Lots of Plots at Knott’s

Q&A: Who is the last person in your missed calls? Dad, but I did call him back only for him to tell me to go have fun… here’s what happened next…


Garden Grove

Well, let’s go back a moment first… I drove us to Edgar Park in Garden Grove, CA to walk around the place with tiny sidewalks (or horseshoe path dividers) and a handball court and a school for something to do this early in the morning.


to cross or not to cross as we walk around Edgar Park

We arrived to a parking lot with three contractor trucks in it, and still two hours before Knott’s Berry Farm opens. We walked around and said hi to the thirty ducks that our presence attracted out of the bushes and then went to wait at the entry gate for an hour.

There were three people in front of us and about one hundred more behind us by the time the two gates opened (out of 16) — definitely a great day to go — like being the only person at the DMV with three windows to yourself!


bathroom sign at Knott’s Berry Farm

In all our excitement, our first ride would be a thrill for children, the Timberline Twister, where the turns would toss them around, but only show us that Caleb is at the maximum height requirement for this tiny coaster as we each get two seats to ourselves.

Our next ride choice, Silver Bullet, would have me riding solo on any ride over 10mph the rest of the day. The 55mph inversions caused Caleb a bit of pain, but he’ll recover enough for one night ride later, the Pony Express.


Silver Bullet

I hopped in the saddle and was trying to figure out where my feet go when the back and leg pieces popped up to hold me in place. This would be my first rollercoaster ridden solo, the whole car and track to myself, and we’ve only been in the park 38 minutes.

The longest line was for the wooden track, GhostRider, as the park requires a test car before each car full of screaming passengers. I found a single rider, waiting in the front, and asked employee permission before jumping the line to join him.

I would wait another turn with him as this park ensures some of its special guests get a fast pass, minimum wait time on all rides, though the guy with the season pass behind us was ok with waiting longer, and patiently, for the most wanted seats on most rides.


before the full moon and their night lights

Next was HangTime, the park’s newest ride with the steepest drop, of 96 degrees, in California. Climb 90 degrees up, hang, then fly through five inversions before returning to the station. I hop off, move back two seats for new riders, repeat.

Caleb was getting into a navigating groove and pressed me towards the next ride, Coast Rider, that also required one adult to a seat. That’s when I should’ve turned back, but I cramped my shins into those 37mph turns for over two minutes.

We near the pink track of Xcelerator and I’m the first rider of the day as the gate opens in front of us at 11:35. Of course I’m going to ride this one twice. I was smiling and then it was forced onto my face as I shot out at 82mph. Caleb had fun watching people’s faces.


Next to the exit for that ride is Supreme Scream. I had to jump around in line to make sure I was on the side that Caleb could see me since he didn’t want to be a human basketball. The ride was fine, but the memory of my dad’s red face after he rode this in 1998 was better.

Last ride before lunch would be Montezooma’s Revenge. I can handle going forward and backward (more rides should offer that), but the brakes are intense and my brain is ready for a break. Caleb is excited about his mac-n-cheese cup in the car because it’s been a favorite recipe over the years.


I hadn’t eaten the dough bowl from mine so we took that to the ducks, two chickens, and one rooster to share. Caleb was feeling better and ready for some excitement — off to the merry-go-round where we chose horses instead of the emu and giraffe.

I got on the Jaguar!, rated at 4 out of 5 (I put it at a 3 with a max speed of 30mph), with a seat to myself. We then circled the park looking for a pretzel to go with ice cream, or a milkshake, only to find the two shops next to each other — after we’d already bought them on opposite sides of the park.


We sat in the shade around 2p and enjoyed a salted pretzel, boysenberry soft serve cake cone, and a boysenberry Icee. This had Caleb ready for another ride and we went to the Calico Mine Co. to get packed into a car, knees to elbows, with other passengers.

This was the park’s first major ride, opened in November 1960, and has over 50 animatronics people showing you the gold mining life of 1850, complete with canary. My favorite room was the rainbow cave of wonders, also known as the Heaven Room, full of stalagmites and stalactites.

I forgot about all the other spinning rides (sombrero tea cups, mini airplanes, and elevated chairs) and went on the Sierra Sidewinder that rotates as it goes along the track. It was meh, so we went on a store tour for some boysenberry jellybeans and three pieces of taffy before getting me another boysenberry ice cream cone.


