The Tanaka Farms x Sanrio collaboration continues, as we hopped on a morning wagon ride tour of the 30 acre property last Friday. Now if you think this holiday mashup will be the same as their previous one, think again. While there are a couple of familiar elements, this seasonal special definitely requires some planning.
Per Owner Kenny Tanaka, "Tanaka Farms is excited about the response we got from the Sanrio collaboration. It brings great joy to us that we can educate, entertain and feed families all year long with Sanrio and friends. The holidays should bring much more excitement with the addition of our holiday tour, including the Sanrio Village." Happening every Saturday and Sunday from now through December 17, tickets are available online (and on site, if spots are still open). Again, this collaboration is not going on during the week— we happened to luck out when opening day was on Black Friday. If you do decide to drop in on a weekday, the produce shop, Christmas tree shopping and retail merchandise are all available; just not the tour. To learn more about our mini adventure, plus a few helpful hints, keep reading below.
Our ticket advised folks to arrive 20 minutes early for their scheduled tour. This allows ample time to park and check in. As you approach the produce shop and retail areas, the far left register is designated for tours. Show your confirmation email or printed ticket to the cashier, and you're all set. Each member of your party will receive a sticker to wear. The sticker is also good for your choice of a reusable bag or $2 off with a $10 produce purchase (same day only). In addition, everyone receives both a character-studded paper crown and collectible winter button, so you can look super kawaii!
Holiday tours last approximately one hour, where half your time is spent learning about the day-to-day operations of Tanaka Farms, and the rest is dedicated to photo ops. Seating is a free-for-all, so decide beforehand if you want to be along the perimeter or in the center of either wagon. To get the most out of the tour, we recommend planting yourselves either at the back of the first wagon or front of the second wagon. You'll be able to hear the tour guide clearly. We also learned the hard way that sitting up front, while pretty cool, also gets you covered in dust from the tractor wheels. If your tummy is kind of grumbly, you're in luck. We stopped and sampled carrots, romaine lettuce, cilantro and persimmons along the way.
Have your camera ready when you arrive at Sanrio Village, because it's time for those photos! Even though you're given ample time to roam and take pictures, make a beeline for the tent at the bottom so you can get your Santa photo done first. Afterwards, check out all the cute backdrops and selfie accordingly. There are a few Tanaka team members around to assist with any shots, which we found really helpful. Bonus: If you didn't make the last collaboration, many of the previous displays are part of the village.
Check the weather conditions the day of your tour, and dress accordingly. It was extra warm last week, so we threw on a cap and carried bottled water. It made a difference, since the entire experience was completely outdoors (except for the Santa stop, plus a hay bale seating area directly behind him). We also threw on an old pair of walking shoes so we wouldn't trip while at Sanrio Village.
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When you arrive back at the main entrance, take some time to browse the Holiday Market Stand. We picked up some dried dates, green beans, onions and persimmons. In an unmarked cooler, we also found the lemonade everyone was drinking. Between the wagon tour, veggie samples, holiday photos, crown, collectible pin and discount on groceries, the $18 price tag was a relaxing way to spend a day off. FYI: If you're a Gudetama fan like us, we spotted a lazy Christmas ornament among all the Sanrio merchandise.
If you're contemplating a visit this upcoming weekend, rumor has it that Hello Kitty herself plans to make an appearance on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. We can't seem to get enough of the Hello Kitty gang, and Sanrio's VP of Brand Management and Marketing, Dave Marchi, is happy to provide more opportunities, "We are delighted to continue our successful partnership with Tanaka Farms and offer fans a new experience for the holiday season." To learn more about the Tanaka Farms and Sanrio collaboration, head over to this website. See you on the farm!
Tanaka Farms is located at 5380 3/4 University Dr, Irvine, (949) 653-2100; www.tanakafarms.com.