Continuing our new "Tip Sheet" series, today we focus on our recent trip to Santa's Village located in Jefferson, NH, about 3 hours from Boston. Our family visits this place 3-4 times a year and it is about an hour drive from our condo in Bartlett. We make a point to visit around Christmas each year (lights are amazing) and also enjoy visits during the summer and early fall. The park itself is bigger than Storyland and caters to a higher age level as well (a year or 2 higher than its competition). With that said the Roarosaurus might be the first move by the completion to better compete with Santa Claus!
We arrived early to "Santa's" (Village) getting a space right up front to the left of the entrance. As this was not the peak time of the year, getting there 10 minutes before open allowed us to get such a space. Another benefit of getting there early are the photo ops at and inside the entrance. Most notable outside is a sleigh (with Santa's Village 2014 - the current year) parked outside the front entrance. Take the picture before you enter because at the close it will be busier as people try to get one last memory and you will have to wait around.
When we enter the park, we tend to move towards the back first. We however, if they are empty, hit the chimney drop and humbug first because they can be popular rides (ie longer lines than other rides) and why not take advantage of an open line! Further back, the sleigh ride might have a short line so if you want a quick tour, jump on this ride. Also, there were very few people on the Ferris Wheel, Mini sleighs, bumper cars or much of anything in the back when we visited. If you are going on the water rides, you want to head back there to setup because there will be demand for a seat in the early going (from what I remember) and if you wait, it will be harder to find one later. With that said, we did not use the water rides at this visit because the temps were in the low 70s.
Lastly, let's talk food. We bring lunch storing it in a cooler in the car and the fetching it at lunchtime. There are picnic areas everywhere (we use the Gingerbread forest behind the post office) and they are generally in the shade or under giant umbrella's. The food for the most part at this place is average with generally higher than average prices so we avoid buying major meals at the park (which is typical if most parks). With that said, "Frosty's" Ice Cream is pretty good (and affordable to some extent) and the Gingerbread cookies (where you decorate them yourself) are pretty good. There is also allergy free options as well in this bakery of sorts. The new Restuarant across from the water park, from what I have been told, serves good food but we have not tried it yet.
Ok, we have hit on some major points. Let's now focus on some minor points for you to consider.
- We are fans of the Yule log flume ride, which features a long path with twists and turns followed by a quick climb up and then a plunge down the flume. Make a face or pose as you fly by the camera! Also, since this is a water ride, the line shrinks as the season goes on (and the temps drop) so take advantage of this on the days the temps are lower.
- The chimney drop goes through very busy and very quiet periods. Perhaps it is just the flow of the traffic but often during our visits, which have been off peak, this ride can have a very short to no line.
- Use the shows and the train, which splits the park in half, as a resting time to reload. They are short but allow for a needed breather from time to time. Also, long lines can be snacking opportunities while you wait. Speaking of the shows, they have a light show tied to music which is kind of cool.
- The Santa's Village app is a pretty good GPS option for the park. No need for a paper map...just use the App! It will not point out exactly where the punch card elves are but will give you hints if you miss one on your way around the park and will help your child to get an A+ and a prize.
- The last ride of the day on the roller coaster (Rudy's Rapid Transit) has been known to go around the track up to 6 times versus the norm of 2 times that occurs during the day. Get over there at the end. If you have a family like ours with one child able to ride this roller coaster but the others not (due to height), the firetrucks (Hot Shots Fire brigade) are a good option to consider for those waiting around. It is a water ride (you can get a little wet) but fun for most. They turn the water aspect off when temps drop.
- The train is a short ride around the park with no stops. Especially a nice ride during the winter season as you wind through the park and through the fully lit trees.
- Picture opportunities with elfs can happen from time to time but they are not as accessible as the characters in other places. They do a lunchtime show for the kids in the lunch area near the antique cars so get there early and up front if your kids want to participate.
- The Ferris wheel is a good opportunity to use your cell phone as reception in the park is brutal in general (there is also better reception on the water park side) and with the camera on that phone, you can take some outstanding pictures of the surrounding area though if you are fearful of heights, this fear could kick in when you are stopped at the top while they load and unload riders below.
- The Great Humbug Adventure is a fun ride for the younger kids as they get to shoot at bugs on a slow moving ride (though there is a quick dip lower towards the end of it). It can get pretty dark inside so beware if you or your kids are afraid of the dark.
- The reindeer are kind of fun and interesting. They honestly look fake at first glance (my first reaction) but they are alive and kicking and extremely gentle. At their barn, you can play games and feed them.
- Like Storyland, the people who work at this place are all very nice and helpful.
- If you want to see a great light display, you should visit during the winter. It can be cold so that is a negative but the display of lights and decorations is pretty awesome! Also there is nothing like riding the roller coaster in the snow! Just don't forget to bundle up.
- In the early going, as you head to the back of the park, look to see if the bumper cars are empty. The previous 2 times we have visited this place, this ride has not had anyone on it in the early going but later in the day, you had much longer wait times to bump others.
- The Pixie Stix ride, located across from the Antique cars, is a nice ride for the younger kids. I don't ever remember seeing this ride full though again we do not hit this place at peak times. During off peak, the your ones could ride this numerous times without getting off.
That's about it for the latest "tip sheet." Hope you find it useful and enjoyable.