This week we’re venturing into something that’s a bit different for us. While we are primarily a blog focused on theme parks and the great food finds within them, we want to take this week to write about something a bit different but still in the same realm: Our local San Antonio Zoo! This past weekend the zoo hosted a now annual event called Croctoberfest- A German themed beer and food festival. Over the last year and a half or so, our zoo has really stepped up their game on trying to come up with new and exciting events and promotions to help raise money and keep San Antonio locals entertained! They hosted Jungle Boogie nights every Friday night in the summer, which provided live music, happy hour specials, and food trucks. They also hosted zoo la-la, a Taste of San Antonio event with samplings from over 50 premier restaurants in town. We, unfortunately, missed those events so we wanted to make sure to attend Croctoberfest. And we are so glad we did!
Standard admission was $15 per person, but they also offered a VIP admission price of $50. We weren’t sure which route we really wanted to go, because we weren’t sure if VIP was truly worth it. We ended up getting the standard admission ticket figuring that we wouldn’t end up spending quite that much inside…we were wrong. The VIP ticket came with 15 samplings of beer, which sounded worth it until we saw the sampling size. (It was literally one sip inside a small plastic cup). So, we would’ve ended up needing to purchase more beer after the samplings. They also provided a sample size of different German foods. This is where it would’ve probably come in handy for us since we ended up spending about $35 on food alone.
Overall, though, I’m okay with us not purchasing VIP. Sure, we spent a bit of money on this evening, but overall we’re glad to help out our zoo. The more money being spent by people, the more new additions we will see! We’re already loving the animal enclosure updates, ride and event additions, and new animal experiences that the zoo has added, so we can only imagine what things will look like in the next 15 years!
Upon entering the zoo, we were greeted by employees in German clothing, a German band playing music, and a few beer stands. We were excited but also worried that this would basically be the entire event. That didn’t end up being the case at all! The event stretched across almost the entire park and offered at least 20 (but probably more) beer and food stands. Every stand offered slightly different beer options than the last, making sure you could try different things as you walked on. All of the animal exhibits were open as well, which was a pleasant surprise.
Now, since this is a Theme Park Food Blog, we don’t want to focus too much on the animal exhibits. However, we would like to highlight the newest coming attraction: The Jaguar Walk. The exhibit already offers exciting up-close views of the jaguars and their two newborn cubs, but this new revamp looks amazing! It will feature a skywalk for the animals to walk overhead of guests passing by. We saw something similar in the San Diego Zoo and it was really neat, so we’re excited to see the concept making its way here!
This exhibit lead us to our first food stand (we’d already grabbed beers at this point), which was a Brat on a Bun. This bratwurst topped with sauerkraut was the perfect German dish to get the evening started. It got us pumped up and in the festival spirit. Not to mention we also tried the Rahr and Sons Oktoberfest beer first, so we were definitely setting ourselves up for a well-themed German evening. The brat was tasty, and a great size for sharing! We carried it with us and continued on our way.
Next, we walked down a bit and turned to the right, which seemed to be a pretty busy area. We have dubbed this the “main street” of the festival because it had about 8 stands set up, the zoo carousel, the main stage, and the Beastro restaurant, which was the designated VIP area. We tried a couple more beers and even met a snake! A zoo employee was standing in the middle of the pathway letting guests pet a snake and ask questions. It was definitely something we weren’t expecting to do!
The standout beer this round was the HazelNut Brown Nectar Rogue Ale. If you’re a fan of brown or amber ales, this was a good one! Brittany loves darker beers, especially with notes of hazelnut, coffee, or chocolate, so this was perfect!
Like mentioned before as well, this “main street” area is home to the Zootenial Carousel. The hand-crafted carousel was created by Chance Rides as a new addition for the zoo’s 100th anniversary celebration. What makes this ride so unique is that it features wild animals rather than the horses that most are used to seeing. Some of the animals are modeled after local Texas wildlife, some are mythical creatures, and some are reflections of the zoo’s very own inhabitants! It’s a cute ride, and it was a new and exciting addition to the zoo.
After walking past the main area, we wandered into the bird section of the zoo. Usually, this is admittedly not our favorite part, but there was a very large beer stand set up and several picnic tables to sit at. So, we grabbed a couple drinks and sat and relaxed for while. Parker tried the Lemon and Ginger Radler by Karbach Brewing and Brittany had the Southern Pecan by Lazy Magnolia Brewing. The Lemon and Ginger was right up Parker’s alley. It had a cider taste to it, which, if you recall from previous posts are his favorite! Brittany liked the Southern Pecan but it wasn’t her favorite.
