Knott’s Berry Farm is easily my favorite non-Disney or Universal theme park. A big reason for that is the level of immersion you’ll find in the park’s Ghost Town section, transporting you back to an Old West town complete with a saloon, blacksmith, and stables. 

The nearby Knott’s Berry Farm Hotel is a different sort of blast from the past: a trip back to a crappy 1990s hotel room. 

Given my fondness for Knott’s, I had high hopes for my first stay at its on-site hotel. What I found was an experience that was not worth even the $105 Hotwire Hot Rate deal I snagged for my July 2021 trip. Several weeks after my stay, Cedar Fair announced that the Knott’s hotel would be renovated in 2022, and judging by my stay, it’s long overdue. 

The amenities 

The property at the corner of Grand and Crescent doesn’t look dissimilar to other inexpensive accommodations in the area. Buena Park has a reputation of being much more value-oriented (to be charitable) than the more recently refreshed Anaheim Resort Area near Disneyland, and the Knott’s fits right in with its plain exterior. You could easily mistake it for a Quality Inn if it wasn’t adorned with the Knott’s name. 

Exterior of the Knott’s Berry Farm Hotel (Theme Park Tribune)

Yet that first impression was only confirmed once I got inside. Aside from the lobby area, which looks like the only thing in the hotel which has been renovated since the Clinton administration, everything else was about at the level of a $70 per night hotel. 

Take the pool area. A large concrete slab with too few deck chairs and a charmless splash pad, it looks like something out of a second-rate condo complex rather than a hotel attached to a major theme park. 

Pool area at Knott’s Berry Farm Hotel (Theme Park Tribune)

You won’t find an attached restaurant in most two-star hotels, so Amber Waves could elevate the entire property if it was a quality dining establishment. Unfortunately, my breakfast there was atrocious.

No complaints on the service, but besides a decent boysenberry-flavored coffee (true Knott’s offering right there), the rest of my meal was damn near inedible. 

Food at Amber Waves (Theme Park Tribune)

I would not call this an enjoyable combination: Eggs that tasted like they were out of a can, toast that was both stale and cold, overcooked, dried out bacon, and bland, undercooked hash browns. 

You’d be much better off at Denny’s or IHOP rather than visiting Amber Waves. Offering these amenities technically puts the hotel into a 3-star tier — but what good is that classification when the amenities themselves are so disappointing? 

The room 

Your actual room really completes the hotel’s two-star aesthetic. 

Everything about the space felt cheap, old and rather grimy. Outdated furniture and carpet, a bland, dimly lit bathroom, and an air conditioner that belongs in a trash heap. I go over this in more detail in my room tour, but be warned, I’m not any more positive. 

Proximity isn’t enough of a perk

Knott’s Berry Farm Hotel really only has one thing I can say in its favor: it’s really close to the park. 

A walk from the hotel’s north door to the turnstiles takes just five to six minutes. Being able to grab a Knott’s chicken dinner to eat in your room or just take a midday break from the coasters is a pleasant perk, to be sure.

But proximity can’t be any hotel’s saving grace. The experience inside these walls was so lacking, I could conceive that it’s a conspiracy to trick hotel guests into retreating back inside the park just to get away from this dreadful hotel. In reality, it seems to be the result of putting off needed updates for years. 

I sincerely hope that the renovation coming to the Knott’s Berry Farm Hotel transforms this property into something worthy of the park’s legendary brand. For now, it’s an outdated relic that you should avoid.

Grade: D-

DISCLOSURE: This review is based on my own opinion and perspective. I paid for my own stay at the hotel and was not granted any special access, nor was hotel staff aware that I was conducting a review. 

3 Responses

  1. William

    About your comment regarding Amber Waves restaurant food, we can’t all have extensive pallet like yours. I have eaten there many times and the food was very good. You have a right to your opinion that’s true, but not everyone shares your opinion. Have a nice day.

  2. Paul Singh-S.

    There are a few things that need an upgrade at Knotts Berry Farm besides the hotel which I have recently stayed in and I agree with the article’s review.
    My concern though is I’d like to address the Parks food including the Chicken Dinner Restaurant. Many visitors to the Park for at least the last three decades, since the ’90s, have complained about the quality of the food since Cedar Parks has obtained oversight of running the establishment. The once famed Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner Restaurant is only a shadow of its former self. The once legendary aroma of the chicken was touted to have actually influenced guest activities and scheduling. A person could not pass in front of the restaurant without making an immediate beeline for a seating reservation. At about 4:PM you would have to rush to the restaurant as you would a ride, because there was a line outside that would run for about a hundred feet. These days, I recently have purchased chicken to-go and found myself wanting to throw away some pieces rather than eating them. It was that atrocious! Food in the Park is equally as bad as the food experience inside the hotel. Extremely high priced with lines as long as a ride to obtain it. The end result, a disappointing experience with small portions (in some cases) that cost a small fortune. You would probably be better off waiting to eat until after you leave the Park and visit a McDonald’s across the street. Which just happens to a very good one. Because of their proximity to the Park, McDonald’s probably makes sure that location puts out exceptional quality as to continue to pick up on all of the business that runs off people visiting the amusement park.

  3. CJ Brown

    That was formerly a Radisson Hotel …. a new(er) Radisson Suites Hotel Anaheim – Buena Park was built up the Street at 7762 Beach Blvd, Buena Park, CA 90620.

    I tend to stay at the Courtyard by Marriott Anaheim Buena Park at 7621 Beach Blvd, Buena Park, CA 90620 (next door to it used to be Po’ Folks Restaurant, as well as the Movie Land Wax Museum, but that’s all a vacant lot now). Parking is free.

    Starbucks, Denny’s, CVS, Target, Knott’s are in close proximity (you are a cheap Uber / Lyft distance to all of that if you don’t want to drive your own vehicle).

    Nothing in Buena Park is a 5 Star Disneyland Resort Hotel (anyone’s welcome to pay $300 – $500 a night + pay daily for Parking at Disneyland’s 3 Major On Site Resorts if they want that!)

    There is a Claim Jumper, as well as an Outback Steakhouse, on Beach Blvd (I prefer the Knott’s Chicken Dinner, but it’s nice to know there’s options for dine in, curbside pickup, and delivery).

    I look forward to Knott’s Berry Farm giving it’s Hotel a nice makeover (keeping with an affordable price range – as in $90 – $100 a night vs the $150 – $250 a night you will find along the Katella / Harbor corridor!) I believe if the pandemic hadn’t occurred, this Hotel would have been spruced up by now (fyi we stayed in the Snoopy Rooms before and enjoyed them!) It’s kind of hard for me to fault the pool area at the Hotel with Soak City across the Street (maybe Knott’s will offer a Tram Service to that Water Park, it’s quite the walk).

    Are there worse places along Beach Blvd South towards Lincoln Avenue to get a room? Yes, and you will run the risk of having your car broken into if you go “that cheap”!

    I better get packed and prepped for Knott’s Scary Farm (we have been attending that Halloween Haunt for 40 years!)