Everything You Need to Know About Winter Fest 2015

(Disclosure: My family was offered free admission to this event to check it out. We were not required to share our thoughts, but I thought it might be helpful to share our experience with those who are on the fence about going.)

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Winter Fest opened last night, Friday December 18th with mixed reviews. I attended with my family and though at first I wasn’t sure what to expect, as the night unfolded we ended up having a really amazing time. If you’re still on the fence about going, here’s everything you need to know before you decide.

Admission

Tickets are priced different. Monday through Friday adults are $20 and children are $10, when bought online. On Saturday and Sunday the tickets are $25 for adults and $15 for children. At the gate all tickets are $5 more.

Save more money by buying your tickets online in advance and use the promo code “REINDEER” for an extra $5 off each ticket.

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Activities

Here is what you get just for the price of admission:

  • Coupon for 1 free ride and 1 free carnival game
  • Unlimited ice tubing at Snow Summit (must be 42″ or taller)
  • Entry to one of two bounce house for kids
  • Reindeer viewing and feeding
  • Nightly Christmas tree lighting (5:30pm)
  • Intermittent snowfall (Check with a staff member for times)
  • A few simple Christmas themed crafts
  • Model train display
  • Photo opps (walk-through ornament, Christmas tree, cut-out photo stands, great decorations)
  • Daily and nightly entertainment throughout the event

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Here is what you have to pay extra for:

  • Unlimited ride wristband ($20 when purchased online)
  • Ride tickets (if you don’t do the wristband)
  • Carnival Games
  • Pictures with Santa
  • Face Painting
  • Caricatures
  • Ice Skating ($15 per person, plus $5 for skate assistance if needed)
  • Snow Summit fast pass ($10)
  • Food and drink

Food

There are limited food options at the event. I counted eight food (not dessert) stands, five or six dessert/snack places and one sit-down restaurant. I am not sure their stance on bringing in your own food and drink, but it might be worth looking into if you’d like to keep the cost down. You can also show your same-day Winter Fest tickets at The Triangle for some awesome freebies, so you might want to consider eating there. More info on that here.

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The types of food I noticed were pizza, chicken wings, chicken fingers, corn dogs, BBQ, tacos/nachos, and rice bowls.

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The sit-down restaurant is a fun ski lodge theme, and a great choice for a family meal.

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Desserts were ice cream, candied nuts, various cookies, cupcakes and cake pops, cotton candy, kettle corn and more.

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Nightly Snowfall

The nightly snowfall is to the left of The Hangar building as you’re facing it, and to the right of the Rice Bowls stand. The snow comes on intermittently throughout the night, and also during the Christmas Tree lighting. Be sure to stand on that side of the tree during the ceremony to be close to the snow.

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Time and Money Spent

I’ve had a lot of people ask me if it’s “worth it” to go. Here’s my time and money breakdown, and I’ll leave it to you to decide the value of a nice night out. Parking is $7 – cash only. For the average-sized family, I would give yourself around four hours to experience the event. It was not crowded on the night we went, but between the carnival rides and games, Snow Summit, reindeer feeding, bounce houses, model trains, crafts, and eating dinner, it took around that much time to experience everything. We could have kept on riding down Snow Summit, but it was getting late. If you buy the discounted online admission for a weeknight, it’s only $40 for two adults and two children over the age of 4. I recommend the unlimited ride wristbands for the kids ($20 each), and if you have a few snacks and drinks there, expect to pay around $120 total for a fun evening with your family. If you decide to ice skate, have some beers, or get a pic with Santa, you’ll have to add a little more to your budget.

Personally, we had the most fun tubing and riding the carnival rides. It felt like a smaller and more intimate version of the fair to me, and I really liked that it wasn’t crowded. For families with very small children I am not sure it would be the best event for you, but if you have kids between 5 and 10 years old, I think you would really enjoy a night (or day) at Winter Fest OC. The biggest complaint I’ve heard was the cost, but I think it’s possible to enjoy the event without spending too much as long as you’re prepared!

 

Does Winter Fest OC sound like something your family will experience this year? Did you already visit? What did you think?

 

 

About Angela Bishop

Angela is a Florida transplant who has been living in Orange County since 2004. She loves music, driving on the freeway (even in the SoCal traffic), trying new foods, and traveling near and far. When she’s not covering local events, she’s traveling around with her crazy family and writing about it over on http://thebiswolds.com.

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