Knott’s Berry Farm is celebrating 100 years of entertainment and boysenberries this summer. While the park’s actual 100th anniversary occurred last year during the park’s shutdown, their big centennial event will go forward this year instead. Better late than never! With the return of the popular nighttime event, Summer Nights, plus a brand new attraction, Knott’s Bear-y Tales: Return to the Fair, there’s a lot to enjoy. Here’s what you can look forward to…
The fan-favorite nighttime event, Summer Nights, returns this year, filling the heart of the park nightly with a variety of live music. Three venues offer a wide range of musical styles, making it easy to dance the night away.
The Calico Mine Stage usually has a pop-rock band (Hiatus played our preview). Once the first group finishes, the music continues in two other places.
The Calico Square Stage often has a jazz or swing band (our preview had Rumble King), while a DJ spins electronic music above the Charleston Circle Fountain.
The lineup changes every weekend, artists are announced on Knott’s social media and can be found in the Knott’s app. This weekend will see the return of multiple popular acts like Suffragettes, Hiatus, and Zydeco Party Band.
Around the three stages, seek out the Summer Nights Committee. All the characters have silly pun names like “Anita Drink,” wear over-the-top summer party clothes, and are tasked with making sure your night is partied to the fullest. This year saw a rather relevant returning character, a safety monitor named “Rudi Mentary.” Rudi means business with his industrial-sized hand sanitizer strapped to his chest.
Other characters include:
To promote physical distancing, the characters have a small roped-off area in front of each stage that they occupy.
Food and a Show
Summer Nights is one part music/dance party and one part food festival. Knott’s would be selling themselves short if they didn’t include a variety of fun food options, and they’re offering a Sampling Card to fulfill your nighttime cravings. Based on previous Summer Nights events, we strongly recommend you pick one of those cards up!
We were able to preview a few of the food items, which have been greatly expanded this year. Now, instead of just a handful of booths, items can be found all over. You’ll find both Summer Nights items and 100th Anniversary items (the Summer Nights items will be available via a special tasting card you can purchase in the park).
Here are a few of our favorite items from the preview event last night:
Breaded Chicken Burger on a Glazed Donut with Cheese and Bacon
The name’s a mouthful (and so is this sandwich), but this was the first item to catch our eye. A fried chicken sandwich where the bun is two glazed donuts? Color us intrigued. Be forewarned, though, this is a sandwich with a lot of different flavors vying for your attention. It’s sweet, slightly spicy, and crunchy all at the same time. It’s the artery clogging sort of delicious.
There are a couple flavors of these available (pictured above is the Mango and Lime Agua Fresca from Boardwalk BBQ). For those not acquainted with Aguas Frescas, they’re essentially cold fruit water. Refreshing and not overly sweet, we found all the ones we tried were good, but the favorite was definitely the Peach and Prickly Pear Agua Fresca with its smooth flavor.
With so many delicious desserts to pick from, we had a hard time choosing just one. So we’re just going to include a few we tried. The biggest of the bunch, the handmade churro stuffed with boysenberry is not to be missed.
That’s not ice cream on the plate, it’s a cone filled with boysenberry cookie dough. Yes, cookie dough! It tastes just like the boysenberry cookies we went crazy for at the Taste of Boysenberry Festival. Finally, the Passion Fruit Macarons were a surprise favorite due to their strong flavor. We recommend picking them up with the boysenberry cookie dough.
Here are a selection of menus we came across to give you a taste of what’s available (scroll through):
Around the park, you’ll find several photo ops drawing on nostalgic attractions of yesteryear. It’s a great way to enjoy some of Knott’s history and make some new memories too.
All of them are based on a beloved former attraction. They’re also quite intricate, much more than just a printed wall.
The Haunted Shack is quite interesting. Firstly because we initially walked past it and had to do a double-take, it fits in Ghost Town so well we almost missed it. The photo op employs a forced perspective trick much like how the original Haunted Shack worked to make people inside look bigger or smaller, depending on where they’re standing.
The original K that sat above the Sky Tower is now on display just outside of Xcelerator. There’s a new K on the tower that’s the focal point of a new nightly lighting ceremony.
Next to the Calico Mine Stage, the fire station has been rethemed as an homage to the original Knott’s Berry Line trolley.
Also, be sure to keep your eyes out for Knott’s newest Walk-Around Character: Whittles!
Whittles is a returning face to the Farm. When he first debuted in the 1970’s he was plastered all over the park’s fliers and became a walk-around character. He was retired from the parks marketing material when the Peanuts Gang took over. That’s in the past, and now he here to stay.
Whittles will be prospecting in Ghost Town on the opposite side of the Wagon Camp.
Celebrating 100 Years
Sky Tower Lighting Ceremony
The K above the Sky Tower got a big upgrade. As a part of the 100th Anniversary, the Sky Cabin becomes a part of a lighting ceremony for the Boardwalk area. It’s a sentimental show with music, a monologue about Knott’s history, and a lighting effects. The best place to watch seems to be right outside the Hang Time entry, as it has synchronized lighting that you can see below.
