During a recent visit to California, we stayed at the Radisson Suites in Buena Park. Our check in was extremely prompt, and the extremely helpful front desk staff not only provided me with a map of the hotel but also pointed out various points of interest in the local area. Upon learning our plans included driving to Los Angeles, I was given easy directions to the nearby freeway entrances as well as expected commute times.
Our room was extremely accommodating and I was impressed with the size of the front room which offered a desk large enough for both my wife and I to set up our laptops and still have ample work space on either side. The suite layout flowed well, and the comfortable couch and chairs were situated to give a great viewing angle for the flat screen TV. The front room also had kitchen counter area that had a mini fridge, microwave and coffee maker. The French doors into the suite had shutters that when opened allowed us to look out onto the courtyard and definitely was a nice change of pace from the standard hotel entrances.
The bathroom is very nice as not only did the shower have very good water temperature and pressure, but there was also a very nice selection of high quality shampoos, lotions, and conditioners that were provided for us.
The bedroom area had ample closet space as well as drawers which allowed us to unpack and truly settle in. There was a second flat screen television in the bedroom which had all the channels including complimentary HBO.
A much unexpected surprise was the bed which was a Sleep Number bed. While it did take a little bit of getting used to in order to find the number that suited us best, especially when we have become so accustomed to memory foam mattresses, it was still an extremely comfortable experience.
As we got up the next morning for breakfast, my wife noted that the layout reminded her of Melrose Place, with all the units surrounding a common courtyard. But unlike Melrose Place, the landscaping was lush with palm trees, and fountains. The hotel offers a fitness area with treadmills, as well as a very nice pool and Jacuzzi. It made one wonder if at one time the hotel had been an apartment or condo complex.
The complimentary breakfast buffet was an appreciated perk. The buffet featured not only bacon, potatoes, sausage, scrambled eggs, cereals, breads, juices, coffee, oatmeal, Danishes, and fruit, there was also a custom-made omelet bar.
After we enjoyed our breakfast we set out for a day in the town, and were really happy to experience the Anaheim Resort Transportation (ART) system. The bus takes riders to points of interest in the community such as Knott’s Berry Farm, Medieval Times, The Pirate Dinner Theater, as well as Disneyland. The ability to purchase a single ride or pass consisting of several days is ideal for those who have not driven to the area or who wish to take a break from dealing with traffic and parking fees. The air-conditioned trolleys come by on a regular basis and run until a half-hour after Disneyland closes at midnight.
Returning to the hotel, we were really impressed with the afternoon reception which allowed us to enjoy several free snacks as well as complementary drinks Monday through Thursday. The restaurant also had specials for different days the week. Everything from tacos to Buffalo wings was available and guests took advantage of this as they sat in the recreation area watching the NBA playoffs on the big screen.
Where We Dined
I decided to take my wife to Downtown Disney for dinner at Goofy’s Kitchen for an evening of good food and character interaction. As we walked up and down the numerous shops after dinner, I have to tell you what a nice experience it was not to have to worry about making our way back to the car and being able to board the bus back to the hotel as well as see the tired but happy faces of those who are returning to the hotel after a long day at the various tourist attractions.
Our second day allowed us to have a little more leisurely pace as my wife enjoyed the free wireless Internet by the pool as we both worked on some stories before we took in the sights of the local area. That evening, we walked over to Medieval Times which was located right next to our hotel. While we had attended the Medieval Times in Las Vegas I have to say this is truly a much better experience.
Entering the castle we were assigned our knight’s color before we roamed the souvenir and bar area while waiting to be seated. This gave us plenty of time to visit the horses in their glass-enclosed stables and read about the history of the various forces that would be in the show.
