Here we are, around two and hundred fifty days since most businesses have had to drastically modify how they operate, as we enter the final months of 2020, with a glimmer of hope that 2021 will be seeing the return of this industry to a more familiar structure.
Following on the heels of their 100% sold-out Taste of Fall-o-ween experience, we’ve now entered the realm of the guy in red, with Knott’s Taste of Merry Farm, their latest dining & retail experience.
Regarding the live entertainment, Knott’s once again delivers a unique twist that delivers. While we won’t be able to sit in the Bird Cage theater to watch a live retelling of classic tales, or watch the ice skaters, or see the Hillbillies in person, all of those experiences and more have transitioned to life temporarily.
The life around Ghost Town is now in the Victorian Era. Upon setting foot in Calico, the Ghost of Christmas Present greets you, and begs you to help him and the other spirits, to teach Scrooge the meaning of Christmas before sundown.
As you walk around, you might encounter the Ghost of Christmas Past from above the Glass Blowers, and even Bob Cratchit in front of City Hall. They’ll help give you tips on how to handle Scrooge, who has made the balcony of the saloon his current home.
I personally love how Knott’s found a way to bring the familiar cast of A Christmas Carol out into the streets and to give purpose to their interactions, beyond pleasant banter.
Once evening hits, though, Scrooge’s tune changes, for the better, and the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Be makes an appearance in the graveyard, appropriately. And holiday carolers will switch out on the saloon balcony, too.Outside of Ghost Town, you can find some shady Christmas tree salesmen near Hangtime, and a pair of radio DJs broadcasting music on the Boardwalk.
Plus on the Calico Stage, there’s a huge variety of rotating acts, from Hayden Allcorn performing some holiday magic, to the Birdcage players playing a mashup of Christmas classic theater, and yes, the Hillbillies, doing a prerecorded show. On top of that, we were surprised to see some footage of the Merry Christmas Snoopy ice show. There’s a few different clips they’ve arranged, from many shows over the years. We really miss watching it in person, but it’s nice to be so close to it, right now.I’m taking an effort to point out all these offerings because you won’t find them listed on any traditional timesheets in the park. Even the park map has been reduced to a QR code on your tasting card. So it’s quite easy to miss things at this event.This time around, there’s still an art gallery, but it’s in the home of the former shop for Iron Reef. Inside you’ll find beautiful art, once again themed to a mix of Christmas and Knott’s, with a surprising portion featuring the one and only Catawampus.
But this only covers the ancillary parts of this event. You’re all here for the food. And drinks. Right?Just like last time, the list of food has grown and the card is just as gargantuan as ever. Except this time, all of the lands have offerings. This means Hollywood Hits is serving up pizza and cookie pizzas, which were delicious.And while the bumper cars are gone, they’ve added tables so you can safely dine in that area. While you do, check out the beautiful new sign the ride got. This whole area has really been gussied up. On the opposite corner, in Camp Snoopy, the Cave Inn and Grizzly Creek Lodge have offerings now, too, because the land isn’t being used as a trick or treat trail.
And while there are no treats, the whole area is just gorgeous. Although our boney friend, Kevin, seems to have gone away until next Autumn, Kelfin seems to have taken up his spot all over. We love Kelfin. If you’re feeling celebratory, the Champagne and Boysenberry Ice Cream Float is a winner.We also liked the Festive Popcorn Chicken Bowl and the Gyro.Our only issue is the lack of spicy foods. While Halloween lends itself to “hot” items, Christmas calls to mind more traditional family stylings, but this also means leaning into sweets. And that definitely was amped up this time.Blitzen’s Christmas Tree Bundt Cake is a sight to behold, but beware – it’s very sugary. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.The pineapple cider was surprisingly good. For something that seems crafted off the name simply being a pun, I enjoyed it.Simply put, these events wouldn’t be selling out if the food wasn’t worth it. The portions are large, the options are plenty, and the quality is high. I have a few more dates lined up myself to try more of the options.Heck, they even re-themed all of their midway games. Little mini Yetis on the water-gun game, or polar bears in the pitching game. And adorable Christmas sloth prizes. This is above and beyond.
The whole park lights up at night, too. Hangtime has a regular light show, in addition to the one in Ghost Town. So it’s worth it to stick around as it gets dark. For those of you into Ghost Town lore, if you look around the Sherrif’s Station, you should find the Christmas edition of the Calico Gazette with some of what’s going on, what the Mayfields have stolen, and some updates from some of the beloved citizens of Calico.It might even give you a reason to look in all the peak-ins to find some missing items.But dates are selling out fast. It’s likely it will completely sold out by the end of the November. It’s $40 for a 5-tasting card, or $20 for a 3-tasting card for kids, and reservations are required. Now through January 3rd, tickets are available at Knotts.com.