Author note: This article was written in December 2020 as a review for the first-ever Rocket City Christmas Spectacular event with Christmas lights at Toyota Field. Please note that the review below is not indicative of the 2021 event.
I don’t know about you, but our December calendar looks really different than years past. During a time that is typically filled with holiday parties, school events, breakfast with Santa, and much more is now a bit…quieter (and believe me when I say that that’s not entirely a bad thing!)
A quieter holiday season means that we’ve had a bit more wiggle room to give new traditions a test drive and enjoy holiday cheer in a new-to-everyone way, and this past week that meant giving the Rocket City Christmas Spectacular a whirl.
Christmas Lights at Toyota Field: A Review of the Rocket City Christmas Spectacular
My husband was tied up with a commitment Wednesday evening, so I decided to get out of the house with our kids and head to see the Christmas lights at Toyota Field. We even scooped up my parents to join the fun!
Something I love about this outing is that none of us truly knew what to expect. I’d heard great things (and obviously the lights look beautiful from I-565), but otherwise, we were just all along for the ride (literally) to see what the Trash Pandas had going on.
We took the Wall Triana Highway entrance to the stadium as instructed by the online map.
The entry fee is $25 per vehicle, which is payable there at the entrance. We were given instructions regarding the speed limit, our headlights, and which station to turn the radio to, and then we headed off through the light show.
Within seconds, our kids were screaming.
“Look at this! Look at that! Oh my gosh, WOW!”
The lights are synchronized flawlessly with the music, which my engineer dad gave two thumbs up to. We were all impressed.
At one point, someone commented on how it didn’t even feel like we were in the parking lot of a stadium; You almost feel like you’re somewhere very remote because you’re so distracted and entertained by the lights and the show overall.
Did you see my Instagram post yesterday with videos of the lights? So cool!
Once we finished up navigating through the Christmas lights at Toyota Field, we parked in a nearby gravel lot and made our way into the stadium via the team store, The Junkyard. The doors are kept open at both ends at all times.
More squeals ensued when our girls were immediately greeted by Olaf!
Once we were outside at the stadium, we immediately saw the giant inflatable snow globe. Our four-year-old somehow knew that we could go inside, but I wasn’t so sure because I didn’t see anyone in it. A super kind employee overheard our conversation and not only encouraged us to go in but offered to take my phone and snap some pictures.
Next, we checked out our dinner options: Champy’s (which regular All Things Madison readers know I’m a big fan of) or Dumpster Dive. We’ve eaten at both and always enjoy them!
I’ve been to four or five events at the stadium since it opened, but this was my parent’s first visit. I love being with people when they first come to the stadium because they always have the same reaction I did: “Wow, this is AWESOME!”
It’s a really nice facility, and I think I’m in the majority when I say that I can’t wait to sit in those stadium seats and enjoy a ball game one day!
The Winter Wonderland portion of the Rocket City Christmas Spectacular has all kinds of things to pick and choose from to do. Gingerbread decorating kits are available that come with two icing bags to pipe on and enjoy, as well as wooden ornament kits that little ones can doodle with markers on.
My first-grader loved the decor!
Lots of family photo ops too! (Whoever thought we’d be taking family photos in masks this year?)
S’mores kits are also available to enjoy at a nearby fire pit.
We found some friends of ours who were out on a family night with their four kids who were all immensely enjoying the s’mores kits! (You may recognize Sean from The Ostrowski Team with Capstone Realty.)
Don’t miss the letter-writing station to Santa! Our oldest keeps asking for a cat. Oy.
While the kids enjoyed the cookies, ornaments, and letter-writing at a nearby table, the adults checked out the grown-up drink options.
I grabbed a spiked cider and was pleasantly surprised that it came with optional dried fruits. I grabbed our oldest kids some hot chocolate drinks and appreciated the suggestion from the kind employee to put ice cubes in it. Perfect!
At every Toyota Field event that I’ve been to this year, they’ve been on top of it when it comes to wristbands for those 21+. They ask for identification 100% of the time and are consistent with being responsible in this area. Good job, Trash Pandas.
It was cold out of course, but the brisk air added to the Christmas feel. We loved it!
Cue a one-year-old that is about to have a very public meltdown after demanding the hot chocolate be all for herself, and then spilling it everywhere.
We pulled up for the light show at 5:30 and rolled out to head home right at 7 p.m. because our youngest was ready for bed after the hot chocolate meltdown. We could have stayed much longer though due to the relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere.
The employees at Toyota Field started the year ready to do all things related to baseball, and now the end of the year has them putting on a 40+ day holiday spectacular event, and they’re doing it all with big smiles on their faces.
My broadcasting buddy Josh Caray was working the s’mores station. Another friend John Barhorst moved here to work for the team and was happily greeting guests at the beginning of the light show. They are all working hard to keep the stadium alive until baseball is back, and they’ve organized a FANTASTIC holiday event for the whole family in the meantime.
Regarding Social Distancing and COVID-19 Precautions
- Obviously, the light show allows for social distancing because you never leave your car.
- The Winter Wonderland stadium experience is optional but completely outside, minus browsing through The Junkyard store.
- Stadium seats and tables are spread out all over the stadium, providing max opportunities to physically stay 6+ feet away from others.
- I would say 9 out of 10 people were walking around with masks the whole time unless they were sitting down eating or doing an activity with their family.
Things to Note Before You Go to the Rocket City Christmas Spectacular
- Take the Wall Triana Highway entrance in the stadium.
- Santa will be at the Winter Wonderland event on December 4th, 5th, 6th, 12th, 13th, 18th, 20th, and 21st.
- Cards and cash are acceptable to pay for all activities, food, etc.
- If you share pictures or videos on social media, don’t forget to use the #trashpandasxmas hashtag. 🙂
For further information about the event, click here.
Thank you to the Trash Pandas for sponsoring this article, though all opinions are 100% my own.