Family Fun: Santa's Workshop at the North Pole

Santa's Workshop North PoleSanta's summer home is in the Adirondack town of Wilmington NY? The first time my children went to Santa's Workshop, they couldn't believe their luck. Santa at their beck and call. 

 Known as the forerunner of the present day theme park, Santa's Workshop in North Pole NY (near the Whiteface Memorial Highway)  opened its doors in 1949. The fantasy village was designed in part by Arto Monaco (of Land of Make Believe fame). Complete with rides, farm animals, Christmas-themed shops, reindeer and an actual frozen North "pole," Santa's Workshop has seen hundreds of thousands of people pass through its doors.

I have a death grip on this last bastion of childhood and fear the outcome of the few questions my daughter wants to discuss with Santa. She did get a visit last winter from the merry ol' elf and they are on a first name basis. (Santa is certainly no Mr. Claus to my daughter.)  She wants to make sure that Santa knows that though she can be bad, she is trying really hard to be good. She also is willing to put in a good word for her older brother. She is counting on this mid-season visit to wipe the slate clean.

Everyone needs a break and I wonder if Santa should be bothered off-season. My daughter sees things differently. She reminds me that Santa likes everyone, no matter their age, and wouldn't be putting flyers in all the restaurants if he didn't want people to visit.

Santa's Workshop ridesWe enter through the gate to be greeted by red-vested elves, Frosty the Snowman, and some other wintry characters. From then on, we are on Santa's terrain. A majority of the rides are weight (less than 75 lbs.) and height (under 48") restricted. With great pride anyone still small enough to fit beneath the elf holding the sign, "This ride is for children who stand beneath my hand" will gain a sense of independence. I look on as small children ride the Ferris wheel, bobsled, and go in "The House of Bounce." My children head to the Christmas Carousel and Candy Cane Express train ride.

I am told at the North Pole Railroad Station that we can come back tomorrow if we don't get to do everything we wish. We make sure we catch some of Santa's friends performing and wrap up our tour with a trip to the reindeer barn. Tomorrow we will finish up the rides and take in a puppet show at the Jack Jingle Theater with our re-entry pass. 

My daughter manages to squeak under the height restriction for one more year. It is the only time she finds any honor in being the smallest in her class. She teases her brother and uses another visit to Santa like a Sunday confessional. 

Santa at Santa's workshopSanta's Workshop is located at 324 Whiteface Memorial Highway in Wilmington, NY. Call 518-946-2211 or 800-806-0215 for directions. Please remember if your visit is incomplete, you may request a re-entry pass for the next day at the post office. 

All photos and content © Diane Chase, excerpt from Diane's guidebook Adirondack Family Time: Tri-Lakes & High Peaks: Your Four-Season Guide to Over 300 Activities (with GPS Coordinates), covering the towns of Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, Tupper Lake, Keene/Keene Valley, Jay/Upper Jay and Wilmington. Diane next guidebook of Adirondack Family Activities in this four-book series will cover the Adirondack Coast from Plattsburgh to Ticonderoga.