Santa’s Village in Skyforest to Reopen?

sv32In 1955, a theme park opened in Southern California where families could go and spend a fun-filled day together riding unique attractions, eating delicious baked goods and food, and loading up on whimsical souvenirs including a photo with the big guy himself! We’re not talking Disneyland however – we’re talking about Santa’s Village, in Skyforest, California!

For decades, so many SoCal residents grew up visiting that magical place in the San Bernardino National Forest – and since the park’s closure in 1998, so many of us have looked back on Santa’s Village with utmost fondness and growing nostalgia.

In what has to be the ultimate “Throwback Thursday” article, Glenn Barr of The Mountain News wrote a bombshell that has gone off with a resounding “HELL YEAH!” throughout the themed entertainment community. The article (click here for the full story – subscription fee may apply), which appeared in the May 15 edition of the mountain community’s newspaper, states that the 154-acre property has been sold to an “unidentified Lake Arrowhead resident” who has “big plans for the property”. Those plans apparently call for a complete renovation and re-opening of Santa’s Village possibly within a year after escrow closes on the deal!

sv20Santa’s Village has remained fairly intact over these past years since its closure in 1998. Many of the main buildings have withstood the hot summers and snow-covered winters in Skyforest. Saldy, vandals and other individuals have left their mark – graffiti sprayed on interior walls of gift shops, broken windows and debris left behind from late-night parties and trespassers on the site; surely, they remain on Santa’s Naughty List indefinitely.

Even the Bee Ride Monorail still stands, its yellow bee-shaped ride vehicles sitting silently high above the paint-faded, forgotten structures and pathways of our youth. Folks passing by the property on Rim of the World Highway can catch glimpses of the defunct theme park through overgrown brush and pine trees as they zip along the mountain on their way to Lake Arrowhead or Big Bear. Aside from a company that runs a logging operation, there is no sign of activity at Santa’s Village; its memory only lingers in our minds and funky postcards and images tucked away in desk drawers all around the country.

Driving around the Lake Arrowhead community, it’s not uncommon to find large colorful mushrooms and over-sized candy canes displayed prominently in residents’ front yards – remnants of Santa’s Village can be found for those looking and paying attention!

sv11Who can forget Santa’s Thrilling Bobsled Ride (quite possibly my first coaster experience as a child), the odd Alice in Wonderland walk-through, the spinning Christmas Tree Ride where guests rode in ornaments a la Dumbo at Disneyland, the Antique Car Ride, the Crooked Tree House, Santa’s miniature Train Ride through the Enchanted Forest, and reindeer-led Candy Cane Sleigh?

Or what about the really uber-geeky memories that the Rock Candy Mine bring back – drop your quarter in the slot, listen for the muffled explosion and grin at the “blast” as your very own rock candy slides to you down a chute! Ah, the nostalgic rush that brings! Sadly – many don’t know this – the Mine was purchased with the intent of re-locating it in Frontierland at Disneyland, but management didn’t want to spend the money installing it, and so, the beloved Rock Candy Mine rotted away in the park’s infamous Boneyard backstage.

sv18Let’s not forget the kooky cast of characters that lived at Santa’s Village. Of course, the main man Santa, and his wife, were always present – but what about the creepy Easter Bunny that lived in a huge egg house, or the roaming Jack Punkinhead character that surely inspired the likes of Tim Burton as he dreamed up Jack Skellington as the Pumpkin King in The Nightmare Before Christmas. Then there were the Lollipop Lady and the Rainbow Man… “Come sing with the Rainbow Man!” the commercial jungle would blare – pure marketing crack to kids!

The reality is, none of the things we loved so dearly at the time at the park could compete with the big attractions of Los Angeles and Orange County – Disneyland, Knott’s Berry Farm, Magic Mountain, Marineland, the Japanese Village and Deer Park, Lion Country Safari, Movieland Wax Museum, Movie World, and Busch Gardens. The small family-owned Santa’s Village closed its doors on March 1, 1998, and everyone figured that was that.

sv8In 2001, the property was purchased for nearly $6 million, with its new owner planning on re-opening the cherished theme park. That never happened, and Santa’s Village appeared to be down for the count. Since then, a logging operation has crammed its expansive parking lot with lumber (which was recently deemed a fire hazard and moved off-site).

Which brings us to the news of the day coming from The Mountain News team. Who is this mystery resident, and what are the plans? Will Santa’s Village rise again and become a whimsical, colorful theme park for locals re-imagined? One can only hope! The serious question remains, however… If Santa’s Village re-opened with new attractions, characters and activities, how would it survive in 2015 if it couldn’t hang on nearly 20 years ago?

