Last year was Worlds of Fun's first foray into the Winterfest/post-October event, and in my opinion, they had a home run hit. (My First Annual Review can be found here) So it is no surprise that Winterfest will be returning for the 2018 season in just a few weeks when the park re-opens on November 23rd. Prior to the 2017 Winterfest, no one had any clue what to expect. With that in mind, and with one season behind us I thought it would be useful to do a Winterfest Preview. Before I go further if anyone should notice any errors, or omissions (and I am sure there will be) please feel free to contact me immediately as always my goal is to provide the most accurate information possible.
All attractions that are red or green are clickable for more information and if offered, to make reservations.
A 2018 Winterfest Park Guide and Map Can be downloaded here: https://cdn-cloudfront.cfauthx.com/binaries/content/assets/wf-en-us/general-information/play/winterfest/wof-2018---winterfest-map.pdf
First, there are a few important "need to know" details when it comes to Winterfest:
1) Gold and Platinum Season Passes for the 2018 season INCLUDE Winterfest, and some pre-purchased for the 2019 season do as well. (if not all of them). All other Winterfest tickets, as well as Winterfest activities can be purchased on the official site here. The park is offering a substantial discount if tickets are purchased online rather than at the gate.
2) Not every ride will be in operation but SOME will. Similar to 2017, there will be 26 rides in operation during Winterfest (Nordic Chaser is added to the list), most of them are in Planet Snoopy, and some will not operate if it is too cold. There is a list of the operational rides found here, I also list them below in coordination with their area of the park.
3) Unlike the regular season, Rides are not the primary highlight to Winterfest and do take a back seat to the great live entertainment, lights and other attractions found throughout the park.
4) Also unlike the regular season, hours will be limited for Winterfest, with the park being open from 4 p.m. -10 p.m. on the Friday after Thanksgiving (November 23) and all Saturdays, and 5 p.m. -10 p.m. all other days. The exception being New Year's Eve when the park will be open from 5 p.m. to Midnight. A park operating schedule can be found here.
Now that we have the basics covered, we can look at the actual park and experience and how it may not only differ from regular season but also how it may differ from even the 2017 version of Winterfest. To make this as uncomplicated as possible I am going to divide this guide into six sections, one of each of the themed lands in the park, however the "Winterfest section names" will also be included to hopefully make things less confusing.
Scandinavia (Intl. Plaza/Scandi Elf Village/Candy Cane Lane)Scandinavia is where most guests enter the park and includes the main park gate, it is divided into International Plaza, Scandi Elf Village and Candy Cane Lane.
The most significant change here is that while Ice Skating was located at Festhaus Picnic Pavilion in 2017 it is no longer at this location for 2018 and has been relocated to Americana at the Ripcord Lake.
Rides open during Winterfest:
Fjord Fjarlene, The Grand Carousel, Nordic Chaser and Scrambler (weather permitting)
There are three shows located throughout Scandinavia. The first two are located near the park's centerpiece 70' foot Christmas Tree in International Plaza and include the Tree Lighting Ceremony at 5:30, and Cool Yule Christmas a spectacular show featuring pop Christmas favorites. The third show in Scandinavia is at Tivoli Music Hall as is titled Charlie Brown's Christmas Spectacular, the Christmas Spectacular at Tivoli is truly the flagship show for Winterfest and shouldn't be missed.
Kids can meet Santa Claus at St Nick's Pics at Tivoli East (next to Tivoli), photos with Santa are an additional cost. North Pole Post Office is also an option for kids wanting to write and mail a letter to St. Nick at the North Pole too and is located next to Viking Voyager's entrance (Christmas House/The Lift)
Shopping includes all shops normally at the park but with different names and in most cases, completely different merchandise. Frosty's Furnishings, which is normally known as Plaza Gifts is located at International Plaza, and features Christmas gifts, collectibles and apparel.
There are several options for gastric delights throughout the park. Chickie and Pete's will be accepting the dining plan.
