Santa's Workshop is a magical, enchanted place. If you love everything about the Christmas season, from the reindeer to Santa's elves to Christmas trees and the jolly old elf himself, you owe it to youself and your family to pay a visit.
Santa's Workshop in North Pole, NY will transport you back to the Christmases of yesteryear, when simple things brought us joy ... candy canes, wooden toys and magical stories. Tucked into the mountainside on the way to Whiteface Mountain, this is America's oldest theme park and was the model for many of our modern theme parks today. Not much has changed here since the park was first opened almost 60 years ago and the owners intend to see that it stays that way.
This wonderfully retro theme park was the brainchild of Julian Reiss. He was a businessman in Lake Placid in the 1940s, and when his daughter asked him to take her to Santa's summer home, Reiss determined to make such a wish possible. So he bought some land along the highway heading to Whiteface Mountain summit and then worked with Arto Monaco, a local artist.
Monaco had designed a fake German village in the Arizona desert to help train WWII soldiers. He drew up some preliminary sketches and Reiss had them built. That was basically all the planning involved - no blueprints or marketing plans - and the doors were opened on July 1, 1949.
Santa's Workshop was an immediate hit with children and adults alike. There was nothing else like it around anywhere! There was so much to see and do - a continually frozen "north pole" (which is still there today) along with the world's first petting zoo composed of Santa's reindeer, sheep and goats. Not to mention Santa himself!
The picture to the right shows one of the many events that go on all day where the characters come out and play with the visitors - my son is the cute little redhead in the blue shirt!
Over 10,000 people a day were common in the summertime - amazing considering how remote this theme park is. The US Postal Service even awarded Santas Workshop its own zip code and brightly decorated post office so visitors could have their mail sent from the North Pole.
Of course, what would Santa's summer home be without Christmas candy and toys? There are wonderfully decorated log cabins throughout the village offering an array of sweet treats and Christmas collectibles.
The Candy Shop has a variety of homemade sweets, along with hot and cold drinks. You can even watch the Candy Maker at work.
The Toy Maker's Shop has something for all ages! Parents can shop for toys and presents for their children. Kids can help Santa make toys and zoom down the in-shop slide.
The Hat and Stocking Maker's Shop carries novelty hats and stockings, along with other similar items. You can even get your very own Santa hat with your name on the brim.
The Blacksmith's Shop is where Santa's blacksmith works. At this shop you can buy a reindeer shoe to take home. The blacksmith also makes all sorts of neat handmade items like fireplace sets and other utensils.
The Glass Blower's Shop is where you'll find custom hand-blown glass. The glass blower works daily, and you can stop in and watch - it's really fascinating. There are all sorts of beautiful items, many of which you can have personalized. Our family bought a lovely glass Christmas bulb for our tree with our name on it, and we've treasured it for many years.
Last but not least is the Post Office Gift Shop. This is the main souvenir shop at Santas Workshop. They offer mugs, sweatshirts, and many other items with the theme park's logo on it. It's fun to buy a postcard here and mail it with the North Pole postmark!
There are fun rides here, too, and there's no extra cost to ride them. Some of them are for everyone, but most of them are made for the little ones. You've probably heard the Christmas carol "Over the River and Through the Woods?" Well, The Candy Cane Express is Santa's own train and it really takes you over the river and through the woods!
The Christmas Carousel is a wonderful carousel with 20 hand-made reindeer and 2 sleighs.
A new ride introduced in 2003 is Santa's Sleigh Coaster. This is a mini roller-coaster with 5 cars - perfect for the little ones, but open to all.
The Christmas Tree Ride is a cute ride where you sit in a giant Christmas Tree ball! You can control this one yourself and make it go up and down. Here's my son and I enjoying this ride (we're in the red ball)!
What would a theme park be without a ferris wheel? This one has 6 cars is less than 20 feet high - perfect for young children.We are in Lake Placid, after all, home of 2 Olympic Winter Games. So we have to have a boblsled ride! Again, this one is made for the little guys.
If you'd like to share your memories of Christmas - all the warmth and magic - Santa's Workshop has special weekends in November and December called Family Weekends. These weekends are all-inclusive and all tailor-made for family quality time and magical memories.
These weekends include 2 night's lodging, 2 dinners and 2 breakfasts, 2 days admission to Santa's Workshop and 2 special evenings of entertainment. These weekends are filled with fun and special events.
When you arrive in your room, you'll be greeted by a welcome package full of treats. You'll also receive a treasured color photo of your family with Santa, and each of your children will receive a present from Santa, specially selected for your child.
These Yuletide Family Weekends are so special ... I've spoken with families who've been coming to these events year after year. One father I spoke with had actually been coming for years as a child with his parents and was now bringing his own children! Those kinds of traditions are so special and hard-to-find today. If you're interested in starting this kind of tradition with your own kids, click here for available dates, lodging and a reservation form.
So why not treat your family to some Christmas magic this year and bring them to visit Santa at his summer home in the Adirondacks?