SkyPark at Santa’s Village Sets Itself Apart with Culinary Creations
Delectable, top-notch food and beverage offerings are trending at attractions around the globe, no matter their size.
SkyPark at Santa’s Village is a fantasy-forest, adventure-themed park nestled in the San Bernardino Mountains of California in Skyforest. The park features a forest zip line, ice skating rink, climbing tower, ax throwing area, pedal car ride through an ice cave, and many other action-based attractions. These lively activities can generate strong appetites in guests, giving the park an opportunity to satisfy them in eclectic ways.
“Everything at SkyPark is handcrafted, so why not have the food and beverages be the same?” asks Michelle Johnson, co-owner and creative director of SkyPark. “From our curated microbrews to our half-rack of slow-smoked St. Louis-style ribs, we wanted our guests to experience the uniqueness of each restaurant.”
At a half-dozen restaurants, guests can also enjoy slow-smoked thick-sliced tri-tip, dry-rubbed beef brisket, gourmet sandwiches, paninis, Kobe burgers, and a variety of vegetable options. Desserts are served out of a life-size gingerbread house bakery, where indulgences like lemon meringue cookies, gingerbread men, and even wedding cakes are all baked on-site. Beverages range from milkshakes to cocktails and craft brews. The latter includes domestic and imported beers, as well as local craft beers from mountain breweries served at an indoor/outdoor pub with a full bar.
“Our food and beverage offerings have helped us sell more of our lifestyle passes, which are a fraction of the cost of an annual pass and include dining, shopping, and our concert series in the summer,” says Johnson. “This has helped us increase our revenue while allowing more guests to enjoy the park, even if they skip the adventure activities.”
SkyPark at Santa’s Village, originally known simply as Santa’s Village, has a storied history. Originally opened by real estate developer Glenn Holland in late May 1955, the park initially featured rides for kids, reindeer, a gingerbread bakery, and log cabins milled onsite. The park thrived for about 20 years until it closed amid difficult economic times in the 1970s. The park was later reopened by a new owner and survived until 1998, when it again closed.
A bark beetle infestation and a 91,000-acre fire in 2003 almost destroyed the park, and it was left dilapidated until the property was purchased in 2014 by Michelle Johnson and her husband, Bill. They put extensive work into renewing every part of the park, including its 18 buildings, and reopened it in 2016.
“There’s a lot of rekindled joy, and it’s exciting to see,” says Jennifer Jacobson, public relations director, who has fondly admired Santa’s Village since she was a child. “The park meant so much to so many people. It seems like everyone you meet on the mountain knows about Santa’s Village. It’s a special place, and the response to the park reopening and evolving has been overwhelmingly positive.”