Wheelchair Accessible Knott's Berry Farm
by Don Cross 2002

Don Cross details the superb access provided for pulmonary disabled people at Southern California's Knott's Berry Farm. Anyone needing oxygen 24/7 will surely find this theme park not only the paradigm of access compliance but also a joy to visit.

Of all of the theme and amusement parks in Southern California, Buena Park's Knott's Berry Farm is superbly convenient for the disabled, in general, and those with pulmonary disabilities, in particular. Those of us that have to be on oxygen 24/7 know that anywhere we are faced with steps, steep ramps, and a lack of sufficient and well located escalators or elevators is not going to be enjoyable for even a short visit. But, when you are going someplace that you want to spend a whole day, such as on our Fourth of July holiday, it can be an intolerable exercise.

The Knott's management has succeeded in designing, maintaining, and staffing a place where everything is laid out to provide the disabled with an easily traveled park with well paved paths crossing gentle terrain. Additionally, they provide the additional convenience of making it simple to have quick access to the multiple oxygen tanks that we will need for what will be an almost 15 hour stay, from day-starting breakfast to the last clap of that night's fireworks display.

The easiest way to describe this park is to run the reader through the routine that I and my wife have used for what are really our only vacations since being tied to a tank.

First, we call a day or two ahead to the park's electric-cart rental service at 1-714-220-5495, making a reservation for one of their carts for whatever time they are opening the day of our visit. (Check the park's varying operating times on the monthly calendars available on their internet website.) PLEASE NOTE! CARTS ARE RESERVED OR ONLY ONE HOUR PAST YOUR STATED PICK UP TIME! You may also, subject to some limitations, bring your own electric cart, but it is so much simpler for us to just rent one of theirs for $30 (no deposit required). They will run the whole day without recharge and we don't have to haul our own in and out of our vehicle.

When you drive into the park you can either drop the disabled passenger(s) off at a zone just outside the main entrance gates, or drive right on into one of the numerous Handicapped parking spaces available. Motortrams transport everyone from there back to the gates. Then, buy your tickets, go through the gate, turn right, and the cart pickup point is a short walk straight ahead.

Each cart has a large front basket that can hold several LOX tanks or "E" sized compressed O2 tanks, with or without their own portable carts. E-tank carts can be easily fastened to the front of the electric cart's basket by simply hooking their stationary feet into the outside-bottom of the basket's wire mesh front. The top of the tank and cart are then
strapped in place by wrapping a 24" bungee-cord once, fully around the top of the tank and the cart handle, and then hooking the ends of the cord into the mesh at the top of the basket. The cart staff sometimes have extra straps to let you use, but I always take my own just in case. Lox tank carts can be fastened similarly inside the basket.

Once my original tank is in place, we motor the cart out through the park's Exit Gate and to our car, pick up the other four or five E-tanks I may use that day, my electric nebulizer and meds bag, and return to the park through the hand-stamp gate. Turn to the left and bear left down the ramps to "Ghost Town" until you see the park's First Aid Station, just to the right of the town plaza. You can motor right inside and up to the service counter. If you ask nice, the staff will find a storage area for your extra O2 tanks and a place for the nebulizer and its medicine. Now, your ready for breakfast and a day of sunshine and play.

Some of the rides, and all of the attractions, are accessible to their electric carts (but may not be to yours). Additionally, rides that are not accessible to carts may be so to a portable O2 tank and cart. But, do be prepared to climb short ramps or stairs to get into a ride. Again, check the Knott's website for a pretty detailed description of
handicapped access to all of the park's rides.

Also, a brochure is available at the park's information booth that describes their handicapped instructions for the whole park. Or check the contact information for the park at the end of this article to have them mail a copy to you in advance of your visit.

During the rest of the day and evening, whenever I need a new tank, we head back to the First Aid Station. So as not to interfere with their other patients, I park with the cart outside while my wife handles the moving of the tanks. I also try to coincide the time for my use of the nebulizer along with one of the tank changes. If one of the station's treatment rooms is available, they will usually set you up in a comfortable chair where you can plug into the electric power to complete your medications in air conditioned luxury.

During the day, it is also important for you to have some exercise and give your spouse or caregiver a break. So get out of the cart and walk along side as often as you can. That way everyone has a pleasurable day. The park's rules allow you to do this as long as the person with you is over 18.

When the day all to soon ends, we drop by the First Aid Station to pick up our tanks, et cetera, using the cart to take everything back to the parked car. And, being very certain to let the station's staff know how very much we have appreciated their help and consideration. My wife returns the cart and, by the time she gets back to the car, I have it
warmed up and have checked the traffic reports for our freeway (or sometimes crawlway) drive back home.

Once you have been to Knott's, I know that you will want to give your best regards to their management and staff for realizing what most other parks have totally failed to . . . That there are thousands of pulmonary disabled customers that do not have the usually thought of "Handicapped" image, but just as drastically need a place for recreation
where they can exist comfortably with their minute-to-minute need for oxygen.

For further information, contact Knott's Berry Farm 

On the web at: http://knotts.com
By calling the main info phone: 1-714-220-5200
Or writing to: 
Knott's Berry Farm
8039 Beach Blvd.
Buena Park, CA 90620

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