After the lighting ceremony, the brilliant K stays lit, and spotlights light up the whole park, from Boardwalk to Ghost Town.
All around Knott’s Berry Farm there are decorations full of rustic charm to take in with 100th-anniversary-themed banners, bunting, and of course, plenty of florals. The Knott’s atmosphere is uniquely welcoming right now (especially if you mostly know the park from it’s scarier Halloween version).
Lots of anniversary signage at the entry to the park.
Just inside the turnstiles is a historic new display that sets just the right tone. The windmill has been refurbished, flanked by replicas of the original Berry Stand and an antique truck carrying crates of berries and other fruit.
We’re really impressed by the amount of detail that went into these photo ops, particularly the Berry Stand.
The windmill’s water feature has also been restored, creating a very dynamic picture spot. This was the first time that we’ve seen it working in many years, we’re getting nostalgic just thinking about guests running underneath it, coming out soaked (there’s a fence now to dissuade that).
Throughout the park, 100th Anniversary Signs with Purple and Silver bunting have been draped everywhere.
Each area has its own themed bunting.
Giant boysenberries have cropped up all over the Boardwalk.
Moments in Time
Fancy yourself a Knott’s history buff? Keep an eye out for QR codes labeled “Moments in Time” placed throughout the park. When scanned, a video relating to what’s in front of you will pop up. The first one is at the Charleston Fountain and plays a video intro with the Mayor of Calico.
You could spend quite a bit of time just finding and scanning them all, there are over fifty of them from our count. The videos are actually quite entertaining, we were pleasantly surprised with the quality.
Most are just a few seconds, but some are pretty extensive. We hope Knott’s has a map showing where these all are, or perhaps have some thoughts about how folks can follow along at home. Let us know in the comments if you’d like a map.
Knott’s has released a slew of 100th Anniversary Merchandise. Many of these items can be found at Cordy’s Corner (across from Bear-y Tales), The Factory Store (Bear-y Tales Gift Shop), and at various shops around the park.
Knott’s also put together a 100th Anniversary art gallery. You might recognize many of the artists from previous Knott’s events. There’s a nice variety of pieces.
We’re planning on doing a 100th Anniversary merchandise article to cover it all in detail, so stay tuned for that.
Premiering today, a new Bob Baker Marionette show will debut in Fiesta Village. We’ll be checking this out in an upcoming park update as well since it wasn’t previewed last night, so stay tuned for that as well.
Timber Mountain Log Ride Hootenany
While the 100th Anniversary overlay for Log Ride did debut last year, the park was closed soon afterward. The ride now features a few new figures and an updated soundtrack throughout from Krazy Kirk and the Hillbillies. There’s nothing like hearing Kirk’s eccentric voice singing a reminder to keep your hands and arms inside the log.
Here’s a not-to-miss highlights video of enhancements to the ride and the charming musical score:
A nice little bit of daytime entertainment, KNOT Radio is sticking around. Throughout the day we noticed different versions of the show being played. It’s a great bit of interactive fun on the Boardwalk.
Knott’s Bear-y Tales: Return to the Fair
The star of the 100th Anniversary is the brand-new attraction based on an old classic, Knott’s Bear-y Tales: Return to the Fair. It’s the perfect blend of new and nostalgic, interactive and entertaining, and so much more. This family dark ride/shooter attraction is the perfect addition to your day at Knott’s. The attraction features the Bear-y Family as they get ready to present their Boysenberry pie for the fair. Of course, Crafty Coyote and his pups come in to steal all the pies.
Quick, grab a Berry Blaster and get those pies back from the Coyote Pups!
The best part about Bear-y Tales is that you don’t have to play the game in order to enjoy the ride. Because it has an extensive build-out, it’s just as enjoyable to sit back and take in the scenery as it is to actively stop Coyote Pups from stealing pies. We interviewed Chris Crump (who helped design and build the original Bear-y Tales with his father, Disney Legend Rolly Crump) and the team at Knott’s when we previewed the ride. Give the video below a watch to get a little taste of the new attraction.
And here’s a short highlights video of the ride, including the music. BEWARE: you may not be able to get this song out of your head!
To see more gorgeous photos of Knott’s Bear-y Tales, take a look at our review of the attraction below:
Keep an eye out when you are in the park to see Boysen Bear and a few of the Coyote Pups walking about.
Soak City Returns
On top of all the 100th Anniversary excitement, this weekend is the Season Pass preview of the Soak City Water Park (opening to the public May 29th).
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That’s it for today. There’s so much to see at Knott’s right now, we’ll be back soon with our full review of Summer Nights and the rest of the lineup from Knott’s 100th Anniversary. It was such a great event that even the head of Disney’s Parks & Resorts was there:
One thing is for sure, Knott’s has only gotten better with age. There is so much energy, whimsy, history, food, music and fun at the park right now that we can’t wait to put our annual passes to good use all summer long.
This article was brought to you by Scott Attula & Brian Pinsky, with contributions from Dusty Sage and Nathan Villamor