This post originally appeared on MommyNearest.
If you grew up in the Chicago area, there’s a good chance you remember visiting Santa’s Village as a kid. Sliding down Santa’s Tree House Slide, taking a spin on the Candy Cane Sleigh Ride, and, of course, touching the frozen North Pole (yep, it’s really frozen, even on the hottest August day). These have long been rites of passage for Chicago children.
Santa’s Village, which originally opened in 1959, closed in 2005 and it was truly the end of an era. Thankfully, in 2010, under new ownership, the park reopened as Santa’s Village Azoosment Park, an amusement park and petting zoo. The park is celebrating its 55th anniversary this year (wow!) and they kicked off their 2014 summer season on Mother’s Day (Sunday, May 11).
What to expect when you visit
Families can look forward to classic favorites from the original Santa’s Village and Kiddieland, as well as a slew of new rides. Thrill-seeking kids, teens and adults will enjoy the Viking Sea Dragon swinging pendulum, while toddlers and younger kids will have a ball spinning on the Roto-Whip or the Kiddie Ferris Wheel. Other favorites include the Azoosment Country Carousel, Kringle’s Convoy cars and the Candy Cane Sleigh Ride. Christmas may be months away, but don’t forget to visit the frozen North Pole during your trip and stop in at Santa’s house for a meet and greet. Kids can also check out a petting zoo and go on a pony ride.
Where to eat
Getting hungry? Choose from a bunch of different dining options. Jed’s Country Drive-In offers burgers, grilled cheese and hot dogs, while Tinselbella’s Pizzeria specializes in Italian faves like mozzarella sticks and funnel cake. The park also has a picnic area, so you can bring in your own food.
What’s new for 2014
The brand-new Wildcat Roller Coaster opens this season, as well as a gemstone mining attraction. Expect some other new attractions this summer, too, including a new ride and new animal exhibits. Although they’re not announcing what they are just yet, sneak peeks and hints are posted from time to time on the Santa’s Village Azoosment Park Facebook page. (They also sometimes post information about special deals!)
When to visit
If you plan to take the kids to the park repeatedly throughout the 2014 season, consider a season pass—it’ll not only save you money on admission, but you’ll be eligible to skip the regular line for the VIP entrance.