Wes’ California Review

Hi ThrillNetwork friends, it’s been a while since I shared a review with you, but time has come again for another! I imagine people throwing down their photos and running away. But I digress.

This year has been an amazing, crazy season for me as I traveled the northeast, Canada and California and picked up seventy-three new credits! I’ve never had a season like this, and probably will never again just because of the toll it took on me physically. But no complaints here either. I’m now up to 276 credits. Next year looks Orlando-heavy for me, so I doubt I’ll pick up too many new credits next year, but you never know if I’ll hit 300 next year or not.

I want to focus this review on my trip to California and the five parks I visited there. This was my first trip ever to California, and I was so excited to finally travel west of the Mississippi River for the first time.

I flew into John Wayne airport, south of Los Angeles and after being up almost twenty-four hours, I made it to bed on the West Coast. Next day I was up and at ‘em again to visit America’s oldest theme park – Knott’s Berry Farm.

Before I even knew there was a theme park, I knew about Knott’s Berry Farm for their jelly. Like many people, I was surprised to find out they also owned a theme park and as I got more and more into the amusement industry, I was determined to visit the park someday. Someday happened this year!

My experience started like most with the parking lot. I thought it was a little strange how the parking lot seemed far off from the park, to be such a small park. Especially when I could see the employee entrance was just next to parking. I’m not saying it was a long distance, but just a little different I guess that what I’m used to.

It was interesting walking to the front gate, as you walk under Ghostrider’s structure and Ghostrider makes for some nice visuals. The wooden coaster was already closed for its refurbishment, so I missed out on the credit. This wouldn’t be the first coaster I missed out on this trip because of refurbishments, but we’ll get to that at Magic Mountain.

The day I visited, the place was empty. Everything, including Xcelerator was a walk on. It was wonderful. Weather this day was lovely and nothing as warm as I would have to deal with at Disneyland.

Silver Bullet has had the reputation of being a mild B&M invert, and it certainly lived up to that reputation. But it was a nice, smooth ride as I’ve come to expect from B&M over the years. Not a bad coaster but nothing amazing.

As I explored Knott’s I noticed how nice the park was, especially the old ghost town section. There were so many little touches and hidden places I loved discovering. I imagine the original owners built just to build these little place and to have fun.

I’m a big Schwarzkopf fan and of course Montezooma’s Revenge was a must-ride. I love the old classic Schwarzkopf shuttle looping coasters. There’s nothing like the g-forces those coasters pull out of the station and in the loops. It makes me miss Viper at Six Flags Over Georgia and White Lightnin’ at Carowinds.

On the subject of launched coasters, I was a bit disappointed with Pony Express. This was my first Zamperla launched coaster, and it really was pretty bland. Xcelerator was of course not bland at all. I loved the coaster except for a bit of a rattle. I rode Kingda Ka again earlier this year and what is with old Intamin’s rattling? I was surprised that I didn’t have any issues with their restraints. Intamin is so strange and varies widely it seems with their restraints.

I barely fit on El Toro and Bizarro, but no real issues here. Strange things would continue on this trip with restraints, but again I’m getting ahead of myself. I had a yummy lunch at Johnny Rockets and headed to the newest ride in the park: Voyage to the Iron Reef. Iron Reef was a great dark ride, I can’t really remember a lot because of how quickly I was running through the park, but I was very impressed. If Cedar Fair puts one of these in Carowinds with a moonshiner theme or something about the Carolinas, I’d be all for it.

Because I worked several seasons at Carowinds, I’ve got my own perspective: some good and some bad of park employees. But I normally notice the good ones and try to say thank you, or make them smile and have a good day. The school teacher in ghost town was especially humorous when I stopped by. I said something about an iPad and without batting an eye she told me she knew what an eye was and what a pad was, but no idea what an iPad was. Well played. I’m sure there are more than a few aspiring actors that start their careers in amusement parks on the West Coast.

Overall I was very happy with my visit to Knott’s Berry Farm. Not a very big place and you could easily do it in two or three hours on a slow day, but I could see myself enjoying more time there with friends. It’s nice to know that Cedar Fair hasn’t changed the charm of the old place.

Next up I head over to my first Disney park visit in thirty years – Disney California Adventure!

If you would like to view my photos of Knott’s Berry Farm visit my Flickr account here:

Trip Photos