1) Dasher's Diner (Pizzo Pizza) will be once again serving Monkey Bread
2) Sugar's Cake Factory (Norma's Funnel Cakes) will be serving funnel cakes, coffee and hot chocolate
3) Tivoli Music Hall Snacks
4) Chickie and Pete's will be open at it's normal location in Scandinavia and will be accepting the dining plan.
Africa (Africa Season of Lights)Once guests past Scrambler and Candy Cane Lane they pass under the train bridge and enter Africa. A major change for 2018 includes the movement of the Coca Cola Polar Bear Plaza from Patriot's Plaza area to the Mamba Plaza area, and includes the operation of Coasters Diner.
Rides open for Winterfest
Prowler (weather permitting)
Sounds of the Nativity returns to Africa once again in 2018, and is located near Zulu. Sounds of the Nativity features a small cast of singers performing traditional Christmas carols, as well as a nativity and live animals like those that would have been found at the original nativity.
The Polar Party Crew will be at the Coca Cola Plaza by Coasters Diner for games and fun, along with additional Coca Cola retro style decoration.
Shopping options include Stocking Stuffers (Moroccan Merchant) a discount store for clearance merchandise. The popular option to fill a stocking for a set price will be returning from 2017. Dino Store will also be open.
There are two new dining options in Africa for Winterfest both of which are included on the dining plan.
1) Season's Eatings (Gorilla Grill), Which as mentioned will be accepting the dining plan and will feature sweet potato waffle fries with gruyere cheese sauce, as well as macaroni and cheese and chicken tenders.
2) Coasters Rockin' Winterfest Cafe (Coasters Diner), which is also accepting the dining plan and will feature its normal menu. It is also one of only three eateries in the park that is indoors.
Europa (Winterfest Way)Europa, or as it is shown on the map, Winterfest Way, will feature several changes from 2017 Winterfest. Mrs. Claus Kitchen Cookie Decorating has moved out of Europa to Americana this year, in addition many vendors from Artisan Alley have been moved from Americana to Europa. (or it has expanded). It appears Le Taxi Tour will continues it's amazing 12 Days of Christmas Lights Overlay.
Rides open for Winterfest
Falcon's Flight, Autobahn, Flying Dutchman and Le Taxi Tour (weather permitting).
Tinker's Toy Factory returns to the Moulin Rouge this year. Tinker's is a wonderful show that uses live music to tell the adorable story of one of Santa's elves who needs help finding his Christmas Spirit!
Le Taxi Tour will be continuing it's enormously popular 12 Days of Christmas light overlay, which will almost assuradly cause it to have extremely long lines.
Shopping Options include the new for 2018, Tinker's Toy Box (Deja Vu) this was the previous location of Mrs. Claus Cookie Decorating, and will feature toys and build your own stuffed animals (personally, I want that sheep that is on the official site, that's cute!). Also, several booths for Artisan Alley will be located throughout Europa.
There are two options available for dining in Europa, Dancer's will be accepting the dining plan.
1) Dancer's Snack Shack (Paisano's), will will be accepting the dining plan and will feature homemade biscuits served with either chicken and or gravy. They will also serve a kale salad.
2) Moulin Rouge Snacks
AmericanaDue to the sheer size and number of activities in Americana I am following Worlds of Fun's lead, and dividing it up into the Old West Christmas and Tinsel Town.
Americana: Old West ChristmasThe Old West section of Americana includes the portion of Americana that evokes a western theme and runs from the Worlds of Fun Railroad/Depot to Timber Wolf. The Old West section includes one new major activity, the Old West Carriage Company that will offer horse drawn carriage rides up and down Heart of America Blvd (Forum Road), at an extra cost.
Rides Open for Winterfest in Americana/Old West
Worlds of Fun Railroad, Mustang Runner, Cyclone Sams (weather permitting, however Cyclone Sam's is an indoor attraction)
Christmas Bluegrass (Old Sound) will be also returning to Winterfest for 2018, at the Country Junction Amphitheater. Tucked out of the way next to the Railroad Depot, it offers a quiet, laid back show featuring popular Christmas carols played on fiddles, banjos, mandolins, guitar and even a double bass. A great show for those that love bluegrass.
