Taste of Knott’s at Knott’s Berry Farm Review
I’m sure like many people, getting back to regular everyday life events can cause a bit of anxiety. In the age of COVID, you run through the typical questions: Will it be safe? Is it worth the risk? Will I be able to be socially distance? Plenty of questions will flood your head, and rightfully so! It’s up to each of us to make sure we do our part to keep ourselves safe and others around us. So going to a theme park during all of this doesn’t seem to on a must do. We wrangled with the same thoughts before attending. But it came down to calculated risks. Are we able to keep ourselves safe while attending? After a couple days thinking about it, we came to the conclusion that attending would be okay. As long as I felt safe and at any time I didn’t; I’d leave immediately. Thankfully, at no time during my visit did I ever feel I was in an unsafe environment or I was at risk. I was thoroughly impressed by the safety measures taken by Knott’s, as well as the attentive attitudes of most of the Team Members. In this article, as with many of our reviews, we will talk about the food! But we will also be talking about how it felt to be at the park in the age of COVID and the specific measures taken to ensure guest safety.
As I said before, visiting the park was a calculated risk. Literally everything right now is! Keep this in mind when deciding if attending the event is right for you. It may not be. Each person is going to have their Pro’s and Con’s checklist and make sure you’ve done yours before deciding to go. Because even though we felt safe and knew we could be safe going; others might not.
Before even entering the park, you’re met with plenty of signs that display the symptoms of COVID-19, been in contact with someone who had COVID-19 or if you’ve been exposed to COVID-19. It’s really hard to miss these signs and there are plenty of them!
On the floor leading up the queue, you’ll see stickers that show you how far to stand away from the guests in front of you. While visiting, I didn’t see a single person disobey these rules. I was really happy to see everyone cooperating, as well as wearing their masks properly. As you approach the queue, you are asked by a Knott’s TM if you’ve had symptoms of COVID-19…literally each person! That TM must get tired of that question at the end of the day. I couldn’t imagine someone actually saying yes to this question, but I also couldn’t imagine someone coming to the park with the sickness as well.
This queue then leads to the temperature screening area. The old California store to the left of the Main Entrance of the park has been converted to the temperature screening. There are about 4 lanes, and each one has a camera dedicated to it. The Knott’s TM will tell you which lane to walk through and that’s literally all you do! You walk through, the camera can see your temperature and if you have a high temp they will pull you aside. I didn’t witness this happen.
This is extremely impressive and really efficient in getting people through the line. Once you’ve passed the temperature screening, then you go through security and head to the turnstiles.
You must have purchased a tasting card to enter this event. They scan your barcode, take a picture to attach to that card and then let you into the park!
I’m(Gabe) going to be really honest here, this was the first theme park related event I’ve done since the world went to crap. Stepping foot back inside the gates of Knott’s Berry Farm created such a flood of emotions. I was overwhelmed, elated, nervous, relieved, and excited. I actually shed a few dorky tears after passing by the Ghost Town sign. I was just so happy to be back at our home park and the emotions definitely got the best of me.
As I entered Ghost Town, I was met by a very familiar face, the Mayor of Calico! He was perched atop one of the buildings on it’s balcony. He greeted folks as they entered Calico and even pointed me towards the Boysenberry Pie Bites at Ghost Town Grub! In fact, there were plenty of atmosphere characters around the park. But they were all socially distant making sure to keep everyone safe. There were even “Knott’s Berry Farm Passholders” in line for Sky Cabin! I unfortunately didn’t get to see these two, but I heard they were really funny.
Each Tasting Card comes with 5 tastings. On the card you can see what foods are being offered in the different locations. There are letters that are associated with different booths, and each physical booth also display the letters very clearly. This is an easy way to keep track of what booths you’ve been to. Also, for Haunt fans, you find something really familiar…a sign holder at the end of the line!
Unlike Taste of Calico (the previous tasting event at Knott’s) there are many more locations, and you can find some of the more popular items at multiple locations. This really helps alleviate crowds and makes it much easier to keep yourself socially distant from other guests. Not only that, but more of the park was open for guests as well. The only areas closed off were Camp Snoopy and the pathways from Cordy’s Corner to Calico River Rapids.
Once you’ve gotten some food, there are plenty of places to find a seat! I was rather impressed at how many tables were actually available during the event.
Obviously, some areas were much more populated than most. But I never had a problem finding a spot to sit where there was nobody within 50 feet of myself. I think this was the biggest concern. Walking around wearing a mask never concerned me, but taking off my mask sure did. Speaking of which, you’re only allowed to take your mask off when you’re seated and eating. You’re not allowed to walk and eat/drink.
The event is called TASTE of Knott’s, so of course the focal point of the event is all the incredible food. Each tasting card comes with 5 tastings, which go very quickly, so be careful what you choose. I’ll be sharing some of my favorites and even some that I wasn’t a big fan of. Hoping it helps out just a bit in your discussions on what to consume!
The first two items I got were the Boysenberry Meatballs and the Boysenberry Coated Chicken Tenders with Fire Honey on a Waffle. Both these options were absolutely phenomenal. I would even dare to say that these two options specifically are exactly what I am looking for in a food item at a Knott’s event. Unique, delicious, and traditionally Knott’s by utilizing the Boysenberry. The Boysenberry Meatballs are what all of us Knott’s fan clamor for at any food event at the park. They are a MUST! The Chicken Tenders were crispy, spicy, sweet and savory. It was a fantastic mix of flavors and I would 100% get it again!
