Yesterday, I shared about using our Season Passes at Six Flags for Spring Break. Without the kids knowing, I planned a stop at Knott’s Berry Farm that extended our trip another day. You can read Part 1 about our budget here, and Part 2 about the first half of our trip here.
Keeping a Secret
I have a hard time keeping surprises from the kids. I like to get them involved in the planning and hype them up for a trip rather than spring something on them. However, this time, I kept the Knott’s Berry Farm portion of our trip a complete surprise. They knew I had gone on my conference trip and were insanely jealous. “We’ve NEVER been to Knott’s Berry Farm! That’s not fair!” I had even considered skipping the park during my conference and saving my ticket to bring them during this trip, but I didn’t need to since I was gifted tickets for the three of us to go!
Changing Up the Schedule
While we were getting ready in the morning, I happened to check Knott’s Berry Farm’s schedule one more time. Turns out, they are more responsive to changes in crowd levels, and had extended their hours from closing at 6:00pm to now closing at 8:00pm. It wasn’t that big of a difference, but enough that I didn’t now want to make the drive back to Phoenix after a full day at the park.
Hyatt to the Rescue
I turned to Hyatt first, knowing that we have points easily accessible, and I had a free night newly deposited in my account from my Chase Hyatt Visa that I could use at a category 1-4 hotel. It looked like the Hyatt in Palm Springs at a category 3 was going to be our best bet to break up the drive. I hated to use my free night so early in the year, but with the Brand Explorer, I had another free night replace the one I just used since the Hyatt was our fifth brand.
I didn’t need to worry about the kids noticing that we were going a different way because they don’t pay attention to things like that while we are driving. As a matter of fact, when I exited the freeway at the Knott’s Berry Farm turn-off, they didn’t even look up from their iPads. Once I turned into the park’s lane, Maggie noticed we were going way too slow and happened to look up to see if we were getting gas or something. It was after we had passed the sign for the park’s entrance, so it still took another minute or two for them to figure out what was going on. It was indeed a fun way to surprise them!
Battling Crowds of Teenagers
Unfortunately, we had picked a day when busloads of teenagers had descended on the park. It was Physics Day, so the kids were supposed to be studying the physics of the rides, but mostly they were just getting in line ahead of us, both on rides and at the food stands. We even had a couple of incidents where kids would wave their friends to the front with them! All day I was hoping they would have to get back on their buses to go home, but most of them stayed at least through 6:00pm.
Apparently, Knott’s was taken over by Cedar Fair in 1997. This has raised the bar on the rides, and Knott’s has more than a few doozies. Maggie tried the Sierra Sidewinder when we arrived, and we all got a chance to ride GhostRider before we left. We also rode Supreme Scream, which has a drop of 252 feet. A quick Google search informed me that the drop ride at Six Flags is 400 feet, the second tallest in the world! We rode the Coast Rider a couple of times, and Jaguar a couple of times, both after 6:00pm when the teenagers had mostly left the park. In between, we rode the stagecoach and trains in Ghost Town as well as the log ride, which zipped along much faster than any log ride I’ve been on!
The kids loved the theming of Ghost Town, and wanted to spend more time there than anywhere else in the park. Cowboys roam the town and board the train, causing mayhem and mischief wherever they go. There’s a strange and mystical Native American storytelling at Mystery Lodge, an Old West style show at the Calico Saloon, and a Native American hoop dance in the courtyard.
While we didn’t have to strategize our food like at Six Flags, it was still a bone of contention due to the astronomical cost since we didn’t have a meal plan or discounted gift cards like at Disneyland. Plus, Maggie wanted different food than Carter and I, and the teenagers all seemed to want to eat at the same time that we did. So we stood in two different lines in two different parts of the park, behind countless kids with meal vouchers in hand. By the time we had finished eating, the place had cleared out. We really should have waited an hour for the crowds to filter out first! We also stopped by the Knott’s Hotel restaurant on our way out to have a plate of nachos. This was not our most economical meal like at Royal Pacific because we also bought drinks and had to add a tip.
Empty Parking Lot
By the time we exited the hotel to head to the parking lot, it was almost completely empty. This reminded me of a trip to the LA Zoo when the kids were toddlers. Maggie didn’t want to leave and was slow-walking it to the exit. We had hit the bathroom twice and had finally made it out to the parking lot. Our car was one of the last there. At least it’s not hard to find your car when you are the last one out!
Hyatt Palm Springs
We didn’t make it to our hotel until 11:00pm. It actually worked out better because one thing I don’t like about full service hotels is that you have to tip the bellhop to take your bags to your room. Since it was so late, the valet let us use a cart and the desk clerk directed us to street parking. More money saved all around! The room was laid out like an Embassy Suites, with a living area as you come in, bathroom in the middle, and then the bedroom at the far end. This would make a great hotel for a family getaway with enough space for everyone to spread out.
Hanging at the Pool
After eating leftovers and snacks for breakfast and then securing a late checkout with my Explorist status, we headed down to the pool area. They had a hot tub for me, heated pool for the kids, and other fun activities, including a giant chess game, and ping pong. We played and relaxed until we decided to hit the road, pulling into town in the early evening. It was a relaxing end to a great trip!