|Santa's Village is Located in Bracebridge, Ontario (2 Hours From Toronto)|
As a child, I had a long-standing envy of my brother because my parents had taken him to Santa’s Village in 1971—before I was even born! Year after year, my parents would play the filmed footage of my 3-year old brother at Santa’s Village feeding the “reindeer”, doing time-lapse photography tricks on park benches, and getting shoulder rides from my dad. How unfair: my parents had never taken me to Santa’s Village—never mind that I hadn’t been born then!
|Ever Wonder Where Santa Gets His Elves?|
Well, all that changed this summer when I had a chance to take my family of 7 to Santa’s Village in Bracebridge, Ontario. I wondered what it would be like to go with the kids to Santa’s Village, as the old school tv commercials ran through my head: “Everyone loves Santa’s Village! Everyone wants to meet you there!”, or something to that effect. I wondered if it would be very Christmas-y.
|The Main Gate at Santa's Village|
When we arrived at Santa’s Village, about 2 hours from Toronto, what struck me was how quaint it was. It runs alongside the Muskoka River and is surrounded by rugged Ontarian nature. The parking lot was intimate, not the usual parkade in which you have to remember your letter and number. There was a short line up at the main gates, not a throng of bodies, which was a nice change for me. Rudolph’s Roller Coaster Sleigh Ride sped by us up in the trees, which made the kids even more eager to get into the park.
|My Little Elves Snacking on Gingerbread Men!|
At the front gate, and everywhere else inside the park, the staff were friendly and helpful. Some may say this does not matter, but to me excellent customer service elevates a theme park and makes me want to come back. Once inside the park, elves hats could be purchased for the kids at $5 each. It was a sweltering hot day, and yet my kids loved wearing these green and red-striped hats with elf ears!
|A Playground at Santa's Village|
As we came upon Mrs. Claus’ Bake Shop, the kids were suddenly hungry for gingerbread cookies—but no one wanted to share! Even my husband treated himself to a coffee. Across from the bake shop, there was a wonderful playground with tunnel slides, which the kids enjoyed very much. I loved that all through Santa’s Village, there were plenty of photo opportunities.
|Rudolph's Roller Coaster Sleigh Ride Roller Coaster!|
The kids insisted that we try Rudolph’s Roller Coaster Sleigh Ride, and there was absolutely no line up, which was the same case for most rides we visited on the Tuesday morning. All my kids aged 3- to 8-years old rode the roller coaster (accompanied by adults). The ride was themed by Rudolph the Reindeer guiding the flying “sleigh”. After the ride concluded, the kids wanted to go again, although I didn’t have the stomach for it.
|Enjoy a Ride on the Santa's Village Train!|
My littlest guys begged to go on the train ride, which runs through the Santa’s Village park. It was a great ride to take early on, as it shows all the upcoming attractions that shouldn’t be missed. If you have a Thomas the Tank Engine fan, I would absolutely recommend this ride (open to adults and children alike).
|Can You Guess Which Reindeer Is Rudolph?|
Next, we rushed to visit Santa’s Reindeer. I suddenly felt even with my brother, who had gotten to see these same deer in 1971 (joking)! The kids loved petting them, and it was very cute how they had their reindeer names on the outside of the fence (Rudolph, Cupid, Dasher, etc).
|Visiting Santa In His Summer Home at Santa's Village!|
Can you guess who we got to meet next? It was Santa Claus himself in Santa’s very own House! The house was filled with gifts, Christmas trees and decorative lights. I had the option of purchasing a commemorative photo, or of photographing Santa and my family with my own camera.
|See Lots of Elves at Santa's Village!|
There was a 3D Theatre, but we were so busy that we didn’t have the chance to stop by. We passed the beach area and new Spray & Play splash pad, deciding to save it for the end of the day. It was a scorching hot day, and would be a great way to cool off the kids (more on this later).
|Christmas Ball Ferris Wheel at Santa's Village!|
The kids really loved the amusement park portion of Santa’s Village. There was a really impressive Christmas Ball Ferris Wheel, Red Barron Bi-Plane Ride, Jumpin’ Star Kiddie Dropper Ride, and lots more. Before starting the rides, we decided to enjoy a real boat ride on Santa’s Summer Sleigh – Riverboat Cruise! The boat was captained by Captain Ricky, a veteran of 32 years at Santa’s Village! 2013 is his last summer of service, and then he will retire.
