park but no coaster) and then ended up with dinner in the famous Knott's Chicken Dinner restaurant, which is how the park made it's name. Commenting on how many people were asking for their meals to be boxed and deriding them for doing so I do have to say that the chicken was amazingly filling and finishing it was my first Man vs Food challenge of the trip. I did win, but was so full that it was a cab ride home immediately to sleep it off.

Knotts is a really nice park with a good selection of rides and if you're in the area for Disney then you really should take the time out to visit.


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