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Arts and Entertainment

Santa's Village Could Temporarily Reopen For The Holidays

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Santa's Village has been closed since 1998, but the beloved attraction could return this holiday season.

Santa's Village opened in Lake Arrowhead in 1955, but shuttered in 1998 as it struggled to compete with other, flashier theme parks. In 2014, developers bought property with the intention of turning it into SkyPark at Santa's Village. According to project manager Bill Johnson, only about 30 of the 200 total acres have been developed, leaving room to add campgrounds, zip lines, bike trails and other year-round recreational amenities. While the opening of SkyPark has been stalled, developers have applied for a temporary use permit, which would allow them to infuse a little Christmas cheer into the Santa's Village portion of the defunct attraction as early as next month, the San Bernardino Sun reports. The rest may open sometime next year, but a new environmental impact report would have to come first.

An operational Santa's Village would create about 300 seasonal jobs this year. In anticipation of a positive response, they're already installing cash registers, fiber optics, and renovating the original structures to be ADA compliant. County spokesperson David Wert said that the county is currently asking regional and federal agencies if they have any concerns about the permit, and that they should make a decision before November 1.

Bill Priest, a Santa actor that lives in Lake Arrowhead, told the Sun he "can't wait to welcome kids into Santa's house for the first time in 18 years." He plans on training new Santas, should the park reopen.

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Santa's Village actually preceded Disneyland by six weeks, according to Atlas Obscura. It had Santa's House, the Good Witch's Bakery, The Chapel of the Little Shepard, a petting zoo, rides and more. People can view and upload memories of their time at the park on a Facebook page dedicated to Santa's Village nostalgia here, or you can check out photos of the park in its halcyon days in the video below.

Related: Four Abandoned SoCal Amusement Parks With Creepy Pasts