New for 2018 Winterfest is the Old West Carriage Company that will offer horse drawn carriage rides up and down Heart of America Blvd. The carriage ride runs from near the Americana ICEE stand (Custer's Last Stand) and ends near Coasters in Africa. I am unsure if it is round trip or one way at this point. This will be an additional fee for this attraction.
Ornament Keepsakes (located in the Airbrush Artist booth), will offer personalized ornaments for sale.
There are three different dining options in the Old West section of Americana, Vixen's Fixins is the only one on the dining plan.
1)Vixen's Fixins (Vittle Griddle), located around the corner from Front Street, and across from the train station, this is an outdoor eatery, that will be accepting the dining plan. It will offer pot roast sandwiches and sweet potato fries.
2) Festive Feast (Battlecreek BBQ), one of only three eateries that is offers indoor seating, Festive Feast is appropriately named offering a holiday dinner featuring glazed ham, pot roast, and garlic-roasted chicken, along with festive sides and speciality deserts. Festive Feast is NOT on the dining plan.
3) Cheery Concoctions (Blue Bronco Bar), located adjacent to Festive Feast/Battlecreek BBQ, Cheery Concoctions is not really an eatery, but certainly is home to gastric delights of the liquid variety. Cheery Concoctions serves hot chocolate, egg nog and hot buttered rum just to name a few. Say it with me... mmmmm hooottt buttteeerrrreed Rum.
Americana: Tinsel TownLocated from Timber Wolf and including Front Street, Patriot Plaza and Ripcord area, Tinsel Town has the most entertainment value per square foot of almost any other section of the park. It is home to three shows, Ice Skating, cookie decorating, three shops, and six dining locations.
Holly Jolly Trolley is our first Tinsel Town show, and is a creative take on late 19th century musical-styling, complete with San Francisco-esque trolley, and the cast dressed to the nines in top hats and petticoats. As its a moving show (the trolley roams around Americana), it can sometimes be hard to catch, but usually stops around Tinsel Town Treasures and Planet Snoopy. Jingle Jazz and Mistletones are both located around the main Americana fountain area, and alternate show times, (in 2018 one was on the hour and the other on the half hour) Both feature ladies groups singing with out instrumental accompaniment (A Capella) with Jingle Jazz featuring more classic carols, and Mistletones featuring more mid-century favorites such as "Frosty the Snowman" and "Santa Claus is Coming to Town".
Some of the two biggest changes coming to Winterfest 2018 fall into this category. First, the ice skating rink is moving from its original location in Scandinavia to Ripcord lake for 2018, and will be named "Snowflake Lake", like the previous years this will require an additional fee, $15 for one, or $12.50 each for four of more. Reservations can be made early, and require a specific time slot. Ice skate rental and skater assistance devices are included in the fee.
The second big change coming to Americana is the addition of Jack Frost Igloo Village, which will be located it appears near Patriot Landing. Each separate Igloo will be rentable private enclosed "igloo" with a maximum capacity of 8 guests. The reservation fee of $299.99 covers four guests, and includes food & beverage delivery, an event host, souvenir mugs for hot chocolate, reserved show seating, a cookie decorating session in Mrs. Claus Kitchen and a complimentary ice skating or carriage ride session. Each reservation includes the cost for up to 4 guests, with each additional guest being $29.99 each. Price does not include admission to the park.
Mrs Claus Kitchen Cookie Decorating has been re-located from Europa to Americana in 2018, to the previous location of Snoopy Arcade, right across from Timber Wolf's entrance. Most likely it's been moved to this location to offer a larger space. Mrs. Claus allows guests of all ages to decorate their own over-sized cookies, and take them home. Like 2017, Mrs Claus Kitchen requires an additional fee of $14.99 but includes four larger cookies and frosting, enough for an entire family to decorate.
Americana Tinsel Town has more shopping than anywhere else in the park. Artisan Alley which for 2018 is being split into two areas of the park, Europa as previously mentioned and the original area, near Timber Wolf, where guests can shop local artisans for both seasonal decorations, and crafts.
