It’s fiesta time once again at Knott’s Berry Farm with the reopening of the now-reimagined Fiesta Village! Featuring refreshed rides, new cuisine, live entertainment, and a nighttime street party, the park has completely overhauled the land into a beautiful celebration of Mexican culture. What’s changed? Quite a lot, let’s take a look at the revitalized space.
The Reimagined Fiesta Village
Just about everything in the land has received retooling, reconfiguring, remodeling, and redesign; the extent of which may be surprising.
Dance of the Restaurants
The most significant change comes in the form of Casa California, a quick-service make-your-own burrito restaurant that replaces the retail and arcade space (of the same name) that dominated the main Fiesta Village complex.
This is a beautifully elegant restaurant. If you’re a fan of custom burrito places like Chipotle, you’ll feel right at home here. We loved seeing a spacious indoor dining area as well!
In fact, all the restaurants have been shuffled around. Across from Casa California, the former taqueria is now Papas Mexicanas. The new location for the popular loaded fry restaurant will unfortunately not be ready for today’s opening, but moving it here will give it a lot more room to breathe.
The former Papas Mexicanas location is now home to Cantina Del Sur, serving up adult drinks.
Inside the new Alejibre Garden, Fiesta Dogs is out and Baja Taqueria is in. Perhaps specialty dogs will find a new home, but we were told that hot dogs just didn’t fit the vision for the new Fiesta Village. Instead, a variety of authentic tacos will be sold here, including some seafood varieties like shrimp and battered fish.
After speaking with the Knott’s team, it sounds like some real thought was put into the food. Wilf Seymour, the director of Food and Beverage told me they even went as far as inviting everyone’s abuelas to come cook their own authentic dishes. “We brought in mothers and grandmothers to help us to learn to make tamales properly,” he said. Everyone’s grandma makes the best tamales so Wilf told them, “Well, let’s bring your grandmother in, and let’s see how you make it!” Wilf also extended an invitation to anyone that wanted to share a spicy salsa recipe.
The seasonal tasting card for Summer Nights (more info below), Flavors of Summer, will include Sabor de Fiesta, a set of food festival booths just outside Fiesta Village offering items like potato and chorizo tacos, micheladas, and elotes.
We had the opportunity to try quite a few food options including a custom burrito, shrimp tacos, several alcoholic beverages, and loaded potato wedges. The Knott’s team made it a point to make as much of it fresh and authentic as possible and it really shows. It’s not just bagged guacamole or frozen carne asada! Nothing disappointed and we’re excited for it all to join the summer food lineup in addition to Summer Nights!
Celebración! Fiesta Village Entertainment!
If you wander the wonderfully decorated areas around Fiesta Village, you’ll find that a lot of care was taken into making the area feel a bit more spacious. This was to facilitate the ambitions Knott’s has for entertainment.
The entirety of Fiesta Village comes alive at night for Calle Celebración, a nighttime street party celebrating Mexican traditions. There are three stages to spread the party across the land, each with its own set of dancers, stilt walkers, and giant colorful puppets.
This is a surprisingly large production between the extensive costumes, authentic dances, and several special effects. Jaguar’s Aztec pyramid exterior comes alive with fireworks, flamethrowers, and even projection mapping.
Producer Chris Do explained the inspiration for Calle Celebración, which is made up of three classic dance segments. He was able to partner with a folklorico group: “We really worked with this group to kind of bring the streets alive,” Chris told me. “They let us know, ‘this is important, this is what it should feel like.'”
It’s incredible what they’ve been able to fit into such a small space; even more incredible that they’re performing Calle Celebración three times a night in between the bands already playing in Fiesta Village, the three Summer Nights stages, and all the other returning entertainment.
Of course, during the day, Fiesta Village will be full of shows and activities. Bob Baker’s Marionette Puppet Shows returns to Fiesta Plaza, as well as the Mariachi Angelitas. New to the land is the Fiesta Village Storyteller in Alebrije Gardens, who regales stories of classic Mexican folklore.
