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Santa's Village AZoosment Park Discussion Thread


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Hey everybody!

 

This thread is simple! Rather than having a million little threads about everything that goes on at Adventuredome, this thread is designed to consolidate it all into one user-friendly thread. Feel free to use it to post updates, trip reports, questions, comments, and of course, general discussion. For pictures and videos of the park as well as past updates, see TPR's Park Index Santa's Village AZoosment Park.

 

Santa's Village Azoosment Park Official Website

 

Below are some links to past updates from the park, you may be interested in. Enjoy!

 

--Robb

_____________________________________________________

 

2006

May 12th, 2008 - Santa's Village may shut down (see below)

 

2009

January 5th, 2009 - Talks underway to possibly re-open the park in 2010

 

2010

August 31st, 2010 - Park to re-open as zoo and amusement park

 

2011

April 29th, 2011 - New rides and attractions announced for 2011 season

November 23rd, 2011 - Changes announced for 2012

 

2013

July 26, 2013 - park releases the number of its' new coaster, Wildcat

 

 

2014

June 30th, 2014 - Wildcat opens

 

2015

April 22nd, 2015 - Pictures of new 2015 rides posted

 

 

2016

January 8th, 2016 - The park's historic Snowball ride is being refurbished

November 17th, 2016 - Super Cyclone (from Interpark) to be added for 2017

 

 

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Every Mother's Day weekend for nearly 50 years, Santa's Village brushed fresh, white paint on its piles of fake snow, opened the life-size gingerbread house and beckoned children and adults to its property in East Dundee. Opened a few years after Disneyland, the tiny park was designed to give kids the kind of Christmas its developer never had as a child.

 

Over the decades, as tourists began flocking to bigger attractions like Gurnee's Six Flags Great America, attendance declined. Scores of other small parks in the Chicago area and around the country shut their doors. Santa's Village hung on.

 

Now with a lien on the property and $83,000 in debt to East Dundee, Santa's Village is closed. For the first time in its history, on the traditional opening weekend no children will crowd around the "North Pole" or clamor for a pony ride.

 

Up for sale, the park on a recent day looked as forlorn as an abandoned child. The snowball ride sat silent; the treehouse slide was empty; even the ponies had left for greener pastures.

 

Yet in storybook fashion the town has rallied, and a prospective buyer has stepped forward with a plan to rescue the fading landmark tucked along a strip of car dealerships on Illinois Highway 25 in Kane County. The buyer, a local businessman, has told town leaders that he wants to refurbish the place and open in June. The deal remains tentative, and the sale closing date has been repeatedly pushed back, leaving the future uncertain.

Edited by larrygator
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I know at least one person who will actually be RELIEVED at this news! I've heard that the park has become something of a dump over the past decade or so and that the rides are in terrible shape.

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This was the first park I ever went to so, it will always have a spot in my heart. I hadn't been there since I was about 7 but, I had heard the same news.

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  • 2 years later...
Santa's Village could rise again

Resort sets sights on new park, while East Dundee seeks another use for its vacant site

By Carolyn Starks | Tribune reporter

January 2, 2009

 

With the holiday season winding down, Santa and a few jolly investors are fine-tuning plans to re-create Santa's Village as a modern amusement park on the grounds of a family resort near Utica, Ill.

 

The news is bittersweet in East Dundee, where a Santa's Village was built in 1959 and helped put the town on the map for generations of Chicago-area residents.

 

East Dundee Village Administrator Frank Koehler said his New Year's resolution is to find a purpose for the vacant 38 acres at Illinois Highways 25 and 72 where the amusement park once thrived. Snowed under by debt and declining attendance, the park closed in 2005, and the rides and other equipment were sold at auction in 2006.

 

"We will have the memories and be forever known as the home of Santa's Village, which is not a bad thing," Koehler said.

 

 

 

The new Santa's Village is being planned by officials of Grizzly Jack's Grand Bear Lodge and Resort, a $90 million family resort and water park near Starved Rock State Park. They hope to open the attraction in 2010, using some of the nostalgic rides, such as the Snowball and Convoy Trucks, that were bought at auction.

 

Those rides would be whirling next to new rides and roller coasters, an upgraded house for Santa and modern amenities that today's sophisticated kids have come to expect, said Joseph Hook, Grizzly Jack's general manager.

