Originally posted on Medium

Jocelyn Signoretti

The question on many people’s minds is still: is it safe?

On Friday, July 24, Knott’s Berry Farm opened back up in the guise of a “Taste of Calico.” This event had tasting cards that allowed adults to choose five, and kids three, food or drink items from a multitude of restaurants and booths inside Knott’s Berry Farm. Some of these options included Boysenberry Jam Sugar Cookiewiches, Stuffed Churros, Vegetarian Samosas and even Boysenberry Beers and Wine. With Adult tasting cards priced at $25 and Junior Tasting Cards priced at $15, this was an event people could not resist, especially not after being locked in their houses for four to five months.

Obviously because of COVID-19, Knott’s Berry Farm was forced to shut down, but since Governor Newsom allowed restaurants to reopen to a certain degree, Knott’s Berry Farm was able to use this to its advantage. In July, when the park partially reopened, it began slowly testing the waters with a two-weekend event that was successful enough to be extended, and then Knott’s Berry introduced two more events: “Taste of Knotts” and “ Taste of Halloween.” As much as we may love and miss Knott’s Berry Farm, the question on many people’s minds is still: is it safe?

Well, the answer changes depending on who you ask.

Knott’s Berry Farm Director of Communications, Cherrie Williams, thinks the reopening of Knott’s Berry Farm is that it is safe, and only getting safer. Especially the latest event — “Taste of Falloween.”

Usually around this time is when Knott’s Scary Farm takes places, so when it got cancelled, Williams said it hit morale a bit for both employees and guests alike. This caused her team and other departments to throw everything they had into “Taste of Falloween,” including both decorations and safety precautions — doing everything they could to have some semblance of normalcy.

For the “Taste of Calico,” while testing things out, Knott’s encouraged outdoor seating, would not take cash, and only Ghost Town (a small section of the park) was open. Now onto their third event: “Taste of Halloween.” The park has opened more sections, but is still only at 10 – 14 percent capacity of what a normal Saturday used to look like. It is also now allowing cash transactions.

Some of the policies put into place to keep people safe include: reinforcing mask-wearing, having stickers on the ground to keep people six feet apart, and limiting the number of people allowed into the park. Extra measures taken are things like putting sinks throughout the park and doing temperature checks. Williams said, “The cleaning is rigorous.”

According to Williams, while a majority of people wear their masks, there are a few who slip through and take them off after entering the park. This is where park security steps in. They not only have to deal with keeping the place secure, finding lost children, and responding to emergencies, among other things; they now have to deal with guests who refuse to wear their masks properly and screening guests to keep everyone safe. While the jobs of some departments, like security, have gotten a little harder, Williams believes that as time goes by everything is getting easier and safer.

This is something Ahriana Zamano agrees with. On Oct. 16, Zamano visited Knott’s to celebrate her anniversary with her boyfriend. Her experience with “Taste of Falloween” was excellent and convinced her that she is safe in the park.

Her visit began with an extensive check in. The first stop being a checkpoint where a man asks if guests have any COVID-19 symptoms. Then Zamano and her boyfriend went through temperature checks, then through security, and then they were allowed in the park. All of these steps are meant to ensure the safety of guests.

When asked about the cleanliness of the park, Zamano said, “They were constantly cleaning surfaces after families got up and left.” She said that everyone wore masks properly at all times except small kids who probably should have had them on. The only time people had masks off, according to her, was when they were eating at tables or when groups were taking photos in secluded areas, where they could keep a good distance from others.

Zamano does admit that all of this could be because she visited the park in the early afternoon, when it wasn’t busy. While she didn’t think it was overcrowded, she did say: “There were some parts of the park where there were lots of people, but towards the boardwalk area there was hardly anyone and I think it’s because there wasn’t a lot to do.”

A look at Taste of Falloween
Photo courtesy of http://www.inparkmagazine.com/

She plans on visiting again for the next event around Christmas, because of the good food and her good experiences at “Taste of Falloween.”

 

“People might say the guidelines were followed, but personally I didn’t feel safe at all.”

 

Many guests may share Zamano’s opinion about the park’s safety and will come again, but employees who come in direct contact with these guests don’t all see it the same way. Some think their safety is in danger, but many can’t afford to not work during these trying times.

Adamari Castro, who is currently working as a Team Lead at Knott’s Berry Farm, is a bit more cautious in her appraisal of the situation than Williams and Zamano. After a few months out of work, Castro was brought back to work at “Taste of Calico.” While many precautions may have been placed, Castro felt they have not been followed very well. “People might say the guidelines were followed, but personally I didn’t feel safe at all. People would move their masks when they order, remove their masks to sneeze, etc.,” said Castro. What may seem like small things are actually a big deal to Castro and other employees.

Castro’s experiences with the first event compared with the second and third have not changed entirely for the better. From the first event, she thought, “It was a mess. I think it’s actually worse now because I see way too many people who don’t wear their masks properly or complain about how they can’t breathe in it, as if we told them to leave their house.”

At night these problems are amplified. After around 4 p.m., when people start to get off work, the park begins to fill with guests, even getting close to the quota of how many people they allow in the park at a time during COVID-19. While it may be prettier at night, that’s when it becomes overcrowded.

Every day of “Taste of Falloween” is already sold out. They’re next upcoming event is Knott’s Merry Farms which will run from November 20th through January 4th. Castro believes that the evening is when the park is the most dangerous. The problem is not just that people don’t wear masks; they also refuse to stay six feet apart.

As the crowds return and the park struggles to staff up, the worry is that small problems could build to bigger ones. Hopefully, everyone will stay safe.

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In collaboration by Quaker Campus staff members.

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