Everything in Fiesta Village is in addition to Knott’s standard summer offerings. Ghost Town Alive is a live-action-roleplaying experience set in the heart of the Calico where the Ghost Town comes alive with all the citizens of the Old West town. Summer Nights is a food festival and concert series complete with three rotating stages and a full lineup of food booths. Along with the opening of Fiesta Village, these two offerings also begin today! Check out our thoughts on this year’s incredible lineup of summer events at Knott’s:
We’re very pleased to see so much entertainment after criticisms that the Boysenbery Festival was light on shows. It’s truly a packed schedule of top-notch entertainment at Knott’s this summer.
With the addition of Casa California, Knott’s had the chance to change the way they do retail in Fiesta Village. This includes Fiesta Mercado which is inspired by Los Angeles’ Olvera Street. The games were also moved out of the crowded Fiesta Plaza into cute, themed booths around Sabor de Fiesta. The entire wall that formerly housed Papas Mexicanas and the entrance to the shop is now an open-air market. This Mexican street market approach looks to be much more open and approachable.
The markets are filled with all kinds of unique items. With a park history steeped in food, Knott’s now has a full line of Fiesta Village food items from hot sauces to queso. I even got to try the new jalapeno caramels, which had a delicious sweet flavor and light afterburn. Wilf Seymour told me they might be better than the Boysenberry ones (which may be considered blasphemy around here).
Merchandise manager Karl Busche was especially excited about the Montezooma’s Revenge tiki mug. We spoke with him about the Scary Farm tiki mug last year, but this one seemed to be special for Knott’s history fans. “We took some of the original artwork that we were able to get off the walls,” Karl told me of the design of the mug, “we’re big and steeped into the history of Knott’s.” He also promised a whole set of new merchandise for MonteZOOMa: The Forbidden Fortress when the refreshed version of the rollercoaster opens later this year.
Atracciones De Fiesta!
Thrill-seekers can enjoy seven refreshed attractions throughout Fiesta Village. Every attraction received a touch-up in one way or another. The most extensive was Jaguar which received an extensive overhaul to the theming at the entrance and a rather beautiful paint job that makes the pyramid’s rock texture pop.
Extensions of the temple’s ruins now fill the space in the pools separating Jaguar from Fiesta Plaza. This makes for a nice transition between the ancient ruins and village parts of the land that will eventually include MonteZOOMa: The Forbidden Fortress.
An eerie green lighting package is now present in the evening in addition to a smoke and lighting effect when the coaster trains travel through the top of the temple.
The other flat rides around Fiesta Village are looking sharp in their new coats of paint. The Carrusel De California’s new color scheme shows the elegance of the carousel much more than the bright red-orange did.
Sol Spin’s bright carnival color scheme is now brought into line with a wrap that matches the ancient ruins of Jaguar’s temple.
La Revolucion, Hat Dance, Dragon Swing, and Los Voladores are all now a part of the Alebrije Garden and have taken on a whimsical, bright, and artistic quality. This includes the adorable spirit animal statues scattered throughout the garden.
Something I noticed was that even the marquees of each attraction were taken into consideration. Many of these attractions had flat signs that almost seemed temporary before, but now have beautifully realized marquees that now fit the attraction they’re intended to be leading guests to.
The only ride not ready for today’s grand opening of Fiesta Village is Montezoma’s Revenge, which will soon launch with new surprises as “MonteZOOMa: The Forbidden Fortress” at a later date. The reopening date for the coaster has not yet been set.
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Let’s Hear From You
Knott’s Berry Farm has yet another win this year with the Fiesta Village retheme. While it may not be as exciting as the retheming of Memory Lane and addition of Bear-y Tales, if this is the level of quality we can expect from Knott’s for future investments then we’re in for some wonderful times down on the Farm. What about you? How does the refreshed Fiesta Village look to you? Are you heading down to see Calle Celebración? Or are you looking for some good food? Let us know in the comments down below.
For more of Knott’s summertime offerings, be sure to take a look at this year’s Ghost Town Alive and Summer Nights going on now!
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