12 Reasons to Visit WinterFest at Worlds of Fun This Holiday

This holiday season, Worlds of Fun is celebrating WinterFest every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday through December 30th. Learn why WinterFest should be part of your holiday plans…

For the first time ever, Worlds of Fun has been transformed into a magical, fun-filled winter wonderland called WinterFest.  Entering the amusement park, it is hard to believe WinterFest is the same Worlds of Fun venue typically enjoyed in the summertime, and I am not sure I could even begin to guess how many strands of garland and strings of lights are up throughout the park.

A special thanks to Visit KC and Worlds of Fun for inviting my family to experience WinterFest.   

Just as there are 12 days of Christmas, here are 12 reasons you need to add WinterFest at Worlds of Fun to your holiday plans this year:

12 Reasons You Should Visit WinterFest at Worlds of Fun this Holiday Season


1 – Ice Skating

Just inside the Worlds of Fun entrance, the Festhaus Pavilion has been transformed into Das Eishaus, an outdoor ice skating experience. Surrounded by holiday lights and filled with seasonal music, you can purchase 1 ½ hour sessions for an additional $15.00 fee that includes ice skating and skate rental.  

Ice Skate at Das Eishaus at WinterFest at Worlds of Fun
This way to Das Eishaus for ice skating at WinterFest

The ice skating sessions available each day of WinterFest are:

  • 4:00 to 5:30
  • 5:30 to 7:00
  • 7:00 to 8:30
  • 8:30 to 10:00
  • 10:00 to 11:30
Ice Skating at WinterFest at Worlds of Fun
Younger ice skaters can request a skate guide like the blue ones being used by these children.

Pro Tip:  Because Worlds of Fun’s WinterFest takes place from 5:00 to 10:00, purchase either the earliest or latest ice skating session so that your ice skating experience doesn’t cut into your park time.


2 – Tree Lighting Ceremony EVERY Night

Each night of WinterFest includes a tree lighting ceremony at 5:30 sharp. The 70-foot tall tree is beautifully illuminated and decked out with more than 6,000 decorations. Each night, a different Kansas Citian flips the switch, and once the tree is lit, there is a live show featuring singing, dancing, and Snoopy.

Tree Lighting Ceremony every night at WinterFest at Worlds of Fun
Singers, dancers, and Snoopy take the stage every night at the WinterFest tree lighting ceremony.
Christmas Tree Worlds of Fun's WinterFest
The fully lit Christmas tree is magical!


3 – Snow

The tree lighting event ends with “snow” falling on the crowd, even on a night like our visit this past Saturday when temperatures remained comfortably above freezing. You’ll also experience “snow” over in the Hometown Square where Jingle Jazz sings Christmas carols a cappella on the Hometown Square Gazebo.

Snow falls nightly at WinterFest at Worlds of Fun
Snow falls on Louise in the Hometown Square at Worlds of Fun’s Winterfest

Pro Tip:  Since the “snow” appears to be soap shavings, your kids can skip a bath before bedtime, stay up super late, and close the park down instead!


4 – Holiday Lights and Seasonal Displays

Before WinterFest, I’d never seen so many holiday lights and seasonal displays together in one place in my entire middle-aged life. If you combined all of the other unique and amazing holiday experiences offered in Kansas City — the Plaza lights, Christmas at Crown Center, the Holiday Luminary Walk at the Overland Park Arboretum, and Candy Cane Lane in Prairie Village — I still don’t think they’d add up to the lights on display at WinterFest. As someone who also enjoys a variety of holiday experiences, I love that WinterFest compliments, rather than competes with, those other Kansas City holiday traditions.

Red Paper Lanterns at Worlds of Fun's WinterFest
While not necessarily traditional Christmas lights, I thought the red paper lanterns were gorgeous, especially reflecting in the water below.

Throughout Worlds of Fun, many of the light displays are coordinated with the music. I heard a wide range of Christmas songs from instrumental pieces by the Trans Siberian Orchestra to one of my seasonal favorites, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/We Three Kings performed by Sarah McLachlan and the Barenaked Ladies.

