Knott’s Berry Farm Photo Walk (and park allergy info!)

Last weekend I was invited to do a photo walk at Knott’s Berry Farm before the park opened.  It was a total ghost town (ha!).  I learned a few things.  A).  I am a total nerd for Knott’s.  B).  I am seriously lacking in camera and photo editing skills.  And last but not least C).  When I get around legit photographers, I go weak in the knees and feel super out-of-place.  Which posed a bit of a problem since that is who was on the tour – some fantastic photographers from in and around Orange County.  And me.  If you want to check out other media posts look for the #KnottsPhotos.

Fortunately for me I carpooled with Angry Julie who had me laughing on the car ride over and loosened me up a little bit.  First course of business was a delicious breakfast of housemade treats straight out of the GhostTown Bakery.

We met up with Dez and Tam (whom? who? I love!!)  Although I was really starting to feel like a total novice seeing all these ridiculous cameras start showing up.  But I wanted to really make it a learning experience for myself, so I asked questions, had Desi check my camera settings and tried to watch how they went about the photo walk.  I really like to challenge myself and I was really unsure how this day was going to go.  It was very grey and dreary and I had no idea what that would do to lighting.  And I was sure that none of my indoor shots were going to come out because they never have in the past and I had little control over lighting. Debbie Downer, right?

I came home and was delighted to find quite a few shots that I really liked.  And then I was faced with a new challenge, photo editing.  I have no idea what I am doing!!!  I didn’t want to dress them in up in pre-made photo shop actions so for the most part, I left them as is.  I think what I will do is try to learn a bit more about it and then go back and play with the photos some more.  I think it would be interesting to see how it changes the feel of the photos.  But not this week.  It’s spring break, yo!

So Negative Nelly will go away now and I will tell you about the day.  It was freaking awesome!  Aside from maintenance workers and a few early bird employees, we were the only people in the park.  Knott’s had set up tours for us to take, in small groups, to really get a behind the scenes look at everything.  It was a ridiculous opportunity and I am so grateful to get to take part in it!

First we toured the kitchen!  YUM!  We saw how the boysenberry pies are made (but I didn’t get a good photo of it. :(  This was the first stop of the day so I was still figuring stuff out).  Then we checked out where they decorate all the cakes, etc.  Did you know that you can order custom cakes and come and pick them up for your parties????  I had NO idea!  My mother in law said she has done it which makes sense since they are Buena Park residents.

Question for any photographers reading this (Desi, this is probably you) why is there so much noise in the photos above?  Does that happen when I play with the levels and brightness?  Lame. In this part of the kitchen we were handed boysenberry turnovers straight out of the oven.  I immediately began scoping out hiding places so that I could just move in to the kitchen.  I know my family would miss me but at that moment my natural reaction was, “have to live here.”  Bobby Obezo, Executive Chef, was on hand to answer any questions.  I took the opportunity to ask him about food allergies and park dining.  I had tried to find info on past visits but never felt truly comfortable with the information or delivery of the information (if you are a mom of a food allergic kid, you know that the delivery of information can some time be the exact opposite of what they are telling you and leave you feeling just nervous as when you first started talking to them).  He assured me that there are lots of options for food allergies and that they are beginning to work on offering more Gluten Free options throughout the park.  Obezo suggested swinging by Guest Relations where they should have a list of ingredients for everything in the park (although on a post visit, it was unavailable).  He also suggested calling ahead to someone in the Food and Beverage department (or an individual restaurant if it is on the larger side) to discuss the diners needs.  He was confident that the park could work with each individual and come up with something safe for them to eat.  That was music to my ears.  And HIS delivery was spot on.  Caring and knowledgable.  I will now entertain the idea of feeding my son at the park.

We took a walk through Ghost Town with Eric Lynxwiler, an independent historian.  It was insane.  To know what buildings or parts of buildings were still original was so cool.  And the stories!  It is hard to picture what it must have been like back when the Knott’s were living there and building a town (a lot was built to keep people who were waiting in line at the Chicken Dinner restaurant entertained!)

