July 14, 2009

Christmas is Dead.

Photo by Team Dziobecki

The above picture seems appropriately symbolic for beginning this follow-up post, since it's all about the sad present-day reality of a once magical place we knew as Santa's Village in Skyforest, California. As you can see, the image is of an almost perfectly preserved Christmas tree inside of what could be interpreted as a glass coffin. How perfect is that? I'm also amazed, considering the current condition of other areas in the park, that vandals hadn't already destroyed the glass-encased display. I'm no trespassing, property-trashing redneck asshole, but aren't those windows begging to be broken?! And isn't the act of smashing windows and/or glass one of the first things you learn in Vandalism 101? I'm just saying.

As I mentioned in the previous post, my research found that the old parking lot is now being used as a lumber yard. Yes, a lumber yard! I have no idea if any of the old village houses or buildings are being utilized by the "lumberjacks", but even just using the parking lot seems bad enough. See the pictures below...

Photo via alamedainfo.com

THEN: This was Santa's lovely parking lot, back-in-
the-day. It's even more attractive with those great
old cars, huh?!

Photo by Hockeynut 10

NOW: Here is the current-day "lumberjack" parking
lot. If you squint, you can see the giant candy cane that
welcomed thousands of tourists to Santa's fantastical
home for more than 40 years! You can also see the
green Bumblebee Monorail track towering above,
amidst the forest.

Let's move on to the village grounds and interior. Remember the Good Witch's Bakery that looked like a giant gingerbread house? Well, take a look below for another staggering before & after comparison...

Photo via alamedainfo.com

THEN: The Good Witch's Bakery, covered in
bright and cheerful sugary goodness.

Photo by Team Dziobecki

NOW: Not so much.

One of the most exciting attractions that didn't make it into my first post, was the Alice in Wonderland Magic Looking Glass mirror maze/fun house. It was just a simple hall of mirrors that you walked through, but the Alice theme made it seem a lot more exciting! Here, take a look...

Photo via alamedainfo.com

THEN: An inviting, mysterious hall of wonders!

Photo by Kaitlin Johnson

NOW: A graffiti-laden vandal's playground. This is the
same big "looking glass" window that we can see the
little girl (and elf companion) gazing into, above. The
White Rabbit must have been added in later years. It
also looks like an alternate entrance/exit? Either that,
or the glass panel on the right end was broken out.

Photo by Kaitlin Johnson

Here's a shot inside the maze. Notice, the accumulation
of dirt and twigs on the floor. Also, those flowers are
painted onto the mirrors.

Photo by Kaitlin Johnson

Another shot inside the mirrored halls. It's kinda
spooky, all dark like this...

Photo by Kaitlin Johnson

This is a sad-looking empty corner of the maze. If the
writing on the wall is any indication, it would stand to
reason that something (Cheshire Cat?) used to reside

I'm pretty sure that Tommy and I walked through the mirrored Alice maze when we were there together, as we share an interest in all things Alice related. And my parents probably took me in there as a child, but I don't really remember any of the interior details. Yet again, it's another attraction I would've loved seeing when new!

This next thing, I don't recall at all. But it's pretty neat, and the pictures prove that it did exist, whether I saw it or not. Don't know how I could've missed it, though...

Photo via alamedainfo.com

THEN: There's a lot going on here! First, we've got
Jack Pumpkinhead with an elf, in front of a castle
turret-like thing that also has what looks like puppets
on its roof. Then, to the left, we can also see the Easter
Bunny crouching down and doing something...
suspicious. Meanwhile, in the background, Cinderella's
pumpkin coach goes rolling by.

Photo by Team Dziobecki

NOW: It almost looks like the
Partridge Family's outhouse, huh?!

Photo courtesy of Vintage Roadside

Here's the castle turret "toilet" from a different angle.
Notice the broken-down blue railings and bridge that
led to the turret. You can also see the back side and
main entrance to the Alice in Wonderland mirror
maze/fun house. You entered through that big tree, the
one that looks like it has a face. I don't know what the
cathedral-like "windows" are all about...

I'm frustrated that I could not find any vintage pictures of the hanging Bumblebee Monorail ride. And believe me, it's not for lack of trying! So, anyway, this before picture is more recent than the others, but it shows the ride in action...

Photo by Steve Wilson

THEN: Some passengers "hanging out"
on the Bumblebee Monorail ride.

Photo by Flickr 7500 (AKA James)

NOW: "Don't just leave me hangin'!" The bees were left
to fend for themselves, along with the entire support
track which keeps them in suspended animation.

Photo by Flickr 7500 (AKA James)

This was the entrance to the monorail, complete with
beehive ticket booth.

Well, folks, that's about it for now. I might do some additional related posts in the future, especially if I find the old photos from my very own visits. You know that I'll have to share those!

Hopefully, you didn't find all of this too saddening. But in case you did, here's just one more shot to end things on a happier note...

