What we had to do was drive out of Maine, and up several hours' worth of New Hampshire. And even that seemed to take forever, because we were driving basically perpendicular to the grain of the Appalachian Mountains, so, none of those fancy Interstates or limited-access highways or necessarily roads that didn't suddenly drop to 25 mph so we could putter through tiny villages. What would have been our first park had we not noticed Funtown Splashtown USA was in Jefferson, New Hampshire. This was a small park named Santa's Village and right there you know what kind of park it is.
The park dates back to the 50s, when Santa Claus villages were a thing. Unlike Holiday World in Indiana, this park hasn't expanded to other holidays. Well, it's picked up a water park, but everybody's done that. And unlike many, many Santa Claus parks, this hasn't died. The place looks to be thriving, with a good-sized crowd, and most everything is themed to fit. I mean, even their carousel is all reindeer. All Rudolphs, come to that. Where are you going to see stuff like that? (The water park's dubbed HO HO H2O, for example.) For the second time in a day an amusement park had exceeded our expectations and hopes.
Santa Claus Village is just beautiful throughout. Part of it is there's a great setting, heavily wooded and built into the forest so you can imagine there's nothing but the park in the world. Part of it is that the place looks great, with heavily themed attractions in good shape.
To give some idea of the theming, and the smiles it'll force, consider these attractions. The Burger Meister Food Court. The Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree swing ride. The Joy Ride (water) Slides. Rudy's Rapid Transit Coaster. The Yule Log Flume. The Skyway Sleigh Monorail. The Great Humbug Adventure interactive dark ride. If you're not smiling at any of these the park is a hopeless cause for you.
The Great Humbug Adventure is yet another of those rides where you shoot infrared guns at targets hung around a house. These were kind of alien-looking things dubbed Humbugs. We had to think the ride had originally been a Christmas Carol-themed ride that got turned into a shooting game because everything does these days.
The Skyway Sleigh Monorail was something we rode partly to get a sense of the whole park's layout, though it only loops around a small segment. The cars on the ride are all sleighs, as you might expect. Many of the sleighs had umbrellas in them, not because people forgot them but because they were worried about storms --- some had passed through --- and the umbrellas would make the ride in an open sleigh less unpleasant. The ride operator reminded everyone, every ride, that to start the riders had to say the magic words (offered on a sign outside): up, up, and away! Cheesy? Yes, but so very good.
Outside the monorail we noticed an advertisement for their Christmastime At Santa's Village, which has got to be spectacular. And they invite folks to join them for the ``New Year's Eve Partybration''. Portmanteau aside, we're awfully tempted.
Also, among the baffling park statuary: had you ever wondered what a cross between a red-nosed reindeer and a brontosaurus might look like? Or between a penguin and a brontosaurus? Well, I know what they look like now. They call them a Rudysaurus and a Penguinadon. It's easier to understand the giant rabbit they have set up for lap pictures. Well, maybe not. It's easier to understand the 26 elf statues they've set up. Each comes with a letter stamp, and kids can fill out a card and get a certificate from ``Elf University'' for visiting all the elves.
As mentioned there is a roller coaster, Rudy's Rapid Transit Coaster. It's a small and powered roller coaster. It's a bit rough on people as big as us. On the other hand it can hold something like 48 people at once, so it's great for giving people rides at once. It also does two circuits of the track, if nobody on the ride wants to get off. Nobody did, and that was fine; the ride operator was making enthusiastic windmill motions to keep the ride going and going. But it did surprise us they told riders how to signal that they wanted off. Most of the New England parks we toured included a mention of some way to signal the ride operator that you needed off as soon as possible. We would even see someone take the offer.
Trivia: In a 1903 ballot fans of Cleveland's National League team nicknamed the club the ``Naps'', in honor of superstar Napoleon Lajoie. Source: Crazy '08: How a Cast of Cranks, Rogues, Boneheads, and Magnates Created the Greatest Year in Baseball History, Cait Murphy.
Currently Reading: Moscow, 1937, Karl Schlögel, Translated by Rodney Livingstone.