As far as I am concerned, this Cedar Fair park is finally on the right track. They just need to keep moving forward with the current trend of restoring Knotts to its former glory. All the things you mentioned make a lot of sense, but first and foremost, the Calico Mine Ride needs the next Garner Holt refurb. Big time. And future attractions need to be Disney-on-a-budget and geared to the quirky nature of the park and to the family market.
So, during my trip this fall I will visit, DLR, SFMM, and KBF. I chose DLR because it rules by far. I chose MM because I want to re-visit the Coaster Capital of the World (sorry, Cedar Point). And I chose KBF specifically because of the recent reboot of the Timber Mountain Log Ride. I felt it was a must ride during my visit. Universal Hollywood became the odd man out as there just is not enough to do in that park to justify the huge price tag.
So, keep up the good work, Knotts, bring back the old time magic, restore Calico Mine Ride, and for goodness sake, please start playing theme specific music instead of out-of-place pop hits inside the park!
What they need to do is add that indoor dark ride. I always wondered why they had to remove it. There was no reason to take it away. It also needs a year round haunt attraction that will make up for the Haunted Shack attraction loss from many years ago.
Remove the short roller coasters. They have too many 30 second roller coasters. They take a long time to wait and you just get a short thrill.
Add more shows. Their shows are worth the visit, but there aren't enough. I especially enjoy the ice show, but the old seats and aging facility is due for a makeover. The Extreme show at the park center needs a plot and seats. The children's show needs more staging and larger cast.
Food still needs improvement. While the fried chicken is terrific at the entrance, everything else about it is terrible. The sides are too small. The salad is tiny and just iceberg lettuce. The corn is a waste and goes uneaten. Looks like corn from a can. The mashed potatoes are tasteless and the gravy must be from a jar. Thankfully, the biscuits are good.
The mall at the entrance needs an update. The stores need a major makeover. The merchandise displays seem to sell last year's clearance items and stuff from my grandma's attic.
Lastly, update the restrooms. They smell and the tiles are coming off. Water is constantly on the floors. Caulk has peeled off and are black with mold. Gross.
I don't believe that removing the Silver Bullet would be dollars worth spending. It would be far more valuable to invest in rebranding to bring characters and stories to the park that people younger than 50 can relate to.
The food definitely needs to be upgraded to the level of Disney or better.
And I think the park needs to find its identity. I just hope they don't become anything like Universal Studios Hollywood where everything is done on a budget and has bad jokes everywhere.
I, for one, am very willing to pay more to have a quality experience for myself and my family at any theme park. And, frankly, its very saddening for those of us who are long term fans of BGW to see it slowly start the fall from the standard that it has held for years. Lets how the new owners can realize what they have had.
Those 3 attractions are the least of Knott's problems. I'd also throw in that Silver Bullet probably is less of a problem than Robert makes it out to be. It's still a top-rate invert, but perhaps should have been given the "Talon" treatment that makes the Dorney Park invert "scream" by in near silence. It could also be improved by embracing its western theme by adding props, tunnels, or other elements to the course. Montu and Alpengeist are two of the best inverts in the world because they incorporate their themes into the ride. The costs to do this are minimal, but the payoff can be immense. If you want to get rid of some coasters, you could kill Montozuma's Revenge and Jaguar, but those two take up such little real estate, I'm not sure what difference it would make other than create longer waits for other rides/attractions.
We were at Knotts for a day in February, and the thing that always struck me about the park was its lack of destinctly themed areas with clean transitions. They have different names for some of the areas, but they're all essentially the same. You can walk from Calico Square into Ghost Town and never know it. Over half the park has the western theme at and south of the entrance, there's a 50's and Mexican themed sections in the back, and the kids area near the front. The western sections are very much like Dollywood, which embraces those theme through nearly that entire park. At Knotts, those western sections take up about 2/3 of the park with the kids area, Mexican, and 50's themed area encompassing the other third. I say, either embrace the western theme throughout or shrink it down to add additional themed areas.
As far as the food goes, we've only eaten at Mrs. Knotts, mostly because the in park food is just so overpriced. The adjacent mall also has a Pinks (also found at other Cedar Fair parks), which I found odd since they were charging theme park markups on food that you could get from the original restaurant around 30 minutes away (a must-eat-at establishment for anyone traveling to the LA Area BTW).
