Santa's Wonderland Texas Christmas Experience
I am in no way being compensated for this review and all opinions are 100% my own.
If you’re in South Central Texas you’ve probably heard of the Christmas destination called “Santa’s Wonderland”.
It’s right off of Highway 6 just south of College Station and we had been driving by it for years. It looks like a bunch of lights from the highway, and maybe a few buildings, but it didn’t really seem like it was worth the price… at least from the outside looking in.
But this year, since our son is now almost 4 and really getting into Christmas for the first time, we decided to splurge and give Santa’s Wonderland a try.
I’m so glad we did because it turned out to be a fabulous experience and one that we will definitely do again!
So, let me dive into the details about this Christmas experience for you and you can decide if you’d like to come join in the Santa’s Wonderland fun!
Quick Access Index
5. Seeing Santa
6. The Village
Location and Hours:
Located at 18898 HWY 6 South College Station, TX 77845, Santa's Wonderland Texas Christmas Experience opens in early November and runs through the end of the year.
The village is open every day, starting at 6pm during the week and 3pm on weekends!
Pricing and Ticket Options:
Depending on what days and options you are looking at, ticket prices can range from $24 to $53.
If you go on a “super saver” day, you can get adult tickets as low as $29 and child tickets as low as $24.
For carriage ride, VIP tickets on a busy day, tickets are $53 a piece.
Click here for a full list of current pricing options for Santa’s Wonderland.
We opted for a Super Saver day Carriage Ride ticket (which comes with a free hot chocolate for each person) and we spent $38 per person.
Carriage Ride versus Hayride
Santa’s Wonderland offers a large Christmas lights exhibit that you can tour via hayride with a regular ticket, or via horse drawn carriage with a special ticket.
Christmas Lights Exhibit
Several acres of gorgeous Christmas lights are displayed for visitors to enjoy with settings ranging from a huge lighted barn, several patriotic displays, Texas spirit displays, classic Christmas exhibits, and finishing with the nativity.
The ride lasts about 15-20 minutes, depending on how fast your carriage driving is going.
TIP: Watch for the lighted animal animations as reindeer jump over the path in front of you, frogs and dolphins jump into the lake, and squirrels scurry up the trees.
The village opens at 6:00pm and Santa arrives in a horse and carriage alongside Mrs. Claus at 6:10. Gather in the main square to see his arrival, and be on the left side facing the back of the park if you want a close up view as he gets out of the carriage!
After he arrives, there is a brief intro by the village musicians and then Santa and Mrs. Claus head to Santa’s Cottage where you can get a picture with Santa any time during the rest of the night.
Once the big man himself is settled in his cottage, the night begins and you are free to wander among the magic of the village!
Each year new buildings and attractions are added to the Santa’s Wonderland Experience, and you can see when you get there that each building has been meticulously planned and executed.
You will truly believe you are in Santa’s Village (with a Texas twist) as you marvel in the whimsical and well built construction of the shops, restaurants, and attractions.
With more lights than you can possibly count, the village builds the Christmas vibe to the max and really gets you in the Christmas spirit!
There are 7 restaurants ranging from authentic Texas BBQ made on site as you watch, to Mexican food with fresh tortillas, and even a Christmas pizzeria.
And of course, the entire site is laden with 9 additional places to purchase delicious desserts like the classic funnel cake, dutch oven cobbler, ice cream, cupcakes, cookies, and more!
There’s also a Wonderland Winery and hot wine wassail to enjoy on a cool evening.
Beyond the tasty treats that await you around every corner, there are also a myriad of shops to visit.
The Trading Post is the largest merchant with everything from fudge and ornaments, to hand thrown coffee mugs (I got one of those!) and t-shirts! It also houses the Wonderland Winery.
My son’s favorite was the Train Depot shop that contains all the train toys, puzzles, and ornaments a little boy could dream of!
There are also high end clothing options and of course, tons of gift options for anyone on your list!
Most of the activities and experiences within the village are actually free, which surprised me! Only a few of them require extra money, so that’s a plus for the price of the ticket!
In the main square there is a live Texas Swing band playing Christmas music throughout the night! There are also several bonfires going in the square, so you can get cozy and enjoy the show!
There is a bonfire and dancing is encouraged!
Frostbite Mountain and The Snow Playground:
REAL snow is brought in nightly for all to enjoy! Race down Frostbite Mountain on a tube, or make snow angels and snowballs at the Snow Playground!
As mentioned before, the hayride through the Christmas lights display is included in the price of your ticket.
The Grand Illumination:
A fabulous display of lights and music with giant polar bear statues for perfect for photos, and ample seating - this attraction was one of our favorite parts of the village!
The lights and music are synchronized for a wonderful experience! Check out the video below to enjoy a bit of the spectacle!
Frostbite’s Toboggan Chute:
Challenge your best friend to a race down the twin chutes at Frostbite's Toboggan Races!
Note, this is for children ONLY up to age 12. Height requirements are between 44" and 60"
Naughty and Nice List:
Visit Tinsel the Elf and find out if your on Santa's Naughty or Nice list! Once you receive your status, you will also be given an official North Pole certificate to remember the event!
Santa's Wonderland Kid's Train:
Ride the mini train around a lighted path and through part of the village! About 4 adults per car will fit, more if there are children!
This ride is handicap accessible.
Meet Marshall Frostbite:
Marshall Frostbite is a huge cuddly snowman dressed as a Texas Lawman and is the Santa's Wonderland mascot! He's also in charge of defending the “Spirit of Christmas”. Find Marshall Frostbite inside Santa's Town nightly, and photos are FREE!