sv26I think the answer – the secret weapon – may be nostalgia, plain and simple. Everyone that grew up going to Santa’s Village as a kid is now grown, many with their own kids and grandchildren. Mega-attractions like Disneyland Resort are so commercial and expensive these days, I think the climate may be just right for a revival of this type in the San Bernardino mountains. Certainly, the attractions would be updated (the Bee Monorail would likely have to come down or be completely re-built to ADA standards) and the buildings re-done. But in the end, I think it could work with some brilliant marketing, heart-felt seasonal events, and genuine quality. I certainly would go to Santa’s Village a few times a year to enjoy great food, perhaps a family-themed spooky Halloween event or fun Easter EggStravaganza, and unique shopping offerings. And hell, who wouldn’t head up to Santa’s Village during Christmas to see the park lit up in all its glory and to pay a visit to Santa and his elves? I think it’s just the type of experience people are looking for in this day and age. We’re all so wrapped up in high-tech gadgets, $100 million rides, and commercialized theme park marketing hitting us at every turn – that something as charmingly Lo-Fi as Santa’s Village could work. I’m not alone when I say I want it to happen and I want it to work. Now, we just have to wait and see what happens next.

Possibilities abound. Fans are geeking out. Industry peeps are whispering about who might be this “mystery resident” with a vision. It’s almost as bad as waiting for Christmas morning to arrive! Fingers are crossed… hoping for a follow-up story that I’ll title “Yes, Skyforest – There is a Santa Claus!”

UPDATE: Work on Santa’s Village has been moving forward, but not quickly enough to hit the Mother’s Day 2015 opening that the company had announced. Visit our December 19, 2014 Santa’s Village Update story to learn more about the project and when – or if – we can expect the theme park to re-open any time soon.

– Rick West

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TPAers, we want to know what you think about the possible re-opening of Santa’s Village! Share your own memories and thoughts with other fans below, and let’s all hope for a Christmas miracle together!

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87 Responses to Santa’s Village in Skyforest to Reopen?

  1. Avatar elderp says:

    As much as I would love the idea I doubt it would actually happen. Everyone that lives up there knows that most of the signage was sold years ago and what structures remain are very shabby. My guess is some very rich person is going to make a really nice house (flat land is hard to come by up there). It is still nice to think about the place though. Nice pictures.

  2. Rick West Rick West says:

    I think it’s really exciting news – and the possibility of this happening has brought fans out of the woodwork across the U.S. There is a video on YouTube that was taken during a fairly recent “Open House” event at Santa’s Village. It shows the state of the park – many of the rides and attractions reduced to rubble or empty spaces. There are a lot of existing structures however, that remain intact and in very stable, strong condition. That’s a huge advantage to seeing those things re-opened.

    The buyer of the property has already announced that he/she plans on rebuilding and re-opening Santa’s Village, so the only house that we may see built on the land is a brand new one for Santa and Mrs. Claus. Depending on the type of attractions the park re-opens with, they could probably get away with a price tag lower than $15 million; maybe less. I’d love to see them start small, charming and smart, than all-out and then spread too thin to recoup some of the initial investment. Almost $5 million is what the property was listed for. Add a few more on top of that for infrastructure costs, new buildings and one or two attractions and you’re starting to rack up the bill. Add staffing on top of that as well as related business expenses, and you’re past the $10 million mark pretty quickly. That said, I have a feeling this is a long-term labor of love project that someone – or a group of someones – has taken on not to make a quick profit, but to seriously have a go at returning one of Southern California’s original theme park treasures to the community.

  3. Avatar Patty Vanderpool says:

    My husband and I work at a theme park, we want to move to the Big Bear area but can’t find work. Dear Lord let this story be true. We will quit and run their custodial dept.

  4. Avatar Lela Scott says:

    This is so exciting, I can see artists shops good food and lots of fun for people locals and visitors. Lets give the new owner a medal!!

  5. Mr Barr

    Your story about Santa’s Village is exciting news! My Wife and I live in Lancaster, Ca., I’m a real bearded Santa and my Lovely Wife, Marva goes by Kitty Claus. For the past 2 seasons, we have worked with Bass ProShops in their “Santa Winter Wonderland”. We have a passion to bring the “Spirit of Christmas” to children of all ages “Your presence is our present”. As a child, my family would come up to Sky Forest every Season.
    We are very big on the Internet.
    Our Website
    our Facebook Page
    Our Youtube Channel with over a quarter million views

    Here is an example our our work

    I have been a professional actor for over 30 years member of SAG/AFTRA… here are my credits

    We want to continue this legacy and be transplanted to Santa’s Village and grow better together and touch the hearts of all children of all ages, understanding we are “the Keepers of the Christmas Spirit”.

    We would love to break bread with you Mr Barr to share the many benefits of “blooming well where we are planted”.

  6. Avatar porschea says:

    Great idea somewhere to take the kids for winter holiday

  7. Rick West Rick West says:

    Glenn Barr is a writer for the newspaper in Arrowhead that broke this story, which we picked up on here at Theme Park Adventure. We do not have any direct communication with him at this time – so we are hoping he reads your response here on TPA.

