Knott’s Berry Farm vs. Disneyland (Which is Best?)

With so much to do in Southern California, travelers need to choose wisely when planning their vacation days. Here’s a look at Knott’s Berry Farm vs. Disneyland so you can choose the best theme park for your family. This detailed guide compares roller coasters, rides for young children, themed areas, live shows, and more!

Little kids will enjoy the 14 rides just for them in Camp Snoopy, including these Flying Ace airplanes ~ Disneyland vs Knott's Berry Farm
Flying Ace airplanes at Camp Snoopy (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

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Rides for Little Kids

Located just 7 miles apart in Orange County, Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm offer an abundance of rides suited to all levels.

Camp Snoopy at Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park boasts 14 rides for wee ones, like Charlie Brown’s Kite Flyer swings, Timberline Twister kiddie coaster, and Flying Ace airplanes.

Meanwhile, Disneyland’s offerings for young children in Anaheim include the rides and attractions in Fantasyland and Mickey’s Toontown. Additionally, there are rides suited for parents to ride with their young children throughout both Disney parks, like the old-school Jungle Cruise. See our picks for the best Disneyland rides and attractions for babies and toddlers.

Jungle Cruise at Disneyland
Jungle Cruise at Disneyland (Photo credit: Disneyland)

Rides for Tweens and Teens

Teens, like my daughter, may not get all that excited about seeing Mickey Mouse or getting their photo taken with Snow White. But Disney California Adventure Park does offer Incredicoaster, which tops out at a zippy 55 miles per hour. And, the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror was always sure to elicit screams and has remained just as thrilling for parkgoers now that it has re-opened as Guardians of the Galaxy.

The roller coasters at Disneyland proper are more about theming than sheer speed. But Space Mountain, the Matterhorn Bobsleds, and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad remain hits. If thrills are what you’re after, then be sure to read our picks for the scariest rides at Disneyland.

The Abominable Snowman on Disney's Matterhorn Bobsleds
The Abominable Snowman on Disney’s Matterhorn Bobsleds (Photo credit: Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland Resort)

Whereas Disney’s focus is on themed attractions and characters, Knott’s Berry Farm is more about carnival rides and games. The theme park does offer live entertainment, mostly starring Peanuts characters (Snoopy and Friends) and Old West characters.

The big hit for adventure seekers, though, are the plentiful thrill rides at Knott’s Berry Farm. There are several roller coasters, including Xcelerator, which reaches a rip-roaring 82 miles per hour!

Xcelerator roller coaster at Knott's Berry Farm
Xcelerator at Knott’s Berry Farm (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Dining Options

When comparing Knott’s Berry Farm vs. Disneyland, both parks offer the usual carnie-type food. There are several differences, however, that set the parks apart.

Knott’s, being a smaller park, offers simple fare once you’re in the gates. The offerings are predictable, but the carne asada is worth the calories (found in Fiesta Village). It features fries topped with shredded beef, sour cream, and guacamole. For sweets, consider the churro, funnel cake sundae, or a boysenberry soft serve cone.

Mrs. Knott's Chicken Dinner Restaurant
Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner Restaurant (Photo credit Jody Robbins)

The best dining option at Knott’s, however, is found outside the park gates in the California Marketplace at Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner Restaurant. Here you can tuck into their famous full chicken dinner.

It’s comprised of four pieces of fried chicken, mashed potatoes, salad, hot biscuits and jam, plus pie! You also get a choice of either chicken noodle soup or stewed cherry rhubarb, plus cabbage or corn. Our family of three split this entree and had enough leftovers to take home!

Read reviews and make reservations at Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner Restaurant now.

Carthay Circle Restaurant at Disney California Adventure Park
Carthay Circle Restaurant at Disney California Adventure Park (Photo credit: Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland Resort)

Disneyland does dining well with several restaurants, carts, and takeaway stands. It’s a good idea to book any sit-down Disney meals in advance. Reservations are accepted up to 90 days in advance.

Interestingly, no alcohol is served at Disneyland but you can find it in California Adventure Park and in Downtown Disney. Foodies do well dining at California Adventure Park, with a few sit-down dining options including the swanky Carthay Circle Restaurant

Character dining is one of the biggest Disney draws and shouldn’t be ignored. During my daughter’s princess phase, the highlight of her year was lunch with Disney princesses and other characters. Discover which Disney character meal is best for your family.

