Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Santa's Village

Santa's Village opens for the season this weekend - June 15th, 2013.  It is located in Bracebridge about 90 minutes north of Toronto.  Ok, I don't know if you have noticed but I say just about everything is about 90 minutes north of Toronto, well anything south of Sudbury anyway, so it could actually be 2 hours north of Toronto.

It is an amusement park aimed at kids under 8 or so and for some reason that remains mysterious to me has a Christmas theme to it.  I really wonder how that planning meeting went down.  "Say, Bob, I think we need an amusement park up this way, you know for all of the visitors we get in the summer months?"  "By God Carl, you're right.  Let's make it all Christmasy!" "Uh, ok."  I mean, I am guessing.  Anyway, for whatever reason it is Christmas all summer long at Santa's Village.
You have to place your hand on the elf oath sign for it to be binding.
First up, is the elf pledge.  All kids coming in are stopped by a friendly but persistent elf and encouraged to take the elf oath (swearing to keep up on their quotas of etch-a-sketches is implied). Once they have done that they can don their elf hat which was a highlight of the trip for my kids. They wore them all day and in fact still have them and wear them when playing dress up.

See?  Elf hats in full effect.
There are several rides that are perfect for little kids including the little airplanes, a pretty good little roller coaster, a Ferris wheel, a merry-go-round and a few others.  Nothing terribly inventive or anything but all good rides for little kids.
Hanging out on the Ferris wheel, where each cart looks like a Christmas decoration.
They also have face painting, some deer to pet and feed and a live show.  When we were there the performer was Erick Traplin who, I swear, is stalking me.  I have seen him live at Santa's Village, Kidspark, the Kitchener Public Library, the Kitchener Market, Tooney Tuesdays, school carnivals, UNICEF Family Fun Days and, I kid you not, outside my office. Guys?  I work at a university.  See? Stalking me!  Anyhoo, the kids love him.
It took some convincing to get the face painting girl to do spider man on my daughter.  She kept asking if she wanted to be Spider Girl to which my daughter finally asked in exasperation "Who is Spider Girl?  There is no Spider Girl!" She did finally get her spider man face paint!
Kids can also visit Santa and Mrs. Claus in their little cottage which my kids thought was pretty hilarious.  You can also decorate gingerbread cookies for a small extra fee.
My husband lost his hat.  He is bald.  It was sunny,
hence the  elf hat.  Which he stole from a small child.  
They have little bikes that the kids can ride around on a track and a playground where they can stretch their legs.  There are also some games the kids can play for prizes.  When we were there the place was not very busy which was good since it meant hardly any lines and the kids could go on the rides they liked the best over and over again.  There is also a splash pad and even a beach area if your kids like the water.
Clearly, plotting her escape.  
They also have a little train ride that goes around the park which is fun.  Well, until your toddler decides to make a break for it and go and stand in the middle of the track while a train is heading straight for her.  Now, don't get me wrong, the train doesn't go more than about 5 miles an hour, but it is big and lumbering and presumably hard to stop so I freaked out all the same.  I stood there screaming helplessly while a miniature train trundled in slow motion towards my oblivious child in an elf hat.  Anyway, my husband managed to swoop in and rescue her from certain death.  Thanks honey!
Recovering on a boat ride.  
One of the things my kids really liked was Santa's Sleigh which is like a riverboat that goes up and down the waterway right by the park.  It was nice and relaxing after a long hot day in the sun and the captain was great and very entertaining.

Santa's Village isn't cheap, for a family of four you are looking at about $120 to get in but if you have little kids and not far away I would actually say it is a better value than Canada's Wonderland.  There aren't as many rides but they are perfect for little kids and the pace is much more relaxing and quiet which agrees with little ones more. With the rides, the animals, entertainers, splash pad and beach it is easy to spend a whole day at Santa's Village.  Plus it has the elf hats.  You can also sign up for their Santa's Nice List to get coupons, like buy one get one 50% admission. 

You can even camp at Santa's Village since there is a camp ground right on site.  

You can also bring in food without any hassle which means you can keep the costs down a bit.  We brought in lunch and then just bought a treat for the kids later.  They have picnic tables in the shade where you can eat.

If you do have an older kid there is Sportsland right next door where they have things like go carts, batting cages and laser tag.  So, you could divide up and hit both parks if you have kids who are different ages.  Sportsland is pay as you play so laser tag for instance is about $7 and the batting cages are about $3.50.

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