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Amusement Parks: Knott’s Berry Farm – a Potted History

Knott’s Berry Farm is an amusement park which is located in Buena Park, Orange County near Los Angeles. 

The amusement park has an interesting history borne out of two totally separate business enterprises which were started almost 90 years ago by its founder, Walter Knott. 

Back in the 1920s, Walter Knott and his family used to sell berries, plants and pies from a stand on the side of a road and he became famous for introducing Americans to the ‘boysenberry’ which was a hybrid of the loganberry, blackberry and raspberry. He named it after Rudolph Boysen who had originally cultivated it and who introduced it to him.

In the 1930s, Walter Knott and his wife had fallen on hard times and they resorted to selling fried chicken dinners from their stand as well as their famous ‘boysenberry’ pie. This proved so popular that the queues which would form at the stand would end up being several hours long. 

Therefore, in order to keep them entertained, Walter Knott built a ghost town using old derelict buildings brought in from actual abandoned Wild West towns. This was to be the catalyst in his desire to create an amusement park. The attractions at the amusement park grew to incorporate Fiesta Village, a recreation of Southern California with its Mexican flavour and the Roaring Twenties which became a popular nostalgic look back in time. 

As the amusement park grew with the added attraction of roller coasters, Walter Knott fenced it in and began to charge admission. And, in 1997, the Knott family decided to sell off the amusement park to the company Cedar Fair. The company remains the amusement park’s present owner. Cedar Fair decided to focus on even more thrill seeking rides which brought in even greater crowds to the amusement park.

Today, both Fiesta Village and Ghost Town still thrive within the amusement park with the latter still featuring most of the old buildings that Walter Knott had originally acquired. The Boardwalk, which was originally home to the Roaring Twenties at the amusement park, is today the location for most of the thrill seeking rides which include Xcelerator, Boomerang, Riptide, Perilous Plunge and Supreme Scream which, standing at 312 feet, is the tallest structure in Orange County.

In addition to the main amusement park, Knott’s Berry Farm is also famous for its 3 ‘Soak City’ amusement waterparks. One is in Orange County itself with the other two located in Palm Springs and San Diego.


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