EAST DUNDEE, Ill. (CBS/WBBM) — Part of Santa’s Village, the old amusement park that brings back nostalgic memories for a lot of people in the Chicago area, is re-opening this Saturday morning as Paintball Explosion.
As WBBM Newsradio 780’s Mike Krauser reports, the new venture is opening on the East Dundee site of the old Santa’s Village, with eight fields for both indoor and outdoor paintball play.
LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Mike Krauser reports
Some areas provide a realistic setting for paintball battles, others provide a fantasy setting. Tournaments and team league play are planned.
And there will be a connection to the old Santa’s Village. Anyone familiar with the old Santa’s Village probably remembers Phil Wenz – perhaps not by name, but you’d recognize him as Santa himself, for 25 years going back to 1986.
“Basically, it’s what I do,” Wenz said with a laugh, “or I should say, ho-ho-ho-ho!”
Wenz, in full Santa garb, will be there when Paintball Explosion opens.
“It’s pretty cool-looking, and they’ve done a lot of props and things,” Wenz said.
And in case you’re wondering, no, Santa cannot be a target for your paintballs.
“No, not whatsoever, and of course, we don’t want to put any of that type of aggression out there of course,” Wenz said. “But it’s just walking down memory lane. It’s nice having the property revitalized.”
Paintball Explosion opens at 9 a.m. Saturday.
At the end of May, the AZoosment Park, which occupies six acres of the old Santa’s village property, will also be open. It features pony rides, a petting zoo set in a farmyard, bird and reptile exhibits, and some of the rides from the old Santa’s Village and from Kiddieland in Melrose Park, which closed in 2009.
Santa’s Village opened in 1959 as one of three amusement parks using the name and theme. The other two were located in San Bernardino County, Calif., and Santa Cruz County, Calif.
It came to include amusement rides, a petting zoo, an ice rink, and of course, a spot to visit Santa year-round. The Racing Rapids water park was added to the property later.
Longtime owner Hugh Wilson sold the amusement park was sold in 2006, but the buyers, Steve Hopp and Doug Francis could never find financial backing and had to close the park. Its last day of operation was in September 2006.
What do you think of this new use for the old Santa’s Village land? Leave a comment below.