We first took the girls when Frannie was two and Maggie only two months (Frannie met Dora that year!), and then again the following summer when they were three and one. We took a few years off before returning this week, but it didn't take long for me to remember just why I love it so much as a family destination. (Psst...read on to the end for your chance to win your own family pass!)
Here are some highlights from our visit to the park:
Free elf hats on arrival
Riding the train with Grandma
Ringing the bell at Santa's chapel
Mommy with her "angels"
Feeding the reindeer ($1 for a cone full of feed)
Seeing Santa, of course!
(Frannie asked for Star Wars toys, and Maggie asked for an iPod, to which Santa replied: "I'm just a toymaker! That sounds like something that needs a family conversation!")
Out on the water on Santa's Summer Sleigh (you have to go this year if you want to see the legendary Captain Ricky, who will be retiring at the end of the season).
Bi-Plane Ride (Our kids could do all rides by themselves)
Colouring the Crayola wall (yes, you're allowed to colour on the wall...MUCH different than at home!)
Enjoying the playground action on Elves' Island
Decorating a gingerbread cookie (we did this at the end of the day)
Five year old Maggie says her favourite parts were: the rollercoaster (very fun for small kids), seeing Santa, and feeding the reindeer.
Seven year old Frannie says: feeding the reindeer and farm animals, decorating the gingerbread cookie, and going on the boat ride.
My favourite things about the park (from a parent perspective) are that it's clean, the staff seems very positive and helpful, and it's just the perfect size for kids this age (not a ton of walking or an overwhelming amount of activities).
I can definitely say that Monday was great in terms of crowds and lines, though I realize that not every family has the luxury of going such places during the week.While my parents were part of our complimentary group, they would have been free anyway as Monday is also grandparents day...one grandparent gets in free with every paid admission!
We certainly didn't do it all: we could have checked out a musical performance in the theatre (I'm sure their performers are very talented, but none with the name recognition that Dora had five years ago!), and skipped the spray n play beach and splash pad. Because we have a pool at home, we wanted to spend as much time as possible on rides and other activities, but the splash pad has tripled in size this year and is a great way to cool off on a hot day!
For older children, keep in mind the attached Sportsland (free admission, pay-as-you-play) has tons of activities for the eleven and up set, and there's also a campground.
More information and deals can be found on their website.
So...wouldn't you love to take your family to Santa's Village? I have a family pass for four to give away (for the 2013 season), and all you have to do is leave a comment letting me know which aspect of Santa's Village you - or your child(ren) - would be most excited about. Bonus entries for following/liking This Mom Loves and Santa's Village on Twitter/Facebook. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Disclosure: We were provided with free admission for review purposes. Opinions are, as always, my own.