There are lights everywhere at WinterFest at Worlds of Fun
The Mustang Runner ride in action surrounded by Christmas lights.  


Gingerbread People at Worlds of Fun's WinterFest
A gingerbread display at WinterFest


You can even take the lights to a personal level by purchasing a holiday light necklace or Santa hat with a light-up white puff ball at the end. As the evening grew darker and colder, it was festive to walk past the other visitors lit up with blinking necklaces and hats.

Worlds of Fun worker with a holiday light up necklace
The young woman working in the live wreath booth sports a holiday light-up necklace.


5 – Rides

From Planet Snoopy for younger visitors to roller coasters like the Prowler and Spinning Dragon, Worlds of Fun is still about rides, even during WinterFest. Of the 25 rides available, several of them have been transformed into a special WinterFest experience.  Two of our favorite seasonal transformations were Le Taxi Tour and the Worlds of Fun Railroad.

Pro Tip:  Get a complete list of the rides open during WinterFest here.

Le Taxi Tour

Always a favorite for kiddos not yet old enough to drive, the antique taxis of Le Taxi Tour drive through a course transformed into the Twelve Days of Christmas. There are illuminated numbers counting up to the 12th day of Christmas surrounded by turtle doves, swans a swimming, maids a milking, drummers drumming, and all of the other gifts from the classic carol.

The WinterFest Polar Express
There must be more than a million, delicate white lights in the area where visitors queue up to ride the WinterFest Polar Express.

Polar Express

One of the most magical Worlds of Fun ride transformations for WinterFest is how the Worlds of Fun Railroad has become the Polar Express. The steam-powered train has been fully decked out with lights, garland, and ornaments. As it winds its way through Worlds of Fun, giving riders a full view into all that WinterFest has to offer, Jack Frost cheekily narrates the experience.  

“That’s the Sugar Plum Fairy dancing. She’s going to be dancing for a while. She’s ALL sugared up.”

Getting ready to ride the WinterFest Polar Express
The WinterFest Polar Express gets ready to leave Worlds of Fun’s Kansas City station.

Pro Tip:  The Polar Express can seat 100 passengers in each of its five cars, so don’t let the appearance of a long line deter you from experiencing this ride! 

While You Wait

Although WinterFest felt well-attended when we visited this past Saturday, the lines for rides didn’t feel too long at most attractions. That said, several rides included screens to entertain visitors while they waited including holiday music videos and trivia questions like this one:

According to the song, Mr. Grinch is as cuddly as a:

a) Porcupine

b) Cactus

c) Python

d) Thumbtack

(The answer is at the bottom of this article.)


6 – Holiday Characters

Throughout WinterFest, you’ll see a variety of holiday characters, from toy soldiers to the Sugar Plum Fairy, from Santa and Mrs. Claus to all of their elfen helpers. All of the characters I encountered happily posed for photos and engaged with guests, taking extra time to make WinterFest extra magical for the smallest visitors.

Toy soldier an jester from Nutcracker at WinterFest
A toy soldier and jester from Nutcracker pose for me at WinterFest

7 – Lots of Ways to Warm Up…

Although we had an unseasonably warm high temperature of 63F the evening we attended WinterFest, it definitely got cold once the sun set and temperatures continued to drop during our visit. Thankfully, there were lots of ways to warm up.

There are outdoor heaters set up in different locations throughout the park, and all of the stores and restaurants are nice and warm. Additionally, WinterFest has partnered with the Boys & Girls Club of America in hosting a hospitality room where guests can warm up with a cup of hot cider and make a donation to help Kansas City kids develop the skills, values, and self-esteem they need to reach their fullest potential.

8 – …Like Bottomless Mugs of Hot Chocolate

You can also warm up by sipping a bottomless cup of hot chocolate as you walk through the winter wonderland that is Winterfest. Adults can add a little extra cheer to their cup by spiking it with assorted liqueurs including RumChata or peppermint schnapps.

Pro Tip:  Get your bottomless hot chocolate mug right when you enter the park so you have it in hand and ready to fill and refill as you explore WinterFest.


