Ho, ho, ho: Santa's Village in East Dundee reopens this weekend
Christmas is coming early to East Dundee.
After being closed last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Santa's Village Azoosment Park will reopen Saturday in a return of the suburban icon that first opened in 1959. Even with capacity currently limited to 25%, it's a breath of fresh air after a rough 2020.
"The hardest thing for us last year was watching restaurants and other businesses opening," said Brian Wright, marketing director for Santa's Village. "We kind of felt like we were last on the list."
Wright said that while there were furloughs over the last year, much of the staff was able to remain by working on improvements to the facility. Ownership also started an offshoot company called SV Enterprises that concentrates on landscaping, snow removal and holiday light installation.
Some staff members returned late last summer when the Santa Springs water park opened for seven weeks, allowing officials to implement the safety protocols that will be in place this year.
Reservations are required so the park can monitor crowd size, although the system allows for season ticket holders to visit anytime without a reservation. Social distancing should be maintained and masks are required.
Part of the offseason included adding new rides such as the Blizzard, where eight people sit in a circle and rise higher and higher like a pendulum. There's also the Jolly Trolley, a new playground and new pavilions for birthday parties.
The park, at 601 Dundee Ave. in East Dundee, will be open weekends only until after Memorial Day when Santa Springs opens with new body slides. Both parks will be open seven days a week starting in June, and the season will be extended through October.
"For some people that visit us on a regular basis, it's been 16 months since they were able to visit the park," Wright said. "So they're not only going to see some of the nostalgic rides they've enjoyed since they were kids, they're also going to see everything new we have."