At Front Street Shops, Mistletoe (Front Street Emporium) will continue to feature both vintage Christmas merchandise, as well as hometown favorites such as a limited edition hot air balloon ornament (modeled after the iconic Worlds of Fun balloon), as well as Pickwick candles, and other handblown ornaments. Peppermint Patties Christmas Candy (Peppermint Patties), will feature its normal selection of hand-made fudge, and taffy, but also Hammond candy canes, Russell Stovers Chocolates, and gingerbread-themed ornaments. Last, and new for 2018 is Tinsel Town Treasures (Guest Services office), will feature retro holiday decor, from the age of tinsel trees and black and white television sets.
The Americana Tinsel Town dining options are almost identical to their normal park operations menus with slight variations in flavors and menu offerings. Prancer's Pizza (Pizza Pier) and Subway are on the dining plan.
1) Prancer's Pizza (Pizza Pier) - Dining Plan accepted
2) Festive Funnel Cakes (Grandma's Funnel Cakes)
3) Comet's Cookies and Cream (Double Dip)
4) Caribou Coffee & Cinnabon will both be open at their normal locations in Front Street Shops
5) Subway will be open at it's normal location and will be accepting the dining plan.
Planet Snoopy (Charlie Brown Christmas Town)Rides open for Winterfest
Beagle Brigade Airfield, Camp Bus, Charlie Brown's Wind-up, Cosmic Coaster, Linus Beetle Bumps, Lucy's Tugboat, Peanut's 500, Peanut's Playhouse, Peanut's Road Rally, Peanut's Turntyke, Sally's Swing Set, Snoopy vs. Red Baron, Snoopy Junction, Snoopy's Space Buggies, Woodstock Gliders, and Woodstock's Whirlybirds. (all are weather permitting)
Charlie Brown's Christmas Tree Lot offers a maze of trees, pines, spruces and firs followed by a photo opportunity with Charlie Brown, Linus and the Charlie Brown's famous Christmas Tree that just needs a "little love". Sally's Christmas Crafts adjacent to Peanut's Holiday Gifts (Snoopy Boutique), offers an opportunity for children 12 and under to create their own Christmas Tree ornament. Families can meet Sally afterwards.
Peanut's Holiday Gifts (Snoopy Boutique), located in Planet Snoopy features its normal selection of Peanut's merchandise but also a collection of Hallmark ornaments and collectibles.
The Orient (Orient Lantern Fest)Rides open for Winterfest
Bamboozler and Spinning Dragons will both be open for Winterfest (weather permitting)
Rickshaw Rudy's Pop Culture Christmas: (Rickshaw Richards) One of our favorite shops from 2017 will be back and offer merchandise from such pop culture Christmas hits as "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" and the infamous leg lamp from "A Christmas Story".
Panda Express will be open for Winterfest, it will be accepting the dining plan.
Yes, there are only a few hours for all the fun but... wait there's MORE!With so many activities scattered through the park its impossible to do everything in one night... for that reason Worlds of Fun has added yet another attraction, or probably more like two dozen or so more attractions in the guise of themed characters that roam the park and are available for photos. These include (and it's a long list that has grown in 2018) Jack Frost, Snowflake and Tinsel, Holly, Jolly and Lolly, Belsnickels (I had to look that one up), Mr. & Mrs Tannenbaum, General Napoleon, Captain Macaron and Cookie Caramel (mmmmm....), and yes even for the scrooges among attendees.... the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future! An entire list of characters can be found here.
You could say we saved the best for last... One of our favorites, and one of the biggest hits of Winterfest can be found throughout the park and that is the over 4-5 million (either way Clark Griswold would be proud), twinkling lights. While traversing the park be sure to check out the Orient's Lantern Fest, Africa Lights, Candy Cane Lane and Tinsel Town's 300-foot Steelhawk Tree, and the thousands of other twinkling light displays throughout the park. It is truly the most amazing light display anywhere in Kansas City.