If you know the valley, the amusement park Storyland is located Glen, NH (about 5 minutes from our place) and situated in the back of this park is Cinderella's Castle. The one person at Storyland that always attracts a crowd is Cinderella, regardless of the time of day or year. She takes photo's from the castle (I can't tell you how many we have of her with our kids) and has Tea times over the course of the day as well. "Cindy" as she is referred to by her fell characters (Rapunzel, Little Bo Peep and Pinocchio) also participates in the show that closes the park out each day and offers another photo op for the kids following the show. She in many ways is the center of every little girls day at Storyland (though the Roar-o-sourus is moving up the ladder).
Venture up north, about 55 minutes up 302 from our place and you will arrive at Santa's Village in Jefferson, Obviously at Santa's Village, Jolly old St Nick is the attention listening to kids wishes of what they want for Christmas. Much of the time, you will find him in his house but you might also come across him over the course of the day walking through the park, giving high fives and taking requests. Then at the close of the park, the elf's do there thing, singing songs near the front entrance and shooting fake snow into the air, followed by Santa coming out from one of the building, high above, waving to the screaming kids - very similar to the story of the "Polar Express" when the screaming kids cheer as Santa shares the first gift of Christmas.
So one could say, based on our knowledge of the crowds and the parks in this area, we have become spoiled each time we visit them. One distinct fact of our posts on the parks is the "ease" we get around each. With each visit, as you can review from our page, we have a great time taking in each ride and the one key to that and an an obvious one is AVOIDING THE CROWDS! So how does one avoid the crowds of these parks? Well there are numerous ways to do it. Avoiding Saturday visits is one. Another is hitting the days that people are generally arriving to the area (Friday's) or leaving the area (Sunday's) (this is anecdotal as we have never done a formal study on the best days but I believe there are a few out there on TripAdvisor or some other review portal). Weekdays tend to have smaller crowds though in the summer, especially in the heart of summer, that does not necessarily apply.
With such knowledge one would assume then that we NEVER hit busy crowds at Storyland or Santa's Village - reinforcing our spoiled mindset. Further, perhaps you believe we are experts and know how to navigate each and every trip to the parks. Well, I can say that is not the case! We indeed avoid the park following the rules above for the most part but it is never perfect - we have been hit by surprises from time to time. For example, last summer we hit a few days that were tough and we ran into one day this past August that surprised us as well. Overall, I would say we are batting over 90% (luck played some part of this) though which has further reinforced our mindset. Our most recent surprise though was the biggest one of all in my opinion since we have owned the condo and continues our story of Santa versus Cinderella.
We hit Santa's Village on Sunday of the Columbus Day weekend thinking that the crowds would be higher than normal (since it was a holiday weekend) but nothing that was not manageable - especially with the temps in the 50s (the shade was cold by the way) and the water park closed. Well, as we pulled up to the park, after the open, instead of parking within a short distance of the entrance which we are accustomed to, we were forced to park way back across the street....well, that was not a good sign. Then, after a 5 minute walk to the entrance, the line to get into the place was still rather long. strike 2 yells the umpire! Darn, we had not even hit the park yet and already we were behind on the account!
Now, behind 0-2, we were looking to even the count. Well, we ventured in and it was like a shopping center around the holiday's - packed (I guess that makes sense given the parking lot). Every ride within site which included the merry go round (which is honestly the first time I have ever seen a line) and the chimney drop were packed. Moving towards the back of the park, in search of something without a long line, we encountered the Himalaya, the sleigh ride, and the bumper cars with much more than normal wait times. Even the train was 80% full which is very high for the morning. It was as if I was striking out over and over....so to counter this, we did a few things. First, we had people (parents) go ahead and sit in the line of the next ride we would be doing. This cut down on the wait time somewhat (though for the sleigh, it was 25 minutes). We then took a long lunch and attempted to get on rides that were manageable (the swings were only a 5 minute wait) after. We then hit the gingerbread house and got cookies. After that, we went home! That would be strike three because we did not hit the roller coaster (that wait was insane), the antique cars (ditto) and much of anything else.
In the end, this experience will not deter us from future visits to either place but it was an example of even the best plans not coming to fruition which is expected. Traffic varies much like the weather and thus can be unpredictable. But this not going to stop us from heading back up to Santa's next month to view the light display which is just astounding to say the least. The cold weather tends to keep crowd levels within reasonable amounts but then again, we might get surprised....