Much has changed yet much stays the same. Knott’s Berry Farm is a super cute ghost town on one side and an amusement park of roller coasters on the other.
The Calico Railroad with the black train is still there in all its glory. Gun fire can be heard, but the bandits don’t take over the train. When I was a little girl a bandit held my purse and said, “Are those rocks in there?” because it was so heavy from pennies and nickels. The little girl inside me is disappointed the bandits don’t make an appearance. Instead, a lady with a southern accent entertains us. One passenger rides the train four times to get the car with the lady, dressed like women did in the late 1800s, with a large hat. A passenger (actor) with a nasally, New York accent came aboard as if straight out of the Broadway show Guys and Dolls. He nervously talks to the southern lady about proposing to his girl. “You’re as lovely as cheese. Will you marry me please? Do you think that would be a good proposal?” he asks the southern lady and passengers. He fidgets with his luggage then pushes up his dirty, round glasses and he says, “Oh, oh, I’m so noivous.” The passengers laugh at him uncomfortably, eventually easing into his amusing conversation.
The Calico Mine Ride is just as it says. You go through a staged coal mine on a cart. It feels like something is going to happen as the ride goes up, but it’s just another level. It smells musty and old.
The rest of the rides are thrill rides. Xcelerator looks the scariest as it goes up and comes down in a horseshoe shape. The Sierra Sidewinder is another one that can turn your stomach. It has four connected circles that move forward together and then turn separately. Some people are fine on these rides while others get a bit sick.
I am told that the Ghost Town area, where there is shopping, a museum and entertainment, is free. There are many artisans. The Glass Blower store is just as mesmerizing as I remember. When I walk in a woman is making a mermaid.
I don’t recall the name of the candy shop, but it is just as I remember it with candy in barrels.
Bird Cage Theatre is entertaining. For Christmas, they performed A Christmas Tale musical that re-enacted a short version of the story of the husband who sells his pocket watch to buy his wife a hair comb only to find out she sold her hair to buy a gold chain for his watch. The four characters are good singers. It’s a sweet show.
One thing I that is encouraging about Knott’s is that many of the employees are over forty and well up in years. So, if you don’t make the cut for the height requirements at Disneyland, you can work at Knott’s. One man working a concession stand moves so slow as I walk by that I do a double take. He looks like he escaped the Calico Mine Ride – a manikin miner come to life.
Knott’s also has its own hotel on the premises. I read recently that Orange County, something like the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, went to sell the idea of vacationing in the county to China. Tens of thousands of people from China made reservations for hotels near Disneyland for 2014. So, if you can’t find a hotel room, there is Knott’s Berry Farm Hotel. But, it would be more fun to stay in Newport Beach at a hotel there. The beach is about thirty minutes from Disneyland and maybe twenty from Knott’s. (Note: The 91 Freeway has very heavy traffic during before and after working hours.)
Knott’s is in a not so sophisticated town in Orange County called Buena Park which is close to the town of Anaheim, where Disneyland is. Many Los Angeles reports will mistakenly say they are reporting from L.A. in Disneyland. Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm are both in Orange County. It’s a totally different vibe than L.A. It’s been about one hundred years since Orange County was part of L.A. It’s much nicer south of Los Angeles.
If you have never been to Orange County I’d go to Disneyland over Knott’s. There is too much to do in California in one vacation. The beach and Disneyland are the best way to go to get a decent California vacation.