I think it's hard in this day and age to establish a brand in the theme park industry. Cedar Fair has found its niche by offering thrills for teens and coaster junkies, and asking them to try to compete with the best in the industry is a tall order. With USH's Evolution Plan getting off the ground, I think Knotts would be wise to stay in their niche, a happy medium between Disney and Six Flags. They can certainly spend a little more time and attention to theme and detail in their attractions, but to ask them to go all the way up to Disney or Universal standards could be a huge wasted investment. They'll get a lot of kudos from this website and other industry professionals, but I doubt making multi-million dollar investments in story-based attractions is going to bring an equivalent return. Ghostrider could use a retracking, but the Texas Giant incident along with California building codes may prevent them from make modifications to a coaster that already contains more than double the amount of wood than similar coasters in other locations. Creating a more unified theme for the kids area would be helpful, and perhaps just nixing the entire Mexican themed area.
I consider the 30 second roller coasters to not include the Sidewinder and the Xcelerator, but they are Pony Express, the Boomerang, and Montezooma's Revenge. These rides are not worth waits longer than 30 minutes. The Pony Express is the worse in that it is just one spin around the track. The other two rides will do it backwards, which somewhat mitigates the short ride.
The park is in good hands.
The park needs more diversity so adding new shows, possibly expanding Camp Snoopy and adding a few more family friendly dark rides would be a great step. I'm happy for the attention they have paid to the park and am confident they will continue the momentum.
Hopefully they'll take that big fat refund check they get for Windseeker and put it to good use.
There were a lot more rides in both Roaring 20s and Fiesta Village back then. The areas "felt" themed and there were enough rides to for both adults and children. I've always been bummed that my daughter couldn't drive the antique cars or ride the Soap Box Derby Racers or smell the boysenberries inside of Knott's Berry Tales.
By the 1980s, the park, I believe, began to lose some of its appeal, way before Cedar Fair came in. As much as I like Camp Snoopy's charm, I still dread that the both lakes by the parking lot and inside the park were eventually paved over. Jungle Island was turned into a picnic area. And when the great Knott's Berry Tales was replaced with the Kingdom of the Dinosaurs, I knew the park would never be the same.
That being said, I like that the park is finally bringing some new technology and old charm back to Knott's. The park is now more clean and the employees have been nicer.
With that said, this is what I'd love to see happen to Knott's.
-Upgrade Calico Mine Ride with new animatronics and effects
-Bring back Knott's Berry Tales or something like it. The ride cleverly used Disney-like fun with an actual look back at Knott's history
-Replace Big Foot Rapids with a newer water ride with superior effects and thrills
-Build another indoor attraction...perhaps Knott's version of a haunted house year 'round?
-Take out Pony Express. This is a long wait for a very short and uncomfortable roller coaster ride
-If Silver Bullet was moved, my daughter and I would be very sad because love it...but, if that was done, install a coaster that is better!
-Theme "Boardwalk" with something more charming.
-Improve the over priced Chicken Dinner Restaurant with much better food, please. I've gone a couple times and the food was awful. The food used to be reasonably priced and it tasted good with good service. The restaurant is the reason why Knott's is here today.
Besides the newly refurbished Log Ride, we enjoy the Peanuts ice skating show during the summer and holidays, the new family rides in the Boardwalk section (especially the unusual Surfside Gliders ride), the new Boomtown acrobatic show, the authentic stagecoach ride, family coasters like Jaguar, and little things in Ghost Town like the one-room schoolhouse and live restoration of the old California Mission models.
I don't agree about Mystic Lodge. While it's interesting to see the show and the theming is excellent, we don't feel that it's a top attraction in itself. I agree that it could be marketed a little better, though.
Things I would like to see changed/improved:
1) More special events like this year's spring Berry Bloom, which was fun for kids and adults alike.
2) Improve the theming in areas like Boardwalk and Fiesta Village. I remember the old Roaring '20s area to have been really well themed, with the rides supporting the 1920s theme. Most of the Boardwalk today feels like a county fair midway, with big open areas of concrete, carnival games, and unthemed thrill rides.
3) Bring in a new dark ride where Knott's Beary Tales and Kingdom of the Dinosaurs were located. Spend enough money to make it look well-done, not done-on-the-cheap.
