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Disneyland vs Knott’s Berry Farm ~ Which Is Best for Your Family?

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Disneyland vs Knott's Berry Farm? With so much to do in Southern California, travelers need to choose wisely when planning their vacation days. Here’s a look at the differences between these two theme parks so you can choose the best one for your brood.

Find Disneyland Resort deals including ticket discounts and discounted hotel packages!  Save up to $22 per ticket when you buy discount Knott's Berry Farm tickets here.

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

Rides for Little Kids

Both Disneyland and Knott's Berry Farm offer an abundance of rides suited to all levels. Camp Snoopy at Knott's Berry Farm boasts 14 rides for wee ones, like Charlie Brown's Kite Flyer swings, Timberline Twister kiddie coaster, and Flying Ace airplanes.

Little kids will enjoy the 14 rides just for them in Camp Snoopy, including these Flying Ace airplanes ~ Disneyland vs Knott's Berry Farm

Little kids will enjoy the 14 rides just for them in Camp Snoopy, including these Flying Ace airplanes (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin

Meanwhile Disneyland's offerings for young children include the rides and attractions in Fantasyland and Mickey’s Toontown. Plus, little ones love A Bug’s Land's three sweet rides in Disney California Adventure. Additionally, there are rides suited for parents to ride with their young children throughout both Disney parks, like the old school Jungle Cruise and Mickey's Fun Wheel (Ferris wheel) along the Paradise Pier in DCA. (See our picks for the best Disneyland rides and attractions for babies and toddlers.)

Mickey's Fun Wheel appeals to all ages, while California Screamin' is for older, more adventurous riders ~ Disneyland vs. Knott's Berry Farm

Mickey's Fun Wheel appeals to all ages, while California Screamin' is for older, more adventurous riders (Photo credit: Paul Hiffmeyer, Disney)

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 California Screamin', which tops out at a zippy 55 miles per hour. The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror was always sure to elicit screams and has remained just as thrilling for park goers 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, be sure to read our picks for the scariest rides at Disneyland.

Appearances by the Abominable Snowman are part of the fun on Disney's Matterhorn Bobsleds ~ Disneyland vs Knott's Berry Farm

Appearances by the Abominable Snowman are part of the fun 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 nine coasters in total, including Xcelerator, which reaches a rip-roaring 82 miles per hour!

Xcelerator is the fastest ride at Knott's Berry Farm ~Disneyland vs Knott's Berry Farm

Xcelerator is the fastest ride at Knott's Berry Farm (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Dining Options

When comparing Disneyland vs Knott's Berry Farm, 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 or funnel cake sundae or a boysenberry soft serve cone.

full chicken dinner

The portions are large and worth sharing at 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 ~ Disneyland vs Knott's Berry Farm

Be sure to make reservations in advance if you want to dine at the swish 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. 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 RestaurantCharacter 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 at Ariel’s Grotto with all the Disney princesses in attendance. (Discover which Disney character meal is best for your family.)

It's a good idea to book any sit-down Disney meals in advance. Reservations are accepted up to 90 days in advance. Book your character meal now and save up to $11 per adult meal and up to $5 per child meal.

Breakfast in the Park with Minnie and Friends at Disneyland ~ Disneyland vs Knott's Berry Farm

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.

Get a feel for the Wild West with a Stagecoach ride at Knott's Berry Farm ~ Disneyland vs Knott's Berry Farm

Get a feel for the Wild West with a 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 school house. 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 ~ Disneyland vs 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 their 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 ~ Disneyland vs Knott's Berry Farm

Disneyland goes all out when it comes to live entertainment, like in 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

Save Money on Your Disneyland Vacation

Want to save money on your Disneyland vacation? Of course you do! Use discount code TravelMamas to get $10 off any two-night or longer Southern California package (hotel and two ticket minimum) when you book through Get Away Today. Just want tickets? Buy discounted Disneyland Park tickets now!

Consider booking a character meal to add even more magic to your visit. Read our Disneyland character meal reviews to choose the best one for your family.

Save Money on Knott's Berry Farm Tickets

Save up to $22 per ticket when you buy discount Knott's Berry Farm tickets here.