 

Meanwhile, East Dundee officials have stepped up efforts to find a purpose for the closed amusement park property and its surrounding area, which has seen a retail exodus in recent years.

 

On Thursday the vacant park and an adjoining 200 acres becomes a business development district, which means sales taxes within the district rise to 9 percent from 81/2 percent. The extra sales tax is expected to generate $400,000 to $450,000 in revenue that will be used to spur development.

 

The property is now marketed by the village as Dundee Crossings. But with three auto dealers and several auto-repair businesses within the development district, the village wants to brand it as an "automotive corridor" Koehler said.

 

"There's no definite plan for the area yet," Koehler said. "We have talked to industrial and residential developers. We're just trying to find the right mix to make it happen."

 

In Utica, resort officials have been studying "stills" from the 2007 movie "Fred Claus," a story about Santa's brother visiting the North Pole, to glean ideas for how the new Santa's Village will look, Hook said.

 

Officials parked the Snowball, a ride with twirling teacups that resemble snowballs, in the resort's lobby as a teaser for the coming attraction.

 

"Sometimes it's nice to revisit old memories, even though it will be in a different location and upgraded," Hook said.

 

One of the key attractions the Grizzly Jack investors took from the former Santa's Village is Santa himself. Phillip Wenz, who portrayed the jolly old elf at Santa's Village for 20 years, plans on continuing his role in new digs in Utica. He also has been a consultant on the project.

 

"We want to keep the Santa's Village concept going. There are a lot of things in the Chicago area that have gone by the wayside," Wenz said. "Once you lose those, they slip through your fingers and you've lost those memories."

 

As this was my first "theme" park outside of going to Disney, it'd be nice to see a new park open, but I doubt it'll ever see the light of day. I don't think there's a big enough demand for it.

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Santa's Village could rise again

Resort sets sights on new park, while East Dundee seeks another use for its vacant site

By Carolyn Starks | Tribune reporter

January 2, 2009

 

With the holiday season winding down, Santa and a few jolly investors are fine-tuning plans to re-create Santa's Village as a modern amusement park on the grounds of a family resort near Utica, Ill.

 

The news is bittersweet in East Dundee, where a Santa's Village was built in 1959 and helped put the town on the map for generations of Chicago-area residents.

 

East Dundee Village Administrator Frank Koehler said his New Year's resolution is to find a purpose for the vacant 38 acres at Illinois Highways 25 and 72 where the amusement park once thrived. Snowed under by debt and declining attendance, the park closed in 2005, and the rides and other equipment were sold at auction in 2006.

 

"We will have the memories and be forever known as the home of Santa's Village, which is not a bad thing," Koehler said.

 

 

 

The new Santa's Village is being planned by officials of Grizzly Jack's Grand Bear Lodge and Resort, a $90 million family resort and water park near Starved Rock State Park. They hope to open the attraction in 2010, using some of the nostalgic rides, such as the Snowball and Convoy Trucks, that were bought at auction.

 

Those rides would be whirling next to new rides and roller coasters, an upgraded house for Santa and modern amenities that today's sophisticated kids have come to expect, said Joseph Hook, Grizzly Jack's general manager.

 

Meanwhile, East Dundee officials have stepped up efforts to find a purpose for the closed amusement park property and its surrounding area, which has seen a retail exodus in recent years.

 

On Thursday the vacant park and an adjoining 200 acres becomes a business development district, which means sales taxes within the district rise to 9 percent from 81/2 percent. The extra sales tax is expected to generate $400,000 to $450,000 in revenue that will be used to spur development.

 

The property is now marketed by the village as Dundee Crossings. But with three auto dealers and several auto-repair businesses within the development district, the village wants to brand it as an "automotive corridor" Koehler said.

 

"There's no definite plan for the area yet," Koehler said. "We have talked to industrial and residential developers. We're just trying to find the right mix to make it happen."

 

In Utica, resort officials have been studying "stills" from the 2007 movie "Fred Claus," a story about Santa's brother visiting the North Pole, to glean ideas for how the new Santa's Village will look, Hook said.

 

Officials parked the Snowball, a ride with twirling teacups that resemble snowballs, in the resort's lobby as a teaser for the coming attraction.

