Knott’s Berry Farm certainly knows how to do holidays. Immediately following its world-famous Scary Farm event each year, the park transforms into a winter wonderland, becoming Knott’s Merry Farm. While you’d think the team behind the scenes at Knott’s would be exhausted this time of year (and you’d be right making that assumption), they go up and beyond to deliver an event that is nothing shy of world-class.
Merry Farm 2016 is the best we have ever seen the park look during the Christmas season, and we’ve grown up with Knott’s. Each year, Cedar Fair management works with Knott’s, raising the bar and really pushing everyone involved to dig deep and go big. The company doesn’t throw millions at the Christmas season the way Disney or Universal do – but they go head-to-head with those very companies by way of live entertainment and quaint, classy decorations that truly resonate with guests and create a gorgeous setting to celebrate the holidays in with friends and loved ones of all ages.
Ghost Town is the epicenter of all things Christmas at Knott’s Merry Farm. The old wooden facades of Calico are lined with elegant white lights, and beautiful flickering lanterns hang from the trees. Live entertainers – stroll through Ghost Town’s streets, and heart-felt, very nicely done stage performances can be enjoyed in the iconic Bird Cage Theatre throughout the day.
The only disappointment we had this year while checking out Knott’s Merry Farm is the lack of “Ghost Town Alive” interaction after a press release earlier this fall stated the Christmas overlay would include a holiday version of the wildly popular summer experience that we absolutely adored this year. We had visions of hustling, bustling Ghost Town “residents” sending guests on interactive Christmas quests; unfortunately, that didn’t come to pass. Not that the live entertainment isn’t good – it’s great. We simply were very excited by the prospect of Ghost Town Alive holiday-style, and were disappointed when we didn’t get that in addition to all of the goodness that is the Merry Farm.
In the Charles M. Schulz Theatre, guests will find an elaborate ice show – Merry Christmas, Snoopy! If you haven’t seen this show before, it’s a must; put it at the top of your to do list. If you have seen the show over the last two years during Christmas, it’s still really fun to watch – but it’s not much different at all than the past couple of years; I would recommend spending your time checking out newer additions to the Merry Farm. Of course, if you’re simply looking for a place to watch an excellent ice show production and take a load off of your feet for a while, nothing beats chilling out in the Schulz Theatre.
On the brand-new stage in Calico Square, is an all-new production that kids will love – It’s the Merriest Christmas Show Ever, Charlie Brown. This is a fun, high-value show that features many of your favorite Peanuts characters in really cute song and dance numbers. If you haven’t seen the new stage yet, it’s really impressive – and this new holiday show definitely takes advantage of the new venue; it looks and sounds fantastic and is definitely a must-see, especially if you have children in your group.
Also new this year is a towering Christmas tree in Calico Park, which is illuminated each evening with the help of the good Citizens of Calico, the Calico Bell Choir, and a lucky family visiting for the day. The Calico Christmas Tree is really beautiful; not over-the-top by any means. It is elegant, and adorned by ornaments and lights that absolutely complement Ghost Town perfectly. The nightly lighting ceremony isn’t very long at all – it feels just right, and is sweet; perfect for Knott’s Merry Farm.
Nearby, the Calico Saloon is all decked-out for the holidays, and we found the show inside to be absolutely charming. A great recommendation is to show up early, grab a table upstairs overlooking the stage, and enjoy a tasty Boysenberry Beer while you watch. The Saloon gets crowded about 10 to 15 minutes before each performance, so plan accordingly. Worst-case, you can always stand along the wall in the back of the Saloon to watch – we did, and had a perfect view of everything. Whatever you do, do see this particular show; it’s loads of fun and definitely worth the effort.
While on the subject of tasty libations, one of our favorite features in Ghost Town during the Merry Farm event, is Santa’s Christmas Cabin, located in the Wilderness Dance Hall, across from Mystery Lodge. Here, guests of all ages can meet Santa Claus, and then enjoy tasty treats and grown-up drinks of all types, from warm spiced wine to Christmas craft beers and spiked hot chocolate. Chocolate-dipped cheesecake can also be found, as well as flavored popcorn and other mouth-watering goodies! There are tables outside of the barn, and seating can usually be found – this is definitely a great spot to hang with friends at, and enjoy yummy seasonal fare!
Live entertainment can also be found on the Calico Railroad, which is also a must when you visit Knott’s – I mean, who doesn’t love to ride the steam train around the park? The engine and cars are decorated beautifully, making for quite the background of any Christmas time selfie or posed photo!
Throughout Ghost Town, pop-up crafts booths offer everything from sports team memorabilia or jewelry, to artwork and hand-made scented candles. We picked up an ornament – a little black cat ornament to match our kitty at home! So there’s definitely something for everyone being sold at the Merry Farm.
The magic of the season comes alive each hour in Ghost Town, with a beautiful faux snowfall moment set to a musical soundtrack. This moment has been improved since last year’s Merry Farm event, and it’s absolutely perfect – complete with flashing lights on all of the building facades and cheerful holiday music to make the season bright. Kids love it, adults love it – snowfall in Ghost Town is truly one of our favorite theme park Christmas touches anywhere. Knott’s has nailed it this year, and we highly recommend stopping in to check out the Merry Farm this season – there’s still plenty of time, as the event continues daily through January 8, 2017.
For more information and ticketing, visit Knotts.com. Make this part of your Christmas tradition with friends and loved ones; it’s classy holiday fun for everyone!
- Rick West
Knott’s Merry Farm 2016 Images: