austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

With candy canes and silver lanes aglow

Past the entrance to Santa's Workshop At The North Pole is a gauntlet of Christmas shops. I mean, you'd expect such. Lots of fine stuff, though. But we did like looking at the stuff that wasn't just what you could get at Bronner's. Also a bunch of nice flat rides carrying on as well as they could in the non-flat terrain. Also in the aftermath of rain; it was a cold day with intermittent rains, exactly like the weather forecasts for a week leading up to our trip had promised would not happen, and for which we had not packed. That last was bad for some rides, like what looked to be a Musik Express without its protective building.

Santa's Workshop is in the mountains, yes, and right beside Pikes Peak. The terrain's the hilliest since, well, any of the New England Parks Tour parks, for us. Hillier, perhaps; I don't remember even the parks in New Hampshire needing so many footbridges and having such steep paths. It's great for exciting photographs and gorgeous vistas, at least if you have the direction right. The park's got to photograph completely differently in morning compared to the afternoon; I'm a little sorry not to have gotten to see both. Not so sorry as to get up early enough to see it at 9:30, but still.

They've got two band organs, both playing independently of the carousel. The signs only promised that they played on the hour and we got there in time to hear the last bars of some Sousa piece. We were just getting fully disappointed when it started up again; apparently, the sign only promised that they would play at least once an hour. The two are near one another, and both near the carousel. That's a metal Herschel-Spillman Carousel, one that's been at the park since the 1960s. It has horses, of course. But it's also got ten reindeer. There's the eight classically named ones, naturally, with a Rudolph up front. And then off on its own, on the other side of the ride, is a tenth. And I am cursing myself for not getting a photograph of the side that shows the reindeer's name. It was something that sounded like a reasonable reindeer name.

You're maybe getting the tone of the place. One of the first rides encountered in the park --- and, from what I gather from its park maps and promotional stuff and what people seem to remember about the park --- is its slide. It's a tall red-and-white cylinder looking like candycanes standing together, with the slide wrapped around it like a wreath. Santa Claus stands on top, naturally. The hoods on the Tilt-a-Whirl cars are similarly red and white stripes. There's garden gnomes made up as elves set out as freestanding statues. There's red-and-white lollipop fixtures and spiralled trees, just like you might see in Roller Coaster Tycoon. There's an animatronic Elmer the Elf show, which we only caught part of the closing of (no luck such as we had with the band organs); he seems to sing a couple Christmas tunes and that all makes sense. There's Christmas trees, of course. And some fire pits that were surprisingly welcome given it was the middle of the afternoon in the middle of June. There's a waterwheel, each panel containing a word of the phrase 'Merry Christmas To All And To All A Good Night''.

Also there's the tiny Santa Chapel. It's better-kept than the tiny chapel at Storybook Land in New Jersey, but it's about the same size, something that could fit maybe a dozen people if they're all friends. Inside is some historical information, particularly about the park's longrunning ``Operation Toylift'' to gather Christmas presents for the needy.

Really the only thing that wasn't nicely atmospheric about the place is that there wasn't snow on the ground. And even then, some of the rides are painted as if they were snow-covered. If you were willing to pretend it was cold, you could get a very nice illusion going. Also between the rain and temperatures thirty degrees cooler than the day before, it was kind of cold.

Trivia: John Lawrence's line, dividing East New Jersey and West New Jersey in 1719, was never formally accepted by the Proprietors of East and West New Jersey, but it was accepted de facto by both sets. Source: New Jersey From Colony to State, 1609 - 1789, Richard P McCormick.

Currently Reading: Roving Mars: Spirit, Opportunity, and the Exploration of the Red Planet, Steve Squyres.


PS: Getting serious with Gillian's now.

SAM_6669.jpg

From the part of Gillian's Wonderland Pier outside the castle, but inside from the boardwalk. View of the Haunted House --- look at all those skeletons, including one on the roof --- and a side view of the Giant Ferris Wheel. Also of the larger of their roller coasters, Runaway Train Coaster.


SAM_6671.jpg

Ticket/wristband booth, including art of Wonder Bear and his partner on the Musik Express. The other ticket booths have them on other rides. I didn't get a complete set of pictures.


SAM_6672.jpg

The Wonder Bear holding up some ride tickets above one of the ticket/wristband booths.


Tags: denver dash, fifth anniversary trip, gillian's wonderland pier, santa's workshop
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