 

"Sometimes it's nice to revisit old memories, even though it will be in a different location and upgraded," Hook said.

 

One of the key attractions the Grizzly Jack investors took from the former Santa's Village is Santa himself. Phillip Wenz, who portrayed the jolly old elf at Santa's Village for 20 years, plans on continuing his role in new digs in Utica. He also has been a consultant on the project.

 

"We want to keep the Santa's Village concept going. There are a lot of things in the Chicago area that have gone by the wayside," Wenz said. "Once you lose those, they slip through your fingers and you've lost those memories."

Edited by larrygator
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On a serious note, I feel it would be nice to see a park open back up again. I don't know much about this park but I'm sure that when it was open, it did ofer something to do for the locals. It would be nice for it to open again, but like mcjaco said, it isn't needed too much.

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^Typhoon was first sold to a fair operator, and it was later sold again. I'm guessing that a park in Indonesia purchased it since a Top Fun Typhoon coaster opened up there earlier this year. I also doubt that the park would purchase Led Zepplin, but, I could see the park buy Eagles or Slippery When Wet. However, I bet the new coasters will come from Vekoma and Zamperla like Wild Adventures and Cypress Gardens.(maybe some of CG's coasters will be purchased)

 

Hopefully the new park gets built, and hopefully it finds success. There has been bad luck with new parks lately, but I could see this park succeed(I also saw HRP succeeding though). Starved Rock (located near where this park will get built) is the state's most popular state park, and if the park doesn't rack up a huge debt by opening day, then the park just might succeed.

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Starved Rock is cool; a nearby amusement park could be a nice way to round out the weekend for regular tourists.

 

'Course I could just be excited because I grew up watching endless Santa's Village commercials and I don't think I ever got to go!

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Satan's Village looks hilarious, probably based more on the Silent Night Deadly Night kind of Santa than the jolly fat guy who squeezes down chimneys.

 

That coaster in R & E's trip report looks thoroughly demented, those helixes (or whatever you want to call them) look like they could crush your soul.

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^ See, you just need to head to Little-Americk-A. You can ride Meteor (from Lemont) and the toboggan, which was originally from Santa's Village.

 

Oh the pain.....

 

I think I maybe just need extensive therapy!

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I was really happy that Little Amerricka was the bonus park on the TPR 2007 midwest tour. Meteor was glass, but after that - I was surprised I didn't have to sign a waiver to ride stuff. At least I got to squeeze into that chance Taboggan for my first ride with someone small.

 

Back to Satan's Village, given all their coasters have been relocated I will be interested to see what the coaster line up will be - if they get any, maybe Little Laser can come back seeing that Big Laser has left Dorney.

 

Why does the name of the town Satan's Village is in make me think of someone who brings great shame to us Asutralians.

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^You'd need extensive therapy after riding Typhoon too.

 

 

I can see why there would be skepticism as to wether or not this park will get built, but Grizzly Jacks has been fairly enthusiastic about building this park. As I said before, there has been bad luck with new parks before, but maybe this third attempt at a new park (WWW, HRP, and now SV) will succeed. Hopefully, although unlikely, the economy will be a little better in 2010, and since the location is fairly good and there isn't much competition, the park might draw in some decent sized crowds. I remember reading that Santa's Village used to draw in around 500,000 visitors at its peak in the early 1990s. Hopefully if the new park is as nice as the new owners make it sound like it will be, then hopefully they can get an attendance like that. I'm guessing that Zamperla, Moser and Vekoma will supply the rides that the park opens with, and maybe (hopefully) the park will splurge on a Maurer Söhne spinning coaster. If the new Santa's Village is successful, then maybe Gravity Group or GCI will build a coaster within a few years.

 

If you want to know where the park will be built:

http://www.grizzlyjacksresort.com/index.php

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  • 1 year later...

Don't know how I missed this, but a new zoo with some rides will open on the site of Santa's Village. The park is starting out small, so hopefully that should limit initial costs, and hopefully the park expands in the not so distant future.

 

The overgrown vegetation and untrimmed trees may have made the Santa's Village site in East Dundee look more like a jungle than an amusement park in recent years, but by the end of the summer, the place will be a zoo.

