Knott's prepares to close one of its unique attractions

January 3, 2024, 1:14 PM · This weekend will be fans' last chance to ride one of the truly unique attractions at Knott's Berry Farm.

The park confirmed today that it will be removing Huff and Puff as part of its Camp Snoopy renovations. The unique little track ride sat toddlers and early elementary children on individual pump trolley handcars. With some huffing and puffing, the kids could pump the car's handle and power themselves around a corner of Camp Snoopy.

Huff and Puff
Huff and Puff at its 1983 opening. Photo courtesy Knott's

By its nature, Huff and Puff always was going to be a low-capacity attraction with limited appeal. There's a relatively small window in any amusement fan's life when they can enjoy something like Huff and Puff. You need to be small enough to fit on the ride, yet strong enough to power it around the track.

My older child loved the Huff and Puff on their first visit to Knott's Berry Farm. So, of course, my youngest demanded their turn on our next visit. They were a bit too young for it, however, and struggled to move the handle. But Big Sibling came to the rescue in the car behind, bumping up against Little Sibling's car and powering them both around the track. On our next visit, however, my youngest was more than strong enough to pump the car around the track and loved the experience just as much as my oldest had.

However, within a couple of years, they both aged out of Huff and Puff, moving on the park's "big kid" coasters and thrill rides.

Yet Knott's Berry Farm's attendance has grown over the years, so one might expect a new generation of youngsters to take their place and fall in love with the active play of Huff and Puff. Unfortunately, that hasn't happened. America's baby bust continues, with falling birth rates reducing the size of the Gen Alpha generation that replaced my kids' Gen Z. Still, Knott's sees enough potential demand for its children's land that it is spending millions of dollars to renovate Camp Snoopy. So why not keep Huff and Puff?

Here's my theory - because even while the number of children in the U.S. is falling, the number of kids with the physical fitness to want to ride something like Huff and Puff is falling even faster. Childhood obesity rates have been rising substantially over the past 25 years, with more than 20% of American children now being measured as obese. [Source] With rising obesity rates, kids are getting bigger younger in life, but they are not getting stronger. That narrows the already small window of time in which children can enjoy an amusement life Huff and Puff. And Knott's is in the business of providing attractions that, well, attract people.

The irony is that a lack of physical activity only makes the childhood obesity problem worse. Granted, one ride in an amusement park is not going to have an effect on any significant number of people's fitness. But as a parent, I loved the opportunity to put my kids on rides such as Huff and Puff and Legoland's Kid Power Towers and its old Sky Cruiser, where they got to burn some energy and get themselves nice and ready for a much-needed mid-day nap - which helped set up the rest of the day in the park to be a joy.

On Huff and Puff's last day - Sunday, January 7 - Knott's Berry Farm will give away Huff and Puff Last Ride Merit Badges to park visitors at the front gate, while supplies last. Additional limited-edition merit badge giveaways will be announced in the months leading up to the opening of the new Camp Snoopy on Memorial Day weekend. For more on what's coming to the reimagined land, please see Knott's reveals its Camp Snoopy changes for 2024.

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Replies (4)

January 3, 2024 at 3:17 PM

The Huff and Puff is a great idea in theory, but you alluded to the biggest problem with it Robert. Riders can only go as fast as the person ahead of them. So if you’re stuck behind a slowpoke (or worse, they’re at the front of the pack), then it’s going to suck out all the enjoyment of anyone behind them.

January 3, 2024 at 9:50 PM

It's the alpine coaster problem, but magnified due to the much smaller scale.

January 4, 2024 at 12:21 AM

While I can't say I've seen an attraction exactly like Huff and Puff elsewhere, I have seen a few kid-oriented parks offer something similar where riders turn a crank to power a cart around the track. Adventure City just down the street from Knott's has such an attraction, and Idlewild in Pennsylvania even offers an enlarged version that accommodates adults as well as children. So I think the reason for closure is less that kids just can't power it anymore and more that it's an outdated, low capacity attraction that may carry higher insurance premiums due to the nature of the experience and Knott's feels expanding the adjacent truck ride is a better utilization of the available space.

January 8, 2024 at 4:47 PM

Technically, the park announced on December 11th (2023) via social media that three Camp Snoopy rides (Huff and Puff, Rocky Mountain Trucking Company, and High Sierra Ferris Wheel) would be closing and the last day to experience these rides would be on Sunday, Jan. 7th. This announcement came four days after Knott's had announced on Dec. 7th its major renovations to the Camp Snoopy area.

What Robert is referring to was a reminder by Knott's last Wednesday (January 3rd) via social media that the Huff and Puff specifically would close on Sunday, and that they would be giving out the 'merit badge' buttons that day.

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