Another ridiculous part was our tour of the decor department!!!  Jeff Shaddock, who’s title I don’t remember but he is like super important, took us through the warehouse where they house Halloween Haunt decor (P.S. this is the closest I have ever been to this stuff because as I have mentioned I am AFRAID of Halloween Haunt and have refused to attend every single year since about Junior High School on).  He and his team of 5 are responsible for decorating the park for all of the holidays, special events, etc.  This is where I would want to work (well, maybe not on the Halloween part.  GA-ROSS!)

There are all kinds of things in this warehouse.  Old things, new things, new things made to look old.  Several dozen pictures of Mr. Knott.

And my FAVORITE part were these guys!  Do you remember where these are from???  Beary Tales!!!!! Remember how it used to smell?!  And the music.  I was so sad when that ride went away.  These guys were a bit naked, with fur missing, etc.  but they are beginning to be rehabilitated so that they can be put on display.  It was so good to see these guys!

It was such a luxury to be able to take photos in the park without people all around.  Roller Coasters were being tested for the day but other than that it was really quiet.

We took a tour of the “Round House” where they work on all the vintage trains in the park and keep them running smoothly.  The trains are beautiful and the building houses lots of memorabilia from the railroad system based in the park.  We think of Knott’s as pure amusement but for many it is a passion.  The employees we encountered were excited to share their piece of the park which few get to see.

We were told this is the only spot in the park where you can take a photo of the train without roller coasters in the background.

I tried to play it cool here.  But I was totally freaking out.  Behind the back side of the Round House are Knott’s Boysenberries.  Like, original Boysenberries from days of yore!  This is the only place in the park they grow boysenberries and it awesome.  This was not a decision made by the higher-ups, to keep the boysenberries growing.  This was done by employees who love the history of Knott’s and wanted to preserve it.  I LOVE that!

After the tours ended, Julie and I wandered around the park a bit more.  I am a sucker for candy so I bought some old favorites from one of the shops.  And since every time my son goes to Knott’s he begs for a cork gun, I finally picked one up for him for Easter.

The perfect end to our Knott’s adventure.  You can’t go there without eating funnel cake.  Which, by the way, they don’t serve until noon.  Which is kind of late, don’t you think?  It really is similar to a donut so I don’t see anything wrong in eating one at a more breakfastly hour.

This photo walk was amazing and I will remember it always.  Is that sappy?  Sorry.  I just love Knott’s.  My sister (who you can see in this Knott’s photo with me from when we were little) and nieces are coming in from out of town next week for spring break.  I am so excited that my nieces will get to experience Knott’s for the first time!  And that my sister, who worked there in high school will get to go back for the first time in probably 18 years.  Oh wow.  Did I just age her?  I hope she doesn’t read this part.  AND I was just talking about some of the history with my dad and he told me HE worked at Knott’s for a little while doing security stuff!  Which leaves me wondering how I didn’t end up working there.  I’m still young…


























  1. says

    I just stumbled across your blog and felt the need to comment, because, being a photographer myself I’ve OFTEN felt that go weak in the knees feeling that comes from being around other photographers. OFTEN! haha! Your photos turned out amazing!

    • Sharon Garofalow says

      Stacee! Thank you so much for commenting! I just checked out your site. Your photos are awesome!!!

  2. says

    Great post Sharon! don’t be such a downer! your pics are great and tell a story well.

    The noise in your pics were due to shooting at a higher ISO sensitivity, and probably due to editing making the noise more visible. To avoid noise in pictures, shoot in RAW mode. Lightroom / Photoshop can suppress the noise better if files are in RAW.

    • Sharon Garofalow says

      Thanks Desi! I knew you would have the answer for me. :) I’m going to read up on all of that stuff. Thanks for always being willing to help a sista out.

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