  8. Avatar John Hesterman says:

    I visited this Village as a child and it remains one of my fondest memories! I’m 65 now and live in Payson, AZ. I would gladly travel to California if this park were reopened. I hope the new property owner is serious, in this day and age we need something traditional four our children. I can’t think of anything better than Santa’s Village 🙂

  9. Avatar Sarah Vanderpool says:

    See I will personally volunteer my time and experience to help this project 60 get off the ground I was in charge of many buyers of the Christmas elements at Disneyland for 17 years

  10. Avatar Victoria Brofman says:

    We have a wonderful Santa’s Village in Lancaster NH that is 60 years old! Come and visit. Santa spends his summers here.

  11. Avatar Tina says:

    I so remember going here as a kid. I thought is was the greatest place. I am 52 I would love to take grand kids.

  12. I loved Santa’s Village when I was a kid. Now that I am a big kid I would love for it to open once again, so we could have the joy of the holiday season all year long. In this day and age of suffering , sadness, and hopelessness it would be a joy to have the village back and thriveing once again for all to see. Please reopen Santa’s village soon it is badly needed. It dosen’t take much to make some of us happy. Ron Shilton Culver City California.

  13. Avatar terry salcido says:

    I’ve only seen pictures of this wonderful park and wished I could have visited. Would love for my wish to come true!! Please reopen

  14. Hi
    What a wonderful idea for California. Jim Greenleaf the bearded Santa from California inspired me to get involved with the Santa Stories which I hope will feature in your village. – Merry Christmas Derek from the UK

  15. Avatar studio8687 says:

    Everytime Im up there I wish it was open…. Ive been to a few craft shows/boutiques there since its closed and its seemed like they kept up those buildings. This is such exciting news!

  16. I used to go to Camp Oongo with my kids and grandkids, later with the ladies I took care of in my home, we all loved Santa’s Village, I hope it does reopen. A whole new generation needs the experience. It was fun. Lots of yummy food and treasures to buy and the kids and my ladies loved the rides.

  17. Avatar Mike Kunert says:

    I went to the auction in ’98 and got carried away. I had to outbid Pee Wee Herman (no kidding-Paul Reubens) on a few of the items. What we bought (including the pumpkin coach) has been put to good use.

  18. Avatar Bob Smith says:

    $15 to $20 million to reopen?! Probably more- millions for the rides, shipping, installation, electrical, plumbing, etc. The prices would still be $35.00 plus
    per person for admission. Add food on top of that and it’s still going
    to be pricey. Obviously there is a HUGE difference between what people say and what they actually do. It couldn’t compete or last years ago & won’t today. With no experience in owning an amusement park, dealing with the extremely high costs of labor, insurance, parts & maintenance & the ridiculously crazy costs of doing business in California, the entire investment will be completely gone in months. It’s a bad investment. I doubt this investor would throw millions of dollars in the trash. This is just plain fact.

  19. Santa needs a new home and the Children need to know more about Santa’s Village. Watch the video and read about Santa’s Village.

  20. Rick West Rick West says:

    Bob, it’s a shame you have such a dim view of this possible revival. Thankfully, most people don’t share your opinion on the project and would love to see it move forward. $20 million is absolutely doable for a re-opening budget, although there would certainly need to be a strong 5-year plan in place to maintain growth and interest. However, what I think you are greatly short-changing is the power of nostalgia; everyone that grew up with Santa’s Village would love to see it again, and many of them have their own families that they’d love to introduce to the park. It went out of business for several factors in the late ’90s; if approached properly today, I think it has a very real, very decent chance at success as long as they don’t spread themselves too thin at the beginning.

  21. Rick West Rick West says:

    Mike, what a fantastic video and cause – wonderful! Great seeing some of Santa’s Village’s pieces being put to such fabulous use! Thank you for sharing the video with us, and keep doing what you’re doing – I think it’s beautiful!

  22. Avatar DT says:

    “Commercialized theme park marketing” – um, what’s wrong with that? Santa’s Village would have to do the same.

  23. Rick West Rick West says:

    Let’s take the entire sentence to frame your question in proper context as it appears in the story:

    “We’re all so wrapped up in high-tech gadgets, $100 million rides, and commercialized theme park marketing hitting us at every turn – that something as charmingly Lo-Fi as Santa’s Village could work.”

    Meaning that every attraction and gift shop at Santa’s Village wouldn’t be slugged full of character IPs and that the overall charm and quaintness would prevail as opposed to large-scale parks such as Disney and Universal, specifically, where guests are constantly bombarded with highly-commercial marketing. Santa’s Village would be a nice change of pace from that type of visual bombardment, just the same way I personally feel when walking through Ghost Town in the evening at Knott’s Berry Farm; it’s relaxing, and I don’t feel like I am being pressured to buy tons of souvenirs or whatever.

    I work in the themed entertainment industry; I get the need for parks to push marketing and IPs as much as they can in certain cases. I also fully enjoy charming Lo-Fi experiences as well. Each has its own time and place; I believe Santa’s Village would be more on the mellow end of that spectrum, which is what I meant when I wrote the sentence you called into question. Hopefully that clears some of my sentiment up some.


  24. Avatar Patti says:

    Please, please, please, reopen this. What a wonderful place for kids. I have so man memories of going there and taking my kids there.

