Last year, I visited Santa’s Village with my four daughters ages 7, 6, 4 and 3. They enjoyed it so much the first time we returned about three weeks later.
This year was daddy’s turn to enjoy time with the girls at the park we used to go to as children ourselves. John had so much fun with the girls, he wanted to share his experience. Here it is in his own words. And the season isn’t over so you still have time to enjoy a visit to Santa’s Village.
My experience at Santa’s Village, by John Garcia.
When I mentioned to friends I was going to take the kids to Santa’s Village, I got a few responses along the lines of, “Oh yeah, I went there when I was a kid. I thought it was closed down.” Well, it’s open, and it was one of the best times I’ve had with my kids in quite a while.
Located in East Dundee, just off I-90, Santa’s Village has been around for decades. They closed a few years back, but have reopened with more of a focus on little kids, families, and their petting zoo. In fact they call it an ‘Azoosment park’. And as I considered the options of where to go on a summer day with the kids, I thought about Six Flags, and all the work that would take. It’s a lot of fun and I love it there, but for a Dad with four young girls it’s probably a little more of a challenge than I was ready for.
Santa’s Village is less expensive, less crowded and much closer for those of us who live in the western suburbs. As soon as we walked through the doors, my kids were debating about what ride to go on first. But with no lines to speak of, there was no real problem going on every ride they wanted to go on several times.
Most of the rides are best suited for younger ones. My three year old loved several of the train, truck and horseback rides. But, she and her older sisters all got on the tilt-a-whirl (with Daddy along for the younger ones) and shrieked so loud you probably heard them downtown. When it was done, in one breath, my youngest exclaimed “That was scary!” In the next she said, “Can we do it again?” Yes we can, but Daddy needs a break to clear his head!
The roller coaster is tame by big amusement park standards, but it was just fine for my kids. The oldest two were excited to ride together without an adult. They had to go a couple times. Then, we made our way over to the petting zoo.
Most of the petting zoos I’ve been too feature tame farm animals in cages that you can feed and pet. There is plenty of that here. But they also have an area where the animals roam freely among the human guests. They are very tame, and pretty well-fed from the looks of it.
We took a break for lunch, which you can bring from home into the park if you like. We opted to buy it at one of the concession stands there. And then we made our way to the highlight of the trip. Santa apparently keeps office hours at his village in the summer, and we got to meet him! There was no waiting in line. Santa greeted us at the door of his office, invited us in and closed the door. He posed for pictures with the kids, then gathered them around for a short discussion about how they are doing this summer.
The kids were so impressed, they forgot to go into the standard litany of all the toys they want him to bring them for Christmas. For Dad looking on, it was truly a special moment that I know I won’t get too many of.
I remember my own visits to Santa’s Village when I was a kid. A lot has changed. The most important thing is stronger than ever. It was a great opportunity for family bonding. The memories of this visit to the old amusement park, I hope, will stay with my kids forever. I know they will with me.