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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Ho, ho, ho -- A jolly good time at Santa's Village

   One-Tank Trip for Aug. 15/15
   (c) By Jim Fox

   Hey kids, it’s just 131 days until Christmas and Santa sightings have come in from the 45th parallel in Muskoka.
   Yes, this is where the “jolly gent” and Mrs. Claus spend their summers at Santa’s Village in Bracebridge.
   He’s rather laid back at this time of year as it’s a little hot compared with his frosty home at the North Pole.
Santa is the main attraction at his village in Bracebridge.
   This is the place for youngsters to get an early start on their Christmas wish lists and have some fun in this “kinder, gentler” amusement park on the banks of the Muskoka River.
   In the heart of Muskoka’s Enchanted Forest, it’s “conveniently located halfway between the equator and the North Pole on the 45th parallel,” said park general manager Jamie Hopkins.
   The village set amongst fragrant pine trees and river has been Santa’s seasonal domain for 60 years now.
   The trees and river breezes cool the summer heat as kids visit Santa and then romp through this ho-ho-ho land of themed rides and attractions.
The Santa’s Village sign marking 60 years. (Lisa Fox photo)
Santa’s Village was established in 1955 as a tourist destination by a group of Bracebridge residents concerned that the new Highway 11 was bypassing the town.
   “This is a milestone anniversary for Santa’s Village with six decades of fun and fantasy enjoyed by six-million visitors,” Hopkins said.
   There’s the Christmas spirit at the iconic Muskoka attraction with visits with Santa, riverboat and train excursions, a petting farm, splash pad, paddleboats, rides and some new fun this year.

   Zipping and aerial adventures
   There’s a new aerial park, Muskoka Tree Trekking and Zip-Lines, to keep Santa’s visitors amused.
   It features zip lines as long as 106 metres (350 feet), monkey lines, Tarzan ropes and a climbing wall.
   New additions include an enhanced obstacle course, zip line course and – for the extreme adventure seeker – a jump tower with two elevated platforms.
Let’s check out Santa’s Candy Shop, says Adam, 9. (Lisa Fox photo)
   Also new is Elf Sky Challenge, a children’s aerial adventure park on Elves Island.
   Children as young as three can navigate an aerial course to various Christmas-themed obstacles along a wire-rope -constructed course.
   Over the years, attractions have been added including the Spray ‘n’ Play Beach and Splash Pad, swan paddle boats, playground equipment and an expanded arcade centre.
   Five years ago, Santa’s Whispering Pines Campground was modernized and upgraded with the addition of 11 new cabins, two yurts and 50 more campsites.
   Along with rides and attractions, Santa’s Village welcomes top children’s entertainers such as Dan the Music Man, Ronno, Jam Sandwich and Marcus from Treehouse Television.
   Themed-rides are the roller-coaster Rudolph's Sleigh Ride and the Candy Cane Express train taking visitors around the 21-hectare park.
Take a ride on Santa’s Summer Sleight, piloted by Capt. Ricky, on the Muskoka River.
   Santa’s Summer Sleight, a boat piloted by crowd-favourite Capt. Ricky, plys the blue-black waters of the Muskoka River.
   A ferris wheel resembles Christmas tree ornaments along with a vintage merry-go-round, inflatable Moonwalk for bouncing, a Jumpin' Star Kiddie Dropper and Candy Cane Lane skill games.
   Visitors can bring a picnic lunch to eat at Sportsland or buy meals and snacks from such outlets as Kris Kringle’s Kitchen and Mrs. Claus’ Gingerbread House bakery.
   The village hosts SantaFest, a holiday festival “steeped in yuletide spirit,” on Dec. 19 to 22 and 27 and 28.
Nathan, 4, gets into the Christmas spirit in Santa’s Toy Shop. (Lisa Fox photo)
   Sportsland provides “older kids with pay-as-you-play activities, including batting cages, Muskoka’s largest go-kart course, laser tag, mini-golf, a bungee trampoline and an arcade pavilion.”
   There’s free admission but tickets are required for the activities.

   If you go:
  Half-way to the North Pole (Lisa Fox photo)

   Santa’s Village is at 1624 Golden Beach Rd., Bracebridge, Ont. (off Highway 11 north).
   It’s open daily until Labour Day, Sept. 7 and then on Sept. 12 and 13; as well as Dec. 19-22 and 27. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sept. 7.
   Sportsland is open daily until Sept. 7 and then weekends until Thanksgiving, Oct. 12. Hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., and until 6 p.m. on Sundays and 4 p.m. on Sept. 7.
   Village admission, which includes rides, attractions and shows, is $34.95 plus tax for ages three and older. Save $5 a ticket by buying online.
   Details: www.santavillage.ca; (705) 645-2512


Jim Fox can be reached at onetanktrips@hotmail.com
For more One-Tank Trips: http://1tanktrips.blogspot.ca

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