My family bundled up and drove to Santaland in Rogersville on its opening weekend. We visited on a Sunday night (11/30/14), hoping to avoid any huge crowds.
The drive from Huntsville took about an hour, and we arrived shortly after opening time of 5pm. It’s hard to miss the glowing castle, but very easy to miss the turn for the dark field where you’re expected to park. I had to turn around and go back, and then puzzle out how and where exactly to park. There weren’t any markings, lit signs or attendants, until someone waved us down as I was pulling in. I can see on a busy night where it may not be a big deal to follow the crowd or car in front of you but we were early birds, so it was a bit awkward. With the parking lot not being lit it means the focus isn’t taken away from the outside lights, but I think there need to be attendants with flashlights or some other means of illuminating where to turn and where to park so it doesn’t sneak up on you like it did us.
After shaking off the initial surprises, we ventured to the brightly lit ticket booth. Payment is easy: they accept cash or credit card and the greeter was friendly and welcoming. She handed us a ticket and explained that it was good for a free picture with Santa, who was in the castle waiting for us when we were ready. We ventured off into Santa Land.
Santa Land is a brightly lit kaleidoscope of exhibits spread over the large field surrounding the castle. You can walk around it at a leisurely pace, and children will delight at seeing familiar characters displayed in cheerful menageries here and there. As you stroll, Christmas music is pumped through speakers placed throughout the property; in our case George Michael battled the Chipmunks for supreme Christmas cheer. Put on your walking shoes and enjoy the sights!
Next up: the reindeer! Housed in a fenced-in pen, they frisked and hopped about and then retreated into a stable. As the night wore on, we noticed that as people walked by, they would flee the stable, as if chased out and stand in the middle of the pen. It was not a feeding or petting station.
After about 20 minutes outside, with one highlight being a recreation of the classic living room from A Christmas Story, complete with iconic leg lamp and tinsel-laden Christmas tree, we decided to head inside.
Right away I can tell you that a lot of care and effort went into the design and creation of the inside of the attraction. I was very impressed by all of the décor. The WOW factor was there, especially for my daughter. We made endless loops through the lower level of the house, looking at the rooms and little details over and over again, finding new things to point out to each other. That was a big part of the fun.
My little one was too shy for Santa, but the staff was gracious and friendly and there was no pressure. There wasn’t a big crowd so there wasn’t a line for Santa. A large sign in the entryway clearly advertised picture prices and options, should you be interested, and they appear reasonable.
Santa Land Layout
From the main entryway, you are immediately in the grand chamber with the Big Man himself, Santa. You can take a picture or not, and explore the house as long as you like. There’s the Toy Shop, Sweet shop and Tailor Shop, though for some reason, the upper level to “Santa’s Tailor Shop” was blocked off. I would have like to explore up there, personally. There were some great, unique decorations and what looked like more rooms. The Sweet Shop was decidedly empty. Granted, it was the Sunday after Thanksgiving, but there were only a few bags of what appeared to be roasted nuts in a warmer. No cookies or other treats to fill the otherwise charming cases and shelves. The owners had mentioned giving out cookies the night before, but we were never offered any refreshments during our hour-long stay. Too bad. There are ample areas for pictures and selfies, and lots of fun details. The back room opens up to the yard, where you can explore the exhibits again and re-visit the reindeer, or loop around and do it all over again.
Speaking of rooms, PLAN AHEAD! As of my visit, there are NO RESTROOMS! I asked staff, and it was confirmed. Stop in Rogersville and make sure everyone goes. Now, I have a small child, and this can certainly be a disaster in the making. I certainly hope that the proprietors remedy this, and soon.
This is a new attraction, and clearly there are kinks to be worked out. My biggest issue was the lack of restrooms and my difficulty locating the drive and parking if for no other reason than safety. Dark lots and small children do not mix. The yard takes little time to traverse, and you can make lots of circuits to extend the time. These lights are plug in lights you might see in your own yard, so the wow appeal here is the sheer quantity and themed grouping of them. My daughter liked the “Island of Misfit Toys” and the inflatable snow globe that blows snow, as well as the caroler children and angels. The staff we encountered was friendly and talkative and clearly excited about Santa Land. This goes a long way.
My advice: check ahead before you leave if it’s going to be a long trip. Potty. Potty. Potty. Take pictures and watch your children’s faces. Their wonderment may just be catching.
Santa Land Details
Cost: $20 for a family of four, $5 each additional person. Includes a free 5×7 photo with Santa (more photo options available as well.).
Cash, check or charge available.
Location: 9835 Highway 72 Rogersville, Alabama (map)
Phone: (256) 247-3517
Hours: Open nightly to the public every Thursday- Sunday and the week of Christmas 5-10pm.
More Info: Santa Land on Facebook – Pets are welcome on a leash according to the Facebook page. Check there for updates.