For those who remember the giant candy cane outside the front parking lot at Santa’s Village located in Skyforest California – it’s time to dust off those memories and relive the childhood memory once again. The Christmas amusement park, which originally opened its doors six weeks before Disneyland in 1955 establishing itself as the first franchised theme park in history, is reviving the magic for the holidays this year.
Skypark at Santa’s Village was originally created by Glen Holland, who grew up during the Great Depression and wanted to give kids the Christmas he never had as a child. After facing bankruptcy, closings and fires, Holland’s park has come back to life.
Michelle Johnson and her husband bought the 230-acre property in 2014, their first plan being to build a bike park. After hearing the locals’ love for the old escape, the couple decided to reopen the land to its original state. Near Lake Arrowhead and Big Bear, the park not only provides fun holiday activities for kids, but adventures in nature for the whole family.
“The idea was not to go carnival rides, but more to go outdoors,” Johnson told the L.A. Times.
Some attractions little tykes can get excited about are the Polar Express Train Ride, Santa’s Candy Mine, rock climbing walls, Santa’s workshop and North Pole Post Office where guests can see toys being made and elves read letters to Santa. Oh, and of course visitors can pop by Santa’s house where Mrs. Claus is ready to greet you with cookies.
Santa’s Village is free every day from 10 p.m. to 6 p.m. until January 8 but will be closed Christmas Day.
McGee Nall is a travel intern with Paste and a freelance writer based out of Athens, Georgia.