How many kids want to run off and join the circus? Or perhaps go live with Santa?
Well my child almost did! And for nearly 15 minutes I was convinced he had been kidnapped by the big red jolly man himself. Fortunately this particular Christmas crisis had a merry ending.
Who? What? Where?
Santa Park is situated on the Arctic Circle in the north of Finland, about 8km outside the Rovaniemi city centre. You can get there by bus line 8 (which runs at super strange times) or a €20 taxi (which we did).
Unlike Santa Claus Holiday Village, which was based on a price per activity, Santa’s Park simply requires a single entry ticket for access to almost all activities. Prices vary between seasons. During peak season expect to pay €33 per adult, €27.50 for 3 – 13 year olds, and kids under 3 are free.
The entry ticket is valid for 2 consecutive days so you don’t have to feel rushed to see and do everything in one day. Phew!
Santa Park is all indoors, or more accurately, underground. When we arrived we walked down a long tunnel to the main entrance. Here we found the ticket booth and a large circular room with convenient designated areas to hang our coats.
Once we shed our layers down to jeans and a shirt we faced another long tunnel with a gentle gradient, taking us deeper underground. We could have easily been mistaken by the colourful, yet ordinary tunnel, but in fact this is the only place in the world where you cross the Arctic Circle underground. So we enjoyed the extra special walk.
At the bottom we discovered a winter wonderland that brought Christmas to life. Entry tickets included:
- Santa’s Office
- Elves’ Post Office
- Toy Factory Shopping Area
- Santa Park Dance Show 3 times a day
- Magic Sleigh Ride
- Elf Workshop and Calligraphy School
- Angry Birds Activity Area
- Elf School (with diploma & trainee hat included!)
- Entrance to Ice Gallery, Ice Bar and meeting with the Ice Princess
- Gingerbread Bakery (cookies not included)
If you recall our post on our Evening with the Elves, then this park offers some similar Christmas-themed activities, but on a larger scale and not quite as magical. The kids, however, loved the Magic Sleigh Ride and they could have spent all day in the Angry Birds Activity Area.
Losing Our 4-Year-Old!
What isn’t fun is losing your 4-year-old son. We had just exited elf school and spotted a photo booth that took free “elfies” – just like a selfie photo but our faces were morphed into a hilarious elf. It was so addictive, we all had a turn, and then I leaned over and said, “Caius, your turn.”
There was no answer. I glanced over my shoulder and then spun around. He was not there. I thought to myself “Oh, this shouldn’t be too hard” as Josh and I split up to go searching for him.
He wasn’t visiting Santa. He wasn’t at the Angry Birds Playground. He wasn’t making cookies or dancing with the elves. 5 minutes turned into 10 minutes and my thought process transitioned from “Where is he?” to “How could he get lost?” to “OMG SOMEONE HAS KIDNAPPED HIM!”
Josh went straight to the ticket booth at the entrance and informed them so that Caius could not get outside or someone could not escape with him at that exit. I ran laps and laps around the complex (it is ring-shaped so it’s kinda hard to get lost), checked every room possible and finally admitted defeat. I didn’t know where he was. I went from meek and mild, “Caius?” to full-panic screaming, “CAIUS!”
The elves helped me to place an announcement over the loud speaker in the hope that he would hear and come find mummy. “Caius darling, it’s Mummy. Can you come to the Angry Birds playground… NOW!”
And then I waited. I tried not to imagine what would happen if no one could find him. I failed to see the humour that he was lost in a wonderful playland and that scores of elves were on the hunt for him.
15 minutes after Caius disappeared, coming down from the entrance tunnel, escorted between an elf and a man in a business suit, was my son. I threw my arms around him and hugged tightly, and immediately felt teary. I whispered how much I loved him and how mad I was.
“Where were you?”
“I was looking for you,” he shrugged.
The elf smiled, “Those little feet are fast.”
They had found him up the tunnel at the entrance. Praise God! Santa didn’t kidnap my son after all and the helpful elves had found him. It was a Christmas miracle. The staff were so fabulous and I couldn’t compliment them highly enough.
Cookies Make Everything Better
After regaining our composure, we continued on to make gingerbread cookies, and Caius didn’t seem the slightest bit mindful of the drama that just unfolded, while I still tried very hard to bring my heartbeat back to a regular pace again with deep, slow breaths. Mia and Caius laughed as they decorated their cookies while Josh and I counted all the new wrinkles and grey hairs that had developed thanks to this stressful experience (at least for us).
Before we knew it we were picking up our jackets and climbing onto the bus back to town. The kids were exhausted from the hours of fun, and so was I, for a completely different reason.
Aside from the heart-wrenching drama, the actual park was a lot of fun. Considering all the available activities and relative location, we found it good value, especially considering 2 days of access are included. And it’s even nicer to know should your child wonder off, there is a crack squad of super elves to save the day.
While in Rovaniemi we stayed at Santa's Hotel Santa Claus... Check prices here.
Reader Comments..."I respond to every comment by direct private email. I look forward to your feedback" - Josh Bender
Oh my goodness! I felt the terror for you! I'm sure I would have gone into full on crazy mom mode...
Hey at least the elves found him & not Krampus! We've recently found out that my husband's family are related to the king of all of Scandinavia. So we're very interested in a fun vacay there.
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