7675 Crescent Ave, Buena Park, CA 90620
I am ashamed to admit this but after living in Southern California all my life I've never been to the Knotts Berry Farm Theme Park. Maybe that will change. But I have been to the Knotts Berry Farm Hotel a couple of times. I do really like it for what it is, and will spell out very clearly what it's not.
What Knotts Berry Farm Hotel is not
Knotts Berry Farm Hotel is most certainly not Disneyland, nor the Disney Resort. In the big scheme of things the Disney Resort is mega huge. They have money to burn and enough staff to handle any problem. The maintenance on the park and resort is enormous. It's more like a five star hotel. And Knotts Berry Farm Hotel is more like any other hotel which is how I plan to evaluate it. There is a reason why which I will explain. But the bottom line is that the only fair comparisons between the Disneyland Hotel and Knotts is that they are both next to major theme parks.
A brief history of Knott's Berry Farm
You don't see them as much in Southern California anymore but roadside fruit stands are very common in Northern California. The Knotts family started off selling berries at their roadside stand which was on SR 39 (Beach Blvd). This started in the 1920's and in the 1930s they expanded their business to selling fried chicken. They set up a special restaurant called "Mrs Knott's Chicken Dinner Restaurant." This was the real attraction, not the berries. Soon people came and long lines formed, and they had to think of some way to keep people entertained while waiting for dinner. In the 1940s they started making a replica ghost town on the property. By 1968 they went big time with the attractions, charging a quarter admission. Today Knotts Berry Farm is North America's 14th most visited theme park. It had 3.5 million visitors in 2012.
The History of the Knotts Berry Farm Hotel- Here's another comparison between the Disneyland Hotel and the Knotts Berry Farm Hotel, they were both acquired. As a kid I used to watch the Monorail ride over to the Disneyland Hotel never knowing that the hotel wasn't owned by Disney. That hotel was opened in 1955 by Jack Wrather. It was only acquired by Disney in 1984. By this point the Disneyland was open for nearly 30 years.
The Knotts Berry Farm Hotel has a different story. It was known as "The Buena Park Hotel." It was purchased by the owners of Knotts (Cedar Fairi) bought the Buena Park Hotel and converted it into a Radisson Resort Hotel. In 2004 it made the transition to "Knotts Berry Farm Hotel." The thing about hotels is that they are highly profitable. I am thinking the hotel will actually get larger over time.
Something that Disneyland doesn't have- To be fair Disneyland does have a church, or at least a model of one. It's in Storybook Land. An ideal place to get married if you're Stuart Little. Not so ideal if you're above a foot tall. Yet Knotts Berry Farm does have a church. The Church of Reflections. The church is in the back parking lot of Soak City and is proud to boast of being one of the oldest churches in Orange County. It's non denominational, it holds services every Sunday morning and yes, they do weddings at this church.
What type of couple would like this place?
Knotts Berry Farm seems to be very flexible. They will rent the church out only or the gazebo in the courtyard. When it comes to the reception room it's part of a package which includes: Linens, the reception room rental, champagne or cider for toasts, a wedding cake, mirror with candle center pieces, guest room for bridal couple, and special rates for wedding guests to stay at the hotel. They boast of having "packages that fit every budget." All the basics can be upgraded.
I am of the feeling that this is a scenario that would appeal to many brides. There are some brides who get caught up in color themes and love the intimate details of planning a wedding. But they are a bit more rare these days. I'm finding more brides who want fast, easy decisions and Knotts provides it. The problem with these nearly "all inclusive" packages is that they are often cheesy looking. I have to say that the room and service at Knotss is better than what you would expect from an all inclusive offer.
Knotts is of course situated in Buena Park. The good thing about Buena Park is that it very centrally located. If you're friends and family cover a wide area, from South Orange County to the San Fernando Valley all the way deep into the IE this is a place they all can get to enjoy your wedding and dive home. You can also make it most of San Diego in 90 minutes.
Buena Park isn't upscale however. When I interviewed the Aida Holmes, the director of catering I wanted to know more about the addition and deletion of The Raddison name She said that the hotel needed to be competitive with other venues in the the area and that the Raddision name didn't change this fact.
I found the photographic potential around the Church of Reflections to be very nice. It had greenery. You can also go into the back gate of soak city and take a few pics around the small lake.
The photographic potential around the grounds of Hotel itself was okay. It's actually a lot of concrete but there is come greenery. I love the staircase and the drapes in the reception room.
From what I can tell you from 17+ years of wedding photography experience I find that there is plenty to work with at this venue, but you have to search for it. This may prove to be a struggle for newer wedding photographers.
Possible Distractions/ Work Arounds
Buena Park can get warm in the summer and there is no ocean breeze to speak of that makes it this far inland. The grounds also can get full of people making wedding photography a tad bit more difficult in the summer months. The church of Reflections is nicely isolated so you won't have to struggle at all with people wandering through your shots like you would at the hotel.
The Church of the Reflections is not on the same grounds, nor same side of the street as the hotel. You will need to drive over to it. You also go through a massive Soak City parking lot to get to it. Getting back to the hotel is easy, it's all right turns out of the parking lot.
Overall I really like Knotts Berry Farm Hotel as a wedding venue. I think it fits perfectly with the newer generation bride. If you're planning your wedding in a short time frame or you just don't care to make a lot of decisions this is an excellent choice for you.
When I was writing this review I told my dad about it, and he told me that driving to Buena Park from West LA to have the Chicken dinners was something his family did fairly often. He said it was a nice 3 hour drive into the country side from Los Angeles. My how things have changed!
I've done some research into Cedar Fair. Honestly I'm intrigued by the amount of property Soak City takes up. The new CEO of Cedar Fair is Dick Kinzel, who had a 17 year career with Disney Including being the CEO of the Disneyland Resort. They own a hell of a lot of land in Buena Park and I am going on the record to say that I feel that within the next ten years you'll see Knotts Berry Farm turn into the Knotts Resort.
I am excited about Knotts Berry Farm because I see it's potential. It went from a roadside stand, to a restaurant to a theme park, to one of the largest theme parks in a fairly short period of time. The next logical step is for it to become a resort. There will be a lot of fine tuning that occurs and upgrades in standards. I'm thinking that in the future Knotts will have more in common with Disneyland than Magic Mountain. Currently it's about providing maximum entertainment value. Bang for your wedding buck is what Knotts offers today. The last bride who had her wedding at Knotts loved it and suggests it to people getting married.
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