Knott’s Berry Farm is known as California’s first theme park. Here are 23 facts about Knott’s Berry Farm that you probably do not know!

1. It Began With a Berry

It Began With a Berry Some guests don’t realize that Knott’s Berry Farm theme park started as a real family farm, owned and operated by Walter Knott and his family. The boysenberry, created by Rudolf Boysen, is a hybrid berry. It is a cross between a blackberry, red raspberry, and a loganberry. When Rudolf Boysen did not find much success in the boysenberry at first and completely forgot he invented it in the first place, he gave the remaining vines to Walter Knott at his request. Walter grew more and began to sell all his berries, including the boysenberry, at a roadside stand in Buena Park. Long story short, the boysenberry eventually became very popular and famous. Today, all boysenberries can be genetically linked back to Knott’s Berry Farm.

2. High School Sweethearts

Walter and Cordelia Knott were high school sweethearts.

3. Cordelia’s Fried Chicken

To help make ends meet, Walter asked Cordelia to begin making her delicious fried chicken and selling that as well. She was not happy about the idea at first because she would have to use her fancy wedding china, but Cordelia did start making fried chicken and serving it to travellers. At first, Cordelia served her fried chicken from the tea room of their home since they couldn’t afford to build a separate dining area yet. Even though their roadside berry stand and fried chicken restaurant were basically in the middle of nowhere, they became a huge tourist destination for those travelling between the Los Angeles and Las Vegas areas, because there were not a lot of other places to stop and eat nearby. Cordelia’s fried chicken saved the farm itself from foreclosure.

4. Artefacts

Today, some artefacts from the original farm and restaurant can be found in the restaurant. Some of these items include Walter’s tiepin, Cordelia’s china, a waiter’s hat, etc.

5. Three Daughters

Walter and Cordelia Knott had one son and three daughters, Russell, Marion, Virginia, and Rachel ‘Toni.’

6. Ghost Town

The themed land of Ghost Town was the first to be built in the park. It was one of the attractions Walter added to the land next to the chicken restaurant to entertain guests while they waited for their food. A lot of the buildings are authentic, transferred from real ghost towns nearby.

7. First Theme Park Attraction

As the chicken restaurant continued to draw bigger and bigger crowds, Walter purchased real volcanic rocks from the Mojave Desert and built a fake yet functional volcano that covered a large, unsightly pipe on the property. It would erupt during certain times of the day to entertain guests waiting to be seated. The volcano was built two years before Walter started building Ghost Town. Many experts believe this volcano was the very first Knott’s Berry Farm attraction. Since it is argued that Knott’s was the first theme park, it can be said that this volcano was the very first theme park attraction in the world. This fact is often contested by historians since this can be seen as a bit of a ‘grey area.’

8. Jail Cell

Check out the jail cell next to the Sheriff’s Office to meet prisoner Sad Eye Joe. He’s been locked up for almost a century, he holds the record for longest incarceration in Orange County, CA.

9. Independence Hall

Independence Hall in Philadelphia is the location where both the United States Constitution and Declaration of Independence were signed. As a tribute to his country, Walter Knott built an exact replica of Independence Hall. It is located across the street from Knott’s Berry Farm Park.

10.  Catawampus

Fans of the park know of the famous wooden catawampus creature. The catawampus formally resided at the end of Ghost Town’s Main Street under the windmill. However, it disappeared during the summer of 2017. Ghost Town residents, employees, and guests alike were mighty concerned about the whereabouts of the catawampus after its disappearance. A special memo was sent out requesting that those with information about the catawampus or those who may have seen signs of it around Knott’s should report it to the Calico Town Hall in Ghost Town. All summer, guests had reported sightings of a very small catawampus showing up in different locations all week. Finally, on September 4, 2017, the mystery of the missing catawampus was solved! The famous catawampus of Ghost Town returned to the end of Main Street, but she wasn’t alone. The catawampus had her newborn wooden baby with her!

11. Calico Saloon Seating

If the Calico Saloon in the park seems too crowded, check upstairs. There is additional seating that is not very well known, and therefore less crowded.

12. Earthquake-proof

For the safety of guests and employees, the structures and rides at Knott’s Berry Farm are earthquake-proof, since California gets more earthquakes than most other locations.