|Enjoy a Boatride on Santa's Summer Sleigh Boat Cruise!|
Santa’s Summer Sleigh boat cruise on the Muskoka River was lots of fun and lasted at least 10 minutes, which is phenomenal by any theme park’s standards. It was great to get the kids out on the lake and enjoy the surrounding nature.
|Burnin' Up The Track at the ATV Peddle Cart Atrraction!|
Did you know that Santa’s Village has an ATV Peddle Cart track? It’s like tricycles on steroids! My kids really went nuts on the ATVs and didn’t want to leave. I loved how it kept the kids active and engaged at the park.
|Take To The Sky On The Red Barron Bi-Plane Ride!|
Santa’s Village also had 2 bouncy castles, a carousel...and I already mentioned the Red Barron Bi-Plane Ride! In a previous blog post I mentioned that I love Red Barron rides, as I fondly remember such a ride from my childhood! It’s so cute how the kids get to fly their own airplane, or can team up with a sibling.
VIDEO: Jumpin' Star Kiddie Dropper Ride!
(See VIDEO above.) The Jumpin’ Star Kiddie Dropper Ride was an amazing miniature version of the adult ride, in which riders are hoisted up with legs dangling, then dropped down! Of course, in this children’s version, the drops are a little less pronounced. The kids wanted to ride again, but poor dad was a little too green for a second go!
|Start Your (Foot-Powered) Engines!|
I was really excited for the Swan Paddle boats—until I realized they were parent-powered! Parents, here’s my advice to you: get the kids to peddle! If you’re in a large group, ask for the foot-powered rowboat. Life jackets provided for the kids.
|Everyone Loves a Picnic!|
If you’re planning on visiting Santa’s Village and looking for healthier food choices, try the Treat Retreat. I was impressed that they had sandwiches on brown bread, yogurt, fruit, nuts, snack bars, milk, water, and juices. It really made my day that I could feed my family with more healthful food—and at a theme park too!
|Try The High Ropes At Elves Island!|
Close to the Swan ride was the bridge to Elves Island, a massive playground for the kids. I recommend that you stop by, and guarantee that your kids will enjoy it. What made it unusual from regular play areas, was the giant overhead ropes course that were perfect for challenging the older child. Set on the Muskoka River.
|Petting A Goat At Santa's Farm Petting Zoo|
On the bridge back from Elves Island, was Santa’s Farm petting zoo. It was nicely shaded and the kids loved getting close to the animals.
Also part of Santa’s Village is Sportsland, an area of Laser tag, an arcade area, mini golf, batting cages, a picnic area, go-carts, bungee trampoline and rock climbing wall.
|The Checkered Flag Is Mine!|
Do I need to say that my kids loved go-carting? Or should I say, that my husband loved it more? Dad and the kids had a great time zooming countless times around the track. Protective helmets provided.
VIDEO: Bungee Trampoline at Santa's Village!
It was hard to find a best part about Sportsland, as the racing cars were pretty great. However, the bungee trampoline was a thrill-ride for the kids. Each child was hooked up to a safety harness, and had a personal handler to assist him or her. The kids took in some serious air, and my daughter was gutsy enough to do endless aerial backflips. Don’t miss the bungee trampoline if you visit Santa’s Village this season!
|Bring Your Swimsuit & Towel To Santa's Village!|
VIDEO: NEW Spray & Play Beach at Santa's Village!
Last but not least, the kids cooled off at the Beach Area and the NEW Spray & Play Beach (splash pad). I already had the kids in their swimsuits, but there was a family area had I needed to change. There was a candy cane fountain spraying peppermint water (joke), and a candy-themed splash area that was fun and brightly coloured. Nearby, there was a sandy beach and a cordoned off shallow area of the Muskoka River, so the kids could swim. There were muskoka chairs for the adults, and fun was had by everyone! Don’t go unless you want to get wet!
|Visit Santa's Village in Bracebridge, Ontario, Canada!|
My family really had a fantastic visit to Santa’s Village in Bracebridge, Ontario, and I would highly recommend it for you and your family. We stayed for 6 hours in total (in +33°C weather), and would have stayed longer had the weather been cooler. If you live in Toronto, the GTA, or Ontario in general, this would be a perfect trip to make as a family!
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WINNER: Steven M.
WIN Family Passes (for 4 people) to visit Santa’s Village this season! Passes expire September 8th, 2013. Contest ends Friday August 9th, 2013. Open to Canada.
How To Enter:Leave a COMMENT below stating: Have you ever been to Santa’s Village before OR What would you say to Santa if you saw him during the summer? Then use the entry form below to enter the contest. GOOD LUCK!