4) While I would have preferred coasters like Silver Bullet and Pony Express had not been built in their present locations, I understand that they attract young people who like thrill rides, and don't think they need to be removed (but no more tearing up the charm and history of the park to add thrill rides). At the same time, the rides should be appropriately themed. For example, Sierra Sidewinder should have fake mountains or some sort of mountain backdrop to fit into the high Sierra theming of Camp Snoopy.
1. Reduce food prices to a reasonable level. There is no reason it should cost $16 for a burger, fries, and a drink. Although the food quality has significantly improved in the past couple years, I still leave the park to eat because of the insane prices.
2. Refurbish the Calico Mine Ride. It is good as it is now, but it could be great if given the same level of treatment the Timber Mountain Log Ride received.
3. Add a new dark ride. Even a Sally shooting dark ride would be an excellent addition to the park, and if they want to keep promoting themselves as a theme park Knott's needs more than one dark ride.
4. Clean up the ride selection. The park doesn't need five family coasters...Pony Express should go, and Jaguar should as well unless the height requirement can be reduced to the original 42 inches. Boomerang is not a very good coaster and should be replaced with another small footprint thrill coaster. GhostRider could use a topper track treatment (not the full I-Box job done on Texas Giant, as GhostRider is good but rough). Silver Bullet can stay (and Robert's suggestion would be terrible as CGA already has a B&M Invert: Flight Deck), but it needs to be themed well to blend in to the wild west theme of Calico Square. The remaining coasters are fine as they are. For non-coaster rides, the park needs to get Windseeker working properly or give it the ax. The other non-coaster rides are mostly good, but a few new and modern attractions would be great.
5. Overhaul Camp Snoopy. Replace some of the older rides with interactive or unique attractions. Take out Timberline Twister and put a new kiddie coaster in. A Vekoma Junior Coaster and a Splash Battle, along with one or two new kiddie spinners, would make this the best kids area in the chain.
Finally, Cedar Fair needs to be sure not to compete directly with Disneyland or Six Flags Magic Mountain. To be successful, Knott's needs to be a cheaper alternative to Disneyland with attractions that will entertain every member of the family. It needs high intensity thrill rides just as much as family-friendly dark rides, but it can't neglect one side and cater only to the other. As long as the park doesn't focus exclusively on thrill rides or exclusively on family rides, it will be successful.
1. Hire better employees by boosting wages and improving employee-training procedures. I don’t expect Disneyland quality cast members, but knowledgeable and cheerful staff is essential for a family park. The walk-around performers and restaurant staff have always been helpful and welcoming, but in my experience the majority of the ride attendants are slow, inexperienced, and on their smart phones.
2. As Robert and many other commenters mentioned, add a dark ride back into the Kingdom of the Dinosaurs building and make it interactive. The entire 1920s area could use a refurbishment and/or a new theme. If they expanded the western theme to that area the dark ride could be themed to a stagecoach adventure across the country.
3. Bring down the prices of food from the counter food stands. No matter the quality, no one wants to walk-up to a window and pay $16 for a burger and fries. On the other hand, I think the table service restaurants are a decent value for the high quality food they serve. Food from a table service restaurant at Disneyland is 2x-3x as much.
4. Remove Boomerang, Riptide, and Wipe Out to make room for a dark ride that is themed to Snoopy and the Peanuts going to the beach in the 1950s. It could be rethemed during the holidays to A Charlie Brown Christmas.
5. Let’s pretend Knott’s finds 200 million dollars of gold treasure buried on their property. With this 200 million dollars, they should remove Pony Express and turn Bigfoot Rapids into a Western River Expedition dark ride the extends into the backstage area.
Pinks may be a Los Angeles landmark, but the food is disgusting. Anyone who knows anything about Hot Dogs will go to Portillo's over Pinks any day.
Robert I couldn't disagree with you more regarding your comments about Silver Bullet destroying the park's main entrance. Silver Bullet is an outstanding ride and did nothing but enhance the entrance area. It's 2013, not 1976. Knott's needed to move forward with some bigger attractions.
While some of the early Cedar Fair additions and changes were poor choices the recent ones like Pony Express, Xcelerator and Silver Bullet were great additions to the park and each have themes to match the surrounding area.
