Last week we visited the historic Skypark at Santa’s Village. It’s been beautifully restored and the buildings that have already been remodeled are charming! You can’t help but feel like you are walking through an Alpine Village dripping in Christmas Spirit! You can literally imagine what it must be like to walk around Santa’s Village during Christmastime!
Here’s our take on the details…
The drive: We were fortunate enough to get to stay in a friend’s cabin in Lake Arrowhead. We arrived the day before so our drive to the park was only about 7 minutes. The drive up Hwy 18 can be a bit windy, and while it seems obvious, make sure to check the weather and highway road conditions to see if they are requiring chains to get there. Chains were not required when we arrived, but the ground was slushy and icy due to the recent melted snow and still below freezing temps.
Price: While it seems a little high ($49 for kids, $59 for adults) it does include all of the activities inside the park. It’s not any more expensive than going someplace that charges a lower price to get in but then nickel and dimes you for everything you do…like the county fair for example. Once inside Santa’s Village, you have a lot of options for activities, shopping, crafts, entertainment, and character visits, etc. The only thing they charge extra for is food and drink, which you would expect anywhere you go for the day.
Parking: Parking was free, and plentiful. The park opened at 10:00a and we arrived almost about that time and were able to park right in front and no line ahead of us.
Entrance: If you buy your tickets online they offer the option of signing the waiver online as well. I would highly recommend doing that, as we were able to go right into the park very easily and quickly with our printed out tickets.
Crowds: Since we went the first week of Christmas vacation, and less than a week before Christmas, I was fully expecting HUGE crowds. When we got there the parking attendant asked us if we already had tickets because they were sold out. But once inside the park, there was hardly anyone there; the lines were not long at all for activities, to meet Santa or to eat. I think they must limit the number of tickets they sell per day to give the guests the best experience possible. We did go on a Tuesday, so it may be less crowded during the week than on weekends.
Activities: There are a lot of activities for kids of all ages (and kids at heart too!). Included in the entrance fee is; the Polar Express Train Ride, the Silver Bells Skating Pond, Arrows Adventure (a pedal car experience), Santa’s Village Mining Company where you pan for gold, cookie decorating, Magic Tree Boulder climbing room, Discovery Play area, and Santa’s Workshop where you can make an ornament and write a letter to Santa.
Shops: There are amazingly cute little shops to pick up a special Santa’s Village keepsake or a warm hat or Christmas decoration. We really enjoyed looking through all the shops.
Food: There are 2 restaurants to have a meal (St. Nick’s Patio & Grill and Gatherings), we chose Gatherings. It’s the more fine dining of the 2 restaurants, and is like eating inside of a rustic, beautiful cabin, complete with chandeliers, a Christmas tree and the fire aglow on a big screen TV. My daughter ordered Mac N Cheese off the kid’s menu, and I had the trip tip sandwich. Both were made with fresh ingredients and were excellent! She had a hot cocoa and I had coffee and the bill was around $23.00, which I didn’t think was too bad for a nice, hot lunch with great atmosphere. We were also told that they have concession carts (hot dogs, etc.) that you can purchase food from, but we didn’t see those while we were there.
There are also a few places to enjoy a cup of hot cocoa or a specialty coffee; Kringles Coffee or the Gingerbread House. There is also an adorable Candy Shop onsite too.
Entertainment: There are a lot of opportunities to see characters, and the staff dress in old-world authentic Christmas costumes. We met the Sugar Plum Fairy, Arrow (Santa’s dog), Santa’s elves, magicians, and men on stilts walking around interacting with the kids.
There is also story time, Christmas carolers, a magic show, an elves dance party, and a nightly Making Spirits Bright Tree Lighting parade.
The highlight of course is getting to visit with Santa inside Santa’s House. They do this up super nice. Only 1 family is even allowed inside the house at one time, so you have personal one-on-one time with Santa. I asked before we entered if we could take pictures using our own camera (fully expecting that they would say no and we would have to buy expensive pictures), but the answer was “of course”! So I was able to get some really adorable pictures with Santa, and he gave my daughter a large jingle bell as a gift.
Overall Atmosphere: Every staff member we encountered was very helpful, interactive and full of Christmas cheer. They made the kids feel special. Everyone, including the guests seemed to be in great spirits throughout the day. From the snow on the ground, and the tasteful Christmas music piping throughout the village, to the yummy coffee drinks and treats, to the detail on the buildings exceeded our every expectation.
We had THE best day ever and made memories with my daughter that will hopefully last a lifetime, much like mine have from visiting many years ago! We will definitely be going back next year!