Last year, Knott’s put some mighty big plans into motion. Early in the year, they bid farewell to MonteZOOMa’s Revenge, an aging and award-winning coaster. Then a few months later, in early July, closed off the entirety of Fiesta Village. Much like Camp Snoopy some years prior, the time had come for a complete redo of the entire land. And we’re going to be covering all of that in this article, in addition to the return of Summer Nights!
The first thing you’ll notice is the footprint for Fiesta Village has been extended. The alley that runs along the lake between the train tracks and Silver Bullet has now been populated with food booths, shops, and carnival games. And the Summer Nights tasting card is valid at these spots! (More on that later…)
It’s a great use of an area that formerly only had purpose during Scary Farm as part of a scare zone.
Upon making it to the formal entrance of the land, you’re greeted by a beautiful sign. This is a much classier area now – the former area felt neglected and forgotten, and that’s definitely not the case anymore. Casa California is the biggest new restaurant of the moment. You can make your own burrito there, much like other popular fast-casual restaurants, and it works on the dining plan. It’s already a tremendously popular spot, which makes it a good thing that the left half of the building is only seating. That’s one thing to keep in mind here. Nearly every single area of this land has been converted. If it was a shop before, likely it’s now part of a restaurant or seating. That’s not to say there’s no shopping. There’s plenty of it, but it’s much less of a single market for the whole land, now. There are shopping booths around, and a few areas make good use of the space, as opposed to an inexplicably placed candy shop next to the arcade.Continuing the tradition set in the rest of the park, all the merchandise celebrates what makes the land unique. So, Jaguar, has a refreshed set of branded merchandise to go alongside its refreshed appearance. And there are other new snacks and treats to buy, too. Including some new queso and cookies. The plaza has been completely redone to build out what was only painted on before into real stairs. The area is still used for performances but now doesn’t look out of place if nothing is going on. All around the land are fantastic new creatures, called alebrijes, and they each have their own story and name. And, of course, pins of their own.They’re incredibly colorful and look beautiful in day or night. This area used to be the refill station for drinks but now is a small merchandise area. There’s now a full-sized drink station closer to Jaguar.All the attractions have been given a fresh coat of paint and they really shine. Jaguar is fantastic, and the fire has been finally fixed. That’s a big deal, because it only ran for a few short years after it opened, and I’m afraid to date myself by doing the math. Seriously, all the rides have been cleaned up. The hat dance is no longer noisy when breaking. And it’s lit wonderfully.The Bob Baker Marionette’s have returned, and are making full use of the flat stage to make it easier to engage with the crowds. Almost like the area was purpose-built for their show. But this area also features a new storyteller show in the daytime, and an improvisational music band in the evening. It just feels very mature and carefully done. There’s also one other show in the land that goes beyond the stage – Calle Celebracion, and it uses the top of Jaguar as a big screen. It’s honestly a brilliant spot for a projection and I love how well it’s used. There’s even nightly pyro and fireworks!In addition to the projection, there are multiple stages throughout the land featuring the dancers to help tell the history of the culture. It’s really a site to behold. Pictures don’t do it justice. And the fact there are multiple stages makes it really easy to get a good view of it all. As you can see, some of the rides have been completely reskinned as well. Not just a fresh coat of paint, but a whole new texture. It matches the fantastic creatures that accompany the theme and makes the land feel a lot more complete. I mentioned it earlier, but it’s just great to see more seating added around the park, especially when it’s not just gigantic wooden picnic benches. Unfortunately, the most popular spot in Fiesta Village, La Papa Loca, has closed down. But will be reopening soon in a new and bigger location, adjacent to Casa California. In the meantime, the offering will be at Coasters.Additionally, the entire ground has been repaved. A decent portion has a beautiful glass-shard walkway in a rainbow of colors. The bathrooms are almost finished, and are absolutely gorgeous, in line with the rest of them that have been redone in recent years.
That leaves one elephant in the room, MonteZOOMa. Unfortunately, with the attention needed to get the land opened for the summer, that had to get pushed. There’s no official date yet, and by the looks of it, it won’t be anytime soon. While disappointing, walking around Fiesta Village, it’s not hard to see that the time hasn’t been wasted. All things considered, I’m much happier with this refresh and being patient for one coaster to be done right, rather than rushing everything. This is a “MINI” Fruity Pebbles funnel cake. One of the many dining options on the Summer Nights tasting card. Remember how I said I’d get back to that? Well, here we are. Summer Nights is back. The “Backyard Party in a theme park” has returned for its 4th year. For those unaware, each night at 6PM, a big band takes the stage on the Mine Stage. And between their sets, a DJ is on one side of the boardwalk, while a smaller band takes the Calico Park stage. It also features some characters to meet, games to play, and food booths to try.This year, some new games have been added to the existing ones. I’m incredibly happy to see this not be forgotten as it gives kids something to occupy their time with instead of just sitting still staring at a band, if they aren’t dance-inclined.New this year is a Yahtzee-ish title, a ring-toss flamingo game, outdoor checkers, and cornhole boards. Don’t worry, the ring-on-a-hook game is still there. Despite earlier concerns and confusion, the party planning committee characters have returned this year for Summer Nights. On our most recent visit, we got to see Sandy Shores and Gerry Atrick.Beyond simply just engaging guests, the characters introduce the bands at the start of their sets. And I’d be remiss if I failed to mention that this year marks the return of the Holy Crow Jazz Band, who plays jazz and blues from the early decades of the 20th century. They are an absolute favorite of ours and their absence in 2022 was something we noticed. It’s not easy to cater to every possible genre of band. And in a bit of serendipity with the refreshed Fiesta Village, all the bands that embrace the Latino culture play their music over there this year. With pop music on the big stage, dance music on the Boardwalk, country and blues on the small stage, and Mexican music over in Fiesta Village, most of the bases are covered. As usual, the tasting card items are pretty good this year. While our favorites lean mostly towards the sweeter kind, like that funnel cake, or the Oreo churro, the potato and chorizo tacos were pretty good in their own right.
It’s a lot going on, especially with no big new ride in the park to highlight. But between the return of Summer Nights, Ghost Town Alive, and basically, everything in Fiesta Village being updated, there’s a lot to keep you busy in the park. But it won’t last forever. Summer Nights, along with the celebration in Fiesta Village runs select dates through September 4th. The tasting card is $55 for 6 items. Tickets are available at Knotts.com.