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. 

About Jody Robbins, The Saucy Travel Mama

After a career in international marketing and a few years spent living the high life as an expat, Jody now resides with her family in Calgary, Canada. Figuring travel writing was a good way to combine her wanderlust and parental duties, she’s spent the past few years working with both print and online media, contributing to the Calgary Herald Travel and Real Life sections and blogging about her adventures at Travels with Baggage ( When not circling the globe with her precocious children (one daughter, one husband, one dog), she can usually be found snowboarding or pretending to enjoy hiking. Find Jody on Twitter at @Jody_Robbins.

  1. Whitney- Disney tips and trips says

    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!

    • Colleen Lanin says

      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.

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

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

  3. Karen Kayalo says

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

  4. SoCal Resident says

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

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      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!

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      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!

    • Saucy Travel Mama says

      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.

  8. Mandee Suchland says

    I have never heard of Knott’s Berry Farm but it sounds like a great place for the family! It seems like it would be hard to decide who was best because they both sound awesome!

    • Saucy Travel Mama says

      So interesting you’ve never heard of Knotts Berry Farm. I wonder if they pulled back their marketing to certain states?

  9. Toni | Boulder Locavore says

    We’ve never been to Knott’s Berry Farm but it sounds amazing! I bet my kids will say Disneyland but I am sure they’ll enjoy Knott’s too! 😀

  10. Amanda Love says

    I have always loved Disney and it’s a huge part of our lives. I would definitely not miss it for the world but it’s nice to go to other attractions as well.

  11. Veronica Solomon says

    I am not sure! Haha. Mt kids would probably go for Disney

  12. valmg @ Mom Knows It All says

    I come from a family of big Disney fans. My Mom has been to both Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm. I haven’t, so ideally I’d like to check out both.

  13. Our Family World says

    This is a really helpful post for planning a vacation for the family. I think both parks offer unique experiences and if the finances would permit, I would visit both if I get to SoCal. Why not maximize the time you are there and visit both Knotts Berry Farm and Disneyland! That would be awesome!

  14. Liz Mays says

    This is a super helpful comparison. I wouldn’t mind checking out both parks at some point. I’ve been meaning to check out some of the Disneyland rides though.

  15. I would love to go to either park with my tween and teen but Knotts seems like a better choice for the older kids. I am not in California but I will keep the dining choice in mind in case we go

  16. Pam Wattenbarger says

    I think Knott’s Berry Farm would suit our family best. We have some serious thrill-seekers in the family.

  17. I have been to Disneyland but not Knott’s Berry Farm. I think my boys would enjoy both, but probably Disneyland a bit more since their favorite characters “live” there!

    • Saucy Travel Mama says

      Well if you can swing it, it’s worth visiting both. I was surprised how much my daughter loved Knotts. I think it was her favourite.

  18. Rach Ferrucci says

    I went to both places when I was very young and haven’t been back. I look forward to going again and bringing my grandchildren!

    • Saucy Travel Mama says

      Capital idea!

      • Thankfully I’ve been able to go to all the theme parks here in Cali. From Disney to Univelrsal Studios. I think everyone should try every theme park at least once. 🙂

        • Colleen Lanin says

          There are so many fun theme parks in California! You’re so lucky to have gotten a chance to experience them all!

  19. Knott’s Berry has always been a place I’ve wanted to go see. It’s nice to see the inside look of it you’ve given here.

  20. Saucy Travel Mama says

    Thanks for taking the time to comment. Hope you have the time to make it to both on your next visit.

  21. Vera Sweeney says

    We’ve passed over Knott’s Berry Farms in favor of Disney before, but only because we really had no idea what it had to offer. Thanks so much for giving us a post with all the goods on both!

  22. Stacie @ Divine Lifestyle says

    We’ve never been to Knott’s Berry Farm, but we’ve been talking about it. This couldn’t have come at a better time for us. We’ve been weighing the pros and cons of trying a new park. Thanks!

  23. robin Rue says

    I’ve never been to Knott’s Berry Farm, but we are Disney people all the way, so we would never go to Cali and NOT go to Disneyland 🙂

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