I arrived at Long Beach harbor at 7:30 A.M. on September 25, 2009, via a Carnival Cruise vessel and immediately upon leaving the ship I headed for my hotel in Orange County and thence on to Knott's. Since there were only a few cars in the parking lot, I assumed that it was closed, but was pleased to discover that it was up and nearly fully running (its best attraction, the Xcelerator, was closed for maintenance).
I stayed all day until the scheduled closing at 5:30 (early closing due to the annual Halloween Haunt which runs until November) and never waited in line for a single ride. There are five attractions which I consider better thrill rides than ANYTHING Disney can offer at California Adventure: the Silver Bullet, Ghost Rider, Perilous Plunge, Xcelerator, and Supreme Scream.
Ghost Rider is a huge, nearly mile-long wooden roller coaster that is faster and steeper than anything I rode that week-end (I went to California Adventure on Sunday), while the Silver Bullet is an exciting inverted coaster that is the smoothest and quietest I've ever experienced. Supreme Scream is a 300 tower that appears to be twice as high as its California Adventure counterpart and is a MUCH bigger thrill as it drops you earthward in a freefall. The final 115' drop is an unexpectedly scary and exciting end to the Perilous Plunge boat ride.
For my money Knott's is a real bargain, and, while I wouldn't expect it to be as unpopulated every day as it was during September, it is not as crowded as the Disney theme parks. The big advantage that Disney does hold over Knott's is its Fastpass and single-rider offerings that help eliminate long waits in line.
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