Knott’s at Night

I went back onto HangTime; it’s hard to resist when there are no lines. A dad rode beside me and had sent his family to look at pumpkins. I told him he could get back on, but not everyone shares my enthusiasm. The long walks between rides are there for a reason; to give your brain a break between mini-trauma sessions.

It was time for intermission. We’d been at the park for six hours and our Scarry Farm tickets gave us another six to experience after sunset. We bought 0.88 lbs of coffee beans, a two-inch thick cronut, a honey bear, bottle of syrup, chipotle savory sauce, two jars of preserves, butter, and a jar of popcorn sugar balls with chocolate drizzle that turned out to be a bad investment at 7.3% of all boysenberry items purchased.

We grabbed our books out of the car (that we brought to read at the hotel, not at a theme park) to read amongst the ducks in the shade. I’m duck watching — tail wagging, beak moving without sound, standing on one foot, napping, preening, and playing. We all get a laugh when a woman joins nearby with her bag of food and the ducks waddle over — they get a biscuit for their effort and looks.


Sierra Sidewinder

It’s hard for me to concentrate on reading so I decide to take us back to the park at 6p so we can wait at the string they have tied up while the mazes get set up. Lyric Caprese will be the employee supervising us and the couple, Tanna and Phil, that we meet.

We talk about our jobs, dogs, and vacation before the characters come out to test the crowd and see who scares easiest. I reach out to touch an outfit and quickly pull my hand back as that’s not allowed and could get me kicked out.

Our first maze is Pumpkin Eater and I’m lucky to get us first in line, and not get kicked out, because when the rope dropped we jumped in the wrong spot and I jumped under the line marker to beat another couple, or the crowd, but they let me go first and let Caleb join me. There is no line jumping for any reason and no place holding.

All is forgiven and we are the first to go behind the Fast Pass lane as we go in groups of 20. The experience is unique and each maze has a theme that picks from popular scary movies — clowns, hanging bodies, pig masks, aliens, spiders, and skeletons.



We meet up with the couple again at the other end of the maze and will spend the rest of the evening with them. We go to Shadowlands and then Red Barn, quickly finding our way behind the daytime rides and into the dark corners filled with fog, strobe lights, and screams.

Another maze had a 45 minute wait so we decide to ride Pony Express and Caleb says he will tuck his chin on the takeoff to reduce neck pain. I’m ready for dole whip, but while Phil deals with a lost wallet, the other two talk me into watching The Hanging.

It’s a 23-minute comedy skit with plenty of adult humor — butts, sex, and violence — and they start with Weinstein, move onto Roseanne, and decide on Logan Paul for the winning rope around the neck. The show hits on lots of pop culture icons to include: Grimace, Deadpool, IT, Baby Shark, Hep C, and Ready Player One.


Shhh… It Happens

I had waited and laughed and was ready for my pineapple/raspberry dole whip in black waffle cone dipped in chocolate with sprinkles and topped with two gummy worms. I let Caleb have a bite and finished the rest before we got in line for Trick-or-treat.

This is the maze with the long wait and the time passes quickly having stories to tell about traveling, chickens, and dating. The 40 minute wait ends when we’re equipped with programmable flashlights, going from white to black for different effect; though some of us would’ve liked the option to go without.

The entrance to Depths was also supposed to be 45 minutes and I’d only had ice cream in the last nine hours and was ready to eat. I got hangry, the line time cut in half, and I was first to volunteer us into Dark Entities with no crowd in sight.



I got distracted marching next to one guy and another jumped out at me; I can appreciate the teamwork. I can’t touch the people, but I reach out to put my hand through an open window and almost put it in a guy’s face; he lets me know that I wouldn’t be the first.

Each couple buys a one pound burrito, of dry but steaming ingredients, and I’m nibbling on ours, so I extend it to Caleb so he can burn his mouth in hungry anticipation. I wouldn’t have minded staying an extra hour and finishing the other three mazes, but the sustenance is enough to make the husband sleepy.

We leave at 10:30 after saying bye to our park buddies and Caleb stays awake with me till we walk in the door five minutes after midnight. I walk the dog and get in bed before 1a.


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