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Near Lake Arrowhead, California

Santa's Village

The first franchised theme park in the world became a ghost town of crumbling fun-time facades. 

Part of a once-grand and ambitious network of franchised North-Pole-themed amusement parks, for years Santa’s Village in California sat abandoned on the aptly named Rim of the World Highway.

In its heyday, the popular and familiar Santa’s Village once whirred and hummed with the activity of hundreds of mechanical decorations, theme park rides, mobile and light-up characters as far as the eye could see. Now it rusts in disrepair, devoid of Christmas cheer. Unkempt and unmanaged, the rides are falling apart, and the decor has been either sold off or stolen. The surrounding forest is being chopped down, and piles of unused lumber scatter the park grounds as a result of a widespread bark beetle infestation.

It’s a sad state of affairs for a theme park that was once the place to go for families and fun-lovers seeking a cost-effective nearby vacation. It was also the nostalgic home of many first jobs and seasonal summer employment for area teenagers.

As decrepit as it is, there is uncertainty about how long even this will last. The land it occupies is currently used as a logging staging area and it may only be a matter of time before the lumber company grows weary of rusted candy canes, pastel toadstools and leering elves. 

Update: As of 2015, Santa’s Village was bought and  plans have been made to re-open it as Skypark at Santa’s Village.

Update: Dec 2, 2016, the park has reopened as of today. See website for location and hours. 

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