with our beloved disneyland closed since march, when knott's berry farm started doing a ticketed food festival it definitely caught our attention. for $35 plus tax, you got a "tasting card" that gave you five tickets to use at any of the food stands and kiosks open in the park. it reminded us of the "sip & savor" pass during the food & wine/holiday food festivals at disneyland, and so we decided to sit back and watch to see how it all went. all you needed was the tasting card - no separate costs for admission or parking, and a lot of the shops were also open for business.
after reading reviews and comments from others who went, we decided to go ahead and buy midweek tasting cards for me and the girls. the event was pretty popular with lots of people looking for something fun to do, and since it was outdoors with masks required everywhere and attendees spread out through the whole park it seemed pretty safe.
ticketholders were encouraged to wear halloween costumes, but none of us had really planned a costume this year and everything we already had was disney. i have a snoopy t-shirt that has him dressed as a stormtrooper that i was going to wear, and of course for some reason i couldn't find it anywhere. d-oh. and before you say it, no - i won't wear disney gear to a park that's peanuts themed! or to universal, where you could wear simpsons or minions or harry potter. we either wear properly themed attire or go in plain clothing. it's just how we roll.
when we got to buena park, we found that the front entrance wasn't open. instead, there were small yellow signs pointing the way to the lot behind the hotel.
there was plenty of signage out about not entering if you were sick or had been exposed to anyone with the virus. and we were pleased to hear an employee telling someone ahead of us that their mask needed to cover their nose and mouth, and another telling the same group that the kids also needed to have their masks on - even underneath the costume mask they were wearing.
i think this is our first time back at knott's in about 3-4 years.
after scanning our tickets, we were handed our tasting passes on a lanyard to wear around our necks. the food options and locations were listed on both sides, along with a bar code to scan that kept track of how many tickets we had left.
the park was really festive, with every building decorated in some way for halloween. normally, you wouldn't find me anywhere near here around this time because i hate being scared, and this is when the park turns into "knott's scary farm." this was nowhere near the usual, but i was happy for the park and its employees that they were able to open in some form to generate some kind of income and keep people employed.
our first tastes came from the wilderness dance hall patio. we happened to get there at just the right time, with only one party in front of us. the bean picked up a rather generous portion of the cheeseburger mac & cheese with panko crumbs and bacon with optional tomato garnish, which she declined.
the old lady and i had heard good things about the boysenberry sangria:
i'm gonna go ahead and say it: we were really disappointed by it. it was pretty and also a fairly good sized pour, and i'll admit that i caught a fun buzz from it, but that's only because i'm a lightweight and drank it on an empty stomach. but it was so bland! it really needed more boysenberry syrup or whatever they were supposed to use to flavor it. oh well. at least we got these sweet wristbands to show that we were, indeed, old enough to drink.
it was fun to see that they had costumed employees positioned in some of the buildings, offering a little extra halloween fun to the mix. and they kept it family friendly instead of scaring passersby.
there were lots of picnic tables placed everywhere, and here they had a big screen showing previous years' entertainment since they couldn't perform live.
photo op! there actually weren't very many of these, probably to keep people from congregating at them.
the bean was a little sad as we walked past johnny rockets, remembering that the last time we'd been there was for her friends' birthdays. it really was kind of bittersweet.
and it was weird to be there and not see and hear the rollercoasters running, or the riders' excited screaming.
we ended up at coasters diner to grab some more grub. while it looks like there were a lot of people there, it was really because they were all properly spaced out with the help of these markers on the ground.
the old lady ordered the diablo fries - chili, cheese, hot cheetos and crispy jalapeño strips. she was pretty happy with it.
...unlike me and the bean, who'd gone with the cheeseburger slider and fries. they were okay - just nothing particularly exciting. i was really just looking for something to put in my stomach to help with that buzz i mentioned earlier.
and here i'd also ordered the boysenberry wine - which sadly was exactly like the boysenberry sangria.
in the dia de los muertos section, we found a cigar-smoking skeleton and took this for the hub.
we decided to head over to the gourmet churro factory, where the old lady picked up some pumpkin spice churro sticks sprinkled with candy corn sugar and served with bavarian cream dip.
the old lady and i used our last tickets at sutter's grill, where she ordered the deep fried cauliflower bites tossed in buffalo sauce with a little salad and topped with cotija cheese.
i got the pastrami tater tots, topped with diced garlic pickles, cheese sauce and a drizzle of boysenberry mustard. this was really tasty and filling, and i was definitely done afterwards.
the bean decided she wanted another serving of that cheeseburger mac & cheese, and as we headed back towards wilderness dance hall patio i wondered aloud if this was actually where cordelia knott had baked her famous pies back in the day.
everything was more fun and festive looking in the dark.
one last reminder as we exited:
they have a build-a-bear store just outside the gates that was already closed for the day, but it looked kind of sad as we walked by.
and the bean campaigned us pretty hard to stop and grab some chicken to go, but we'd eaten so much food that we just told her we'd come back another time for it. i mean, yeah, there's the "chicken to go" store next door, but i really think it's only good when you eat it fresh. reheated fried chicken is not the business.
all in all, it was a pretty fun evening. it was fun to do some sort of halloween, and while it was a little sad to be in the park with no rides it was really nice to just be out and doing something fun while still staying relatively safe with masks and social distancing. they're doing another one of these through november and december for the holidays, and let's just say that we've already picked a date and bought our tasting passes.
shocking, i'm sure.