Thursday, September 29, 2011

Holiday With Trooper: Day 7

Vacation Day Lucky Number 7 was planned to be a break from Disney but not a break from fun! We rented a car again and drove to Knott’s Berry Farm. Mrs. Trooper was concerned we should arrive early enough to avoid the crowd but her worry was unfounded. The visitors were so sparse it was like being in an abandoned amusement park right out of an episode of "Scooby Doo". (And I would have gotten away with it too if it wasn’t for you meddling kids!)

I have never been a huge fan of roller coasters (as my tale of Space Mountain 1976 may attest) but I hoped the past several days plunging down log flumes and haunted hotel elevator shafts had toughened me up. And it worked! Loop the loop on Montezuma’s revenge? No problem. Rotating cars on The Sidewinder? Piece of cake. A 300 ft. tower drop on Supreme Scream? If I focussed on my breathing like a good little Zen Buddhist it was actually kind of fun.

The best ride was the Pony Express. There are no cars, but each rider has his/her own little horse. You are locked into the saddle with a back cushion then sent rocketing over the dips, drops and swales reminiscent of the first mail carriers on the western plains. Remember when I said there were no crowds? On several rides, including the Pony Express, we would return to the start only to have the operator ask if we wanted to go again because nobody was waiting. Over and over we rode the coasters, until by 2:30 I was exhausted. My head ached from the pressure behind my eyes and my legs swayed as if I had been at sea for six months.

The downside to Knott’s is you can’t help but compare it to Disney. This is unfair because no facility could really come up to that experience of quality and attention to detail. Knott’s does rollercoasters and they do them very well. However, there are some rides and attractions like the Old Western Town where they have tried to replicate the Disney experience, through caves and historical re-enactments, but they are moth-eaten and shoddy in comparison. The one exception was The Mystery Lodge. This was a live show with a Pacific Northwest native story teller. It was whimsical, emotional and magical in its simplicity. A real don’t miss.

You would think a day at Knott’s Berry Farm (there are no berries being farmed anymore by the way) would be enough but not for Trooper’s Family. We drove straight from the park to Medieval Times and began our evening of anachronistic dinner theatre. If you haven’t had a chance to attend one of the half dozen or so Medieval Times restaurants around North America, I urge you to go. The audience is encouraged to participate and my daughter was even selected as one of the Ladies Fair for whose honor the knights would fight. The jousting and swordplay are exciting, the plot subterfuge of betrayal is intriguing and the patter of the senior knight who acts as the MC is delightful. Best of all is eating with your hands: chicken, ribs, potatoes and not a vegetable in sight! If you go, please raise a flagon of mead for Trooper.


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