The San Bernardino Mountains could soon see the reopening of the long-shuttered, totally awesome Santa's Village theme park, but don't get out your ugly Christmas sweater just yet: it will look and feel a little different, reports the Daily News. The park will be transformed into an "an outdoor-oriented adventure park" and be rechristened Skypark, says the man behind it all, a Lake Arrowhead real estate broker named Bill Johnson who's "directing" the overhaul on the 153-acre site. The rationale is that the old Santa's Village, while really fun for kids, was boring for most everyone else, so the new park will have activities with a wider appeal across ages: flyfishing, mountain biking, zip lines, bouldering, a climbing wall, and an outdoor ice skating rink. Santa's going to get extreme.
Santa will still be around at Skypark, but as more of a mascot than a central figure. The "woodsman" element will be played up, so that red-and-white suit will probably fall by the wayside in favor of a kind of LL Bean-type ensemble, or at least some flannel. (He will remain "jolly," says Johnson.) Santa 2.0 will have a best-friend dog named Scout and both will appear on all the merchandise for the new attraction.
Santa's Village, when it was open, could theoretically have been a real home to Santa—who totally exists. It was surrounded by tall trees, the air sometimes got chilly, and everything looked like it was ripped from a cartoon drawn by a child who'd eaten way too much candy. Located in the town of Skyforest (fittingly fantastical), the park opened to enormous crowds in 1955—almost two months before Disneyland—but interest waned and it closed down in 1998.
Johnson is planning to reopen the park on August 1, which he admits is pretty ambitious, given that he still requires approval from multiple state, federal, and county agencies before proceeding. The park, if opened, would employ more than 200 people.
· Santa's Village in Skyforest to get updated treatment [LADN]
· Aug. 1 is target date to reopen Santa's Village in Lake Arrowhead [LADN]