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Jump to Santa's Village, Bracebridge, Ontario
Our review of Santa's Village
August 31, 2014 - We finally had the opportunity to visit Santa's Village in Bracebridge, Ontario. Everyone I have talked to who has visited the park experience a sense of nostalgia when I mention Santa's Village. They reminisce and talk about how they loved to visit the park when they were kids, and then when they had kids of their own. For many of them Santa's Village became a tradition which spanned through their family's generations.
Visiting Santa's Village has been in our bucket list for quite sometime and our visit could not have come at a better time. Though kids of all ages enjoy the park (which I noticed from our visit), Santa's Village advertises that the rides cater to the age group of 2-10 years old. Ronan being 7 years old and Kiarra being almost 4, the park's offerings proved to be perfect for them.
Shady trees offer comfort
When we first arrived at Santa's Whispering Pines campground located directly across from Santa's Village, we decided to have lunch at our site before heading out to the park. It was approximately noon by the time we hit the park and expecting it to be the peak time for a hot and sunny day, I was relieved to find most of the park was shaded. The shady tall trees much like the ones found throughout our campground afforded relief from the hot sun and the Muskoka river beside the park brought cool refreshing winds. Unlike some attractions we have attended where the hot sun barrels down on the park-goers, the shady trees found in Santa's Village offer a cool and welcome relief.
Waiting for Ronan and Kiarra to finish the airplane ride. Shady tall trees afforded relief throughout the park.Becoming Elves
When we first entered the park, the kids were given tokens to use for their visit to Santa's house in order to receive some elf hats and become Santa's honorary elves. I thought it was a nice touch since our kids being used to just the thought of Santa bearing them presents during the Holidays were told they were becoming Santa's helpers. And really, I can pretty much use this honorary elf title to entice my kids to help around the house as long as I can convince them helping their parents mean helping Santa. The idea of turning kids into honorary elves and becoming helpers I felt helps incite a much-needed sense of responsibility among the young 'uns instead of the usual 'gimme gimme gimme' all-to-common message of the Holidays.
Meeting Santa at his house and becoming his honorary elvesFree coffee!
Since our Keurig machine konked out at our trailer, Randy and I desperately needed some coffee since we were up at 5 AM that same morning because of car problems mentioned in my post about Santa's Whispering Pines campground. To my surprise, Santa's Village offers complementary coffee to parents - well, thank you Santa!!!
With kids and coffees in tow, we entered the park and rode the first few rides. Kiarra and Seamus rode the mini merry-go-round. Seamus cried when the ride was over (typical). Kiarra and Ronan then moved on to more grown-up rides. They rode the Red Baron's Airplane ride and Jumpin' Star Dropper which were located all within close proximity of each other, and then they rode the Ferris wheel later on in the day. Kiarra was thrilled to be able to ride the drop ride which is commonly a 'grown-up' ride. In fact, Santa's Village has kiddie versions of grown-up rides which Kiarra and Ronan loved. Apart from the Jumpin' Star Dropper, Santa's Village also had a rollercoaster little ones like Kiarra can ride. The rollercoaster was such a hit with Kiarra that she rode it ten times. I eventually had to drag her away from the coaster kicking and screaming (yep, she needed a nap at this point). That was my workout of the day - an unwelcome one at that. I did ride the rollercoaster a few times with the kids and I must emphasize that it was not a 'dinky slow type of train ride parading as a rollercoaster' for kids. It had its thrills believe me...I screamed a few times (and I have experience riding more adult roller coasters). I was glad Kiarra, the thrill-seeker, was able to experience such a thrilling ride that was safe for her age. After the roller coaster, we headed on back to the campground with screaming tantrum-driven Kiarra and whiny Ronan who had both reached their limits at this point. Being tired as well from our road trip, it was time for them to relax at our camp site...and that they did within just a few minutes since the campground was thankfully so close to the park.
On the Red Baron Airplane Ride
On the Jumpin' Star Dropper
On the ferris wheel
On Santa's Rollercoaster looking worried but they ended up enjoying it
10th time on the rollercoaster...blurry picture taken courtesy of Randy! (of course)
On Santa's Sleigh Boat Ride...Seamus fast asleep.
View of the Muskoka river from Santa's Sleigh Boat Ride
Before we left, the kids had the chance to visit Sportsland which is directly beside Santa's Village. Ronan and Kiarra rode the go-karts with dad. The kids were allowed in the car as long as a parent did the driving. Ronan also tried the bungee trampoline which Kiarra was too short for. That was her one complaint about Santa's Village - that she was too short for the bungee trampoline. Sportsland also had ziplining and some treetop trecking for older kids. Ronan was still too young to partake in this activity - you have to be at least nine years of age. For anyone wanting to try out this attraction, I do have one word of advice - watch what you wear. The trees are located in the middle of Sportsland where other Sportsland-goers can look up and watch you ziplining or walking above them. My first view when I looked up was of a woman whose shorts did not hide much from the angle I was at...and do not get me wrong, she was not wearing those mini-type of shorts. Likely, you will not see much if you are walking beside or behind this woman under normal circumstances. Unfortunately, looking at her from below told a different story. So, just keep in mind that if you are going to do the ziplining or trecking courses, you will not be located in the middle of a forest where animals would be your only audience watching from below.
Kiarra and dad driving a go-kart in Sportsland
Seamus not impressed at being left in his baby bag...view of treetop trecking and ziplining in the back
Ronan trying out the bungee trampoline
During our last day, the kids played in Elves Island which was the highlight of their time at Santa's Village. Elves Island is an island located right in Santa's Village equipped with playsets, swings, slides, bouncer and a colouring wall. Both Ronan and Kiarra spent an hour and a half happily running around Elves island while Randy, Seamus and I relaxed in the shade. We tried luring them away from the island after awhile so we could enjoy the other rides at the park and they turned it into a chase game with their dad. Eventually, they did get hungry enough to ask for some lunch and snacks which Santa's Village allows park-goers to bring into the park. A bonus for us since we hardly ever (almost never) eat out because we follow a Paleo food template. So, the kids ate and then off we went away from Elves Island.
Hanging out while Ronan and Kiarra run around Elves Island
Overall, we greatly enjoyed our stay at Santa's Whispering Pines campground and our visit to Santa's Village/Sportsland. It had been two years since we last went camping or taken our trailer to a campground and our experience at Santa's Village has sparked our passion to travel again. We hope to make Santa's Village a tradition as it has been for numerous park-goers.
Ronan and Santa (or Santa's helper? there were a couple of Santas strolling along the park)
We would like to extend our thanks to Santa's Village for hosting us!