There are just some nights where you collapse at the end of the day from feeling equal parts exhausted and also really happy after reflecting on a really great day. Last night was absolutely one of those nights.
Last night my family attended the opening night of the Big Ol’ Ballpark Fair at Toyota Field, and this morning I’m still feeling somewhat on a little high after seeing such joy on my kids’ faces. We really had the absolute best time, and I’m excited to share the details about it with you if you’re interested in checking it out as well.
Toyota Field | Big Ol’ Ballpark Fair
[Note: This is not sponsored in any way by Trash Pandas Baseball, Toyota Field, Kissel Entertainment, etc. We paid for our own tickets. As a member of our Madison community, I’m simply answering the questions I would want to know about this fair if someone had gone before me. Hope it’s helpful in deciding whether you’d like to attend!]
Parking and Check-In
The ample parking at the stadium made this a prime location for something like this in Madison, which made the beginning and end of the event really pleasant (no walking a mile to your car, parking off-road, hopping on a school bus, etc.)
We attended the event with another family we are close with and all decided ahead of time that we were going to buy all-inclusive wristbands for our children, ages 6 and 4. We did this easily online and then presented our emailed barcode upon check-in at the Welcome Center. Weekday all-inclusive ride tickets are $20 Monday through Thursday and $25 on the weekend.
The fee for anyone who does not buy a wrist band is $3 each. (We didn’t pay anything for our baby.)
The Kissel Entertainment employee at the Welcome Center was extremely kind and we enjoyed talking with her about her home in South Africa while she took our temperatures, jotted down our names and telephone numbers, and put wristbands on our kids.
If you do not purchase your tickets online ahead of time, I believe you go to this pictured area below to pay and check-in. I’ll be honest – I’m not totally sure. We were a bit mixed up when we first got there about where to check-in, but not a big deal.
Sanitization and CDC Guidelines
Three cheers for Kissel Entertainment because they were truly working hard to keep everything as clean as they could. Here were the things I observed:
- All employees are wearing masks.
- Hand-washing stations are set up throughout the event.
- All rides are wiped down as soon as a rider exits. (Our child wanted to ride a certain ride again, but she was still asked to get off so that the employee could wipe it down, as I assumed he was simply following the rules to wipe every seat that was occupied.)
- Hand sanitizer is everywhere. (We grabbed some at least five times last night. Our kids oddly love hand sanitizer so I joked with my husband that this added to the experience for them.) 😉
- We frequently saw an employee with a large backpack contraption on walking the grounds spraying cleaning solution (I assume) here, there, and everywhere.
- As far as waiting on lines and social distancing, we never had to worry about this. The place felt like a ghost town considering how big of a property everything is on. I’m sure it’ll see more foot traffic the longer it’s in town, but speaking from our experience last night, there was zero concern about crowds. We actually felt bad that it was so empty, but also really enjoyed letting the kids hop from ride to ride to ride! Talk about money well spent!
- Rides are filled half-capacity. There are laminated blue signs on every ride designating which seats can be sat in and which cannot. You must buckle and unbuckle your own child from each ride, which is another measure put in place to keep extra hands off of each other. 🙂
Sections of Rides
There are three sections of rides: a section for preschool-aged kiddos (30+ inches tall), a section for younger elementary-aged kids (42+ inches tall), and then a section for big kids and adults (48+ inches tall). All sections are worth walking through though because there are rides for everyone throughout every section!
When you walk in, head straight for the baseball field area for the smaller child section. Go right for the moderate area or turn left for the big thrillers for big kids and kids at heart.
An employee will measure your child before each ride if his or her height is questionable. From our experience, none of them budged on height. Our middle daughter is 41″ tall, and she was not permitted by a single employee to ride on the 42″ rides without an adult. I felt sad for her, but I also really respected their commitment to safety and how consistent the employees were throughout the park.
There are some rides where a shorter child can ride with an adult. On some rides (like the caterpillar rollercoaster), I was able to ride with my daughter without having my own tickets.
On the more thrilling rides, I was required to have my own individually-purchased tickets in order to ride with her. When we arrived at the park, we purchased six tickets in case we needed them, and we were glad we did. They allowed us to ride a couple of rides with our kids that they wouldn’t have been able to go on otherwise.
About the rides
I have been to my fair share of county fairs and festivals, and these rides were by the far the cleanest, newest, and most impressive. The “fun houses” for the kids were awesome! I can’t say enough about the rides. Our kids enjoyed them so, so very much. Even our 13-month-old got to ride on one: the carousel (with tickets so that my husband could take her on it.) She loved it, and I sure loved watching her smile.
Food and Drink
Classic “fair food” is available throughout (and it sure did smell good!) Beer and wine are available near the ball field and must be consumed inside this area.
There are games everywhere, and nearly all of them are “play until you win”. I would highly suggest being mentally prepared to let your kids play a few games because they are rather enticing!
Trash Pandas Employees and Merchandise
Though the fair is put on by Kissel Entertainment, Trash Pandas employees were still set up throughout to give directions to various things, answer questions about the ballfield, etc. Many of their food stations around the stadium are open as well as their merchandise shop.
I’d been to Toyota Field a handful of times to photograph or write about various events, but this was our friends’ and my husband’s first time up there. They really enjoyed seeing the grounds and were impressed by every inch of it. We can’t wait for minor league games next year and to really enjoy this place!
In closing, we had the best time. We felt very safe and clean. I wouldn’t say that guests were super stellar about keeping masks on – likely because it was an outdoor event where 20+ feet of social distancing was more than easy – but otherwise would give a double thumbs up for this event.