 

Jason Sierpien, a co-owner of A Zoo to You - a Marengo-based mobile petting zoo - will open The Azoosment Park at Santa's Village. The petting zoo, which will feature barnyard animals, reptiles and exotic animals, is expected to open within the next month.

 

"The place has such a huge name recognition and we originally wanted to reopen the barnyard area," said Sierpien, who co-owns the petting zoo with his wife, Amy. "But it has just taken off and now we have seven acres with some kiddie rides and concessions. It is going to be an amusement parklike atmosphere."

 

The amusement park shut it doors in 2006 after more than 45 years. Sierpien worked as a farmhand at Old MacDonald's Farm at the park.

 

"This is like coming full circle for the second time," Sierpien said. "This is where I had my first real job as a kid."

 

Sierpien said the zoo will include reindeer, wallabies, foxes, alligators, snakes, lizards, birds, an African porcupine, camels and zebras. The family provided animals for Santa's Village in 2005 - the park's final year of operation.

 

"It is going to be some great family fun for the younger crowd to learn about animals," Sierpien said. "As we move into the future, we don't see the exotic animals. We have some that are on the endangered species list. People don't even get to see sheep that often."

 

Village officials said the venture is a step in the right direction for revitalizing the 38-acre site near routes 72 and 25. In the past few years, it's been the site of flea markets, rodeos and other short-term events.

 

"This is a positive to get activity going over there again," Village Administrator Frank Koehler said. "They have done a lot of work to the site."

 

That work included hours spent clearing brush and debris, Sierpien said.

 

"It took two crews of four guys four days to clear the trees so we could get in to work," Sierpien said. "Since then we have cleaned, painted and sanitized everything."

 

The Azoosment Park will run from mid-September through Christmas Eve, and reopen in April.

 

Link

Edited by larrygator
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^A place down in Utica, Illinois called Grizzly Jacks purchased a bunch of rides from the old park with the intention of building a new park next to the resort. I haven't heard anything about it since, so it wouldn't surprise me if they resold the rides to the new owners. That is assuming these rides will be those that were once at Santa's Village.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Update, the park will open September 23:

 

Almost everyone that grew up in Chicagoland remembers Santa's Village. Most of us that came here when we were young now have little ones of our own. The AZoosment park at Santa's village is an amusement park that includes kiddie rides and activities as well as interactive animal attractions aimed at children ages 2-11. Parents can relax knowing that the Azoosment park is a safe, fun, and affordable adventure.

 

The AZoosment park is settled on six acres of the old Santa's Village property. The park offers all you can ride pony rides and amusement rides with the paid admission.The family will enjoy petting, feeding, and learning about the farm and exotic annimals as well Show your children the things you remember from your childhood adventures. It might be the nostlaic mushrooms and candy canes or our vinitage kiddie rides from both Samta's Village and Kiddieland.

 

Make a new family tradition and join us for our Fall and Winter Festivals.

 

 

http://www.azoosmentpark.com/

 

 

Attractions:

Animal Attractions

Barnyard The barn yard is filled with all types of domestic and exotic animals just waiting for you to pet, feed, and learn about them. The barnyard is an activity that both children and adults will love! Feed cups are available in the barnyard for $1/cup.

 

 

The following activities are included with your paid admission

Pony Rides Your child will have "All you can ride pony rides" included with the paid admission. So giddy up kids !

 

Santa's Scales and Feathers Walk thru our free flight aviary filled with many colorful birds and learn about several reptiles.

 

Exotic Animal Educational Show - Come to the stage to be amazed by some incredible mammals and reptiles. This is a 20 min educational and hands on show. Check the stage area for daily show times.

 

Reindeer Ridge Prancer has flown in early this year. This is your chance to get up close and learn all about these magical creatures.

 

Tortoise Island Visit many different aged tortoises and see how they differ in size. If your lucky one might come up to you to be pet.

 

Rides

 

Convoy Come on kids we have to make sure our delivery gets there on time. Hop into your semi and lets get truckn'!

 

Star Jets Fly to the moon and back in your very own spaceship.

 

Midge O Racers You will be ready for the Indy 500 after this fun ride. The Midge O Racers are an original Kiddieland classic dating back to 1953.