At this point we figured it was time for some more food. So, we walked up the hill to the top of the zoo and hit up a few more stands. Luckily, there were several stands set up at the top; so, we got to try a few things. First, we had the potato pancakes. These were Parker’s favorite! They were essentially small hash browns served with a side of applesauce. It may sound like a strange combo to anyone unfamiliar with German food, but it actually works quite well. Brittany is not a big fan of hash browns in general, so she wasn’t crazy about them, but her opinion is a little biased. Parker actually loved them so much he almost got a second serving, but since we had so many things left to try Brittany talked him out of it. (Sorry)
The top of the zoo is also home to its newest permanent bar: Longnecks! An appropriate play on words considering it’s located next to the new giraffe exhibit, this bar and grill features some classic bar food options and several beers on taps as well as frozen drinks. We decided to stop by and grab another drink, a Stella Cider for Parker, and continue on our way.
By now, we had made our way across pretty much the entire zoo, so we decided to head back to the main area and see what was left to try.
We ordered the Brats Bites and the Pretzel with Cheese. They were both good, but the bites stood out to us. Though they kind of reminded us of cocktail weenies, we still really liked them. The sauce was good, and the portion size was large. The pretzel was also a pretty decent size. There were two different size options to choose from. The larger pretzel was $10 and the one we ordered was $5 and the difference didn’t appear to be that big. Also, who really needs a pretzel that huge??
Overall, the night was a lot of fun! We love the idea of the zoo adding all of these new adult-themed events in the evenings, and really trying to breathe some life back into it! Croctoberfest was
well themed, thought out, and executed. It has left us hopeful for the events of the future!
Great job, San Antonio Zoo!
Oh, also we got free Whataburger cookies on the way out! So, bonus points for sure!!
Until next time, auf wiedersehen!
A Fright to Remember- 2017
Hello Everyone! We’re back after a two-week hiatus, and we’re ready to start bringing you non-stop coverage of our favorite time of the year! We’ve got lots lined up for the next few months and we can’t wait to get started!
This week, we want to kick off our return by getting everyone into the fall spirit with one of our home parks! We’re covering Six Flags Fiesta Texas’ Fright Fest! Fright Fest is an event that is held at every Six Flags Park across the country.
While most of the parks share many of the same themes and houses, every park still has their own unique attractions as well! Fiesta Texas is no exception since they have five shows, six haunted houses, and five scare zones scattered throughout the park. In coordination with Fright Fest’s opening weekend, SFFT also launched the brand new Thirsty Buffalo Saloon located in Crackaxle Canyon, which is actually where we began our evening.
When we heard that Six Flags was opening a sports bar inside of their park, we were naturally pretty excited. We haven’t really heard of the concept of a full-blown sports bar/snack shack complete with tables and cocktail waitresses inside of an amusement park before (let alone a Six Flags). It is a neat idea and we hope it does well.
The Thirsty Buffalo Saloon offers a pretty extensive cocktail and liquor menu. We were surprised at how many crafted cocktails and shots Fiesta Texas came up with for their menu. The food menu is a bit smaller, but still decent. It offers classic “bar food” options such as wings, soft pretzel bites, and different chips and dips. We tried the Canyon Blast and a frozen Rum and Coke to start with. All of the staff recommended the frozen coke drinks, so it seemed like an obvious choice. They also offer frozen Jack and Coke if that sounds better to you. The bar has a glorious machine that mixes Coke flavored Icee with alcohol, what a time to be alive!
The Coke drink was very good. We really couldn’t taste the alcohol, which is always a plus (though can be dangerous), but it was definitely there. The Canyon blast tasted more like a typical fruity cocktail. It is a blue drink that is a mixture of Malibu, Blue Curacao, and Pineapple Juice. Although this mixture is something we’ve all probably tasted before, it’s a safe choice and one of Parker’s favorites.
As far as food goes, we were very torn on what to try. We asked several of the wait staff and bartenders what they recommended and the answers were scattered. (Which hopefully means that it’s all pretty good?) We finally decided on the Buffalo wings and the spinach and artichoke dip.
The dip came out first and our first impression based on looks alone had us a bit worried. It didn’t look like a lot of food, and it also didn’t look too appetizing. However, after our hesitant first bite, we were pleasantly proven wrong. It was actually really good spinach and artichoke dip, despite the presentation. Our only issue was probably the chips. They weren’t bad by any means, but they were definitely Tostito’s bagged chips. Brittany also came up with an idea to offer a dip trio. We’d totally pay a few dollars more to have a platter with chips, spinach dip, queso, and salsa. (Consider it, Fiesta Texas!)
