Knott's Very-Not-There-y Anti-Recycling Farm

My stepfather Stan remembers Knott's Berry Farm, but I sincerely doubt that what we encountered there on Thursday was anything like he remembers. Actually, I am quite sure of this, since his memories of the place are from a full fifty years ago, and the place has drastically changed in that time. Still, even with my assurance that the place was mainly loaded with rollercoasters, something that both he and my Mom were most likely not to even get close to riding, they wanted to treat me to a day at Knott's while they were in town. Since Rollercoaster-Mad Me has been craving at least a single visit to the place since I moved here, I said two things: "Really?," and then, "Sure."

Regrets, regrets, regrets... not about the rides -- I only rode four, but I loved them all -- but just about the place in general. Gripe all you will about the corporate overkill at Disney's parks, but there is one thing that I sorely miss anytime I go anywhere else, whether it be zoo, aquarium, state fair or theme park: comparatively, Disney runs a pretty tight ship. The places, the streets, the rides, the bathrooms and the restaurants are uniformly clean; the employees are polite (if a little robotically, at times) and can generally impart some sort of information somewhat related to the questions you might be posing. Most places are well-marked, lines are clearly, er, delineated, and the shows run on time. And, oh yes, they recycle.

And then there is Knott's. Maybe the non-recycling thing is something that stems from a stubborn past as a good ol' American park, but when one is trying to throw away a plastic water bottle at the front gates of Knott's, and one is confronted by about thirty garbage cans in one immediate area -- and perhaps more; I mean, there are a shitload of them -- and none of them are for recycling, you figure someone didn't get a memo somewhere. Inside the park, the only helpful or friendly attendant I found all day informed us that the non-recycling trend at Knott's was a very real thing, but that she would be glad to take the bottle since she recycled. She also told us, and perhaps it was a bit too much to know, that they wouldn't let the employees go through the garbage to collect the bottles and cans on their own. Well, I wouldn't want to go through the garbage in the first place, but to each their own. Maybe Knott's way of recycling is purely based on capitalism: by keeping the cost of bottled waters and sodas at 4 dollars each, they actually help keep the waste down, and it helps root out the true patriots at the same time. That would be good ol' 'Mercan freedom at work... "Hell, if'n I paid 4 bucks for this 20-ounce sodee pop, dagnabbit, I got a perfect right ta throw it away if'n I want!"

Speaking of the real Americans, thanks to my parents' insistence on wearing Alaska-imprinted t-shirts everywhere, we got stopped time and time again by big-haired hausfraus who would just leap straight off into their unabashed adoration for the only Alaskan of whom they have ever heard (with the possible exception of Ted Stevens, not a positive distinction). Knott's proved to be more of the same, with an attendant right inside the gate with a poofy blonde helmet who insisted that she would vote for Sarah Palin "five or six times, if I could." (I'm not exactly sure that the Republicans aren't working on that possibility in certain places, much like in the last couple of elections.)

And that is how the day started. From there, taking the coasters into account -- in order, I rode the Ghost Rider (very bumpy but breathtaking), the Xcelerator (simply awesome), the Silver Bullet and the Sidewinder -- everything else was a disappointment. I love going to Johnny Rocket's, but their absurd prices were inflated even more inside a theme park, the service was crap, there were no mini-jukes at the actual tables (just on the counters), and they actually undercooked the onion rings, which made my mom more than a little peeved. The day turned out to be the hottest one during my parents' pass through the area, and for large sections of the park, there was little cover from the relentless sun. Finding an ATM or bathroom took forever, and the park map was little help, even with the places clearly marked. The cost of a simple bottle of soda or water is far above the cost ($2.75 each) at Disney. Oh, yeah... and it's a Pepsi park, so that sucked as well. I was reduced to Mountain Dew. The plus side is that I could only afford one bottle. Which I couldn't recycle in the park.

Here's my big problem with the whole recycling issue at Knott's: California has a very progressive CRV program in place, in which consumers pay a little extra upfront for every purchase of a bottled or canned liquid, which then goes back to the consumer when they bring in these emptied goods for recycling. In Alaska, when recycling, you just bring your stuff to the center and leave it: that's it. As a result, only a steadfast circle of the environmentally friendly take up the cause. When my parents' got here, I looked in their trash in their fifth-wheeler (also not the most green way to travel, taking the massive fuel costs into account), and chided them for throwing away water bottles. They had no idea we even had such a program, and immediately started saving bottles and cans up so that I could turn them in instead. Jen and I go to the local CRV center (just around the corner from us) about once a month, and we end up with about $20 to $30 in our hands, which we often use to buy a celebratory dinner or lunch. It doesn't seem like much, but when you multiply it by millions of people, this is something big -- on both ends of the equation.

So, here is a major theme park that doesn't -- at least openly -- recycle. Maybe Knott's is doing it on the sly, perhaps behind the scenes. But one would think, in these supposedly ever greener times (environmentally, that is), that openly posing as a recycle-friendly outfit would generate some good will amongst their customers that care about such things. Certainly, much of the "green" effort sweeping this country is mostly corporate pose, but as a pose, certainly it can't be that harmful to make a minimum effort towards seeming like you care. Throw out a few cans with appropriately sized holes carved into their tops to give people that impression, and then the rabble rousers like me might shut up for a little while.

In fact, Knott's seeming lack of recycling might be the only thing in the park that my stepfather recognized from his last visit there fifty years ago. Didn't even think about doing it then; don't do it now. Talk about tradition...

[These are notes gathered from a first impression upon visiting the park. If you are aware that things are radically different concerning recycling at Knott's Berry Farm, by all means, leave me a comment heppin' me to your jive. Otherwise... shaddup...]

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