Photo via Google Image Search

NOW: Turns out that Santa's guard shack, a crooked
tree house and several giant mushrooms were bought
at the village's public auction and then successfully
transplanted here, at the Flower Fields of
Carlsbad, California. Since then, they continue to be
enjoyed by thousands of visitors each year.


  1. I would love to ride on the hanging Bumblebee...looks like it was such a happy place(sigh*). What a great post darling! I adore the photos & those colorssss...

  2. Heartbreaking. Who retains ownership of the property and it's contents?

    You'd think they'd have at least tried to auction some of the items off. Lot's of people are XMas fanatics so I'm sure they'd have had some takers.

    This just looks so sad.

  3. Wow, you've done a great job with this! This is EXACTLY what I've been dying to find out/see! Those f***ing lumberjacks, with all their crap cluttering the lot! You're totally right about the Easter Bunny looking suspicious by the turret. I think he's squatting or something. I LOVE the "Partridge Family outhouse" comment, it's perfect. The Good Witch's Bakery "after" shot is horrifying, all crumbling away like that. My favorite pics are the ones of the Alice In Wonderland Mirror Maze, of course. I absolutely remember going through that, both as a kid, and again with you, my handsome husband. I'm so glad there's a picture of the special "kiddie" entrance that was a slide down the "rabbit hole." One more thing- I wish we could travel everywhere by bee-rail.

  4. P.S.- That first picture of the Christmas tree in the "glass coffin" is great. You clever man. :)

  5. Thank you, Lenore!

    It WAS a happy place, once upon a time... To know the joy of riding in a bumblebee, is a wonderful thing. Frolicking amongst elves and giant technicolor mushrooms ain't bad either!

  6. Hey, Townhouselady!

    The latest info that I could find regarding ownership was this: In 2001, the 220 acres of land (which included the 15 acre Santa's Village) was purchased by Thomas Plott, owner of Plott Family Care Centers, for $5.6 million. He planned to re-open the park, and had even refurbished a couple of the buildings, but died in 2005. Since then, what remains continues to deteriorate...

    Fortunately, a public auction WAS held when the park closed in 1998, and a lot of the cooler decorative aspects of the park (like the giant mushrooms, parts of rides, signs and displays, etc.) went home with some very happy collectors!

  7. Glad you liked it so much, Tommy!

    I had completely forgotten the "rabbit hole" slide entrance. It's too bad I couldn't find a photo of that... Did WE slide into the mirror maze when we went there together? I NEED to find those photos we took on our visit. There might just be a shot of one of us sliding!

  8. Anthony, what a great and informative post! Oh...such magical place it was at one time. I would have loved this place - like another world, fairytale, indeed. The Partridge Family outhouse is fabulous! And yes, it does indeed remind me of the Partridge Family. I believe I have stepped into a children's storybook when I came to this post. It's quite lovely and magical to visit you!

    The transformed scene is very depressing!


  9. Thanks a lot, Six!

    Yes, quite depressing. But, at least, the village DID brighten the lives of millions over the course of its 43 years in operation!

    Maybe, some day, someone will bring back the magic. If they do, I just hope that it will be done in the same manner & style. Wouldn't it be great to see the place resurrected just as it once was, giant polka-dotted mushrooms and all?

  10. Oh Anthony... you DO crack me up! Brilliant post. From the dramatic 'Christmas is Dead' title with the tree in its glass coffin, to the suspicious Easter Bunny and Partridge Family outhouse, right through 'til the end.
    I love reading your posts. This was especially interesting - can't wait to see your pics (if you can find them).

  11. MoonDoggie, I'm glad that you continue to enjoy the show! And my corny sense of humor, too! ;)

    I recently spoke to my mom about our old family photos, and she said that she'd given me a special album of childhood photos years ago... I feel quite awful because I can only vaguely remember receiving it, and I have NO idea where it might be. It's really puzzling to me that I wouldn't have put that album in a very safe and familiar place, as I would certainly consider such a thing to be a priceless treasure.

    It's making me feel as though I'm losing my mind!

  12. Anthony, you did a fab job on both Santa Village posts. This one does make me a little sad. though... The season I worked as a park floater, I got to work in the Good Witches Bakery. They had the yummiest gingerbread cake!The puppet theater was across the way, or at least near the bakery. And the Reindeer barn was just behind the park, at the back. While working at the park, I truly enjoyed chatting with people and got such a kick out of the kids who ALWAYS saw the magic! Afterall, how many kids could actually say they had been to the North Pole. The pumpkin guy wasn't there in 1983. I walked past that Christmas tree encased in glass many, many times! And the bumble bee ride.... hahahah... remind me sometime to tell you a story about that one! I got the scoop straight from Mother Goose. I hope you do a bigger project on SV. Mr. and Mrs. Henck would love it. GREAT WORK!!!!


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