SAN BERNARDINO (CBSLA.com) — Santa could be coming back to the San Bernardino Mountains all year ’round.
Plans for a Christmas-themed amusement park near Lake Arrowhead on the site of the former “Santa’s Village” moved closer to becoming a reality after officials held the first in a series of public hearings earlier this month.
Attracting as many as 180,000 visitors every year during its heyday and known for its campy TV commercials, Santa’s Village closed in 1998 due to a steep drop in attendance, according to the Orange County Register.
But a new proposal for a more contemporary version of the over 150-acre property off Highway 18 calls for zip lines, fly fishing, and hiking trails combined with retail and restaurant attractions as part of the all-new “Skypark At Santa’s Village”.
An ice skating rink, a snow play area, sledding, and, of course, Santa’s cabin are among the attractions reportedly envisioned for the winter season.
Park officials anticipate hiring a minimum of 68 people per shift – with three shifts a day — to operate the park, which could reportedly draw as many as 2,000 visitors per day during the peak winter season.
Residents and supporters of the old Santa’s Village say the new project will be a boon to the local economy, but environmental groups have voiced concerns about traffic and threats to wildlife.
Once the environmental process is complete, the park is expected to open around Mother’s Day 2016.