13. Snoopy

In the early 1980s, Knott’s Berry Farm needed a new mascot. They asked Charles Schulz for permission to use the Peanuts characters. Knott’s executive’s pitch to Charles Schulz included an idea to have Snoopy performing on ice. Schulz lit up at the idea and asked, “Do you think my daughter could play Snoopy?” Knott’s executives were extremely excited, knowing they had Charles Schulz’s approval.

14. Corkscrew

The former ride Corkscrew was the first roller coaster ever to go upside down, and it went upside down twice! It was also the first roller coaster with a corkscrew inversion in the world and therefore coined the still popular phrase and usage of the “corkscrew” in the roller coaster industry.

15. Hallowed Ground

HangTime now resides where Corkscrew and Boomerang once were, a location considered by coaster heads and historians to be ‘hallowed ground’ because of the rich roller-coaster history. The ride is called HangTime because riders feel like they are floating.

16. E. Coli

Montezuma was the Emperor of Mexico in the 1500s. His people, as they tried to conquer the Aztecs, became extremely ill with what is modernly believed to be E. Coli. Today, the phrase is used to describe somebody who is suffering from major stomach issues, specifically while travelling.

17. High Speed Coaster

The Xcelerator train speeds to its top speed of 82 miles per hour in only 2.3 seconds.

18. Cedar Fair

The roller coaster, Ghost Rider, was the last ride the Knott’s family helped work on before selling the company to Cedar Fair.

19. Free-spinning cars

Sierra Sidewinder is the first-ever roller coaster to feature several free-spinning cars on one train.

20. Roadside Stand

The original Knott’s Berry roadside stand used to be on display in the front of the park. The stand was removed to make room for Silver Bullet, much to the dismay of Knott’s family fans and historians. Luckily, some boysenberries still grow underneath the Silver Bullet roller coaster.

21. A New Idea

In 1972, Bill Hollingstead—head of Entertainment at Knott’s Berry Farm—pitched a brand new idea to the Knott family. He proposed that since Knott’s had a big theatre, they should have Sinister Seymour (local horror movie TV host at the time played by Larry Vincent) host a huge Halloween event. Along with Seymour’s show would be a park-wide Halloween party. Normally, the entire family was in charge of making business decisions like this. The family was completely against having a Halloween party event at the parks. However, Walter Knott fell in love with the idea. Long story short: in a once-in-a-lifetime event, Walter Knott overruled his family’s vote and green-lit the idea for a huge Halloween event. Good thing he did. Knott’s Scary Farm is the highest revenue-generating special ticket theme park event in the entire world!

22. Sinister Seymour

Booking Sinister Seymour in the John Wayne theatre for the month of October 1973 opened the door to a whole new, rare opportunity for Knott’s Berry Farm. Excited Knott’s workers started brainstorming about what they could do around the park to go along with Seymour’s show. This was the birth of the first-ever Halloween Haunt at a theme park. Word got out about the Halloween event with Seymour’s performance. On the first night of the event, Knott’s employees were shocked to see how many people showed up. The attendance was so high that they had to start turning people away and shut down the ticket booths. By the next year, the event was sold out nightly. Seymour was scheduled to return, but the actor who played Seymour, Larry Vincent, was diagnosed with cancer. His agent contacted Knott’s Berry Farm explaining that he probably would not be able to make it that year. Nonetheless, Larry claimed to have had so much fun the first year at Knott’s Halloween Haunt that he pushed through his treatments and illness. Many even believe his show at Knott’s helped him cope and look forward to something outside the hospital. Larry’s agent picked him up from the hospital the very day he was supposed to perform at the park. They went straight to Knott’s where Seymour performed another season’s worth of practically perfect shows. Many of the audience members had no idea Larry Vincent was even sick because he performed so well. He received roaring standing ovations every night after his performances. Unfortunately, Larry Vincent died in March 1974 of his cancer at the age of 50. His final performance at Knott’s was his last performance ever. His family and friends were happy to see how much performing at Knott’s helped his spirits in his final months.

23. The Green Witch

Charlene Parker has played the Green Witch since 1982. Parker currently holds the record for the person who has played the same monster the longest at Knott’s Scary Farm.

Were there any of these facts about Knott’s Berry Farm that you already knew?! If so, you must be a pro!