Knott’s Peanuts Celebration opens with new historic exhibit, rock show and lots of mac and cheese
In 1968, Charles Schulz’s character, Franklin, made history when he met Charlie Brown at the beach. Today, Knott’s Berry Farm’s annual Peanuts Celebration spotlights this meeting and the details surrounding it with a new exhibit that debuted on Jan. 27 in Calico Town Hall, located in the Ghost Town area of the park.
“The creation of Franklin can be traced back to a Los Angeles school teacher, Harriet Glickman,” said Knott’s Entertainment Producer Christopher Do. “Shortly after the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Glickman wrote to Charles Schulz in April of 1968, asking him to consider introducing a black character to his comic strip as a way to positively influence attitudes on race. They had ongoing correspondence and in the summer of 1968, Schulz introduced Franklin and he has remained an important member of the ‘Peanuts’ gang ever since.”
The exhibit includes newspaper clippings of Franklin’s comic strip debut, letters congratulating Schulz for including Franklin in “Peanuts,” reproductions from original art and the initial correspondence between Glickman and Schulz. In the middle of the exhibit, a children’s activity encourages them to trace images to create their own comic strip using “Peanuts” characters as well as a character meet-and-greet and photo opportunity with Franklin himself.
“Whenever there are chances to blend fun and learning at our park, we love the combination,” Do said. “Be it spending quality time waiting for a ride, interacting with the residents of Ghost Town or sparking meaningful conversations through exhibits like this, it’s about offering the perfect setting to create those special moments and shared experiences.”
Do said that since 2020, Knott’s has partnered with the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center to display one of their exhibitions during the Peanuts Celebration.
“The park’s exhibit offers a unique chance to combine fun with education,” he said. “Previous displays have covered topics, including exploration and space, team sports, taking care of each other and the environment.”
Jasmine Huerta, of Perris, visited Knott’s and the Franklin exhibit on Jan. 28.
“It’s really nice,” she said. “It’s really cool for the kids.”
She said she didn’t know about Franklin’s history prior to the exhibit and enjoyed learning about him.
“I was reading along,” she said. “I think it was really nice to know about him, his background story.”
Throughout the rest of the park, the Peanuts Celebration, which runs daily through Feb. 25, returns with plenty of themed entertainment and food.
During the day, “Peanuts” characters take the Calico Mine Stage with a musical game show, “It’s Your Life, Charlie Brown.” At night, the stage hosts “Snoopy’s Legendary Rooftop Concert,” featuring the “Peanuts” gang and indie band, the Jelly of the Month Club, for a rock show covering hits from Prince to Queen and Bob Marley — and themed with rock star-type costumes and headlines on a large screen above the stage including names like Dog Marley, Birdie Van Halen and Fido Mercury.
The Bird Cage Theatre has Peanuts Sketch School with a Knott’s resident art teacher offering step-by-step instructions on drawing “Peanuts” characters, as well as Charlie Brown’s Trivia Challenge, an interactive experience where guests are quizzed on their knowledge of the “Peanuts” universe.
Other activities include the Peanuts Cowboy Jamboree, where Franklin and Linus are cowboys at Calico Park and play some games with guests, and Pig-Pen’s Pig Pen at the Knott’s Livery Stables, with a character meet-and-greet/photo opportunity with Pig-Pen, horses and even some baby pigs.
In terms of food, Knott’s goes the way of mac and cheese, with everything from Franklin’s Mac and Cheesy Noodle Cheddar and Broccoli Soup to Schroeder’s Fluffy Breakfast Mac and Cheese Pancake served with a side of bacon and maple syrup.
“We went with a whole new menu this time because we wanted to play on a fun food idea kids love — mac and cheese,” said Knott’s Director of Food and Beverage Laura Brubaker.
Playing off “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” TV special, Knott’s launched “It’s the Great Mac and Cheese, Charlie Brown” tasting card, offering six tastes for $45.
“We have never done a tasting card for ‘Peanuts,’ but we thought it would be fun to create something where families could try most of the — six out of 10 — tasting card items at a reduced price,” Brubaker said. “With Camp Snoopy currently undergoing renovation, we wanted to encourage guests to move around the park to experience the Peanuts Celebration. We put mac in many different facets, like pancakes, burgers, soup and burritos. The one dessert we did was a play on the word cheese with our Woodstock’s Cheesecake.”
Regarding current construction at Knott’s, plans are to debut a renovated Camp Snoopy this summer.
“Camp Snoopy will be reimagined to allow campers of all ages to become full-fledged Beagle Scouts as they explore new rides, new character experiences, new entertainment, a new dining hall, a new camp store, plus more seating and ambiance,” Do said.
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