Once we were seated in the arena our very friendly and helpful servers informed us that while there is no cutlery in accordance with times, there would be various drink options and went over our selections. The dinner started off with very impressive focaccia bread and tomato soup, and the entrée consisted of a roast chicken half and barbecue rib combo and potato wedges. My wife noted that it is usually very tricky to prepare large quantities of food in advance because timing is important. You do not want food sitting around being warmed as patrons wait to be served, but at the same time you have to ensure that the meals are done in a timely fashion. While there were some parts the chicken there were a bit dry and chewy I can tell you that by and large the meat was extremely juicy and tender and that the rib was simply fantastic. Dessert was tasty as well as the apple turnover which topped off a great meal.
Now food is simply a small part of the experience at Medieval Times. The live-action show featuring jousting, sword fighting, and other equestrian skills were highly entertaining. The cast was extremely energetic and their performance, unlike the Vegas show, kept the cheesiness factor to a minimum. With a king and a princess presiding over the lively event, the audience was encouraged to participate with cheers while the knights vied for the loudest ovation.
There was humor mixed in and the knights openly encouraged those seated in the corresponding color sections to cheer for their success. The sword fighting was impressive and offered some real twists and turns that kept the audience at the edge of their seats. There are numerous souvenir and gift opportunities available as well and there is a dungeon of horrors that guests can view prior to the show available for an additional fee.
Where We Played
Of course no trip to Buena Park would be complete without visiting the legendary Knott’s Berry Farm. I appreciated that even though it was checkout time, the hotel suggested that we leave our car in the parking lot and simply walk to the park. This gave us an opportunity to take note of the many restaurants and shops all within a 5 minute walk from the hotel, as up until then, we have directed our travels largely in a different direction. Everything from a Claim Jumper restaurant to Subway and IHOP were available, as well as other business and dining services. It was extremely refreshing to see a tourist area that offered so many options to both the community and its visitors.
Upon entering Knott’s Berry Farm, we decided to go on the Sierra Sidewinder which is a coaster that rotates during the ride. It is a bit unnerving to go from being at the front of the car to facing backwards as the ride accelerates through a series of high-speed turns where you cannot tell the direction you are going. Needless to say it was quite an experience as were our old favorites such as the Log Ride, Pony Express, Bigfoot Rapids, Ghost Rider, Silver Bullet, and countless other enjoyable rides along the boardwalk and Old West sections. It was so nice to see the Calico Mine Train and the old railroad again because I member those for my first visit to Knott’s as a small child.
I also noticed that the annual passes are an incredible value. For less than two visits to the park guests can get unlimited access for the year. There are various degrees of annual passes which offer such additions like the Soak City Water Park and early access to the park.
Taking on the park can be extremely tiring and we were pleased to include an enjoyable lunch at Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner Restaurant. Founded by the late Cordelia Knott, the restaurant has served amazing chicken dishes to customers who often wait in long lines for their chance to be seated. It was the success of the restaurant and the long lines that inspired Walter Knott to build a Wild West town which eventually became the Knott’s Berry Park back in the 1950s. The Park was opened before Disneyland and touts itself as America’s first theme park.
Even though there are plenty of other options on the menu I have never had anything other than the fried chicken dinner. Four pieces of chicken, served with homemade rolls and Knott’s Berry jam, salad, chicken noodle soup, homemade mashed potatoes and gravy, corn, and a huge slice of pie for $15.99 make this an incredible value. The chicken is not only fresh and juicy, but the pieces are so large and filling that to go boxes are very common.
There is a lunch size version available for those wishing a smaller serving but when one adds in the pre-and post-dinner items it is an incredible value. I also recommend boysenberry punch instead of iced tea and soda as it is a truly unique and refreshing drink. For those in a hurry you can also get the famed chicken to go from the nearby fast service counter.
There are several restaurants and shops including Pink’s Hot Dogs in the surrounding Knott’s area which truly makes it an enjoyable day for the entire family.
We really loved our time at the Radisson Suites and wish we could have stayed longer, as the days simply flew by. From the very comfy and accommodating room, to the very enjoyable complimentary hot breakfast and afternoon snacks, the very friendly and helpful staff to the many dining and entertainment options within walking distance, this stay was one of the best hotel experiences in recent memory and one we hope to enjoy again on our next visit to this charming city.