My kids love going to Vala’s Pumpkin Patch in Gretna, Neb., because of all the activities — they could spend a full day riding pedal carts, jumping on the pillow jumpers, and creeping through the haunted house. Me? I like the food at Vala’s. And this year, I discovered another reason to go to Vala’s each year: The drinks.
Read on to see which drinks I recommend trying on your next visit! Plus, as a 2020 necessary addition, I’ve added the COVID-19 safety precautions seen at the pumpkin patch.
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Vala’s Pumpkin Patch and Orchard. All thoughts, opinions and typos are my own.
COVID-19 safety measures at the pumpkin patch
This post was originally going to be all about the unique drinks at the pumpkin patch but being 2020, I feel that laying out some expectations before your visit is important. Yes, Vala’s has safety measures in place. They include:
- Masks are required for all guests ages 5-years-old while inside buildings, in queue lines or when social distancing is not possible. You’ll see all Vala’s team members wearing masks, too.
- There is a limit to the number of guests at Vala’s to comply with government guidelines. This will likely affect visitors on peak days, like October weekends. Arrive early to avoid any cutoffs at admissions.
- There are limits to the number of people allowed inside a building or at an attraction at one time.
- Cash will only be accepted at admissions. Inside the pumpkin patch, have a credit card or gift card ready.
- All guests will be asked a couple of screener questions prior to entering the pumpkin patch, such as if you’d been in contact with anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19 related symptoms.
- And all the other usual recommendations apply: Don’t visit if you’re unwell, practice social distancing, and use hand sanitizer and wash your hands.
What I noticed during our visit? Lots of signs to remind people to be socially distant. And lots and lots of hand sanitizer.
Some more subtle changes:
- The corn maze is now just one path, so it’s more like a corn meander. It has an essential workers celebration in it this year.
- Employees wiping down pedal carts, gaming surfaces, and more frequently.
- Areas will be shut down briefly to undergo deeper cleaning. We saw this with the jumping pillows and the chicken barn.
Not to be cliche, but these are unprecedented days. If you don’t feel comfortable with the safety measures, Vala’s has made it easier to bring some of the experience home with you… Call it a “taste of Vala’s.” Check out the menu for their curbside pick-up options.
OK then, on to the good stuff! Beverages.
The talk of 2020 is that Vala’s is now making hard apple cider. For the 21 and older crowd, this will be the first time you can enjoy an alcoholic drink while at the pumpkin patch. Head to the Cider Silo for these items.
There were two types to try when we were there. The Nebraska Classic Cider was my favorite, it’s a tart cider with 6.5% ABV. My husband, not a fan of tartness, preferred the special they had on that evening – the Gold Rush Dry.
They also have a hard cider slushee available. These are a little stronger (7% ABV) and definitely sweeter. The flavors are Classic and Cherry.
FYI: They will ID you and give you a wristband to wear.
The next drink caused the most stir on my social media channels. It was the monster shake (the SMORES flavor, to be precise). This Goliath is definitely one you’ll want to share.
It’s made with soft serve vanilla ice cream, fudge, roasted marshmallows, Hershey bars and a nice little graham cracker crust around the rim.
If spoiling your dinner by having one of these first is wrong, I don’t want to be right.
Additional drink options:
- They sell apple cider slushees. I tried to get my hands on one but the slushee machine didn’t have things quite slushed yet. F
- Of course, there’s always root beer, pop, lemonade, and hot drinks like coffee and hot cocoa available.
- You can also ask for a free cup of water if you don’t want to buy a disposable plastic water bottle. They will not fill up your empty water bottles, because COVID.
Planning your Vala’s visit in 2020
Vala’s Pumpkin Patch is located at 12102 S. 180th St., Gretna, Neb., where it’s been for more than two decades.
New this year: Vala’s has started a very limited number of non-refundable, date-specific tickets every day. These will go on sale at 5 p.m. the night before, and remain on sale through 9 a.m. the day of admission.
If these tickets sell out, it only means that reservations are sold out. The majority of tickets and all season passes will NOT be sold for a specific date and are redeemable any date until the farm reaches maximum capacity.
Tip: If you are not able to buy one of these reserved admission tickets, look at the anticipated attendance calendar and crowd tracker.
One reason to go early in the season this year is the new flower field in the rear of Freya’s Chicken Yard. It is full of gorgeous photo opportunities.
I’m guessing more than a few of my friends will snapping pictures of their kids there for holiday cards.
How much are tickets?
Tickets are cheaper in September and on the weekdays. Everyone ages 3 and older must pay admission. Admission is FREE for kids ages 2 and under. You can purchase the tickets online ahead of time and I think you’d be smart to do so since they will limit capacity on full days.
September: Monday through Thursday, $13.95/person; Friday through Sunday, $17.95/person
October: Monday through Thursday, $13.95/person; Friday through Sunday, $25.95/person
Tip: Save $2 off October weekend admission when you purchase online!
What are Vala’s hours?
Vala’s is open in 2020 through Sunday, Nov. 1. The pumpkin patch is open daily. The hours are Sunday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Friday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Tip: If you visit on Friday nights, stay late to catch the 10-minute fireworks show that starts at 9 p.m. The best spot for viewing is near the Pie Barn.