The next two items were the Boysenberry Pie Bites and the Hatch Green Chili Mac and Cheese! The Pie Bites were amazing. The outside batter wasn’t crispy as expected, it was more chewy. But it didn’t detract from the warm gooey inside that was just to die for. The Mac and Cheese on the other hand really left a lot to be desired. There wasn’t nearly enough Hatch Chili in it to discern any spice and the flavor of the cheese just didn’t do it for me. I do have to say, I eat spicy food all the time and have an extremely high tolerance. This also might be why I didn’t feel the spice.
The next item I got was the Smoked BBQ Brisket with coleslaw. Oh, my GOSH, this was amazing. The brisket was extremely tender and the coleslaw the right type of texture and flavor to compliment the brisket. The bun was a lot of bread, so I just took a few bites and left the rest.
Next, I took a break from food and got The Nectar of the Gods…BOYSENBERRY BEER. There are few things as refreshing as a Boysenberry Beer on a hot summer day. I sat on a bench in the shade right beside Log Ride and slowly sipped and enjoyed the environment. At this point in the day, the crowds were basically non-existent. Maybe a total of 5 people walked by me while enjoying the beer. But they were all more than 15ft away and wearing masks.
The next two items I got where the Arroz con Leche (rice pudding) and the Boysenberry Aguas Frescas. The Arroz con Leche was a rather large serving, but I barely touched it. The rice was undercooked and there was barely any semblance of flavor to be found. Not sure if it this specific batch, but I was really not a fan. It really goes against what I expect from a Knott’s food event. Especially because almost everything is usually good too great quality. This has to be a random outlier. The Agua Fresca was really good. A tad too sweet to be really refreshing, but the flavor was on point and it was nice to have a cold drink on a hot day!
The last two items I got, were the Mac n Cheese Pizza and the Pulled Pork Tater Tots! The Mac n Cheese Pizza is exactly what you would expect. So much cheese and tasty Mac! I had eaten so much that day that I resigned myself to eating just the Mac and didn’t eat the crust. I can’t imagine this NOT being a favorite for kids! Last, but certainly not least, we come to the tater tots! These were amazing! Crispy tots, savory sweet pork and slightly spicy chipotle ranch with cheese. It was also a very big serving as well.
Knott’s always has great deals when it comes to merchandise. With most events, you can find the Shirt & Pin combo which is really a great deal. We bought this ourselves and are excited to have it in our collection. Something to note, you cannot buy the pin alone or the shirt alone. Not sure if this was a mistake, but if it wasn’t, not sure why you would want to since the price is so low!
THE SAFTEY MEASURES
Of course, the biggest question and topic of this article will inevitably be how safe I felt and what Knott’s was doing in order to keep guests safe. Outside of the temperature screenings and rules in place (that we covered). There were plenty of Knott’s TM dedicating their days to cleaning tables, benches, railings and literally anything else people may touch. On 5 separate occasions, I got up from a table and there was someone there cleaning it within 10-20 seconds. I was so impressed with how fast they were! I was lucky enough to snap a photo quickly before they disappeared to clean another table!
Knott’s also implemented a “Rest Zone” where guests can find a cool place to sit and relax without their masks on. This area is located in the queue of Mystery Lodge!
This semi-open air area was really big. If anyone has ever waited for a maze in this area before for Haunt, you know how big it actually is.
When I went, there was absolutely nobody there. So I felt very safe to take my mask off for the the moment. If this area was packed, I’d think twice before removing my mask and relaxing. As we said at the beginning, calculated risks.
At the multiple different drink and food locations. They have plexiglass separating guests from the Team Members serving food. Unlike past events, since the tasting cards used a QR code instead of tabs, there was no interaction with people at the food stands other than receiving food. Each booth had a dedicated cash register so that everything was contactless and seemless. They also have these fun (and very hygienic!) new utensil dispensers that were rather fun to use!
Lastly, the TM’s are not afraid to tell people to follow the rules. Above all else, this was what impressed us the most. Even on our weekly visits to the supermarket, we see employees walk by people not properly wearing masks or even walk by people not wearing masks at all! But during my visit, I witness TM’s telling guests to fix their masks 6-8 times. Whether that be pulling it over their nose or to sit down before taking their mask off. Of course there were times I witness people not listening and doing what they want. But that really was the exception.
I was so impressed with Knott’s and how they were able to seamlessly implement new regulations and operations to help guests and employees feel safe. Not once during my visit did I ever feel unsafe or at risk. As I mentioned, I went on a sold out day! Obviously this event was limited, but I had no idea was a “sold out” day would look like. In the pictures above, this is what it looked like later in the day around 3pm-4pm. It never got uncomfortably crowded and I never found myself in a compromised situation where I couldn’t escape slightly crowded areas. There was always another path and always another way that was open and clear. It really feels like Knott’s learned from mistakes and lessons from Taste of Calico and implemented the right adjustments in order to make Taste of Knott’s much better. Aside from the safety concerns, the food was phenomenal and the experience was top notch. I’ve come to expect nothing less from food events at Knott’s Berry Farm. Unfortunately for them, they’ve created such a high bar and standard for themselves that it continually gets harder to beat. But, they seem to do it over and over again. Big kudos to the Knott’s Berry Farm team for being able to create such a wonderfully safe and fun event for their guests. Because, I can tell you first hand, this visit to Knott’s was Chicken Soup for the soul. It was exactly what I needed to keep my spirits up during these rough times.
If you want to visit Knott’s for their Taste of Knott’s event, make sure to head over to Knott’s.com to purchase tasting cards and read up on the new rules and regulations before attending. Stay informed and stay healthy. Only go to this event if you are wiling to wear a mask unless in designated areas, if you’re okay with the calculated risks involved with attending an event during a pandemic, and if you can play your part in keeping other guests safe and Team Members safe as well.