If you're under the common misconception that Santa’s workshop and the North Pole are fictitious locations, then you're in for a big surprise. Nestled away in the shadow of the stunning Whiteface Mountain in upstate New York, lies the town of Wilmington and its subsection known as North Pole, NY. Wilmington is an outdoor lover's paradise, filled with all types of activity and many places to enjoy the majestic wilderness. This cozy town is the ideal place to get away from it all and enjoy the holidays in a fun and unique environment. The residents are friendly and welcome visitors into their beautiful mountain community. Back in 1946, developers were looking to construct a place where people could celebrate the holidays in a fun and immersive environment. The end result was the world's first theme park, known as Santa's Workshop at Noth Pole, NY, the home of the famous Yuletide Family Weekends.
From the very beginning, Santa's Workshop was a massive hit for those looking for holiday fun and cheer. Even back in the 1950’s, they were drawing crowds in excess of 14,000 people. Now days, the crowds are more comprised of families looking for the ideal holiday adventure. During the five-week run of Yuletide Family Weekends, Santa’s Workshop attracts over 600 families to the site. You’ll find just about everything Christmas related at the park. From the always frozen “North Pole” at the center of the village, to interacting directly with Santa, this is a complete family holiday event. As entertaining as it is to the visitors, Santa’s Workshop is equally important to the community. The events serve as a boon for attracting visitors during the off season and help bring joy and holiday cheer with their charitable program, Operation Toy Lift. Give your family the Christmas experience they have only dreamed of and make the trip to Santa's Workshop at North Pole, NY. We spoke with Doug Waterbury, the Owner and Head Elf of Santa’s Workshop, to talk about Yuletide Family Weekends and the park's rich and storied history.
RAL: Tell me about Santa's Workshop and Yuletide Family Weekends.
DW: Santa’s Workshop is essentially the world's first theme park and petting zoo. It’s recognized by Disney and other large park operators as the forerunner to the modern day theme park. During the late 1940’s and early 50’s, Walt Disney took a great interest in the park and began to send teams to research, study, and witness the park in action. At that point, Santa’s Workshop had a massive following which lead to them expanding features and activities. This is also the point where the park got involved with charities all over the country and we carry the tradition of giving to this day. As the park grew, so did its scope and overall experience. Now days we offer various special weekend experiences for families, including Yuletide Family Weekends, Christmas In July and Santas Village of Light.
RAL: Walk me through what people will find a the park.
DW: Everyday is Christmas at Santa’s Workshop and this is important because we are open in the summer, fall and winter. It's a charming and whimsical village on the side of Whiteface Mountain. The natural surroundings and architecture will remind you of an alpine holiday village. There are a number of workshops that you’ll find here; it's everything you’d expect to find at the mythical North Pole. Everything was designed by visionary artist Arto Monaco, giving the park a unique overall feeling and experience. A big part of the fun is, of course, Santa’s House, where Santa and Mrs. Claus meet and greet all the families who wish to do so. At Santa's Reindeer Barn you can get up close and see Santa's actual reindeer team. For a delicious holiday treat stop by Santa’s Bake Shop, where there are a wide range of delicious holiday treats to enjoy. From the Toy Shop to Candy Shop you'll find hands-on interactive demontrations and activities that everyone will love. We have many holiday themed rides that are great for families and children of all ages. Other popular attractions include Critter Creek where kids will get the chance to interact closely with live aimals and the Tannenbaum Tree, which speaks to guests and gives them holiday well wishes. There is just about anything you can think of that's Christmas related in our fun and cozy holiday village.
RAL: Tell me about Yuletide Family Weekends.
DW: Those participating in the Yuletide Family Weekends will enjoy special events and opportunities during their stay. Since 1973, the family weekends have taken place during the five weekends leading up to Christmas. We have a Trim the Tree Party where children can create their own ornaments to hang on the tree. ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas is a performance put on by Santa’s helpers who sing carols, put on magic shows, and tell stores. All of this is followed by a delicious meal. During the Yuletide Family Weekend, Santa makes his way to each of the host lodges, where he makes surprise visits with gifts for the children. Last but not least, for the 2 Days at Santa’s Workshop activity, families can visit with Mr. and Mrs. Claus in their home and be entertained throughout the day with live entertainment at the villages multiple stages. This is definitely the ultimate family all-inclusive holiday destination.
RAL: What does Santa’s Workshop mean to the community?
DW: We’ve been told by the majority of the local businesses, on a number of occasions, how important we are in driving business during the time before the busy ski season and after the popular leaf peeper season. We also support the community and many others in general with our own charitable cause called Operation Toy Lift. It has existed since the 1950’s, and we help under privileged families by providing presents and money to help them have a better holiday experience.
RAL: Why should people come to Santa’s Workshop and the Yuletide Family Weekends?
DW: We love to focus on and share the tradition and history of the holiday season. It’s a fun and comfortable environment for all who wish to attend. You don't need have an affiliation or agree with the beliefs, but the overall experience is one that all families will love and enjoy. It’s a wonderful positive place where it’s Christmas everyday at the North Pole.
For more information about Santa’s Workshop and Yuletide Family Weekends please visit their website.