The best Christmas theme park trip for the whole family

I was given admission to Knott's Merry Farm in order to write this post. All opinions are 100% my own.

Planning a theme park trip for the Christmas season sounds like a great idea … to the kids! Suffocating crowds, hours long ride lines, and spending the kids' college fund on overpriced snacks can crush all of your sugar plum dreams.

Christmas time visits to theme parks can be so much better. Southern California's been keeping the perfect Christmas destination secret … it's Knott's Merry Farm!

Holiday spirit shines even brighter at Knott’s Merry Farm this November 16 through January 6. Experience Knott’s largest Christmas display to date, with a full park transformation that includes all-new  over-the-top festive seasonal décor that would make Martha envious. Park goers of all ages can enjoy classic shows like Merry Christmas, Snoopy!, the beloved ice show starring the famous beagle himself. The streets of Calico play host to live Christmas Carolers, a Christmas Crafts Village offering one-of-a-kind gift ideas, Santa’s Christmas Cabin, the enchanting Snow and Glow experience, plus so much more. This feeling of Christmas can only be found at Knott’s Merry Farm this holiday season!

I'll walk you through all of the unique holiday experiences at Knott's but first, let's talk about what usually happens on holiday theme park trips …

What we expect to happen on a Christmas time theme park vacation

As a child I dreamed of TV commercials with kids waking up on Christmas morning to their parents saying, “We're going to a theme park!”.

The kids leap out of their beds in the softest, most adorable matching pajamas.

Sparkles fly across the screen as the family is now magically in the middle of a spacious walkway in a theme park.

The kids are snacking on technicolor candies and drinking hot chocolate raindrops from the sky.

Mom and dad are beaming with pride at their excellent choice as parents, saying “we did it!”, their smiling eyes twinkling as they snap a photo of the kids with a cuddly cartoon character. Ahh, making memories!

Giggles fill the air as the kids explore ride after exciting ride on this most magical of magical Christmas days.

But my childhood Christmas time theme park trips did not look like this. I thought the commercials were lying to me. Or maybe that my family didn't know they were supposed to be smiling with glee instead of cursing the long lines, costly food, and stroller stampede.

Turns out, we were choosing the WRONG theme park for our Christmas time experience!

Knott's Merry Farm at night

Why Knott's Merry Farm is the best Christmas experience

Imagine if you could have a truly magical experience for your family this holiday season, riding award-winning roller coasters, meeting favorite cartoon characters, and enjoying traditional holiday cuisine without the crowds, without maxing out the credit card, and without all the stroller-crushed toes?

Give the fam that commercial perfect Christmas you've all been dreaming of … it's real. And it's at Knotts!

Let's break down all the reasons why you need to go to Knott's Merry Farm with the fam this holiday season.

The most gorgeous holiday decor

Every corner of Knott's Merry Farm is decorated with twinkling lights, bountiful garlands, and real fresh flowers. Each area of Knott's has it's own unique style, from the 50's style in the Hollywood Hits areas to the old west flavor of Calico Ghost Town.

Family Christmas Photo at Knott's Merry Farm

Grab a photo at the main entrance in front of the decorated Knott's sign. My friend Tran takes a family here every year to include with their Christmas card … this is her photo from this year. (Thanks for letting me borrow your fam, Tran!)

Everywhere throughout the Farm are loads of details, like fresh poinsettias and all-new holiday themed decor that changes from section to section of the Farm.

Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony at Knott's Merry Farm

Watch the nightly tree lighting ceremony in Calico Square while listening to a live performance by Christmas carolers. Santa Claus arrives on the train to help with the tree lighting! Take your photo in front of the tree with the whole fam with one of Knot's professional photographers.

Snow and Glow at Knott's Merry Farm

Experience Magic Around Every Corner

The Calico Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony is spectacular for the whole family to watch! On Ghost Town Main Street and Schoolhouse Road in Calico Ghost Town is the “Snow and Glow” event. Three times a night, the town is lit up with lights synchronized to festive Christmas music.

Snow and Glow Lanterns at Knott's Merry Farm

Get the kids an old west lantern that lights up and flickers in time with the musical performance as snow falls over the entire town. You feel like you walked right into a Christmas movie.

Santa Claus at Knott's Merry Farm

Snap a photo with Santa Claus in Santa's Christmas Cabin in the heart of Calico Ghost Town.

Tamales at Knott's Merry Farm

Food for the whole family

Knott's knows how to do flavorful theme park food like no other.

Tamales at Knott's Merry Farm

Authentic Traditional Mexican Cuisine

Celebrate the rich Latin traditions here in So Cal with tamales and other traditional Mexican cuisine:

  • Sweet Corn Tamales with a hint of pineapple
  • Traditional Shredded Beef Tamales in a red sauce topped with cheese
  • Chicken Chile Verde Tamale was my favorite of the 3 tamales, with a traditional taste that will take you straight to abuela's house!
  • Knott's put a trendy twist on the traditional elote by making tri-color Holiday Elotes with Hot Cheetos, Zombie Takis, and Boysenberry mayo with cotija cheese. Buy two because the kids won't wanna share this one!

Holiday Elote at Knott's Merry Farm

American Holiday Cuisine … with a twist

The kids are gonna love Turkey Dinner Pizza (yes, it is what it sounds like!), Turkey Dinner Poutine, and Turkey Dinner Bites, which are round balls of stuffing, masked potatoes, and turkey deep-fried around a cranberry sauce center and topped with warm brown gravy.

