The reports of the demise of Santa’s Village are wrong, wrong, wrong! Not only is this historic landmark alive and kicking, it is rebounding in leaps and bounds. Many of you are aware that this amusement park came close to being just a memory several years ago. Land development was at an all time high, and the area around Route 72 and Route 25 in East Dundee, was considered PRIME!. For all of you with youngsters, I am glad there was a turn in the economy, saving this generation’s opportunity to do something their parents and possibly their grandparents were able to experience- Santa’s Village!
Since its “rebirth” we have taken an annual trek with some of our grandkids, primarily Sarah (age 8) and Rebecca (age 6) who have grown up with the park. Brother Adam,11 , is off at Summer Camp, but he will be back soon and with some of the new features, the girls said, we need to bring him as well. Deep down, I am sure that they will want to come with and show him the new rides and attractions, so they have evidently figured out a way to return this season instead of waiting until next season. The special trip to this amusement park is that the little ones can ride almost every ride and there are far more things to keep them happy than the “larger” theme parks. The water park of the past is gone, but that acreage has been converted to rides and amusements. The southern portion, where you used to ride over the park to get to, is now another park- “paintball” which has nothing to do with Santa’s Village, but there are plenty of things to do and even more to come.
The ZOO, which accounts for the name “aZOOsment”, which is a lot of fun for the kids, plus they have added some small animal pens around the park, so while one is waiting for the rides, they can feed a camel or a goat. As other parks are known for their characters, Santa is here , and has his home right in the park, where guests can visit with him. When you see the door is closed, don’t knock, just wait until the door re-opens. That will be a sign that he is ready to meet with your family. From the time we entered the gates, I was brought back to another time. The years that I brought my children here and then the 4th birthday of my twin granddaughters Allison and Caitlin ( now turning 20, in August). Much of the park has remained intact and the management, each year works hard to find some of the old attractions as well as new to rekindle the days of our past. They do have others that walk the park and do photo ops with the guests. After all, it is a day of “fantasy”, so why not ?
On our way to the park, the girls spoke about having their face painted right away. This would allow them to have this feature in every photo so the memory would be even better. So we rushed to have this done. They opted for the half face, with the optional glitter, of course. Unlike other parks and festivals, a mere $6, and well, this is a true bargain. worth it. In fact, as investments in entertainment go. Only $22.75 per person (children under 2 FREE) and for seniors, 65 and older, only $16.75. They also have packages that include lunch, game play in Game Alley, souvenir feed cup, feed stick for Parakeet Paradise and a free mining bag. all under $40. They also have late-comers fees and something that can make a family’s summer- a season pass with lots of benefits- check out www.santasvillagedundee.com.
Now, let’s talk about new items: Subway has opened up a dining area in the Arctic Circle Ice Cream Parlor- healthy dining, affordable prices and of great importance, quick service allowing more play time. The new rides: “The Snowball Ride” is back- in all its glory and spinning as much as you desire. We loved it! The carousel (always a special moment) remains in place and over in the area where the water park used to be, they have added “Xtreme Air” , provided by an outside vendor, but fitting for the area in the park (this has a surcharge of $7 and a rider must be signed) but the girls found this to be a true highlight to their Santa’s Village experience. They were harnessed and attached to arms that allowed them to reach new heights in jumping on a air filled bouncing surface. Leaps and bounds and flips for close to ten minutes. Laughter abounded as each did their specialties while bouncing high in the sky. Worth the trip, just for this. Parents and grandparents might just want to test the waters on this one. Also in this section, Xtreme Elevation, a high tower where the riders go up to the top and are dropped quickly- a solid thrill and perfect for the older kids who feel they have outgrown this park. Tell them, there is enough to keep them thrilled, including the “Mighty Mate” back in the front section by the famous “Snowball”.
The “Wacky Worm” is a fun min-rollercoaster (does three times around) and even Jane and I fit in the cars with the girls on this one. In this area, one can also find the Ding’em Dodge cars (a fun and shockingly bumpy experience) as well as the Mega Velocity (a sort of Scrambler) and the Tri-nado ( older kids will get their money’s worth on these). There are many rides just for the little ones and shows for the entire family. Lots of food to enjoy and one of the greatest features, at least in Sarah’s mind, the funnel cake- we enjoyed two!
For generations ( I know, I speak for my family, when I say this), East Dundee has been a destination where a family can spend a day and be transported into a world of fun. Leaving the park, the kids had enormous smiles on their faces and later said “thanks you for this special day” “Can we bring Adam back when he gets home”. We all know that the memories of this day will last far into the future. Give your family their special memories by visiting www.santasvillagedundee.com, or call 847-426-6751 for info, coupons, birthdays parties and special events. As they say, “come for the nostalgia, stay for the fun” and I might add-“memories”.