Three years have passed since the Santa’s Village theme park in East Dundee closed its doors. A few attempts have been made on reopening the park at its old location, but without success. Well, now Santa is looking at a potential new location.
Santa Claus and officials from Grizzly Jack’s Grand Bear Lodge and Resort in Utica met last week to discuss possible plans on recreating a Santa’s Village on the property of the 90 million dollar resort. The Resort already owns some of the famous rides and props from the East Dundee theme park. Future plans would also possibly include some of the historic buildings and static displays from the IL Rts. 25 and 72 location.
“Santa’s Village remains a great memory for many people across the Midwest.” stated Joe Hook, general managing partner of Grizzly Jack’s Resort. “We look forward to creating this new magic for generations to come.”
The new park is in the planning stages and would not open for about two years, but that won’t stop the Resort from having many events and attractions this upcoming Christmas and into next summer that relate to Santa’s Village. There is even a new webpage, www.santasvillageatgrandbear.com where people can ask questions, make comments and suggestions on the project.
The Christmas season at Grand Bear Lodge will kick off on Friday November 28th with Santa Claus arriving at the resort. Santa will be Phillip L. Wenz, the Santa from Santa’s Village. He will also be making appearances on Sundays during the Holidays at the Resort’s “Sunday Brunch with Santa.” On Wednesday, December 10th, Santa will hold a very special “Storytime” at the Lodge.
Wenz will also be putting on display some of his memorabilia collection from Santa’s Village.
Plans next summer include a portion of the Resorts property to be developed into a temporary home for Santa’s Village. Guest will be able to ride historic attractions like the Snow Ball ride and the Convoy Trucks. Even Santa will be there with some of his original park props including the frozen North Pole. Negotiations for other props from the original location are being considered by the East Dundee property owner Sterling Bay/Griffon Associates.
“The site of the former amusement park at IL Rts. 72 and 25 in East Dundee is at the center of what will one day be a significant development for the village of East Dundee and the surrounding communities.” stated Patrick O’Connor, partner with Sterling Bay. “Whether that development includes some elements of the former Santa’s Village theme park is yet to be seen. Despite the current economic slowdown, we continue discussions with a number of interested parties.”
Santa’s Village in East Dundee opened in May of 1959 and officially closed its doors in May of 2006.
“There has always been open dialogue on the subject of Santa’s Village with Sterling Bay and Grizzly Jack’s Resort since the park’s assets were auctioned in October 2006.” commented Santa Phillip L. Wenz. “Everyone involved knows each other and everyone wants to do the right thing for Grizzly Jack’s, the East Dundee property and the future of Santa’s Village.”