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Knott’s Wraps $25M Renovation Of Buena Park Hotel

The month of April marked the completion of $25 million worth of renovations to the rebranded Knott’s Hotel.

The almost two-year overhaul signals a long-term investment from the theme park’s owner Cedar Fair LP (NYSE: FUN) in Orange County—one that General Manager Don Prescott has been pushing for.

“I think what’s evolved over the years is that Cedar Fair has realized that hotels are very important in trying to bring people to the park,” Prescott told the Business Journal.

Prescott has served as general manager at the 322-room hotel for the past 20 years and beforehand worked with the second-generation of the Knott family as banquet manager and supervisor from 1984 to 1996.

His hospitality experience includes roles with Wyndham Hotel Group and Sheraton before returning to the Knott’s company in 2006.

The biggest physical changes to the hotel, which includes a new full-service restaurant named Thirty Acres Kitchen and new meeting space in the form of a 4,400-square-foot outdoor courtyard, incorporate a new theme and design based off its founders Walter and Cordelia Knott.

“They are where Knott’s hospitality emerged from,” Cedar Fair’s Brian Klein, corporate director of resorts, marketing and brand management, said.

At the grand opening ceremony last month, hotel officials spoke about the necessary partnership of the park and hotel, and the goal to make more visitors aware of the property.

“We are first an amusement park, but now the hotel rooms are just as important to support the company,” Prescott said.

Knott’s Berry Farm had 3.9 million attendees in 2022, up 6% from the year before, according to Themed Entertainment Association’s global attractions attendance report.

A New Story

The property first opened as the Buena Park Hotel in 1968 and included a restaurant and club on the ninth story.

The finished overhaul is the largest renovation for the hotel since Cedar Fair first took over the property in 2000 and “cleaned it up,” according to Prescott.

For this project, Cedar Fair “wanted to put money into the hotel and come up with a story for it,” he said.

Several changes from the renovation were designed to be a nod to the history of the park, which hit 100 years in 2021, and its initial owners.

Thirty Acres Kitchen, formerly called Amber Waves, was named after the original 30 acres of land the Knott founders first had in Buena Park—Walter Knott purchased 10 acres while leasing the remaining 20. The theme park now spans 160 acres.

Next to the newly added 360-degree, wrap around bar hangs the wedding photo of the Knotts. The restaurant also added a patio outside to accommodate more seating.

The new outdoor California Courtyard added to the existing 20,000 square feet of meeting and banquet rooms. It has held its first wedding ceremony, hotel event planners said.

“The next step is getting the hotel’s name out there in the industry,” Prescott added.
Cedar Fair, currently valued at $2 billion, is finalizing its merger with Arlington, Texas-based Six Flags Entertainment Corp. (NYSE: SIX).

Announced last November, the entertainment companies combined will operate under the name Six Flags and the “FUN” ticker symbol with Cedar Fair’s Chief Executive Richard Zimmerman remaining in the same role.

The transaction will result in a total portfolio of 42 parks and nine resorts.

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