But what then? I think there's a more lucrative future for Cedar Fair in having Knott's go after Disney's market than going after Magic Mountain's. Just look at the difference in attendance and income for those parks. Getting a share of Disney's market as a lower-priced alternative represents a lot more potential income than becoming the Orange County version of Six Flags.
That's why I think Knott's should look toward an additional dark ride, and a Camp Snoopy refurb as next steps. And bringing down food prices to Disney's levels, too. It's hard to beat Disney as a value proposition when you're charging more than Disney for a cheeseburger.
Your value proposition argument is lost when you take into account the considerable difference in price at the gate.
The merchandising is poor considering it has many quaint areas that increase desire to spend money. The bad merchandising mix and the terrible store displays inhibit spending.
You would think the Halloween and Christmas time festivities would increase spending. It isn't so good. I hesitate on wasting my money on buying the stuff they're selling. They should do simple things like selling holiday foods and ornaments. Their holiday food and jam packages are priced over $20 and I wonder why should I buy that.
If memory serves, they added the Corkscrew, the parachute drop, the observation ride, the motorcycle ride (which I think turned into the Soap Box Derby), Knott's Berry Tales, and at least two carnival rides. The theming was wonderful, unlike the Boardwalk. Why couldn't Cedar Fair, with a little ingenuity, do a blockbuster expansion/re-imagining of some parts of Knott's?
The new additions to the Boardwalk area do nothing for me as a visitor. That being said, I do like that Cedar Fair and Matt O. have really stepped up to fix the park.
I realize that the company may not have nearly the finances as Disney (I wouldn't expect them to). Yet they have still invested millions into roller coasters at Cedar Point and I'm sure for their other properties. They even managed to buy other parks, if I recall.
This is a huge wish list, but I hope that Cedar Fair brings back Knott's to not only its former glory, but into something for the future.
When we went there earlier this year, I remember one or two employees in the gift shop, and we were the only ones sitting for the show. The show is badly dated, and could use some reimagining for the 21st century. It doesn't need any expensive animatronics to be interesting-- maybe with a short documentary playing inside the current theater, while keeping the sets. Or with the amount of space inside the building, a small museum-style exhibition could be created, maybe through a partnership with a local Orange County organization.
I don't know if the Knott family stipulated in the contract that Independence Hall remain free of charge, but it's a shame the way the attraction was been run down. I think the building can be a tremendous asset if the park values it and treats it as such.
-Give the Topper Track treatment to GhostRider.
-Remove Pony Express
-Remove Screamin Swing
-Add themeing to Silver Bullets queue
-Add a Dark Ride To the old Kingdom of The Dinosaurs Building.
-Add a dark ride (or two) in the space vacated by CoastRider and Boomerang.
- Add Trees and landscaping in the space vacated by Pony Express and Screamin Scream.
-Update Mystery Lodge
-Update Mine Ride.
-Add more trees to the park
-Lower food prices. Seriously, they are insane, even for a theme park. I can't remember the last time I ate at this park.
-Add Themeing to Big Foot Rapids.
As far as the park is concerned. I didn't think it was necessary to have us wait at the main area that you go into the park (past the gates) til opening. We were blockaded by a large chain across the entryway with staff standing behind it to make sure no one entered before the time. Why can't we just go on in & at least walk around til things are opened? I think it's silly to force patrons to just stand there for a LONG time in a group before letting us in. First of all it's HOT outside & we're getting sunburned, not to mention thirsty & tired from standing in one place...not good for people who need to sit down as there's no benches to rest while waiting, at least none that I saw..People trying to get in front of others (cutting) to be first ones in to get to the rides, etc...totally unnecessary. We can just as easily go to our fave rides & stand in the line waiting for the ride to open or browse the stores at least. Doing this will make for happier patrons IMO. We can at least have the railings to lean on while waiting for the ride to open.
I'm sure there was more to my issues w/the park & hotel which I'm sure I mentioned in my trip report but that's about it for now.
But let's deal with what is. Cedar Fair may have been late in recognizing the uniqueness of Knott's among their holdings, but they appear to be heading in the direction the Knott family took. Don't forget that the park went through a down period - and Cedar Fair rescued the park from that. Give them credit. Let's see what they have in mind. I agree on at least two more dark rides. But another coaster will draw in crowds - which will justify the dark rides. This will be fun to watch. And experience.