The Buffalo wings were SMOTHERED in sauce. Usually, this sounds like a good thing, but to be honest, it was a bit much. The highlight of the entrée was probably the spice level. Usually places that only offer one level of “hotness” try to tone it down a bit for the guests who can’t handle much heat. But, considering we’re in San Antonio, we were definitely excited that Six Flags really went for it on the spice! The wings were also perfectly crunchy which worked well with the taste of the sauce. Overall, we really enjoyed the food. Everything on the menu is unique to this specific location, which gives customers even more reason to check it out. A few tweaks to the menu items and décor and the bar has the potential to be a really cool place. *According to staff, they are planning on getting new tables and chairs. It sounds like some of the deliveries were behind due to Hurricane Harvey. Those additions should definitely liven things up a bit!
After finishing up at the saloon, we stepped outside and were just in time to catch “The Arrival.” This half-show, half-scare zone is basically the beginning of Fright Fest! It starts at the Crackaxle Canyon Train Station. Guests gather around the station and at 7 PM sharp, monsters and creatures from the scare zones all around the park “arrive” to scare everyone and walk to their designated locations. It was a really cool chance to get scared by all of the park monsters at one time. There were creepy clowns, zombies, stilt-walkers, chupacabras and more all wandering around in a small area scaring everyone in their path! It was awesome! It gives you an opportunity to see everything that the park has to offer in one place, and get all the photos you could ever want!
The first house we decided to try was the new “Blood Bayou Haunted Trail.” This haunted attraction is themed to zombies/voodoo/backwoods camping/lots of stuff honestly. We actually aren’t entirely sure what this house was going for. That doesn’t, however, necessarily make it unenjoyable. If you read the description of the house online or in the park map, it leads you to believe that you travel through the bayou and encounter some creepy voodoo going on. However, while in line, there is constant audio playing setting up the storyline as a zombie takeover. On the trail, we encountered swamp people along with a few other monsters. Although it has a somewhat confusing story, there were still some good scares and jumps along the way. We liked the fact that this was an outdoor attraction set up in the queue of The Gully Washer. It allowed for the feeling of being in a campsite to feel more authentic.
On our way to our next haunted house we passed through three scare zones: Aftermath apocalyptic wasteland, Rockville Zombie Apocalypse, and Circus Berzerkus. They were all pretty cool, but we think they got increasingly better as we went on. The zombie apocalypse left a lot of room for the actors to terrorize passerby’s in Rockville, a 50’s themed area, and Circus Berzerkus transformed the Boardwalk section of the park into a demon clown nightmare.
The Boardwalk also features our next haunted house: CarnEvil 3D, a new addition for Fiesta Texas this year. Guests are given 3D glasses and a flashlight and are sent into a black light circus tent filled with evil clowns. What made this house cool, besides the obvious 3D effects on the walls and the black light paint throwing you off, was the use of these flashlights. When walking through a haunted house, or anywhere dark for the matter, when you’re given a tool like a flashlight you become reliant on that light. That’s exactly what we did…until the house started manipulating it. The first time our light went out we thought we got a defective one, but we quickly realized it was part of the scare. Throughout our walk we experienced strobe light effects, and lights constantly going off and on. And every time the house got dark, our flashlight simultaneously went out. It made for great scares! There were a lot of things going on at the same time in this house, which kind of made for sensory overload (probably the point) and overall, we really enjoyed this haunt!
To keep up with the Halloween theming of the evening, Parker decided to ride Poltergeist next. This is a launch coaster, which features a “spaghetti bowl,” meaning the track twists around itself like spaghetti. The fact that this ride uses a lap bar instead of over the shoulder restraints saves it from being too bumpy of a ride. (Lookin’ at you, Rockin’ Roller Coaster)
At this point, it was getting pretty late so we decided to call it a night. We walked through two more scare zones before exiting the park. Wicked Hollow and Chupacabras from Hell. Both were very light on actors, only two in each, which didn’t allow everyone passing through to be scared by them, or even see them. The Chupacabra area was, however, pretty well themed. Probably because it’s basically the entrance of the park, so they set it up to wow people as they walk in.
Overall, we’d call Fright Fest and their new saloon a success! Six Flags Fiesta Texas is slowly becoming one of the cornerstones of this amusement park chain, and we’re excited to know that we can continue to look forward to the additions of the future.
Parker and Brittany Ruhmel- Lovers of all things food and theme park related!