In the 1930s, Walter and Cordelia Knott began to sell berries from a roadside stand near Anaheim. Now, Knott’s Berry Farm is one of the most popular theme parks in the country, attracting millions of visitors each year.
The Knott family settled on eight hectares of farmland in Buena Park, 10 minutes’ from Anaheim, in 1920. Walter, Cordelia, and their four children worked the fields together. The land was fertile and Walter had a green thumb.
After their first successful crop, the Knotts began to sell their produce at the farm gate. Cordelia opened a tea house selling jellies, jams and preserves.
It was a successful business, but it was about to get better. In 1932, Walter’s friend, Rudolph Boysen, gave him a scraggly dying plant that would change his fortune.
Rudolph had tried to experiment with a new type of berry. But the plants kept dying on the vine. Walter took the plant, nursed it to health and named the produce boysenberry after his friend. It was the first successful boysenberry plantation in the world. Knott’s now produces more than 500,000 kg of boysenberry products each year.
The Knots started to sell boysenberries at the gate, along with other berries, rhubarb and asparagus. Cordelia expanded her kitchen and served fried chicken dinners. The now-famous Mrs Knott’s Chicken Dinner Restaurant began as a way to cater to the growing crowds.
The Knott’s Berry Farm theme park
The Knott’s entrepreneurship didn’t stop there. In the 1940s the Knotts added a replica Ghost Town. Over the next two decades, Knotts Berry Farm would transform into a modern amusement park with 40 rides including roller coasters, family rides, dark rides and waterslides.
Ghost Town is still one of four themed lands at Knott’s Berry Farm. The others are Camp Snoopy, The Boardwalk and the Mexican-themed Fiesta Village.
Families who go to Ghost Town can expect a rough’n’ready 1880s Old West Boom Town full of cowboys, gunfights and stagecoaches. You can pan for gold and ride on a steam train. Thrill-seekers will head straight for the roller coasters, including the wooden coaster GhostRider®, as well as rides such as Bigfoot Rapids, Timber Mountain Log Ride and Calico Mine Ride.
Camp Snoopy is a great place to take kids who aren’t big enough for other rides. They can ride in a balloon, fly of Charlie Brown’s Kite Flyer, or ride the Timberline Twister.
Don’t miss a ride on the new HangTime rollercoaster. This adrenaline-pumping coaster has the steepest drop in California, at 96 degrees, with a top speed of more than 90km per hour.
If you’re visiting during summer, make sure you incorporate Knott’s Soak City next door. The five-hectare water park, open from May to September, is themed around Southern California beach towns of the 1950s, with 16 speed, tube and body slides, the 75,000-gallon Tidal Wave Bay wave pool, Sunset River and the three-storey Beach House.
Gremmie Lagoon is a hands-on water playground for young surfers, complete with giant-size turtles, crabs and a mischievous submarine-swallowing octopus. The seven-storey Shore Break has six thrilling water slides.
Four of them have a chamber that launches guests as the floor under their feet drops them into an almost vertical freefall through a series of flat loops and S-curves in a translucent flume. You can also race family members on duelling tube slides that zip riders through a series of drops and turns. The Wedge slide tower, meanwhile, is an open-air family raft ride that descends up to six people at a time through navigating twists and turns and unexpected drops.
When to go:
If you can, try to time your visit to Knott’s Berry Farm around one of the many special events throughout the year. The three-week-long Boysenberry Festival in spring celebrates the park’s agricultural roots with boysenberry-inspired food and drinks, shows and live music.
Knotts Berry Farm has fireworks displays on holiday weekends, including Memorial Day in late May, Independence Day on July 4 and Labor Day (late August/early September).