KNOTT’S BERRY FARM
Buena Park, California
Cedar Fair Entertainment
(10/11/20) Thanks to an invitation from Knott’s Berry Farm, Screamscape was able to send Rob to experience the park’s current “Knott’s Berry Farm Taste of Fall-O-Ween” special event. Rob’s review and photos can be seen below. Enjoy!
The world has changed. The rules are different. The new mantra: no mask, no service.
Knott's Berry Farm Taste of Fall-O-Ween
Since March, all five of the Los Angeles area's major theme parks have been shuttered, leaving visitors and annual passholders with few options.
Then there was some light in the darkness...
In July, Knott's experimented with a limited run of weekend-only Taste of Calico events, which opened up the Ghost Town section of the park again with food stands, but no operating rides. Capacity limits applied, yet visitors eagerly ventured out to explore. Knott's is the first major theme park in Southern California to open their gates to visitors since everything shut down in mid-March. This is a bold step, one born of the necessities of business, entertainment, and socializing.
With the famed Knott's Scary Farm cancelled, guests all over the area wondered what could possibly come close to replacing this hallowed annual event. Knott's answer to that question is Taste of Fall-O-Ween, a Halloween-themed food event that incorporates elements of Scary Farm with more family friendly fare.
Knott's has taken many visible safety precautions in order to facilitate their reopening: temperature checks at the entrance, hand sanitizing stations spread throughout, and transparent barriers installed at all places of interpersonal transactions. Visitors must have their temperatures taken by walking through a zone outfitted with sensors that measure multiple people at once. This was the most efficient use of temperature checks that we've seen so far. Metal detectors are still in use, but bag checks have been minimized or eliminated altogether from what we witnessed. Parking is now free as well.
A single ticket grants both park admission and five tasting/drink "tickets" which are redeemed via touchless scanners at each station. Knott's has clearly done a lot of homework in a very short amount of time. For those who simply want to roam the park and don't care so much about rides, this is one of the best times to visit, as both the price and the crowds are quite agreeable.
Though the theme park experience has been altered in many ways from earlier, what remains the same is Knott's' reliable brand of charm and personality, as evidenced by the many additions to the guest experience. To make up for the lack of activities, the park has stationed a variety of haunt characters throughout the park, cleverly distanced by building structures, bails of hay, or from atop balconies. These aren't the standard Scary Farm characters, but more family friendly characters willing to interact with guests. It's a nice touch that the park should retain with its post-shutdown Halloween events. Knott's has also outfitted the entire park with charming halloween theming, skeleton vignettes, and hundreds of pumpkins. In a humorous touch, many of the ride operation stations are now staffed by a "skeleton staff" of operators manning the booths. The park is notably quieter in the absence of roller coaster trains full of screaming riders, or the familiar clip-clop of horses pulling a rickety wagon-wheeled stagecoach through the old west. Even the Calico Railroad locomotive sits silent, awaiting the signal for the next safe boarding. It's bittersweet for sure.
About 30 kiosks supply a wide range of dining and drinking options. While impossible to sample each of the offerings during a single visit, we did try a handful of items and enjoyed them all. Knott's always has an admirable variety available to guests during their food events. Alcoholic beverages are in full force, ranging from berry cider and sangria to margarita slushies; all very refreshing choices. Distancing markers are clearly noted in queue areas, and though line lengths varied, we never waited more than a couple minutes to place an order. Lines for popular items like the Cheeseburger Mac and Cheese and The Ghoulish Pumpkin, a deep-fried cinnamon roll with pumpkin icing, can be significantly longer though.
Though most live offerings have been put on hold, Krazy Kirk and the Hillbillies are presented on the Calico Stage virtually, in a taped show just for the season. It's remarkably effective, and a welcome piece of musical entertainment. The Boardwalk area also hosts periodic side-shows with daring feats of physicality. Also returning this year is the favorite Into The Fog gallery show, featuring a variety of artist interpretations of favorite Scary Farm icons and personalities.
Camp Snoopy has been transformed into the Trick or Treat Trail, open to everyone, though youngsters are entitled to grab a bag and fill it with candy at multiple stations throughout the path. Come nightfall, the path takes on a darker, spookier atmosphere, though it remains family friendly, with none of the "scare actors" that typically roam around the park in October. Scary Farm veterans will recognize some repurposed props and animatronics borrowed from recent years' shows.
So, kudos to Knott's for adapting to these new times with a scaled down event that is still satisfying on many levels.The question remains, however, should you attend or not? Well, if you're the type of individual who doesn't like or doesn't want to wear a mask in public, you should definitely not attend. Also, if you're someone who is overly cautious about contracting the virus and are leery about mass gatherings, you probably shouldn't attend as well. Those who are willing to follow the requirements and respect others should consider a visit. The vast majority of those in attendance on the Saturday we went kept masks properly worn, and we witnessed no attempts to subvert the policy. What we did witness were the occasional bottlenecks that inevitably occur at places of public gatherings. It's difficult to control such instances, and as the park grew more crowded during the late afternoon, proximity became more of an issue. After sundown, crowd levels became more comfortable, so please take that into consideration in planning a visit. It is indeed a juggling trick to balance the economics and safety, but compromises in the name of both will likely be made. It's up to the visitor to determine what's best for them.
In this new era, however temporary, Knott's has met the challenge with an inventive and creative solution that takes full advantage of the flexibility of the park.
Because these events are selling out, Knott's has recently been adding new days but they seem to be selling out as quick as they can add them. Keep an eye on the schedule for the latest information if new dates are added.
Regular/Adult: Valid for one Adult/Regular Tasting Card and entry to the Taste of Fall-O-Ween. Enjoy 5 items of your choice from the list of tasting card offerings. Limit of 2 alcoholic tastings. Valid for ages 12+. Must be 21 or older to consume alcohol.
Junior: Valid for one Junior Tasting Card and entry to the Taste of Fall-O-Ween. Enjoy 3 items of your choice from the list of tasting card offerings, plus 1 walk through of the Camp Snoopy Trick or Treat Trail. Not valid for alcoholic tastings. Valid for ages 3-11.