  25. Avatar Fergi says:

    We would love to see this park re-open. When we were were growing up and as teenagers it was always a fun place to stop when we went to the mountains. Now a Grandmother of grown grandchilodren i would love for them to see it relive our memories thru their eyes. You are never to old for good clean entertainment and fun. ets hope and pray it happens!!!!!!!

  26. Avatar Donna says:

    Please reopen it.

  27. Avatar DONNA says:

    I remember go there with my family and having so much fun.We always looked forward to going every year. it was always in the winter or fall just to see Santa and see his reindeers and elves and the candy cane sleigh. I remember the drive up there. Then it seem it took forever but was worth it. I would love to take my grand kid there so they know there is a Santa and that wishes do come true. My kids grew up believing that and I want their kids to be able to bring their kids there to when they grow up. There is no place like Santas Village for kids and us grown-up too. I just can,t wait. I bet if every person would give 1 dollar or more to help towards the reopening they would have no trouble with the reopening of this village. Just think back when you were a kid and went there. What fun it was and it got you out of the big city for the day. Lets do all we can to help them get it reopened and so people can enjoy the day with their kids and seeing their faces when they see the real Santa in his house at the Village.

  28. Avatar Muffin says:

    I’m keeping my fingers crossed! I visited Santa s Village as a child and an adult, Then shared it with my children I cant wait to share it with my Grandchildren. May the Mystery person who is undertaking this great feat find everything they execute a breeze.

  29. Rick West Rick West says:

    Great sketches, man! Thanks for that! A really heartfelt story! We’re all hoping this will happen!

  30. Avatar Alona says:

    I would Love for it to re-open, it was such a `magical place’ ! Oh yes!!! 🙂

  31. This would be a great venue as long as you keep in mind what A FAMILY CAN AFORD.

  32. Avatar Gary Gushue says:

    I am so glad to know in my heart that Christmas is still very strong and at Santa’s Village in Sky Forrest Ca. for those who don’t remember me, I was a last piece of history in 1998. I was last Santa Claus at Santa’s Village. They were doing a lot remodeling and I suppose they were hoping for a great future that came to an abrupt end. I was 52 years of age at that time. Now I’m 66 a real Santa Claus.

  33. Avatar Kenny Irwin says:

    I visited Santa’s Village open House in January 2013. This has huge potential and a major loyal fan base with the potential to be an international theme park destination that could revival other regional theme parks provided the right creative resources are put into it and it has new features added every year still holding true to the original Santa’s Village we all love and remember. I attended Santa’s Village anywhere from few to a dozen times a year from 1978-to when it closed. Since 1986 I have built my own wonderland in Palm Springs called ROBOLIGHTS that is a combination four acre art walk, featuring a whimsical holiday wonderland with themes of giant robots and other worldly influences and home the nations largest’s holiday residential light display featured on numerous publications including Conan O’Brien, HGTV, TLC with another major art attraction at the AVAM in Baltimore. I would love to get in contact with the buyer and hopefully collaborate and contribute my creative ambitions and energy into the project that will draw crowds to Santa’s Village year round. You can see my video of the walk through of Santa’s Village here:
    In the video description it will link you to the ROBOLIGHTS facebook site. Since my discovery of this wonderful article I have linked it to my facebook and youtbe site. I hope this good news travels far and that Santa’s Village will be a huge resounding success as I believe it will be!

  34. Putty Henck once said, “When it’s over, it’s over. It was fun while it lasted.”

    We’re here to say, “It isn’t over.”

    SkyPark at Santa’s Village

    Coming Spring 2015

  35. Rick West Rick West says:

    Thanks for the video link! We look forward to following this story as it unfolds in the months to come!

  36. Avatar Joel Luther says:

    This is VERY exciting news! I will be honored to do all that I can do to be of help volunteering 100% of my time helping with anything that needs to be done on site. I would enjoy playing a part of bringing Santa’s Village back to LIFE for all to come and enjoy! In a small community “San Bernardino Mountains” it’s important that we all come together, pitch in with our energy, and make this happen as a TEAM! I’M DETERMINED! ★☆★☆★

  37. Avatar Joel Luther says:

    I so want to ride the bee ride! ★☆★☆★

  38. Rick West Rick West says:

    Joel, I can’t think of many people that wouldn’t want to ride that monorail again! That would be just about as nostalgic as getting the PeopleMover back at Disneyland for many fans!

    The reality is, I think that Santa’s Village may have a VERY challenging time bringing the Bee back. The system has lost its operational status and along with it, its “grandfather” status regarding ADA codes here in California. It would cost a huge amount to make the ride and ride layout completely ADA-compliant. I am not 100% sure on this, but I THINK the attraction may have been produced by Arrow, which does not exist anymore. If new or spare parts were needed, there’s no one to get them from. Anything made for the Bee now would need to be custom-produced by another company, and we’re talking big money for that type of thing. The last major challenge is that the ride has been sitting exposed to the elements since the park closed – seasons of snow and corrosive elements that likely have done a number on all components of the monorail.

    My guess is, IF the monorail were to ever return, it would probably have to be re-designed from the ground up and built by another vendor completely.

