The last time I set foot in a theme park was March 13th, just before Southern California effectively closed down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I knew it was going to be my last hurrah for awhile, but I had no idea how things were going to go.
Fast-forward to six months later, and here we are. The pandemic still isn’t much better than before, but places are trying their best to get back to business and try to give people a sense of normalcy (or as normal as things can be right now). Knott’s Berry Farm is one of those places. For the last few months, they have been holding “tasting” events; a way of getting people back into the park, but not to experience their attractions. Instead, they are food events (like the much loved Boysenberry Festival), with limited capacity and the chance to experience some delicious delicacies. However, despite their two previous events, you may have noticed that we did not cover them. Truth be told, we were just not comfortable heading back to the theme parks quite yet.
But now that spooky season is upon us, and our favorite events have been cancelled, we’ve been itching to salvage some of our Halloween merriment. Though their annual spooktacular event, Scary Farm, was cancelled for this season, Knott’s put together another “tasting event” to give us a little bit of a scary. And let me tell you, Knott’s Taste of Fall-O-Ween is the perfect thing to attend if you’re missing your Scary Farm fix or if you’re family just looking to have a fun day down on the farm.
Taste of Fall-O-Ween transforms the park with their spooky décor, fun (and socially distanced) character interactions, an adorable trick or treat trail, their wonderful Into The Fog art show, and of course, fantastic food.
The process to get into Knott’s was pretty easy. We were directed to park in the parking lot next to the marketplace (free parking!), and then walked down toward the entrance. After being asked a quick series of COVID related questions to make sure we weren’t experiencing any symptoms, we walked through an easy-breezy temperature check, the security check, and then right into the park. It was quick, effective, and made us feel very much at ease.
One of my biggest concerns going in, though, was the crowd level. I didn’t want to be in there with normal Knott’s sized crowds, and we wanted to minimize our exposure to other people. To help with this, we arrived at Knott’s at 12PM on Saturday, just as the park opened, when we knew crowds were going to be light.
As a point of reference, last weekend I took a trip to Downtown Disney, just to see how they handled things. While they did an okay job, I thought to myself “I bet Knott’s is going to do it better.” And guess what…they did. I won’t lie: I was extremely apprehensive of actually going into a theme park again, but after a few hours at Knott’s Berry Farm, I can confidently say that those fears were unfounded.
The Knott’s employees were incredible at keeping things safe for everyone. While the entire time we were there, people were great about their masks, the two times that I saw people walking with them around their chins, the Knott’s employees jumped in immediately to get them to correct it. It was great! Also, all of the food stations and stores were clearly marked with social distancing markers, and the employees did a great job of crowd control. Even later on, as we were leaving around 4PM and the crowds were getting bigger, they still managed to keep things under control. I was very impressed!
Now that I am 700 words in, I’ll finally get to what you are waiting to hear about: the food! With Taste of Fall-O-Ween, there is more food choices than you can possibly imagine. Seriously, I was almost overwhelmed with the options that were scattered throughout the park. Think of the Boysenberry Festival times ten, and you’d be on the right track. And there are more options for those with dietary restrictions, which was wonderful. I thought I was going to be able to miss out on a lot of stuff, but they had a lot of gluten free options!
Each guest with a regular tasting card gets handed a lanyard when they arrive, listing every option, along with a QR code that is scanned when you go to a station. It’s a pretty smooth transaction, which minimizes contact between people, but first you need to decide just WHAT you want to eat. There are plenty of tables scattered throughout the park, giving plenty of room for folks to sit and eat. One of the rules at the event was that you could not walk around and eat or drink. You had to be stationary before you removed your mark, which definitely helped out.
There was four of us in my group today, with 5 tastings each, so that is a LOT of food and drink we were able to sample. As soon as we walked in, we wasted no time in getting the Open Face Reuben Sandwich and the Pastrami Tater Tots. I’m a sucker for a Reuben, and let me tell you, this was one of the best damn sandwiches I have ever had…especially on a gluten free bun! The Tater Tots were a little cold when they handed them over to us, but despite that misstep, they were still delicious regardless. We devoured both fairly quickly, and even split between four people, it was a lot of food.
