Knott’s Berry Farm Review – June 2017

Back in April, I paid my first visit to Knott’s Berry Farm, a theme park located in Buena Park, California. Although I only spent about 5 hours there, I’d like to think I got a good feel for what the park had to offer. That said, I only rode a handful of the attractions there, due to rather long lines. If you’d like a complete run through of my day at Knott’s, you can check out the trip report here. Otherwise, let’s get on with this review.

As previously stated, Knott’s Berry Farm is located in Buena Park, which is only about 10 minutes away from Disneyland. It’s also about an hour away from Six Flags Magic Mountain, which means the park has a lot of competition on its hands. Luckily, I don’t think that’s much of a problem for Knott’s, as it sort of acts for this middle ground for people who might be bored by the more tame attractions at Disneyland, but aren’t quite ready to take on the world class thrills of Magic Mountain. That’s not saying that Knott’s is necessarily better than its competitors, but it definitely offers the most diverse collection of attractions than any other park in SoCal.

A large amount of those attractions were for everyone to enjoy. They had a rapids ride, log flume, an awesome Camp Snoopy kids area, and lots of other unique attractions. Although my families visit was primarily roller coaster-based, we did get a chance to try the Voyage to the Iron Reef, a 3D shooter dark ride. Although I’ve ridden Buzz Lightyear at Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom, and Justice League at Six Flags Great America, I must say Voyage to the Iron Reef has become my new favorite shooting ride. The 3D effects were nicely balanced with a substantial amount of theming, which created an immersive experience that truly felt like an awesome underwater expedition. I really hope Cedar Fair will add other innovative rides like Voyage to their parks in the future.

As for roller coasters, the park has a substantial amount of thrills to keep enthusiasts entertained. They have an excellent top 3, made up by Ghost Rider (a monster wooden coaster), Silver Bullet (an inverted coaster), and Xcelerator (the best launch coaster I’ve ever ridden). In addition  to these, they also have two more smaller launch coasters, and a number of other family coasters. This proves Knott’s really knows how to work with the small space they have to provide some of the best thrills possible.

This brings me to my next point: Knott’s is not a big park by any means. It’s essentially a small rectangle with attractions, shows, stores, and restaurants stuffed in every possible crevasse imaginable. I will admit, the strange size and shape of the park did give my family and I some trouble navigating the parks odd layout. At one point you had to walk under a tunnel to get to another area of the park, and it wasn’t very clearly labeled on the map. Finding some entrances for attractions was rather difficult as well, as the signs weren’t always in the most visible position (*cough* Silver Bullet *cough*). Overall the layout was manageable though, and the paths were very flat and walkable.

Knott’s might not be the easiest to get around, but it sure is beautiful. I was not expecting the level of theming that this park offered. The Ghost Town area was on par with Disney-level theming, maybe even above! Even in areas with not as much theming, such as the Boardwalk area, still had lots of trees and flora to make it very presentable. It seemed like everywhere you looked there was something interesting to see, which is a very good thing for a competitor of Disneyland to have.

Another thing I missed out on was the vast selection of dining at Knott’s. We were at the park during Boysenberry Festival, so the only food I got to try at the park was Boysenberry related. That said, Knott’s has tons of options for regular meals at the park. Although I missed out on the famous Knott’s chicken dinner, I think it’s safe to say almost any other review of Knott’s will tell you that the food there is amazing. As for Boysenberry Festival, the park has a number of different boysenberry treats to try. I tried a boysenberry float, which was the perfect treat for a hot day at a theme park. Other interesting boysenberry options they offered were boysenberry pizza, boysenberry wings, boysenberry soda, and even boysenberry ravioli. Everything sounded delicious, and I would love to go back again during this event to try more.

Overall, Knott’s Berry Farm excels in being both an enjoyable park for families, and a haven for thrill seekers. By mixing state of the art coasters and old-fashioned shows and attractions, the park has created a unique charm that I’ve never seen at any other park I’ve visited. You can go to Magic Mountain if you’re looking for an overwhelming amount of coasters, or Disneyland for an unforgettable, magical family experience, but only Knott’s will truly give you the best of both worlds. If you’re in the SoCal area, Knott’s Berry Farm is definitely a must-do park.

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Xcelerator Review – Intamin Accelerator Coaster at Knott’s Berry Farm

Here’s my full review of Xcelerator, a launch coaster located at Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park, California.

Xcelerator was manufactured by Intamin in 2002. The coaster has a height of 205 feet, a 90 degree drop, and an extremely intense launch acceleration of 0 – 82 mph in 2.3 seconds.

Continue reading Xcelerator Review – Intamin Accelerator Coaster at Knott’s Berry Farm

Top 10 Coasters at Six Flags Magic Mountain

It’s been a few months since I paid my first visit to Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia, CA. Although it was pretty easy to determine my favorite ride there, I did struggle a bit while forming a Top 10 coasters for the park. They have a lot of great coasters, and I would say that any of the rides I’m about to list are must-do’s when you visit the park.

Also, I did miss out on riding 3 major coasters while I was at the park. Riddlers Revenge and Apocolypse were closed for maintenance, and New Revolution had 2 hour lines due to it having VR. It is entirely possible that this list could change if I ride these sometime in the future. 

So without further ado, here are my Top 10 Coasters at Six Flags Magic Mountain.

