If you've been keeping up with my recent blogs, you are more than aware that I have been trying my best to find opportunities to safely 'travel' during this pandemic. As September started fading away and Autumn was falling upon us, I knew I had to redeem the end of this less than desirable year and make the best of my favorite season. Knott's seemed like the perfect combination of nostalgia, seasonal-themed fun and a sliver of normalcy.
"But Jolene, Knott's is a theme park. It isn't open, is it?"
Knott's is not open in its entirety - rides are all closed and regular programming is either cancelled or altered, but after the success of their Taste of Knott's event over the summer, another food festival was engineered so guests could continue spending time in the park: Taste of Fall-o-ween.
Before I dive into our experience of eating our way through Knott's, I'd like to reiterate that I am following CDC guidelines, wearing a face covering, social distancing, and only visiting locations that have put safety precautions in place. Yes, I often take my mask off for pictures, but only if there aren't people around, and only for a short time. Knott's has taken wise precautions to take care of the safety of their guests. There are barriers, face coverings are required, lines are all marked for social distance, and temperature checks/screenings take place before anyone can enter the park.
When I first found out about Taste of Fall-o-ween, I immediately consulted two friends about getting tickets. Luckily, we quickly bought tickets - the event sold out the day before we were due to attend. Our $35 ticket included parking, admission, and 5 tastings from locations throughout the park. The menu was extensive and offered many fun seasonal and boysenberry items. To redeem for the 5 tastings, the tasting card's QR code was scanned at each location.
On a very sunny and very warm Sunday afternoon, we entered our first theme park in months. The fun Halloween and autumn decor brought me an immediate small sense of joy. The bright, warm orange tones, rustic decor and countless pumpkins were all a welcome sight.
I'd learned some tricks from the Boysenberry Festival, including one important practice: Start eating right away so you can better space out your snacks. As much as I wanted to savor the rare moment of being in a theme park, I went straight for my first tasting item, which was in the back of the park, near Xcelerator.
Coasters Diner notably had the largest selection of tasting items, but we were only there to try the "Beeting Hearts Salad."
While I am generally not a salad person, from time to time I thoroughly enjoy salads that are full of fruits, veggies, and anything that isn't just rabbit food. Thankfully, this salad was full of roasted beets, butternut squash, pepitas and raspberry vinaigrette. Unlike previous tasting events, certain beverages were included with the tasting. Naturally, we had a glass of boysenberry wine with our salads... it's all about balance, right?
While we were enjoying our cool salads in the warm sunshine, we encountered one of the reasons many horror fans flock to Knott's every Halloween season: the actors. A very curious clown on stilts came to visit us at our table. He had a full face of makeup and a mask to match! I appreciated Knotts' commitment to their brand, but also their commitment to everyone's safety. The actor interacted with us, tried to startle my friend Mariah, and really made the experience something special!
In between tastings, we took advantage of the wonderfully festive decor around the park. Pumpkins, autumn leaves and rustic arrangements were joyful reminders that the blazing hot summer was drifting away and a cozier season was coming.
We grabbed a shaded, socially-distanced table and enjoyed our next tasting item: cheeseburger mac n' cheese with panko bread crumbs. The air was filled with chattering families and country music, as the heat of the day began to fade.
I decided I was ready for a sweet treat, so we headed off to Fiesta Village for my next tasting item, the "Cursed Cannoli," a pumpkin mascarpone cannoli with gingersnaps.
I absolutely loved this satisfying, fall treat. The filling wasn't too sweet, and the gingersnaps added texture and that familiar seasonal spice we all love. I could have easily eaten a few of these!
We chose not to add on the $8 trick-or-treat trail in Camp Snoopy, but we'd heard the area was decorated to the nines, so naturally we had to check it out after another tasting item - the pastrami tater tots with hot pastrami, diced garlic pickles, and Mornay cheese sauce and a drizzle of Boysenberry Mustard.
This was not a tasting item I used as one of my five, but I snuck in a nibble or two! I actually liked this tasting item more than I thought I would. The cheese sauce was very creamy and light - it was almost like mayonnaise. It was a perfect counterpart to the salty pastrami, the crunch tots and the tangy mustard.
Camp Snoopy was completely transformed into a fun, spooky haven. Animatronic monsters and ghouls playfully took up residence among the stationary rides, and fun Knott's actors dressed as scarecrows interacted with guests and the trick-or-treaters.
Night was beginning to fall, and Knott's started to come alive in a new way. Because I've never attended Knott's Scary Farm, I've never seen Knott's in all of its theatrical glory, during its most popular time of the year. I was pleasantly surprised at how much was accomplished with the lighting alone!
The darker it became, the more Knott's was transformed. Contrary to its usual up-beat, country atmosphere, Ghost Town became more worthy of its name.
We then visited one of my favorite parts of Ghost Town, Boothill Cemetery. While I don't necessarily have a penchant for the macabre, I always enjoy the details of this part of Knott's - it's slightly dark but still playful and campy. The fog floated in and out of the cemetery and gave us the perfect backdrop for some spooky photos.
Finally, I used my last tasting item on the "Ghoulish Pumpkin Bun," a deep fried cinnamon roll with pumpkin icing. In fact, all three of us decided to get desserts and enjoy them together at a picnic table near Ghostrider. Stefani got the caramel apple cheesecake trifle, and Mariah got the "Graveyard Funnel Cake" - a chocolate and vanilla funnel cake with Oreo dirt crumbles, chocolate ice cream, chocolate drizzle, and candy worms.
If I'm being honest, I regret getting this item. I didn't really enjoy it, even though I had seen several bloggers rave about it. In general, our last desserts were the most disappointing items of the day. Stefani's trifle was extremely sweet, and Mariah's funnel cake was over-cooked so it was almost too crunchy to cut into. The only great part was the chocolate ice cream on it!
Overall, we had a great time at the Taste of Fall-o-ween event. We felt safe, and we could tell that Knott's took every precaution possible to ensure the safety of their guests while also putting on a seasonal event that can still impress. The food was good, maybe not as good as it is during the Boysenberry Festival, but how can I complain about an event based around my favorite time of year?
I would highly recommend a visit to Knott's. They have really stepped up their game in the event department - great food, great ambiance and great entertainment for all ages. I'm very satisfied with my experience, and I am hoping Knott's decides to do a Christmas event as well!
Until next time,