Next up, we enjoyed some Pumpkin Cider and an Acai bowl…we had to go a little lighter after all that meat! The cider was delicious and refreshing, perfect for the Fall atmosphere of the event. And the acai bowl was also quite good, with fresh fruit, pumpkin granola, and some almond butter to top it all off.
Heading over to the boardwalk area, we chowed down on some burnt ends: the riblets themselves were pretty good, but were fairly standard for theme park food. But the garlic mashed potatoes they came with were heavenly. I would have eaten just those alone! We washed it down with some boysenberry sangria, which was sangria that tasted like boysenberry.
It was time for some dessert after that, so we tried the graveyard funnel cake. This was a delicious chocolate and vanilla funnel cake, with crumbled Oreos to act like “dirt”, gummy worms hiding within to add to the graveyard factor, and topped off by chocolate ice cream. It was a whole lot of dessert, but a little heavy on the chocolate. Regardless, it was still very good.
We also had the Orange Creamsicle ICEE Float, which was the best of the desserts we had. It was so good that we kept it with us for the rest of the day, sipping away at it every time we stopped. The Boysenberry Smoothie from the Saloon was also a good thing to sip on during the semi-hot day.
Our final food tastings were the spicy sausage and the corn on the cob. The spicy sausage had bacon onion jam and was on a hoagie. It was…very greasy. The taste of the sausage was lost a bit because of that, but it was still good. The corn on the cob was slathered with a butter and mayonnaise mix, and it was delicious! I would eat that all day, every day if I could.
We wound up doubling up with some of the drinks, so we exhausted our tasting cards by that point. I have to say, for $35 per tasting card, with 5 tastings each, it was an incredible value. You truly get a LOT of food. And while that alone would have been enough, Knott’s also has some other incredible offerings for those attending.
We took a walk through the Camp Snoopy Trick or Treat trail, which was set up for the kids. Employees are stationed throughout this one-way journey (safely behind plexiglass) to hand out candy to the kids. In addition, there is a ton to see, with many of the Camp Snoopy rides filled with skeletons having the times of their lives, and good ol’ park attendant Kevin manning every single one. It was hilarious, and it was fun to walk through for us, even without the trick or treating aspect.
The Into the Fog art show was also great to see, with over 40 art pieces dedicated to Scary Farm. Located in Cordelia’s Corner, near the new Bear-y Tales attraction (which, sadly, is not open yet), it was wonderful to get a taste of Scary Farm. Each piece is incredible, and I have to tell you, we walked out of there with a few prints! There is also a nice selection of Scary Farm merchandise, including face masks, so we picked up a few of those as well.
And last but certainly not least, there is the Park itself. With each tasting event, more and more of the park is opened up to the public. Even though the rides are not running, the park is decked out for the fall harvest and Halloween season. Skeleton vignettes, oversized pumpkins, and playful characters are all over, adding to the fun of the season. Look into all the windows in Ghost Town for some fun surprises! And be sure to stop and talk to the undead folks you see around, as they are a blast to interact with…and don’t forget to pay a visit to Mad-Eye Joe! Poor guy has been locked up for years, and has gotten himself into a bit of a hairy situation, much like he does every year.
Overall, we had a blast at Taste of Fall-O-Ween. Knott’s did a great job of bringing Halloween into the park during these strange times. Not only that, but we felt incredibly safe and really appreciated what they had done. If you’re looking for a fun (and safe) thing to do during the spooky season, Taste of Fall-O-Ween has the HorrorBuzz seal of approval.
Taste of Fall-O-Ween runs Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, September 25 through November 1. Regular tasting cards are $35, while junior tasting cards are $20. For more information, and to see what their food selection is like, visit: https://www.knotts.com/play/events/taste-of-fall-o-ween