Winter Fest OC in Costa Mesa is on now through January 1, 2023! Read on for our tips for 5 tips to maximize your experience at Winter Fest OC!
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What is Winter Fest OC?
Winter Fest is the ultimate festival celebrating the winter season! The minute you walk in, you feel like you are walking into a winter wonderland fair. You will find carnival rides, carnival games, ice tubing, bouncy houses, live entertainment, and photo opps. Oh my!
There is A LOT to take in when you are there. You will want to have an action plan before entering with your group so that you’re not wasting time going back and forth to purchase tickets for rides and experiences.
Don’t worry though, we’ve done some of that leg work for you 😉 Here are some of our tips below.
How do I maximize our experience?
Come early for the rides
Winter Fest OC is popular and the rides are a big draw for anyone that walks in. I think the natural inclination is to come at night to see all of the lights at night. Solid plan…except that everyone will be wanting to get on rides at that point!
We highly recommend getting there day time to start off your rides and maybe even get indoor picture opps first. We showed up at 3:30 p.m. on opening day (which was sold out). There were plenty of people already at that time. However, it was much busier once dark came and we were so happy we knocked out our priority rides early so that we could choose what to re-ride later based upon wait times.
Ride the Ice Tube and Ice Bumper cars first
Naturally, the ice tubing slide attracts EVERYBODY’S attention. If I’m being honest, everyone in my family was well aware that’s what I went to Winter Fest OC for. I wanted to ride that Ice Tube slide!
There was an easy line early in the day. However, as time goes on, you’ll find that everyone wants to go. If you’ll be riding it a lot, I recommend getting the VIP pass so that you can skip the line and easily go on as many times as you like.
Map out what you want to do when buying tickets
There are tiers to what you can do. General admission includes entry, outdoor photo opps, access to the North Pole Immersive Journey, and viewing of all shows and live entertainment happening in the festival.
Just like at many festivals, you can choose to purchase ride tickets a la carte, or you can buy wristbands. Winter Fest OC has various price levels and and options you’ll want to check them out online before heading out to make your decisions accordingly. If possible, I would hold off on purchasing any wristbands until entering the festival so that your party can walk around and get a sense of what you are and are not comfortable riding.
The reason I bring this up? My oldest and hubby were willing to go on EVERY ride imaginable. Spinning, going high, etc. My youngest was not and I had her as an excuse to not go on the crazy spinning rides (LOL).
Questions you’ll want to consider:
Will everyone in your party ride all carnival rides? There’s a mix of rides for little ones and rides for dare devils. If your party will ride ALL rides (and meet the height requirement), I’d seriously consider buying the unlimited carnival ride pass for each member in your party that will ride all rides rather than just tickets.
Will everyone in your party want to ride the ice tubing slide multiple times, or will anyone be too scared to slide down the hill? Take this into consideration if you want to purchase the unlimited snow tubing.
Will anyone want to ice skate, mini golf, or ride bumper cars? This will be separate from general admission, so be sure to factor this in.
Will anyone want to do absolutely EVERYTHING? You’ll want to consider grabbing the Ultimate Experience Pass as it includes all rides plus ice tubing.
Stay until dark for the lights and ambiance
You definitely want to come early for the rides, and stay late for the lights and shows.
Some things I recommend you do once it gets dark?
- Hop on the ferris wheel for a birds eye view of the festival and all of the lights.
- Watch the tree lighting ceremony. It’s pretty!
- Watch the parade with littles and wave at the characters.
- Enjoy live entertainment! There’s dancing, singing, and audience participation on the stage next to the Fireside Lounge.
Don’t miss the Immersive North Pole Journey!
The Immersive North Pole Journey is included in the price of admission. You’ll see big tents and wonder what’s inside. Trust me, you’ll want to go through the light tunnel and see what’s inside!
What you’ll find inside:
- SO MANY picture opps. There’s a 360 camera, props, and backdrops.
- Miniature trains
- Character meet and greets
Beat the crowds by heading to the immersive journey while everyone stands around waiting for the tree lighting!
Tickets: Buy tickets in person or at the Winter Fest OC website.
*Note: They highly recommend buying passes online. There are also discounts available on their website at times.
Pricing: Head over to the Winter Fest OC website for the various pricing options.
Address: 88 Fair Drive, Costa Mesa, CA 92626
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