9 – Decorate Cookies with Mrs. Claus

For a fun, effortless Christmas cookie experience, visit Mrs. Claus’ Kitchen to decorate cookies the size of dinner plates. This activity is completed in four, easy steps:

Step 1 – Select four cookies, either sugar or gingerbread, in the shape of a Christmas tree or a house.

Step 2 – Gather as much green, white, red, and blue frosting as you need and dispense your favorite finishing touches from the sprinkle dispenser.

The sprinkle dispenser at Mrs. Claus' Kitchen at WinterFest
Mrs. Claus’ Kitchen had the coolest sprinkle dispenser for the finishing touch on our cookies!

Step 3 – Decorate your masterpiece.

Step 4 – Try not to eat it all in one sitting!

Note:  There is an additional $14 fee to decorate four giant cookies which seemed like a bargain to me! No baking, no clean-up, and the cookies tasted way better than my sugar cookies ever do after a day’s effort in the kitchen.  The cookies come with a bakery box that makes it easy to carry your creations home.


10 – Nativity Scene with Live Farm Animals

At the nativity scene set up near the Scrambler, hear traditional Christmas carols while petting and feeding goats, sheep, donkeys, and camels.

Note:  As with most petting zoos, there is a $2 charge to feed the animals. 

Camel by Nativity Scene at WinterFest at Worlds of Fun
A live performer from the Sounds of the Nativity manger scene takes a break after a long night working at WinterFest


11 – Ten Live Shows

In addition to the tree lighting ceremony, the Sounds of the Nativity, and Jingle Jazz mentioned previously, there are seven other live shows to experience at WinterFest. See a complete list of all WinterFest shows here.

A Jingle Jazz performer at WinterFest
One of the members of Jingle Jazz, a Dickensian quartet of a capella carolers that perform on the Hometown Square Gazebo.


12 – Santa

Sadly, my youngest is now 11 years old and this Christmas marks my official retirement from visiting Santa. While it’s a bittersweet mommy milestone, it is also the first year I don’t jolt up in bed right as I’m drifting off to sleep with the realization that I forgot to move the Elf on the Shelf, so things balance out.

If your WinterFest companion is still into Santa, be sure to write a letter to send to the North Pole with the help of Santa’s elves at the North Pole Post Office.  You can also visit Santa himself at St. Nick’s Pics just across Scandinavia from the post office.


Coca-Cola Santa at WinterFest at Worlds of Fun
The company that helped shape the image of Santa back in the 1920s has placed this gigantic, 30-foot version of Kris Kringle in the Polar Bear Plaza.  


Leaving WinterFest at Worlds of Fun
We had a blast experiencing Worlds of Fun’s first WinterFest and look forward to making it one of our Kansas City holiday traditions for the years to come.


Plan Your Visit Today

Be sure to make plans to visit WinterFest before the end of the month!  It is open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings from 5:00 to 10:00 through December 30th. Five hours may seem like plenty of time, but we went hard at WinterFest for all five hours and still don’t feel like we experienced it all.  Remember, ice skating sessions are available before and after park hours so consider the earliest or latest option so that ice skating doesn’t cut into your park time.

Pro Tip:  Purchase your tickets online in advance of your visit and save!

P.S.  Mr. Grinch is as cuddly as a cactus.  Did you get it right?


What do you think?  Have you experienced WinterFest at Worlds of Fun this holiday season?  Share your experience in the comments section below.

Don’t take my word for it!  Here is what other bloggers are saying about their experience at World’s of Fun’s first WinterFest:

10 thoughts on “12 Reasons to Visit WinterFest at Worlds of Fun This Holiday

  1. Oh my goodness! There is SO MUCH to see and do! Thanks for sorting it out for us. 🙂 I wish we had a weekend to visit.

  2. God I love Christmas posts ! This makes me so happy but sadly I’m miles away in India where I have no snow or ice skating 🙁 Though I have to admit this looks like someplace I would never want to leave 🙂

  3. I love winter and all these activities are right up my alley! Snow falling on the crowd after the tree lighting sounds amazing! Thanks for sharing a great post 🙂

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