Turkey Dinner Bites at Knott's Merry Farm Thanksgiving Pizza at Knott's Merry Farm Holiday Poutine at Knott's Merry Farm

Pumpkin pie milkshakes are made with real pumpkin pie. Like literally the crust and all!

Christmas Cake at Knott's Merry Farm

Enjoy delicious cakes, cookies, and donuts from the on-site bakeries at Knott's Merry Farm … yum!

Christmas Cupcakes at Knott's Merry Farm Red and white candy ribbon cake at Knott's Merry Farm

The soft sugar cookies with delicious royal icing shaped like Snoopy were my favorite.

Snoopy Cookies at Knott's Merry Farm Snoopy Cupcakes at Knott's Merry Farm Snowman Cake at Knott's Merry Farm Sugar Cookies at Knott's Merry Farm

This absolutely adorable yule log is so cute, you won't want the eat it … but it tastes so yummy, you won't be able to resist it for long. I love the clever nod to retro Christmas with the Santa and deer figurines on top.

Yule Log at Knott's Merry Farm

Visit with Wholesome Characters We All Know and Love

Meet your favorite Peanuts characters in costume in Camp Snoopy. You can even watch performances from the characters on multiple stages throughout the Farm.

Snoopy stage show at Knott's Merry Farm

Award-Winning Live Stage Shows

Knott's brings in the best dancers, singers, and performers to put on live stage shows multiple times a day all through the Farm.

Christmas Carolers at Knott's Merry Farm

Check out these holiday themed stage shows at Knott's Merry Farm:

  • A Peanuts Guide to Christmas – this live show takes place in Camp Snoopy and features the Peanuts gang
  • It's the Merriest Christmas Show Ever, Charlie Brown features the Peanuts gang with dancers, music and more in the Calico Mine Stage outdoor theater
  • Watch A Christmas Carol/Gift of the Magi at the Bird Cage Theater in Calico Ghost Town

A truly relaxing holiday

One of my friends told me she got annual passes to Knott's Berry Farm for three reasons:

  • Cost – season passes are very affordable
  • Comfort – Knott's is a better experience for her family
  • Customer Service – the staff is super friendly

Snow and Glow lanterns for sale at Knott's Merry Farm

I met Jesse here while walking around Calico Ghost Town … he let me take pictures of him like a crazy lady! LOL

The walk ways and aisles at Knott's Berry Farm are wide and clean. I've never even brushed elbows with anyone while walking the Farm.  No more flat tires on your shoe from a stroller behind you!

The wait times for rides and attractions are also reasonable throughout the day. You can ride most attractions multiple times in one day. Plus there are arcades and other activities to do between riding roller coasters.

Hang Time ride at night at Knott's Merry Farm

All the rides are lit up like Christmas (ha!) every night … Hang Time looks so pretty all pink and purple! Download the Knott's Berry Farm mobile app to  see rides, maps, and showtimes all at your fingertips.

Berry Jelly Sets at Knott's Merry Farm Boysenberry Jelly at Knott's Merry Farm Christmas Stuffies at Knott's Merry Farm Holiday shopping at Knott's Merry Farm

Best Holiday Theme Park Shopping

The team at Knott's has put together some incredible deals for the holidays.

Knott's 2018 Christmas Shirt at Knott's Merry Farm

Knott's Merry Farm Souvenirs

Snag a souvenir t-shirt and the cutest snow globe enamel pin for just $12.95. YES!

Souvenir Shirts at Knott's Merry Farm

2018 Enamel Pin at Knott's Merry Farm

Buffalo Check Sweatshirt at Knott's Merry Farm

Get your buffalo check on with Knott's new line of buffalo plaid hoodies and souvenir wear.

Holiday Gift Mugs at Knott's Merry Farm

Cute mugs filled with candies, stuffies, and more small gifts are affordable unique gifts you can take home.

Red Snoopy and Woodstock Sweatshirt

Then there's always Snoopy! Teens love snuggling in fluffy hoodies like this red one. The Knott's team created a whole new line of shirts, beanies, and apparel featuring Snoopy's house decorated in many ways. Spot references to the Snoopy's many houses all over the Farm!

Snoopy House shirt at Knott's Berry Farm Knott's Merry Farm 2018 Commemorative Christmas Cards

Knott's released a special line of Christmas cards, holiday mugs, and barista bottles this year featuring the cover of the 1960 employee magazine. Knott's strives to bring in nostalgia every holiday season.

Crochet Hats at Christmas Crafts Village at Knott's Merry Farm

Find the Cutest Handmade Gifts in the Christmas Craft Village

Craft vendors are sprinkled throughout Calico Ghost Town, offering handmade hats, bath bombs, and even honey! Skip the shipping costs on etsy and buy direct from the artisans in the Knott's Christmas Crafts Village.

Christmas Crafts Village at Knott's Merry Farm

Frida Kahlo Latinx Christmas ornaments at Knott's Berry Farm

What are you waiting for? Make your sugarplum dreams come true with a holiday trip to Knott's Merry Farm this year!

Here are the deets:

I'll see you at the merriest Farm of them all!

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About the Author

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Jennifer Priest is a 20+ year designer in the arts & crafts industry and home DIYer with a passion for creativity. An Army veteran raised on a ranch, from her experience, she shares smart DIY projects that save money and fun craft ideas that anyone can make. Besides blogging, Jennifer is a Master Practitioner and Trainer of NLP, Hypnosis, and MER, and coaches other online entrepreneurs on money mindset, business, and living an intentional life. When not blogging, Jennifer is having adventures in the wilderness, on road trips, playing with her cats, and making paleo food.

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