Pledge to honor and defend the “Spirit of Christmas” and earn your deputy badge from Rowdy, Marshall's right-hand man!
GIANT Texas Flag Photo Setting:
Take a priceless family photo in front of the GIANT Texas Flag! It's the perfect Texas Christmas card or memento photo!
You can take your own photo for FREE or the park photographer can take one for you!
Nightly "Snow" Storm:
Hang around in the square and wait for the Snow Storm! Regularly “snow” starts flying through the air from the top of the Trading Post for all to enjoy!
It’s not really snow, but a very fine bubble mix, but it sure does look like the real thing!
Santa's Livestock and Rodeo Barn:
Santa’s mechanical bull is a popular and challenging activities at Santa’s Wonderland and you won’t want to miss it! His eyes glow and smoke rolls out of his nose as he awaits his next rider!
There are 2 bulls, and the lines weren't long on the "Light and Fluffy" day when we were there!
Texas Longhorn Photos:
Sit on an old fashioned Texas Longhorn and grab the most Texan photo possible! You can take your own photos for free, or just sit for a second on this MASSIVE longhorn!
Christmas Movies at the Barn Big Screen:
You can head to the big red barn and sit and watch a Christmas movie while you eat or rest. Movies play in their entirety and you can come and go as you please.
While many of the attractions are free, there are a few additional options that cost a bit extra if you want to kick up the Christmas experience this year!
Texas Sized Snow Globe:
TWO Giant Texas Sized Snow Globes you can get inside await you for an experience you will never forget! Play in the snow flurries while you have your photo taken!
Snow Globe Pictures are an additional cost and are not included with admission. Reservations for snow globe photos should be made at the Snow Globe Station as soon as you arrive at the park!
Horse and Carriage Rides
As mentioned before, these Christmas light experience rides do cost extra AND you have to have a reservation, so you can't just upgrade your ticket at the park.
Be sure to allow plenty of time to get to your check-in time!
Petting Zoo & Pony Rides:
Camels, sheep, goats, and deer are just a few of the animals waiting to greet you at the Santa's Wonderland petting zoo!
Admission to the petting zoo costs $4 and includes a cup of food. One adult may enter the zoo with each paying child. Pony rides are an extra $7.
Christmas Face Painting:
Visit the face-painting artist, pick out your favorite design, and skip around the park in perfect Christmas style!
Cost for face painting varies by design and is not included in the price of the ticket.
Tips for a Great Santa’s Wonderland Experience
Here are a few things that I found to be essential to a GREAT experience.
1. Spring for the Rudolph Parking Lot Pass. It’s an extra $20, but you get to park RIGHT in front of the Trading Post and you also tend to be pulled to the front of the line throughout the park.
We weren’t quite sure how people knew we parked in the Rudolph lot, but they seemed to know, and pulled us to the front several times saying we were “VIP tickets”.
If you do get the Rudolph Parking Pass, you can get there about 30 minutes early (passed are timed). Also, go around the long line of people waiting to get into the Prancer Lot and you can pull right into Rudolph without waiting!
2. Plan for traffic. If you are coming through College Station between 5-6pm, plan for about 30 minutes of traffic.
This can be an issue if you get Carriage Ride tickets as the tickets are timed and you MUST be there at your reservation time.
3. Plan for the line to get inside. There will be a LONG line to get into the village if you are coming from anything other than the Rudolph lot (which is at the front of the line). So plan an extra 15-20 minutes for getting inside.
If you park in the Rudolph lot you can get right in at the front of the line and it only takes about 3 minutes to get in!
4. Check the Crowd Forecast. You can see the crowd forecast on the Santa's Wonderland Website Here and I would recommend going on a "Light and Fluffy" day if possible.
That's when we went and the crowds were perfect! Enough people to enjoy everything, but light enough that the lines were super short (or non-existent)!
5. Go and sit INSIDE the Grand Illumination! The lights are set to music and you can sit there for hours without hearing a repeated song.
You may have to wait for the “show” to start with the music and light being timed, but there is also music, and the lights are always on and changing, even if they aren’t timed for every song.
6. Plan to eat and watch a Christmas movie. You can head to the big red barn and sit and watch a Christmas movie while you eat. Movies play in their entirety and you can come and go as you please.
While we were there, Elf and The Polar Express both played.
7. Bring a backpack or large bag you don’t mind carrying. If you park in the Rudolph Lot you can run things to your car since it’s right outside the front door. Otherwise, bring a bag for your goods, drinks, and photos.
8. Plan to stay late! Unless you visit Santa's Wonderland on the weekends, when the village opens at 3pm, be sure to plan to stay much later than you expect!
We didn't think we would stay that late since we arrived at 6pm. However, there was so much to do than when we left at 10:30pm we still hadn't seen everything!
Frequently Asked Questions:
Should I visit Santa's Wonderland if I don't have kids?
I saw many people there on dates and just enjoying the village without kids! In fact, my husband asked if we could come back alone and enjoy dinner and fun without our son sometime. Ha!
Is Santa's Wonderland handicap accessible?
From what I saw, yes. There was a lovely young man who used a wheelchair who was going around the park with his family on about the same circuit we were following, so we saw him enjoying many things during his time!
Bottom Line: Is it Worth the Money?
For someone who is famously "cheap" and extremely tight with a dollar, you'd probably think my answer would be no.
However, it's good to spend money on experiences in my opinion! And this experience was so much fun that we are going back next weekend with the other set of grandparents and will definitely get season passes next year!
A resounding YES IT'S WORTH IT from this gal!