Our Virtual Roadtrip continues, from Knott's to Disneyland

March 24, 2020, 3:04 PM · We're heading up the California coast on the second day of our virtual roadtrip, as we distract ourselves from the global Covid-19 shutdown.

After our visit to Legoland in Carlsbad, we head up I-5 from Oceanside to San Clemente, through Camp Pendleton.

Along with I-70 through Glenwood Canyon in Colorado, this is one of my favorite stretches of Interstate highway in the United States. Granted, Interstates tend to route through some of the most un-scenic parts of the country. It's the smaller, state and local highways where you find the best views. But here we've got a too-rare stretch of natural California to your right and the Pacific Ocean to your left. Wonderful!

After a stop at the San Clemente outlet mall to supercharge the car, we fly through what normally would be Orange County traffic to Knott's Berry Farm.

The most-visited park in the Cedar Fair chain, Knott's also is Cedar Fair's best-themed park. Walk in via Street View to visit the "ghost town" of Calico, which has become a favorite destination for local theme park fans either feeling priced out by Disneyland or turned off by that resort's increasing dependence upon IP.

Sure, you'll find plenty of thrill rides at Knott's. But let's start with some "wild west" entertainment in the Calico Saloon Show.

You'll find the heart of the park in Bud Hurlbut's classic Calico Mine Ride.

Knott's continued the story of Calico last year by revamping the old Bigfoot Rapids as Calico River Rapids.

The year before, the park opened the Gerstlauer Infinity coaster HangTime on the Boardwalk.

But if there's one ride that defines Knott's for most theme park fans, it's gotta be GhostRider.

After a lunch of Mrs. Knott's fried chicken and a slice of Boysenberry pie, we head over to Anaheim for our visit to the Disneyland Resort.

Let's start at the park that started it all — Disneyland. With its recent Project Stardust renovations, the park was looking great just before it closed, though the Street View tour is pre-Galaxy's Edge.

The last thing that Disneyland debuted before the closure was its new parade, Magic Happens.

But we'll take a look around the park (from a few years ago), with a Grand Circle Tour on the Disneyland Railroad.

Then it's time for "the wildest ride in the wilderness" on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.

Enjoy a classic Fantasyland dark ride with Alice in Wonderland.

Or just go for the latest and greatest in dark rides with Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. (Bonus: No boarding group needed today!)

Grab a Ronto Wrap on your way out from Batuu, because we are heading next to Disney California Adventure.

Disneyland's second gate isn't an afterthought anymore. Enjoy a Street View walk-through Buena Vista Street and throughout the park. Let's start by heading back to Pixar Pier for a ride on the Incredicoaster.

Then let's head next door to Cars Land for a go on Radiator Springs Racers.

You can't cut through A Bug's Land anymore, since that's now under construction to become the new Marvel-themed Avengers Campus, so we'll take the long way back around Carthay Circle to get to Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout.

And we'll wrap up our day at the Disneyland Resort with a ride on the original DCA hit, Soarin' Over California.

Rest up, because tomorrow we've got a big drive ahead of us, as breeze through normally crowded LA on our way up to Universal and Six Flags.

When the parks reopen... we have some great discounts on tickets to Knott's Berry Farm and the Disneyland theme parks.

Theme Park Insider's Virtual Roadtrip:

Replies (2)

March 25, 2020 at 9:33 AM

A lot to unpack on this leg of the trip. Knott's is a gem of a park that succeeds in combining high level themeing (though inconsistent across the park) with intense thrill rides. While I wouldn't put Silver Bullet among the best inverted coasters in the world, it's still a top coaster. Overall, the park contains a lot of different coaster styles that can satisfy even the most experienced riders. If you've never been to Knott's before, there's almost certainly one type of coaster at the park that you've never experienced.

The other aspect of Knott's that's not mentioned here is Ghost Town Alive, which for me was the most interactive experience we've ever seen in a theme park. Our experience at Ghost Town Alive was exactly what we wanted, but didn't get from Galaxy's Edge days earlier.

I still stand by my opinion that Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout is one of the best attraction at the Disneyland Resort. The overlay that Joe Rohde provided to the lesser ToT experience is about as perfect as can be. I really like Radiator Springs Racers, but would rather ride TSMM or GotG:MB instead I had to pick between them. I also feel that Disney should permanently play the original Soarin' Over California at DCA, only playing the Soarin' Around the World version on special occasions.

I feel that a lot of people that have been to WDW think that Disneyland is just a smaller version of MK, but that couldn't be further from the truth. All of the little differences between the 2 parks make it a unique experience despite the sharing of so many attractions. East coasters have no idea what they're missing by thinking the 2 parks are pretty much the same. Disneyland has that extra level of charm and intimacy missing at MK, and virtually every attraction duplicated in the 2 parks has the superior version in California. If costs were the same to visit the 2 different resorts, I would easily choose a visit to DL over WDW, especially with EPCOT in such disarray right now.

March 25, 2020 at 2:03 PM

Ghost Town Alive is a summer seasonal overlay, but what the heck, here's our video for that one, too.

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