Photo Credit: santasenchantedforest.com
As the world’s largest Christmas-themed amusement park, Miami’s Santa’s Enchanted Forest is the perfect place to visit during the holidays. With more than 100 rides, shows, games and attractions, hundreds of thousands of visitors come every year to experience the magic of Santa’s Enchanted Forest. South Florida’s tallest Christmas tree light show is displayed here, along with millions of dazzling lights, hundreds of themed displays, festive Christmas music, delicious foods from around the world, live show entertainment and carnival rides suited for the entire family.
The park is also home to South Florida’s tallest Christmas tree. The park opens on Halloween night and runs until the first week of January, closing on January 5. From 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Halloween night there is trick-or-treating available for the young ones down Santa Claus Lane. Admission is free for children 8 and under in costume until 7 p.m.
After this time, Santa’s Enchanted Forest lends itself to the Christmas season, displaying thousands of LED lights on its famous ferris wheel. The lines are long and there’s a lot of walking involved but it does not seem to phase the visitors from coming to this well-known local park year after year for some wholesome family holiday fun. Indeed, the pros of coming here outweigh the cons. For only $35 you can bring yourself or the family () to experience lights, food, carnivals, rides and a huge ferris wheel that takes you 150 feet up in the air to get a great view of the city (or at least the local neighborhood).
The many options for eating is attractive to visitors. You can have yourself delicious elephant ears, churros (a traditional Spanish fried-dough pastry covered in sugar), pinchos (think of a shish kabob of skewered or grilled cubes of meat held together by a long toothpick) or another assortment of yummy goodies as you walk along Santa Claus Lane looking for your next ride to get on. There’s face painting for the kids and many holiday displays showing Santa at the North Pole, making his list and checking it twice for good or naughty boys and girls.
The rides are various and range from a ferris wheel and roller coaster to an aerial show. No shortage of photo ops as well. Stick your face through one of the cut-out holiday-themed displays so you can take a wacky photo. You also have the option of attending shows, purchasing gifts at the gift shop. And play one of the prize stands to win the Grand Prize!
A brief history of Santa’s Enchanted Forest: The park has been open since 1982. Back then, it was not at all how it is today. Santa’s started out with the lights and Christmas tree. No rides. No food stands. Not so much space like it has now. For the first two years of it being open, Santa’s Enchanted Forest was a roughly quarter-mile walkway, featuring Christmas displays and food stands culminating with a roughly 100-foot-tall Christmas tree.
The Forest has opened every year since 1982 at 5 p.m. through midnight. The fair was started 33 years ago by the South-Florida based Shechtman family and still currently own and operate it.
The park decided to add a merry-go-round in 1984, and after it was a huge success, the following year 20 more rides were installed. By 1992, the size of the park doubled. An additional 22 rides were added, completing the total of today which is 42. One of the oldest rides at the park is the Himalayan. It consists of a series of cars that yanks ride-goers forward and then backward increasingly faster.
Four months before the park opens, staff begins setting up and assembling 3 million Christmas lights around hundreds of palm trees. All locals know that once they see those twinkling lights permeating the night sky off the Palmetto and Bird Road, they know the park will be open for business soon.
Tickets may be purchased here.
Melissa’s career in writing started more than 20 years ago. Today, she lives in South Florida with her husband and two boys.