    However, there could be facts in play that I am unaware of; certainly, seeing the original ride back in action would be amazing. So I will say I am cautiously optimistic, but really don’t think it’ll happen at the end of the day.

    We shall see sooner than later!

  39. Hi!

    Here is a little more history on the Bumble Bee Monorail.


  40. Rick West Rick West says:

    Wow! Thanks for that clarification, Tommy! I appreciate it! So it wasn’t Arrow… Hmmmm…

    American Crain & Hoist does appear to still be in business – so perhaps there COULD be a glimmer of hope regarding seeing this attraction come back to life somehow. That rests ultimately on the owners of Santa’s Village now, and depends on the kind of money they want to throw at this particular ride system, if any. That all remains to be seen, but our fingers are crossed!

  41. Avatar AnnurSidney says:

    I am a recording artist and I would LOVE to donate my Christmas sing called On Christmas Day by Yomamma and moose..To play regularly with no royalties needed, no pay. Though it is already out, that would be an awesome thing for me.

  42. Avatar Sheila Nelson says:

    Hi Rick:

    Your response to Mr. Bob was spot on. Santa’s Village wouldn’t be trying to compete with Disneyland,Knotts Berry Farm or any other amusement park. To begin with Santa’s Village has the beauty of natural surroundings and the smell of the fresh air and wonderful scent of the trees. My Mom and Dad took me there as a child and we have taken my grandchildren there when they were young. The fresh candy and the bakery and the whimiscal rides make children of all ages happy. We live in Lake Arrowhead and are very excited that it is coming back. I worked for Disney for ten years in finance and yes it is an undertaking that will cost money but it will be will worth it becasue in the long run — many,many people will come. I also would like to pass on my resume but don’t know where I should submit it. I have been in development and construction for many, many years and think I could add some value. At any rate — we in Lake Arrowhead are thrilled!!

  43. Rick West Rick West says:

    Thanks Sheila!

    Everyone is kind of in “wait and see” mode at the moment with this. It’s been made clear by the new owners of the property that they are first and foremost focused on turning a large portion of it into a sports park, which may or may not bode well for the hundreds of thousands of enthusiastic folks who were initially thrilled by the announcement that Santa’s Village has been bought and would be returning by next year.

    At first glance, the “return of Santa’s Village” does not seem to be in the new owners’ business model the way so many of us were hoping for. Skypark at Santa’s Village is definitely phase one, which looks to incorporate everything you find at any sports park – mountain bike trails, zip lines, probably a ropes course, fishing, camping, etc. I am not too sure how successful that will be, considering the whole of the mountain is one big natural “sports park”. And speaking frankly as a designer of these types of venues, I am not so sure how successful of a vision that may be at this point.

    The HOPE is that Santa’s Village (and many new attractions/aspects of the type we all remember and love) will become the park’s winter counterpart, and that at some point, we WILL see the return of a “theme park” on the property. However, the new owners are keeping their plans quiet for now, save for the video they released that clearly defines the venture as a sports park at the moment.

    We wait and we hope; as soon as they want to give any further information to TPA, we will gladly pass it along to everyone.

  44. Avatar Paul Bywater says:

    My parents brought us kids up here at an early age. I will never forget our happy times here. Would love to bring my grand children here.

  45. Avatar Sindal says:

    I still think of Santa’s village as an adult, even though I never went as a kid. I had the parents who always said ” next weekend.” We never went ! If there was a Santa’s Village I would take my children. BRING SANTA’S VILLAGE BACK !

  46. Avatar Teresa pittman says:

    I live on lake Gregory and work in corona hills. I really want to work here. I love children and I’m so excited to see this reopen. Do we know how and when they will be taking employment applications.

  47. Rick West Rick West says:

    Hi Teresa,

    It’s amazing to see how many people want to work with this project and be part of it somehow. Unfortunately, we here at TPA aren’t privy to their business decisions or where they’re at time-wise with this. We HOPE to bring our readers updates and have asked for access, etc. So keep your fingers crossed and keep an eye on any up-coming stories here on the site!

  48. Avatar Teresa Pittman says:

    Thanks Rick!

  49. Avatar Larry says:

    We can only hope for this to come to fruition.

  50. Avatar jim jordan says:

    In 1998 I lead a group that was trying to purchase and restore the attraction. With proper marketing, planning and management in place, the project is as viable now as ever. The need for regenal attractions are real. I still have a lot of information and notes on this project. I would be more than happy to shair then with the new owners. For some reason I could never get rid of the idea that this delightful venue was over!

  51. Avatar Paul says:

    The new owners are/were shooting for an opening day sometime in May 2015, but they wrongly believed that the county would automatically renew the long expired conditional use permit. Zoning also became an issue when it was pointed out that the property’s current zoning does not allow for the operation of an amusement/theme park. They are currently in negotiations with San Bernardino County officials to change the current zoning and have filed paper work to obtain a new conditional use permit.

