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Parent Review: Santa’s Village North Pole Express

Parent Review: Santa’s Village North Pole Express

Santa's Village North Pole Express collage

Editor’s Note for 2020: Santa’s Village is taking a break this year due to Covid. Instead, Earlyworks is hosting a socially-distant Ten Days of Santa experience for Huntsville families. Get the details here. 

Santa’s Village is a Huntsville tradition. So when it moved to the Huntsville Depot this year, I was worried the magic might be lost. Let me assure you, it still keeps the Christmas spirit very much alive! While you are no longer in a quaint village in the North Pole, you are now all aboard the North Pole Express!


Santa’s Village is open every single night (weather permitting) from 5:00 pm – 9:00 pm. We grabbed some food and got there right after it opened on a Sunday night. We parked across the street at the bank, but there were also spots near the train tracks. If you have ever attended an event at the Huntsville Depot this is no different.

A line had already formed, so we stood in line. It didn’t take long but if you purchase tickets online, and don’t mind the $2 handling fee to do so, you can skip ahead and show your barcode at the gate. If you opt not to do that my advice is to get there right at 5:00 pm or if you can wait a little longer like 7:00 pm so it gives the crowd some time to thin out.

Santa’s Village Parent Pro-Tips

  • Purchase Tickets Online and skip the line! ($7/Person Children under 2 are free)
  • Save a buck with the Holiday Magic Pass
  • Not everything is paved so if you bring a stroller make sure it’s off-road friendly.
  • Wear layers. You’ll be going in and outside so if your prone to sweating like my husband, wear layers.
  • There are two sets of bathrooms. One inside the Depot and one along the wall of the Bake Shop. Changing tables are available.

Where’s Santa?

So you want to see Santa? Head straight back! He’s located inside the building at the far right corner as you walk in. There are tons of photo opportunities with beautifully decorated trees, presents wrapped in gorgeous paper, and a gleaming red antique fire truck! Once you see the head elf himself, walk out to a beautiful antique truck just ready for your family photo!

If your little one isn’t a big fan of Santa, it’s easy to skip this part without any anxiety.

New – The Locomotive Light Show!

At the new home of Santa’s Village you get the advantage of an electric light show from what my toddler calls a Choo-Choo! As the lights dance to the music, my daughter was dancing and in awe of the train. The light show happens often so you’re sure to catch it! ​The North Pole Express comes to life every five minutes, so prepare to spend some time there.

Santa's Village North Pole Express

It’s Still There / Things to Do

There was plenty to keep us occupied for at least an hour walking around with my toddler. For older kids, I am sure you could spend a good two hours in the North Pole. Here are the things you can do at Santa’s Village:

Snow Storm – The snow is bigger and better than ever. It happens about 10 minutes after the hour. My kiddo loved it. She was a little confused a first, but much like bubbles she quickly like it and tried to catch it with her sweet little hands. Snow starts at 5:20 each night and then happens every 20 minutes.

Santa's Village

Icicle Light Maze  – They have a short maze for kids to wander into with white and blue lights! Parents can hang out on the pavilion decked in lights with picnic tables waiting for the kids to finish.

Bake Shop – When I first saw this, I thought it was where you get fudge and buy other goodies, but it’s a place to decorate sugar cookies. You only get icing, but I appreciate there aren’t super sticky sprinkles to have germs all over them and mess up my kid’s “Christmas” shirt.

Reindeer – The two live reindeer are in the middle of a grassy area. There are two fences. One wooden and one chain link. This doesn’t make for the best photos, but we wouldn’t want Prancer to poke little Johnny with his antler either. *Or fly away. Hold your phone up high or get the lens in a spot where you can’t see the chain link.

Write to Santa – If your kiddo wants to write to Santa and get their thoughts in order before seeing St. Nick, they can head to the post office. They have letters, pens/pencils where you can fill out what your heart desires if you prefer to mail in your wishes.

Craft Train – With the theme of the Polar Express, they have embraced the bell. In the book, if you still hear the bell you are a true believer. You have a card with the logo and a train you can color on the back along with a bell to attach to the card. I appreciated this craft because it’s an ornament for our tree, it works with the theme, it works for most ages, and it’s not messy.

Eat, Drink, Be Merry – Grab some hot hot hot – hot chocolate and snacks from the concession stand! If there’s a line for Santa this may help take out some of the whining pain of waiting for the kiddos.

Photo Opportunities – I know some of you are like me and just want some nice photos of your kids. They have beautiful places to snap photos! There are characters as you first walk into the area of Rudolph and a gingerbread man! There is a sled, truck, Christmas trees, the actual train, and some cool outdoor Christmas photos like this door and the wreath.

Santa’s Helpers – Just a note that most of the helpers are teen students getting volunteer hours. They may only be helping just one night. Show a little Christmas spirit and be kind to them, and realize they are just older little kids. All the ones I met were super sweet and friendly.

Santa's Village North Pole Express

Gift Shop – As you exit, you go through the gift shop. Make sure to get some sugar under the mistletoe! They have adorable ornaments, gifts, and many of them are specific to Huntsville and Alabama. Don’t want to shop with tired kids? The gift shop is open 10am – 4pm Monday – Saturday so you can come back and get your goodies.

Final Thoughts

This is the first year in the new Santa’s Village location. I know it’s different for some of you parents, but there really is more room to spread out and breathe. My daughter had a great time and it was worth the moo-lah to see her smile. Next year will be even better because she can do more and hopefully not give Santa the evil eye. The team at Santa’s Village are also learning lessons so as time continues, Santa’s Village North Pole Express will only get better!

Santa’s Village North Pole Express Details

Dates: November 29 – December 23, 2019
Hours: 5:00 – 8:00 PM Nightly
Location: Historic Huntsville Depot (map)
Phone: 256-564-8100
Cost: $7 per person, children under 2 are FREE! purchase tickets online & skip the line!
View Website | Santa’s Village on Facebook (helpful for weather updates!)

Santa’s Village Special Nights

Dog Nights – November 24 & 25, 2019
Show your EarlyWorks Membership card for free admission

Military Night – Monday, December 2nd, 2019
Military and their immediate family free

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