December in Kansas City is a transition month for weather. While Christmas is on the mind, we are usually dealing with more temperate temperatures. This was the case for our visit to Worlds of Fun for Winterfest. Fortunately, the temperatures were expected to cool off after dark, so we knew it would put us in the holiday mood.We want to thank Visit KC and Worlds of Fun for their hospitality. Rest assured that all opinions are our own.
1 – Catch the Holiday Spirit
Since Kansas City does struggle with the start of the cold weather, it can be difficult to get into the swing of the holidays.(It’s okay with us if it stays warm longer.) Even though the decorations appear in stores as soon as Halloween ends, as well as the Christmas music, it can still be hard to change from summer mode. Fortunately, attractions like Winterfest help spark the Christmas flame. During our visit, we found ourselves slowing down our hurried pace, and spending a little longer looking at the decorations and twinkling lights. The holiday magic was beginning to return.
2 – Cast of Characters at Winterfest
We arrived around 4:00, which gave us time to scope out the park, while daylight was still hanging on. After passing through the front gates, we were deposited in the International Plaza. The 70 foot tall Christmas tree is the backdrop for a stage show that has performances throughout the evening. It is also where we had our first introduction to some of the characters who inhabit Winterfest. A group of elves interacted with guests, welcoming them into the park. Later, we ran into a frosty pair on the Plaza. Candy Cane occupies a small area filled with gingerbread and candies, just past the Tivoli Theater. Everyone seemed more than happy to pose for pictures with guests. We heard that there are at least 16 characters who wander the grounds, so be sure to keep your eyes open for them.
3 – Showing Local Artists Some Love
We had taken time prior to our visit to scope out the layout of Winterfest. One of the areas that we made note of was the Artisans Alley. This area is filled with regional artists who offer their handmade items for sale. We made a beeline from the entrance, and were some of the first to scout it out. That gave us first dibs on the products they had for sale. The setup is well designed for strolling, while perusing the booths. Here we found jewelry, bath items, apparel, and lots of home decor items. Don’t worry about having to lug your purchases around the park. We discovered that they will have them delivered to the front, so you can continue your evening frivolity unencumbered. A nice touch to this section are some seating areas with firepits. It certainly helps foster the mood of slowing down to enjoy the scenery.
4 – Thousands of Lights
Speaking of scenery, the staff at Worlds of Fun have gone all out to decorate for the season. Everywhere we looked there were fun little scenes festooned with twinkling lights. Even the railroad train was decked out with Christmas decorations. We took a ride just after dark, and it allowed us to see the park from a different perspective. We were glad we had grabbed some hot cocoa just before embarking. You can get a refillable mug for around $11.00 at many of the vendors. Refills are free all night long, and only cost $1.00 on subsequent visits to the park. Once the sun set, the temperatures started to drop, and it certainly began to feel a little more like winter. The gentle breeze produced from the train ride had a nice touch of cold to it, and by the end we were definitely in the Christmas mood. Be sure to catch a ride at Le Taxi for a drive-thru view of the 12 Days of Christmas in lights.
5 – Fun for Kids of All Ages
Since we were in the area, we decided to head over to the Planet Snoopy section of the park. Even though we didn’t have any young ones with us, we still wanted to see what could be found. This part of the park was extremely popular, and most of the rides were operating. As we strolled through, we heard the screams of delight from guests riding the pint-size rides. As we crested the top of the hill, we found ourselves at Charlie Brown’s Christmas Tree Lot. A line of kids were waiting their turn for a picture with the Peanuts character, and it was entertaining to watch the reactions. We made our way around to the back of the lot, and found the perfect tree for a Christmas celebration. It just needs a little love.
6 – Entertainment Galore
Throughout the park we enjoyed Christmas music on the sound system. In some areas we even discovered live musical performances. Near the train station we stumbled upon a bluegrass band performing. We have had the pleasure of seeing lots of performers in this genre, and find it quite appealing. The twang of the banjo, boom of the double bass, and soft strumming of the acoustic guitar form a pleasing melody. In the Hometown Square we listened to an A cappella group harmonize, while putting an upbeat spin on Christmas classics. All around us snow was falling, created by overhead machines. There are more live shows happening throughout the park than we could manage to see in one visit. The Holly Jolly Trolley makes stops at various points, and an impromptu concert ensues. We caught the tail end of one of the performances at the Living Nativity area. This attraction also includes a petting zoo, which was filled with families. By now, we were really into the holiday mood.
7 – Spending Time with the Royal Family
Our next planned stop was the Moulin Rouge Theater for an inside show. Unfortunately, the house was packed, so we decided to head over to Mrs. Claus Kitchen. This attraction has an extra fee of $14.00. For that price you get your choice of four extra large cookies, as well as all of the necessary decorating supplies. This place was also a popular option, and inside the tables were filled with families engaged in the holiday craft. As we waited our turn, we were able to get Mrs. Claus to take a quick break from overseeing the festivities, so she could pose for a picture. Once we had our cookies chosen, we grabbed our supplies, and found a table outside. I let Crystal do the decorating, so that I could capture the event for our memories. The final product was beautiful, and we hardly dared eat such a wonderful decorating job. Of course, once home our son had no issues being the first to taste the creations. Once the eating began, Crystal and I decided to join in.
8 – Unexpected Sightings
Now at an event named Winterfest you expect lots of Christmas lights, but what about the other regions in Worlds of Fun? In the African section we saw large lighted sculptures of an elephant and giraffe. One of my favorite areas is the Orient area, which is filled with visual sights. Koi and lotus lighted sculptures dance about the pond. Silk lanterns create a tranquil setting, while double dragons light up the Spinning Dragons ride. Just beyond this area we discovered the Polar Bear Plaza. It isn’t hard to find with a 30 foot tall Santa as the centerpiece.
9 – Photo Opportunities Abound
As we traversed the park, we came across a multitude of places perfect for a selfie. Of course, we weren’t the only ones with this idea, so sometimes we had to wait our turn. There is a section of Winterfest that reminded us of Candyland with lots of over-sized gingerbread figures, as well as giant candy canes. It all looked so delicious that Crystal might have gotten just a wee bit hungry. We even found a blow-up snow globe that could be entered for a one-of-a-kind photo opp. Wouldn’t that make a perfect Christmas card photo?
10 – Great Stage Shows
While we may not have caught a performance of Tinker’s Toy Factory at the Tivoli Theater, we still were able to see live indoor entertainment. At the Moulin Rouge Theater Charlie Brown’s Christmas Spectacular is performed every hour. We picked a point when we were ready to take a load off of our feet, and caught a performance. The Peanuts gang is joined by a cast of singers and dancers for a fun Broadway style show. This family friendly attraction is fast paced, and keeps the audience engaged. It was a perfect length for a well deserved break.
Beaming With Holiday Spirit
The evening was winding down, and time for our departure was fast approaching. As we made our way toward the front gate, we took one last gander at the lights. We were very impressed with the lighting scheme used throughout the park . Each area had its own specific lighting pattern that made it clear when you moved from one zone to another. It made exploring feel extra special as we discovered new lighting patterns around each turn. As we prepared to exit the gate, we took one last long look at Winterfest. The inaugural year for any new attraction can be challenging, but Worlds of Fun definitely hit a homerun with this one. We can’t wait to see what they do to top this year. We made our way to our car, and listened to Christmas songs all the way home. Winterfest succeeded in putting us in the holiday spirit.
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