    Here is an article from one of our local newspapers, sorry to read the full article a subscription is required:

    County Could Delay Santa’s Village Opening

  52. Avatar janice says:

    I think its a wonderful idea open up Santa’s Village it would bring so much income in job to the village in Lake Arrowhead or skyforest whichever you want to call it I have wonderful memories there in I would do anything to see it come back

  53. Avatar Linda Rebhahn says:

    Back in 1989 my husband and I bought property in Phelan Ca. we had to go to San Bernardino for paper work at the time we had a 3 yr. old and a 2 yr. old, from that day in Nov. we made it our family day to always head out to Sant’s Village, and even when they were in Girl Scouts I try to get the family’s to go. When it close down everyone would say “I wish we could of taken our kids” well I hope when and if it opens they well this time go see it and make it a family outing as we did and as for my two girls yes they also want to make it a family thing to do with there family’s and Dad and I well keep on going too, just as my Mon and Dad did with there 7 kids.
    Linda (62)

  54. Avatar Marshana Fuentes says:

    Many memories were made as a child at this magical place. I’ll always remember the candy tree and visiting Santa. I’m so glad my children were able to experience it at least a few times before they sadly closed their doors. I’m thrilled to hear that it may open again.

  55. Avatar lynette says:

    I have some very FOND memories of Santa’s Village when I was a kid. I’m 31 now and my dad would take us there quite often when we resided in Apple Valley. This is very exciting news as I moved away my 4th grade year. Can’t wait to make memories again!!! Let’s hope this project has phases of construction developed!

    Much Love!

  56. Moving forward update…

    SkyPark at Santa’s Village

  57. Avatar Stephanie says:

    I started crying before I even finished this article. I’m 35 years old and we had a house in Lake Arrowhead when we were kids. My parents always took us to Santa’s Village. I’m visiting for the weekend with my mom and my daughter. We didn’t know that Santa’s Village had closed but read your article to hear of possible good news. Thank you for sharing a wonderful, descriptive article.

  58. Rick West Rick West says:

    That’s really sweet, Stephanie! We are all hoping with fingers crossed that this comes to pass. We know that the owner has had major issues with getting the land re-zoned as an amusement facility. Time will tell – but we’d all love to have Santa’s Village back! Happy Holiday season to you!

  59. Avatar Debbie Burton says:

    Skypark Santa’s Village,

    If you really are going to put this back together, the original Pumpkin Coach is for sale on ebay:

  60. Avatar Frank Arzate says:

    I didn’t get 2 go as a kid but I remember the commercials on tv. I would definitely take my kids n nephews several times a year! I’d even donate $ to keep it going for many generations. I can image the fresh air as we ride among real trees on the hanging coaster and the warm sun in my face with my loved ones……it doesn’t get any better than that!

  61. Is anyone aware of the status on the zoning issues? Is there a EIR? Is there public comment? I worked as an elf when I was a teenager (35 years ago) and would love to see the village reopen. It seems like a good idea and if properly marketed should be successful in bringing much needed tourism back to the community. How cool would it be if both Santa’s Village and Cliffhanger Restaurant reopened?

  62. Rick West Rick West says:

    Unfortunately, nothing has been made public, and despite many very friendly attempts at a follow-up interview/story for TPA, the property’s owner has declined, deferring us to “follow their Facebook page” or watch their site for upcoming announcements. It’s disappointing, considering the amount of public awareness that TPA has given this story – we simply have offered time and again to get the momentum going and thousands of eager, enthusiastic fans updated and in the park’s corner with support.

    The last we have heard is that the project is mired in red tape and zoning issues that are maybe being slowly worked out. Whatever the case, the clock is ticking, and as far as we know, very little infrastructure work has been done at Santa’s Village, leaving a Spring 2015 opening for anything but a food truck in its parking lot a very bleak possibility. These things take a tremendous amount of time, effort, and money. 2015 was an ambitious opening schedule even IF everything was ready to go on their end – which it was not. We remain hopeful, but have very strong professional doubt that we’re going to see this project come to pass in a way that all of us had initially hoped for when we first caught wind that the property had been sold and that the new owner wanted to re-open Santa’s Village.

    Time will tell.

  63. Avatar Crystal says:

    Omg I would love if it reopened I went there so many times as a kid I would definitely take my kids..

  64. Avatar Mar says:

    I hope it does happen. And if it does I hope that they have those amazing gingerbread cookies. I miss this place. Loved going there as a kid and would love to go there now.

  65. Avatar Nikki Rodriguez says:

    When I always wanted to go there when I was a little girl. I use to see the commercials and wish my parents could take me there. But I knew it was just a wish because we where low income family of 7. And now that I’m GA mommy of a 8 month old baby girl I was going to take her. But I looked it up and it’s closed and I’m a little disappointed because I wanted my baby girl to have a beautiful mom more with her mom.
    It’s a long shot but please re-open it. It will mean a hole lot to a lot of people and my self as well. Just imagine how many kids would be happy and hopefully bring back the tradition of be living in Santa again. Cause now kids these days don’t believe in him no more. So please re open it. Ty.

