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Universal Studios Hollywood vs Knotts Berry Farm: Which Is Better?

If you’re pondering a trip to an amazing theme park like Universal Studios Hollywood and Knotts Berry Farm deciding which park to choose can be a tough one.

Considering all the rides and attractions both parks feature a close inspection is the only way to make the choice.

Here we’ll provide the distinct features of both and help you make the best decision for your family. 

Knotts Berry Farm and Universal Studios Hollywood are two outstanding theme parks, so deciding which one to visit can be difficult.

Overall, you should go to Knotts if you want to ride coasters and go to Universal Studios if you want a movie tour experience.

Knotts has more rides than Universal, including rides for all ages and thrill tolerance. Universal has the edge when it comes to walk-through experiences though.

A mix of attractions like Harry Potter World, touring movie backlots, and themed rides are what await you at Universal. 

Universal Studios vs Knotts Berry Farm

Theme Comparisons

Both Universal Studios Hollywood and Knotts Berry Farm have rides, shows, and themed areas, but the distinct styles of the parks are very different. 

Knotts is a 57-acre park that’s best known for its rides and coasters. Over 40 rides are found in the park, including the only coaster in California that goes beyond a vertical drop. 

There are plenty of fast-paced wooden and steel coasters, but Knotts also has kids areas like Camp Snoopy that are well-suited for families and younger children. 

Universal Studios Hollywood is a theme park but it’s also an actively-used film studio. There are plenty of rides in the park, but it’s best known for its movie-themed areas and experiences. 

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, studio backlot tours, and character meet-and-greets are its biggest attractions. 

Knotts can seem more like a ride-only park, while Universal has more to offer with movie and area experiences. 

Everything at Universal is themed around movies and characters. Rides are all tied to specific movies like Jurassic World, areas are themed around franchises, and even shows are tied in with famous groups or movie production.

Complementing the theming of the rides is the added feature of 3D and 4D experiences. Special effects and film clips are integrated into many rides to take them beyond a thrill ride into an experience. 

On the other hand, Knotts Berry Farm is themed much more loosely. It’s centered on a Wild-West theme, however, it isn’t nearly as in your face as the movie themes of Universal. 

Some areas of Knotts are specifically themed such as the kid’s area, water park, and specific rides. The rest is simply coasters, rides, and refreshment stalls. 

Universal Studios Hollywood Attractions

Gate to Jurassic World at Universal Studios Hollywood California

Thrill rides are found throughout the park and are made even more intense by special effects and film integration. 

Revenge of the Mummy sees passengers hurtling through near pitch-black corridors and escaping a tomb. 

Jurassic World – The Ride brings guests face-to-face with monstrous dinosaurs. Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey lets riders soar around the castle grounds.

These rides, along with others, are amazing examples of the integration between effects and moving rides. 

The Flight of the Hippogriff may be themed as a Harry Potter Ride, but it also plays out more like a traditional roller coaster.

Outside of rides, Universal Hollywood prides itself on immersive, walk-through experiences and shows. 

The main immersive experience in the park is The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. 

Featuring shops from Hogsmeade and a walk around Hogwarts, the area lets fans of the franchise step into the wizarding world for themselves and explore to their heart’s content.  

Water World is the top show at the park, providing a spectacular effects show featuring stuntmen. 

The other highly rated show in the park is an animal actor show, featuring live animals doing tricks and performing for the crowd. 

There are also 3D/4D experiences that simulate motion while remaining a standing attraction. 

Fast and Furious Supercharged is the best example of this, featuring hyper-realistic effects and taking viewers into the world of fast cars and international crime cartels. 

Knotts Berry Farm Attractions

Close-up photo of green roller coaster tracks

Knotts Berry Farm is all about rides. Catering to guests of all thrill tolerances, there’s something for everyone in the park. 

Thrill-seekers will love taking on the Calico River Rapids, the Silver Bullet, Xcelerator The Ride, GhostRider, or Hang Time. 

People who want a tamer experience will be able to enjoy rides like the Calico Mine Ride, WaveSwinger, Timberline Twister, or the Pony Express. 

There are plenty of options for families in the park as well. Rides catering to small children are much smaller and less thrilling but still allow kids to have a good time in the park. 

California can be incredibly hot in the summer, but Knotts Berry Farm has that covered with their water attractions. Thrilling water slides, speedy log rides, lazy rivers, and even a wave pool are all available in the park. 

While the park is mainly centered around rides, shows, and games, demonstrations are also available. 

The park has an active horse stable, blacksmith, and Spanish mission models that are all very educational. Live shows that include stunts, comedy, and bands are all on a rotation to scratch the park-goer’s show itch as well. 

The Verdict

Deciding which park you want to visit can be difficult. For the most part, ride lovers will enjoy Knotts Berry Farm more than Universal, while people who want a mixture of attractions will enjoy Universal Studios more.

After looking over the attractions, if something stands out to you then that is the park you should visit. No matter which one you pick, there are suitable attractions for people of all ages and tastes. 


How Far is Knotts Berry Farm From Universal?

Screenshot of a Google Map showing the distance between Universal Studios Hollywood and Knott's Berry Farm

Knotts Berry Farm is located 35.5 miles from Universal Studios Hollywood. Universal is located just north of Hollywood, California, while Knotts Berry Farm is south of Los Angeles and just outside of Anaheim. 

Taking traffic into account, you should be able to drive between the parks in under an hour. Visiting both parks on the same day would feel incredibly rushed, so if you want to see both it would be better to spend a day at each. 

Which is Scarier, Knotts Berry Farm, or Universal Studios?

If you’re the type of person who isn’t fond of intense thrill rides, don’t be scared away from either park. Both have something to offer for everyone when it comes to tame rides, shows, and experiences. 

Universal Studios tends to have scarier rides, simply because the inclusion of special effects and use of almost completely dark sections make their rides more anxiety-inducing. On their rides, it’s harder to look from the outside and know what to expect. 

Knotts Berry Farm does have more rides that are fast and intense than Universal. The positive side of this is that you can look at all of their rides and see how they operate. This takes a little of the anxiety away and lets low thrill-tolerance people know in advance if they can handle a ride. 

Is Going to Knotts Berry Farm Worth It?

A visit to Knotts Berry Farm should absolutely be on your list of places to go if you’re hitting up theme parks in California. Not only is it one of the oldest and best-known parks in the state, but it also has a stellar reputation and rides of all thrill levels. 

Whether you’re wanting to go as a family, with a friend, or on your own, Knotts Berry Farm is going to be a fun time. It’s also one of the best ways to beat the California heat thanks to its water attractions.