Update Sept. 28, 2020:
It's back to business as usual at Remlinger Farms, with crowds and long lines for all the rides. We visited the opening weekend of the Harvest Festival, which runs every Saturday and Sunday through Halloween. Admission has increased to $22.75 plus tax per person ages 2–65; pony rides are an additional $3 (one per child). The wristband you get for this price does include a pumpkin from the U-pick pumpkin patch.
Most of the adults we saw wore masks, as did many of the children. The staff wiped down each ride in between users, but we noticed that people did tend to bunch uncomfortably close while waiting in lines. It was hard to stay spaced out with all the visitors, and away from the people who'd taken off their masks to eat kettle corn and caramel apples.
If you want to skip the family fun park, the pumpkin patch is free to visit, and the tractor ride and corn maze are free. You can just pay for the pumpkins you take home ($4 small, $7 medium, $12 large).
Original article Aug. 26, 2020:
My first thought when we pulled into the parking lot was, Uh-oh, did we mess up the date? Because there was no way the parking lot at Remlinger Farms could be this empty on a beautiful, sunny Saturday in the summer.
But this was just the new norm for the Family Fun Park at Remlinger Farms, which opened earlier this month capped at 25 percent capacity. Inside, we felt like we had the place to ourselves: Zero wait for any of the rides, constant sanitizing and easy social distancing. Other than popping into the (immaculate) restrooms, we stayed outside. Everything felt safe and very fun.
The farm is open Wednesday–Sunday through Labor Day, then weekends only until Halloween. You should reserve your tickets in advance online. You can buy tickets when you arrive if there’s space (but why take that risk when you just drove an hour to get there?).
For the uninitiated, Remlinger Farms in Carnation offers U-pick strawberries and raspberries in the spring and early summer, a pumpkin patch in the fall, and all summer long, a kid-scaled amusement park. A trip to the amusement park is our summer family tradition; I put up with the hot, sweaty crowds because my kids love it.
But notice the glaring lack of crowds in the pictures. COVID times. We hit 11 rides in the first hour and a half, and we were the only riders on a lot of them. We rode the antique cars twice in a row, the carousel three times before getting off, because there wasn’t anyone waiting. In previous summers, we’d spend ages sweating in line before getting in a single ride.
All the staff and nearly all the visitors were wearing masks. Yes, there are a lot of touchpoints where you grip the rides, but the staff diligently wipes everything down between riders. There’s a hand-sanitizing station at every ride. We spritzed on the way in and on the way out. Each ride has 6-foot spacing markers (not that you really needed them because there was no line).
Remlinger Farms added several really fun new rides this year: the Wrecking Ball, the Star Gazer, and our favorite, the giant slide, which we did about a million times. The hay maze, climbing wall, train ride, toddler train and the little carousel are currently closed. The theater is also closed.
You used to be able to feed and pet the goats in the animal barn. It’s closed now, save for two enormous bunnies in cages in the front. You can still visit animals, though. We saw goats, an alpaca, a donkey and a peacock in pens on other parts of the grounds.
For your pony ride, pick up a colored time-slot ticket when you check in. Pony rides are now limited to one ride per kid ages 2 to 10 and under 100 pounds. We noticed that helmets are no longer required (shared helmets always made me nervous anyway), and there are only four ponies out at a time. The one-way path in and out is really well marked.
The outdoor concessions were closed, but there’s food available for purchase inside the market. The picnic tables under the pavilion are now spaced out. We had the entire picnic area to ourselves.
The only sore spot in the day was the pedal cars. The staff member was nice, the other kids were nice, but some adults riding pedal cars tried to race around the track. I heard some passive-aggressive muttering about how my slow pedalers were taking up the whole lane. Hey, this is a ride for kids, not the Indy 500!
I thought my 9-year-old would be too big for most of the rides, but he loved them. We even did the roller coaster — a first! They’ve been talking about Remlinger Farms every day since we went, and are lobbying hard to go again.
If you go...
Find it: Remlinger Farms, 32610 N.E. 32nd St., Carnation
Open: 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Wednesday–Sunday, through Labor Day. Open weekends only through Halloween.
Tickets: Reserve your tickets online for everyone ages 2 to 65 ($16.75). Kids 2 and younger are free, and visitors over 65 can purchase a senior admission ($14.75). Limit five tickets per household.
Pony rides for kids under 100 pounds are included with your admission — just pick up a time-slot ticket when you check in.