Breakfast in the Park with Minnie and Friends at Disneyland
Breakfast in the Park with Minnie and Friends at Disneyland (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Visitor Experience

It’s tough to compare apples to oranges, or Mickey to Snoopy, as the case may be. My family recently visited Knott’s Berry Farm on a sunny weekend and I wouldn’t describe it as crowded. Then we hit Disneyland on a rainy weekday and it was packed.

To do Disney properly, you need to budget at least three days. (We only had one). Meanwhile, Knott’s Berry Farm can be fully experienced in a day.

Stagecoach ride at Knott's Berry Farm
Stagecoach ride at Knott’s Berry Farm (Photo credit: Visit Anaheim)

Knott’s Berry Farm is a lovely theme park with a fun historical village called Ghost Town that features old-time shops, artisans making crafts, and a real one-room schoolhouse. Knott’s is more affordably priced than Disney and if rides are what you’re after, you’ll find plenty of them at all thrill levels.

This one-room schoolhouse was built in Kansas in 1879 and brought to Knott's Berry Farm
This one-room schoolhouse was built in Kansas in 1879 and brought to Knott’s Berry Farm (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Disneyland takes it up a notch with daily parades, nightly fireworks, princess makeovers, and an arsenal of characters roaming through the parks to interact with guests. Plus, Disney’s live entertainment is top-notch. California Adventure’s Frozen Live at the Hyperion will impress even the most critical Broadway theatre fans.

Mickey's Soundsational Parade at Disneyland
\Mickey’s Soundsational Parade (Photo credit: Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland Resort)

Disneyland vs. Knott’s Berry Farm: The Verdict

I had such fond memories of visiting Knott’s Berry Farm amusement park as a child that I wanted to recreate the experience for my daughter. For our family, it was well worth visiting both. It’s not that one is any better than the other. They’re each special in their own way and worthy of a visit when touring SoCal. 

Book Your Disneyland Trip

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Disneyland vs. Knott's Berry Farm ~ Which is best for your family?

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A Note from The Saucy Travel Mama: Thank you to Visit Anaheim and Visit California for hosting my trip. As always, my opinions are my own. 

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  1. I was not a huge fan of Knotts Berry, it is really fun but there’s nothing like Disney! My 12-year-old son loved it because he likes the more thrilling rides and my 13-year-old daughter really likes Disney more. When we went last October to Knotts and Disney, I will tell you there was no one at Knotts! The lines were maybe a 10-minute wait for more of the rides! That part was fantastic compared to Disneys 45+ minutes per ride! Thanks for the great read!

    1. Thanks for the Knott’s feedback and tips, Whitney! Disney really does that magic factor but, as you said, thrill seekers love the scarier rides at Knott’s. Something for everyone!

  2. My love for Snoopy and the Peanuts Gang is eternal, I took my family there a few years ago and it was awesome. Loved having a Snoopy themed room and having Snoopy tuck the kids in every night. Disney is cool, but Snoopy and Knots are the best.

    1. How wonderful to get to share your love of Snoopy & the Peanuts Gang at Knott’s Berry Farm with your kids!

  3. My kids are older. This is their first Disney experience. (Disneyland) Does anyone know what we should not miss there?

    1. Hi Karen – How exciting that your kids will get to experience Disneyland for the first time! Since they are older, I suggest checking out our list of the Scariest Rides at Disneyland: (whether they want to ride ’em or avoid ’em!). Even big kids enjoy character meals, so be sure to take a look at our round-up of every character meal at Disneyland to help you choose which one to book: I hope that helps! Have WONDERFUL time at Disneyland!

  4. At least 1/3rd the price and crowds, the locals know Knotts is by far a better entertainment value for your dollar than Disneyland.

    1. Great to get a SoCal resident’s perspective on the two theme parks. Thanks for weighing in!

  5. Thank you for this our Daughters High school seniors are planning a trip in may 2018. They choose this because they don’t want the kids overnight in hotels (only on bus) so they can drive all day night, start early do all day get back on bus and head back. Coming from a small town in middle of nowhere USA it will still be a thrill for them! Nice write up on contrast between the two!

    1. Oh wow, Tina! Are they doing both parks in one day?! That will be a busy and fun day for the kids. I remember a similar trip to Disneyland from Arizona on a bus during middle school and had and incredible time!

  6. We are headed to Cali next week, so this is areat info! Hope we will make it to Disney while we are there!

  7. We’ve never been to either which is ok with me. Having so many kids the thought of these places while so much fun gives me such anxiety. Maybe when they are older it would be tons of fun!

    1. It can be tough travelling with kids especially with so many busy attractions. Colleen (Chief Travel Mama) wrote The Travel Mamas Guide, which you may want to check out. It’s got some really good tips on how to manage it all.