  66. Avatar Ronnie says:

    I was only to Santa’s Village once. I brought my daughter, her husband, and their 3 kids. It was so exciting and wonderful. Then the next year when I wanted to go back – it had closed.

    It was a wonderful place and I’d love to take a new set of grandchildren …. from another daughter. What can we do to encourage a new grand opening?

  67. Rick West Rick West says:

    Hi Ronnie,

    Unfortunately, there’s little that can be done. We’re all kind of in a holding pattern following the announcement that the park would be re-built and re-opened. With the announcement that Santa’s Village would feature an “adventure park” with an offering of outdoor activities, it was clear very early on that this wasn’t exactly the Santa’s Village that so many of us grew up with that is in the works. We also know that there has been a LOT of unexpected red tape to get through with permits, etc. from the county; and that should have been understood as well as anticipated by the new owners as well.

    We have reached out numerous times, offering both professional and media awareness help to Santa’s Village, but have been deferred to the company’s Facebook page, etc. each time. So, we wait like everyone else to see what’s next in this saga. I personally don’t think we’re going to see much of anything by the original opening target of Spring 2015; that was beyond ambitious, and I always sensed that it was an unreasonable schedule.

    Here’s hoping – and waiting!

  68. Avatar michelle z says:

    I am praying to God this is happening . My family went every year to santas village and we LOVED it if this is true I am so taking my kids and family there . I miss this place SOOOO much . Please reopen

  69. Avatar Josie says:

    Loved loved it was a child all you really got to do is just promote it on Facebook simple as that and wait for thousands to show up

  70. Avatar Sharon (Howard) Johnson says:

    I remember going several times to Santa’s Village with my other 3 siblings and parents. We has a great time. I would gladly go again and take my kids and grand kids. And if I live long enough, I would take my great grandson, that turns 1 in Mar 2015! It was something that kept my faith in Santa Claus and all his magic. I would really like to see Santa’s Village open. I eagerly await the announcement of when it will re-open.

  71. Avatar Randy Later says:

    This is great news! My dad actually worked on the original construction of Santa’s Village with my grandfather. Then when I was a young boy, every year spending time at our family cabin in Running Springs, we would go to Santa’s Village. Loved it!!

  72. Rick West Rick West says:

    That’s awesome, Randy! If you have any old photos – especially construction shots, if they were taken – we’d love to see them! If you have any, feel free to contact us at TPAComments (@) and we’ll work out the details! Otherwise, thank you for sharing your thoughts! It’s amazing how enthusiastic and nostalgic people are about Santa’s Village! We love the mountains and towns there and have a long family history up the hill as well!

  73. Avatar Joel Luther says:

    I’m excited that after around sixteen years of complete abandonment that Santa’s Village endured by the previous owners – that the park is under new ownership and NOW there is finally SOME activity SOME restoration project going on there at Santa’s Village – no matter what the end result is after completion of restoration! Theme park, adventure park, NO MATTER WHAT – the San Bernardino Mountains needs that park to open to entertain anyone from anywhere around the world to economically boost up all the small mountain communities which will enlarge the attraction to the entire mountain! I didn’t support the fact that the “do nothing” previous owners of Santa’s Village sat on the property for around sixteen years and willfully allowed the property to fall apart before their very own eyes with no restoration project in mind. I do support the new owners of Santa’s Village working on restoring the park back to at least something for all to come and enjoy!

  74. Avatar Angie says:

    Hope they bring back Santa’s Village. Went there as a child and took my daughter when she was 3. Have movie pictures of her happy face seeing Santa for the first time. Such a special and different Park. Hope this does not end up like my other favorite California treasure…Miramar by the Sea in Santa Barbara.

  75. Avatar Big bear person says:

    How about Santas Village having horse trails and a ice skating rink.

  76. Avatar stephen russell says:

    Need to renovate whole park, new paint work, interiors, add WiFi alone, hotel, cabins, zipline, sliegh ride, BBQ area for summer, improve rides, Toy store, hobby store, dining, candy store etc alone. more parking or shuttle bus from Lake Arrowhead/Big Bear to site, etc

  77. Rick West Rick West says:

    Yeah, definitely read up on the second article here on TPA regarding the opening being delayed until at least summer this year. It goes into detail about some of the things you’ve touched on here. The entire infrastructure needs to be re-done, and as far as we know, very little, if any of that, has taken place.

  78. Avatar Denis says:

    Wonderful idea! It would be possible though to be far more profitable than previously, with some simple changes. There was never a place for tired parents to sit, eat, drink and get warm. The village could accommodate far more people taking up less space if a percentage of them were enjoying a break, buying refreshments, possibly enjoying entertainment in a fairly densely populated hall — more room in the park, shorter lines, more visitors, more concession profits.

