ROVANIEMI, Finland -- Clients in search of Santa Claus will find a
large dose of him on the Arctic Circle here. A new Christmas theme
park, built inside a mountain, will open in Finnish Lapland on Nov.
Dubbed Santapark, the attraction will draw on the crowds of
Christmas seekers who head for the nearby Santa's Workshop Village,
an array of shops and North Pole village scenes. (Santa lives in
Lapland, according to legend. Of course, which Lapland the
white-bearded one resides in -- Finnish or Swedish -- has been the
subject of much international debate.)
Santapark visitors depart
from Santa's Workshop Village by sleigh -- drawn by reindeer or
dogs -- or snowmobile. On warmer days, they hop a shuttle bus. On
the way, they can stop at a new 74-acre reindeer park, home to 50
Eventually, the road between the two parks will yield even more
Christmas attractions, according to Santapark marketing manager
Tiina Viman. The theme park is about a mile from the airport in
Rovaniemi, the capital of Finnish Lapland.
Santapark begins with a 660-foot-long tunnel entranceway that
takes visitors into a mountain cavern. Inside, they will find a
village replete with Santa's Workshop, a Christmas Carousel and
rides -- all covered by one daily admission cost (see below).
A Magic Sleigh ride whisks guests through the changing seasons
of the Lapland landscape, from fall colors to dark winter days and
sunny summer nights. In the theater, a multivision show transports
viewers into the Santa story, with snowy villages, the Northern
Lights and Santa flying through the night in his reindeer-drawn
sleigh. Other amusements include a mini-roller-coaster called the
Reindeer Ride, a monorail that laps around the central dome, puppet
shows, games and food.
There doesn't figure to be any reason for visitors to worry
about crowds of cotton-candy-carrying kids: Santapark can handle up
to 1,000 visitors at a time, and the park expects to draw 150,000
visitors per year, Viman said. Finnish Lapland draws about 40,000
people at Christmastime, but they rarely stay overnight. With the
addition of Santapark, officials hope that trend will change. Last
year, U.S. visitors accounted for 3,315 hotel nights in the area;
this year's count is 2,700 so far, Viman said.
Santapark will be open approximately 260 days a year -- every
day in winter and on weekends in low season (late March, April,
September and November). Admission costs about $18 for adults and
$13 for children aged 4 to 11. (Children under 4 are admitted
free.) Santapark's shareholders have agreed to donate 15% of the
company's profits to various children's welfare programs.
Santapark, Phone: (011) 358-16 333-0000, Fax: (011) 358-16
333-0020, Web: www.santapark.com
Norvista to spotlight theme park
NEW YORK -- Santapark is a highlight of Norvista's Christmas in
Lapland tour. The four-night, family-oriented tour, Dec. 22 to 27,
also features a snowmobile excursion to fetch Christmas trees, a
tobogganing competition and a gingerbread-cookie baking
The tour is priced at $1,989 per person for adults; $689 for
children under age 4; $1,399 for children 4 to 11, and $1,519 for
kids age 12 to 14. The cost includes air from New York,
accommodations, transfers, saunas and most meals.
Norvista, Phone: (800) 677-6454 or (212) 818-1198, Fax: (212)