Santa's Village, the alpine Christmas theme park near Lake Arrowhead, is something out of Southern California legend. Nestled among towering pine trees at the top of the San Bernardino National Forest at an elevation of 5,910 feet, Santa's Village originally opened in May 1955, about seven weeks before Disneyland. After entertaining and thrilling guests for decades, though, Santa's Village fell on hard times and closed its doors in 1998. The winter wonderland park then sat dormant, succumbing to the elements, as adventure seekers from all over were drawn to its abandoned log buildings, defunct attractions and overgrown walkways.
Thanks to new ownership and a painstaking, 30-month restoration and update, visitors can once again visit Santa's Village in the manner in which it was originally intended. Rebranded as SkyPark at Santa's Village, the theme park, which will be open year-round, boasts indoor and outdoor rock climbing, adventure bike riding, ice skating, personal meet-and-greets with Santa, live entertainment, a daily parade and all sorts of delicious treats to keep you warm on a cold day in the mountains. As the weather warms up, other outdoor activities such as zip lining, fishing and hiking will be made available — and you can still visit Santa.
We were invited for a preview of Santa's Village as both newbies and some who remembered visiting the original Santa's Village walked through the front doors for the first time in nearly two decades.