  79. Avatar Tim Baxter says:

    The new owners made the mistake of thinking we are back in 1955, a time when men could dream big, make plans and then get to work to realize their dreams. Those days are gone forever.
    Disneyland, Knott’s Berry Farm, Santa’s Village / Skyforest, CA. What do these all have in common? They were build before 1960. Back then, Walt Disney often praised…..”the Free Enterprise system”. Well, that died decades ago, especially in Calif. The new owners have been blocked by various govt agencies, which may or may not allow them to reopen the park as the owners want. Another issue not commented on is the traffic. I was up there on a recent Sunday. I drove down the 18 to the 330, which then requires a left turn on the 330 to head down the hill towards San Bernardino. Nonstop traffic going down the hill at 50+ mph. It took several minutes of waiting for a slow poke car or truck to create an opening so I could make my left turn. Several cars piled up behind me had to wait their turn for the next slowpoke vehicles. In short, there is already a pressing need for a traffic signal at that intersection. Imagine several hundred more cars per day driving that route. So you now have to bring in CalTrans to deal with that issue. My brother who works at CalTrans said it takes a good 1-2 years and a 4 ft high stack of reports for any changes to be approved, not counting the time to implement the changes. Same thing for any road widening at Santa’s Village, a crosswalk, traffic light or anything else. Then of course you have certain types of environmentalists who do not want ANYTHING to happen on that property.
    And some of the homeowners in the area who do not want the increased traffic and activity in their peacuful, quiet neck of the woods. It only takes one of those people to file a lawsuit and tie this thing up indefinitely. I watched this happen in what is now “Playa Vista” in Los Angeles. It took fifteen years of fighting for the owners to finally be able to build on their land.
    The environmentalists are empowered by the courts to basically control whatever happens on a given property. If they want to tie things up in court indefinitely, they can do that. If they want to dictate the terms and conditions of development on a given property, they can do that in exchange for dropping their lawsuit. Sad state of affairs for California, which was once a bastion of freedom, now heavily dominated by Democrat politicians who have created the ridiculous, business killing environment we now face. I wonder how many die hard Democrats were in the group loudly cheering for the reopening of the park, who voted for the very Democrats who have killed the “Free Enterprise” they are calling for regarding Santa’s Village. What irony.

  80. Rick West Rick West says:

    I’m not into politics or playing The Blame Game on either party (because when you boil it down, they all suck). You do bring up some valid points about traffic and governmental challenges, along with some homeowners that don’t want Santa’s Village to return, and I thank you for the insightful comments!

    Whether or not Santa’s Village ever opens remains to be seen. We KNOW it’s not going to be the theme park we’re all thinking of – the owner has made that painfully clear, and yet, people don’t see that. I personally think it will open and then close quickly when people realize the only thing left at Santa’s Village are a few familiar buildings and their own childhood memories.

    There are plenty of mistakes about this project all the way around.

  81. Avatar TIM BAXTER says:

    Much has been said about the new owners, their plans for the property, if they know what they are doing, if and when Santa’s Village will reopen, etc. I’m looking at the situation from another angle now. This must be said of the new owner or owners……….thankfully under their ownership, Santa’s Village still stands. There is an appreciation of the historic significance of Santa’s Village. The property could have been bought by a developer, who saw Santa’s Village as a bunch old junk to be bulldozed to make way for “progress”, however that developer defined it. Put a big green fence around the property and bulldoze away, regardless of what anybody else had to say. We don’t have to like the colors of paint they are using. We don’t have to like the whole “Skypark” thing. We don’t have to like the ongoing delays in reopening. As long as Santa’s Village stands, there is hope of a reopening in one form or another, under this owner or another. The current situation is infinitely better than the alternative, which is NO Santa’s Village.

  82. Avatar Marie says:

    I worked at Santa’s Village, Sky forest in 1979. I was an elf, operating many of the rides, working in the bakery and the Puppet Theatre. It is a part of history that I am glad to see come back. I will be there opening day! I hope all my former colleagues will meet me there to celebrate!

  83. Avatar POLLY WOMACK says:

    Are you making your gingerbread boys? Do you still have the recipe? I do. The former owner gave it to the father of my closest friend. We have made them every year since (at least 40 years). I will be making them next week. Polly Womack

  84. Rick West Rick West says:

    Hi Polly,

    We’re not Santa’s Village – we’re simply a themed entertainment fan site that has published articles on the venture now underway up in Skyforest. But hey – if you want to bake us some gingerbread cookies, we’d gladly accept them! 😉

    Have a great Holiday Season!


  85. Avatar ed solomons says:

    how bout opening year around as hall of the mountain king featuring year round ice skating artificial snow in rotating barrels inside a fun house with a snow slide in the funhouse along the interior wall spinning floor wheels like ice sleds and of course santa village with elves making gifts sell stock to get it developed sell 3 dimensional holographic projectors that show santa landing on roof walking the house snow storm and starry skies develop Halloween specials,easter egg hunts adventureland frontier with bear special children films like mary poppins bambi mountain adventure series featuring stories like little house on the prairie etc.use your imagination to create a mountain style disneyland

  86. Rick West Rick West says:

    Hi Ed,

    Unfortunately, at this time, it appears that the owners of Santa’s Village do not intend on creating anything like this; no dark rides, walk-throughs or flat (carnival) attractions.

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