 

Roto Whip Kids you will be fishtailing around on this ride. This is another Kiddieland classic brought back to Chicagoland after Kiddlieland closed.

 

AZoosment Express Build up those arm muscles kids and get ready to power your own locomotive around the Christmas tree.

 

Santa's Historic Slide. The oldest original Santa's Village ride left dating back to 1959. Get ready to zoom down this old fashioned metal slide.

 

Ag Land Coming Soon

 

Arctic Circle Sweet Shop and Cafe

Enjoy a meal or a quick snack at the Arctic Circle. We carry quality food at an affordable price. Cool off with a tasty ice cream treat from Breyers. Choose from a variety of high quality candy to take home or eat here.

We carry Vienna, Breyers Ice Cream, Bistro Soup, Jelly Belly as well as many other quality Products.

 

 

http://www.azoosmentpark.com/Attractions.html

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More in the Trib today:

 

It won't be Santa's Village, but that doesn't mean Santa and his reindeer won't be dropping by the former amusement park in East Dundee just in time for Christmas.

 

The park is expected to reopen Thursday as the Azoosment Park, with an aviary, pony rides, and an assortment of exotic and domestic animals. The park's owner, Jason Sierpien, hopes the site can reclaim its former glory in becoming a destination for families.

 

"We're getting e-mails from folks who were here as kids and people who want to come back and see it," he said.

 

Santa's Village made East Dundee a popular destination for 46 years until it closed due to financial woes in 2006. The park included Old McDonald's Farm, Coney Island and Santa's World. After the park closed, the rides and cotton candy machines were auctioned.

 

Chicago developer Sterling Bay Cos. LLC owns the 40-acre site, at Illinois Highways 25 and 72. Over the past few years, finding a permanent tenant has proven a challenge. The site has hosted flea markets in its parking lot, and the former Polar Dome ice arena now caters to indoor soccer and possibly in-line hockey in the future.

 

"It's a great site with a long history, and we're excited to see people using it," said Patrick O'Connor, of Sterling Bay.

 

Village officials in Dundee say the new signs of life are welcome.

 

"What's going to become of it is unsure, but right now it's great having this activity in the area," said Frank Koehler, village administrator.

 

The zoo will take up roughly half of the park's property, but O'Connor said he is negotiating with a paintball operator interested in setting up shop there as well.

 

Sierpien approached Sterling Bay in May with the idea to bring back the animals to the site.

 

After several years of neglect, the park needed attention, and Sierpien had his work cut out for him in getting it ready for business. It took two weeks to cut back overgrown trees and shrubs. Three of the park's buildings were repainted inside and out.

 

Sierpien plans on running a concession stand where families can buy a hot dog for less than $2; he wants to develop a children's area with rides.

 

"We're just normal, average, blue-collar folks opening up a park for young families," said Sierpien, of Marengo. "We want people to have an inexpensive place to go to."

 

The admission fee, he said, will be $13.50 for children ages 3 to 12; $9.50 for adults. Children 2 and younger will be admitted free.

 

Sierpien, who owns the Marengo-based traveling animal show A Zoo To You, is no stranger to the park. His company used to provide the animals that were a part of the Old MacDonald Farm.

 

Sierpien expects the park to remain open until Christmas and then shut down until a grand opening next spring.

 

He said that by then, he hopes to have more rides, batting cages and additional concession stands.

 

The park's animals will include African porcupines, wallabies, and an assortment of snakes and lizards.

 

Sierpien said he will focus on providing theme-related attractions such as harvest and pumpkin carving in the fall and dress up the place with lights for the holiday season.

 

And, of course, he plans to offer sleigh rides with reindeer and a visit with Santa.

 

Azoosment Park

Edited by mcjaco
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  • 2 months later...

Here are some photos from the Fall Festival. Unfortunately, the park isn't staying open to Christmas Eve as planned, but they're still scheduled to reopen next year with more rides and attractions.

 

 

 

 

 

Facebook

 

Also, a paintball area will open up next year at the park, and driving by the park recently, it looks like it'll go where the old fire truck ride/put out the real fire ride was at the front of the park.

 

 

The fire truck ride

 

 

http://santasvillagedundee.com/pages/paintball.php

 

http://www.azoosmentpark.com/

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