Our kids have attended the Big Ol’ Ballpark Fair at Toyota Field the last two years, so when we told them that we were going again for the opening night of Kissel Entertainment’s third visit to Madison, they couldn’t have been more excited. For days, they made plans plotting out the order that they’d ride their favorite rides while crossing their fingers that maybe (just maybe!) they’d grown a couple more inches in order to ride some new-to-them rides too.
Opening night of the 2022 Big Ol’ Ballpark Fair did not disappoint; The crowds were non-existent, the games were numerous, the food options were plentiful, and the rides were countless. If attending this event is on your radar within the next week or so, here’s a play-by-play of our experience and some things we’d do the same and/or differently if we were to go back again while the fair is in town this go-around.
Psst: I know that most of you just care about the financial breakdown, so I’ll do just that so that you can PLAN WELL!
Arriving at Toyota Field
Parking could not be more obvious. Very easy! Several attendants will be hanging around waving you into the parking lot. The cost to park is $5/car. Cash or card are both accepted.
After parking on the south side of the parking lot, you’ll walk north to this pictured entry area.
There is a brief security point; Purses, strollers, etc. are welcome.
Once you’ve arrived at the welcome center, you’ll either show them your pre-purchased tickets that you bought online or you’ll select and pay for what you want at the Welcome Center.
Admission & Tickets
The fair can be as affordable or pricey as you’d like it to be, depending on what you want the experience to be. Here are your options.
Option #1: You want to enter the fair but you’re not interested in riding the rides. You’ll simply pay $10 per person for admission.
Option #2: You want to ride more than five rides; You’ll purchase an admission ticket ($10/person or free for five years old and under) plus an armband that covers unlimited rides (there are over 30 of them!) Armbands are $30 Monday through Thursday and $35 Friday through Sunday.
Option #3: You want to ride just a few rides, see the shows, and walk around the fair with your friends/family. You’ll purchase an admission ticket for $10 and then proceed to the ticket booths on the east side of the fair (very close to the Trash Pandas box office/entry area) and buy the number of tickets you’d like. Each ticket is $1.50, and we discovered that most rides require an average of four tickets per person, per ride.
Psst: If riding just a few rides is on your radar, go for the armband. The ticket booth has an option where one can buy 22 tickets for $30, which is the same price as an “unlimited rider” armband.
Children 5 and younger will receive free admission, but if they want to ride any rides, they still need tickets or an armband.
A Few Example Scenarios
- You have two parents and two children, ages 10 and 4, who go to the fair. Both kids want to ride as many rides as possible, but only one parent is interested in riding rides (especially the “big rides” with the 10-year-old!) This family would need to purchase three “unlimited ride” armbands ($30-$35 each) + three admission ticket ($10).
- You have a family with two parents, one toddler, and one infant. The toddler really loves about five of the kiddie rides and wants to ride them over and over again. The parents have no interest in riding rides but rather would enjoy seeing their child ride the small kids. They would purchase two admission tickets ($10/each) and one armband for the toddler ($30-$35). The infant is free.
- You have an adult who is taking two elementary-aged kids to the fair. The adult isn’t interested in riding rides but the two kids are. Once they get to the park, the adult realizes that he or she actually does want to ride a few rides (I.e. Ferris wheel, etc.) with the kids. This group would need to purchase three admission tickets ($10/each), two armbands ($30-$35 each), and then a handful of single tickets from the ticket booth for the few rides.
- You have a group of teenagers that want to go to the fair and ride rides all night. They each will pay for admission ($10/each) plus armband ($30-$35).
Prices for all of the aforementioned scenarios and tickets can be pre-purchased for a discounted rate here.
There are a variety of promos throughout the next few days that the fair is in town.
Monday, May 16 is Mommy Monday, with each Mom getting a free armband with the purchase of a child armband (both persons must be present at the time of the purchase).
The next day on May 17, admission is free for students of all ages, from elementary school through college.
(Psst: ADMISSION IS DIFFERENT FROM AN ARMBAND. ADMISSION JUST GETS YOU INTO THE PARK. AN ARMBAND OR TICKETS ALLOWS YOU TO RIDE THE RIDES.)
On Wednesday, May 18, armbands will be BOGO.
On May 19, Thrifty Thursday features $5 off all armbands for a cost of $25.
What We Did at the Fair
We rode all of the rides; That’s what we did! 😉
Though our children are all of different heights and ages (8, 6, and 2), we were still able to make the most of our armbands and wore ourselves out throughout the three hours we were there.
The north and east sides of the fair feature the bigger thrill rides, which my oldest daughter and I immensely enjoyed together.
The south side of the fair features a lot of rides that are a bit tamer.
All three kids rode at least 15 rides, several of them multiple times. The armband is the way to go!
The fair also features an aquatic acrobatics show, a sea lion show, and a petting zoo! These are included in the admission, with the exception of some add-on options at the petting zoo.
We played a few games too, which the kids really enjoyed! All games are an additional purchase (plan for $5-10 per game).
Food & Drink
Eat your heart out because the food options are plenty!
The cuisine options are classic “fair” foods, which include (but are definitely not limited to) slushies, chicken on a stick, pizza, french fries, funnel cakes, fried desserts, and much more. Bottled water, soft drinks, and alcoholic beverages are all available as well.
The Junkyard store at Toyota Field is open for shopping during the fair.
There is a baby changing location on-site near the fair exit.
There are portable toilets located throughout the fair.
Personal opinion: Before heading to the park, I would mentally (and financially) prepare for a day at any classic amusement park. You could absolutely be at the fair for hours and not do everything. There are so many rides, games, things to stop and watch, foods to try and indulge in, etc.
If you’re going to a day at Six Flags or some other kind of amusement park, you know that you’re going to be shelling out some money to have a good time. The same applies here; THESE RIDES ARE EXCELLENT RIDES for a fair. We’ve been to many fairs across the country, and this one is WITHOUT A DOUBT the best. It truly feels more like a travel amusement park than a “fair”. Two thumbs way up for Kissel Entertainment!
We felt extremely safe on the rides, and the staff was very attentive. My oldest daughter and I especially had so much fun (we’re both thrill-seekers and adrenaline junkies!) You might shell out a bit of cash, but you’ll absolutely get your money’s worth if you plan well and set the right expectations.
Quick Links for the Big Ol’ Ballpark Fair
When: May 12th – May 22nd, 2022
Where: Toyota Field, Madison, Alabama
Hours: Opens at 4 p.m. Monday – Friday and 1 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday