Santa’s Workshop: The Forerunner of Theme Parks Across America- Including Disneyland!

      When Santa’s Workshop opened its doors on July 1, 1949, floods of locals visited the Christmas-themed park. Technically, when the fun, family-friendly park opened its doors, the phrase “theme park” hadn’t even been coined. For a whopping 90 cents a person (and a 25 cent parking fee!), kids could ride on an electric spinning bobsled, hop on the Christmas Carousel filled with Santa’s reindeer, and even meet the Jolly Old Elf himself.

    What’s more is that the main man Walt Disney sent colleagues to North Pole, NY, to check out why the park was so popular while planning Disneyland. As a Disney nut, I can definitely see how Walt may have taken a few cues from the winter-themed park, but the extent of it is still highly debatable and worthy of a heated arguement or two.

    The weather was definitely in my family’s favor when we visited this past weekend. With more than a foot of snow covering the ground from two days previous, we took a scenic (and I mean SCENIC. The drive was breathtaking!) ride from Lake Placid to North Pole, NY, and discovered a theme park worthy of a nine hour drive from home.

What’s Santa’s Workshop and Why Should I Visit?

Santa’s Workshop is a theme park that is definitely geared toward families with younger children, as many of the rides are for kids under 48 inches in height and 75 pounds. Will older kids still dig the park even though they may have to skip the rides. Of course! The park is so much more than just rides. There’s shows, fun shops, a barn area, and even Santa himself to take requests. 

The Frosty North Pole isn’t called that because of the chilly winter weather we encountered- it stays frozen year round! How, you ask? Santa’s magic, of course.

Christmas Carousel has 20 painted reindeer and two sleighs for older children and adults. We opted to stand in between two reindeer during our ride and the view of the Adirondack Mountains from the carousel platform was beautiful.

After a carousel ride, jump inside of Santa’s Sleigh for a fun photo op. Check out that snow!

One of the highlights of our visit was a walk through the Reindeer Barn. All of Santa’s reindeer were taking it easy inside and saving their energy for Christmas Eve.

Pretty leather harnesses (one for each of Santa’s reindeer) hung in the barn windows. I bet they can’t wait to jump into them in a few days!

Throughout the day, Blitzen greeted park guests and even took time out of his busy schedule to take a reindeer selfie with me. You know me and animal selfies: I love adding goats, sheep, and even llamas into my photos. Put reindeer on the list! Just look at the snow on his nose.

Tannenbaum the Talking Tree wakes up throughout the day to entertain guests. If you’re feeling a little chilly, a nice fire pit is adjacent to the talking tree and S’mores kits can be purchased in the shop next door. S’mores and a talking tree? I’m down!

Santa’s Blacksmith Shop is the spot where his reindeer shoes are made. Ask nicely and you may even take home a specially made token of your visit.

The Candy Shop has the most heavenly scent- warm chocolate! We watched this skilled assistant creating Christmas treats.

Fun bridges connect areas of the theme park, and the calming sound of the small stream make for a picturesque view.

Candy Cane Express

A visit to Santa’s Workshop would not be complete without a ride on the Candy Cane Express! The fun train ride is definitely worth the wait, and be prepared to do just that as it’s one of the most popular. 
Even in chilly temps, boarding the train and riding through the hills of the park is a blast. The train moves slowly enough that you can take some pretty photos or videos. Speaking of, here’s a clip of the train exiting the loading station.
What pretty scenery! Even without the snow, the view of the mountains in the distance combined with the park below is sigh-worthy. 
There’s a cute tunnel that the train passes through during the ride, and kids can’t help but laugh out loud to hear the echo. 


Santa’s Workshop is open on Saturdays and Sundays from the end of August through the end of December. The park opens at 10am and stays opened through 3:30 or 4pm. Should you want to visit during the warmer months, July 1st the opening date and the park is opened daily through August. 


Parking used to cost 25 cents, but during our visit there was free parking! The main lot gets pretty full at park opening, so there’s additional parking across the street. Confused about where to park? No worries, there’s plenty of attendants to assist you to the proper area. 

Can’t Complete Your visit in One Day?

Say the kids got sick during your visit or you forgot to pack extra clothes and, well, you needed to. Santa’s Workshop offers a reentry pass valid for the next day only. Should you need one, stop by the Post Office to request a reentry pass from one of the elves.

Disclosure: I was hosted by Santa’s Workshop to give you fine folks the scoop on what makes it so much fun. I was not asked to state a particular point of view and, as always, my opinions are my own!

Check out my review on trekaroo for more information here.
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2 Thoughts to “Santa’s Workshop: The Forerunner of Theme Parks Across America- Including Disneyland!”

  1. Thank you so much for your review on the park. It means a great deal to the local folk that try to keep the park alive (myself included). The story behind Santa's Workshop is a magical one, and I hope people like you take great interest in America's first and longest running theme park. I am glad you enjoyed your visit and Merry Christmas.
    Thanks again!

    1. Thank you so much for the kind words. 🙂

      We found Santa's Workshop to be a magical place to visit, and I can definitely see why it draws thousands of visitors each year.

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