Continue reading Top 10 Coasters at Six Flags Magic Mountain

The Joker Review – New for 2017 4D Free Spin Coaster at Six Flags Great America

Here’s my official review of Six Flags Great America’s new for 2017 coaster, The Joker.

Joker is a 4D Free Spin coaster manufactured by S&S Worldwide. The ride consists of winged-seat cars navigating a vertical track while doing various flips and beyond 90 degree drops. It also uses track from the company RMC, allowing for an extremely smooth ride. The Joker opened this year for the 2017 season as the 6th 4D Free Spin clone in existence.

In order to review this coaster, I have created 13 different categories that it will be judged on. Some categories are worth 5 points, while others are worth 10. Each coaster begins with a score of 10 points, and has the opportunity to earn up to 100 points total. Yes, that’s a lot, but don’t worry, I’ll do all the math for you.

First up is the height category. Joker is only 120 feet tall, so it isn’t that high up compared to some other rides in the park. That said, you do feel like you are being lifted up further than it looks, which is probably because of the vertical lift hill. For that, I’ll give it a 3 out of 5.

Now is when I would usually talk about the coaster’s drop, but Joker doesn’t really have a normal first drop. Instead, it has two large, beyond 90 degree “raven” drops. I must say, although these are non-traditional, the raven drops are by far some of the coolest drops on a coaster that I’ve experienced. They made the ride for me, which is why I’d give Joker a 9 for its drops.

Next up is the speed category. Joker isn’t really known for its speed. It only goes 38 mph, and focuses more on its many flips and somersaults. You do seem to build up some speed after the first beyond 90 degree drop though, and the out of control flips make the ride feel like it’s travelling faster than it really is. Overall, the speed is average, so I’ll give it a 6.

Now we have the smoothness category. As I stated before, the outstanding company RMC actually created the Joker’s track. If you’ve read my reviews for Goliath or Wicked Cyclone, you already know that I praise RMC’s track for being glossy smooth. Joker might not deliver the same type of thrills as a traditional RMC coaster, but it definitely has the smoothness. 5 out of 5.

Now we have to talk about one of the most important aspects of a coaster: the airtime. You wouldn’t think that Joker is the type of coaster to have an extremely “out-of-your-seat”, airtime filled experience. However, because the constant transition between negative and positive G-forces, I’d say you actually get more ejector-air on this than most coasters. It definitely feels different, but that’s a good thing. 4 out of 5.

Next up is intensity. Now maybe I just got a really good ride on Joker, but I thought it was one of the most intense coasters I’ve ridden to date. The flips were wild, and the g-force transitions were very forceful. It wasn’t a bad intensity either, as there were never any “painful” moments. I really do believe Joker is one of the most intense rides at the park, and is only (ironically) bested by its superhero neighbor and nemesis, Batman: The Ride. Therefor,  Joker gets a 9 out of 10 for intensity.

After intensity we have the duration category. Sadly, Joker isn’t the longest of rides. I clocked it at about a minute long, counting the lift hill. It’s not terribly short, but I would like to see S&S create a different model that has a longer ride time. Until then, Joker gets a 2 out of 5 for duration.

Another category that Joker doesn’t excel in is theming. As for most Six Flags coasters, the focus on Joker is thrills, not theming. The most I can say is that the purple and green paint color really stands out, and is a good icon for the Mardi Gras area. I’ll give it a 3 out of 10, and I think that’s being very generous.

Then we have to talk about the restraints. While waiting in the queue for Joker, one of my friends pointed out that Joker’s restraints looked very similar to X-Flight’s. For those of you who don’t know about X-Flight’s restraints, they are essentially the only bad part about the ride. They have these vests that tighten up way too much, and are very uncomfortable. Luckily, although Joker’s looked similar, they weren’t nearly as bad. They definitely could be better, but they’re good enough to receive a 3 out of 5.

Now we have our last major category: the layout. Joker is a clone, which means it’s layout is by no means original. However, that doesn’t mean it’s not good. Even though it’s a shorter ride, I’d say S&S put the right combination of hills and drops into this ride to make it very enjoyable. Although it’s not unique, Joker still gets a 7 out of 10 for its overall fun layout.

After that, we have 3 more small categories to go over. The first is the queue. Although Joker doesn’t have a lot of on-ride theming, the queue does have a considerable amount of things to look at. There are some cool posters showcasing different DC villains, and a bunch of tv screens with the Joker talking to you as you wait. Perhaps the nicest thing about the queue though, is the fact that they have a nice tent covering that provides lots of shade. It definitely makes the wait more tolerable. 4 out of 5.

Now we have to talk about the name. Obviously, Joker isn’t the most original name. Six Flags has used it in a bunch of other attractions at different parks, including the other Joker freespin clones that came to New England and Over Texas this year. I guess it fits good next to Batman, but because it’s kind of overused, I’m going to give it a 2.

Finally, we have the operations category. Now as with all new coasters, you usually expect a big line. We got into the park right at opening, and still dealt with a 30 min line. That said, all the employees did a fantastic job at moving the lines along as efficiently as possible. All the dispatches were very quick and safe, and the fact that they were running 3 trains was nice. The operations really deserve a 5 out of 5.

Well, we’ve finally reached the end of our review. I’ve added up the points, and Joker’s final score is….a 72! That’s a far better score than what I expected to give this before I rode it. Even though it’s a clone, Joker has easily become one of my favorite rides in the park. It’s an intense, different experience that you can’t get anywhere else in Great America. I definitely look forward to riding this again the next time I’m at the park!

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