Think back to the happiest moments of your childhood and you’ll likely find that many included cotton candy and the exciting sparkle of carnival rides. If you grew up in Miami, there’s a good chance those memories were made at Santa’s Enchanted Forest. With its acres of twinkling lights and long path of carnival food and rides, the 32nd anniversary of the forest brings nostalgia to the forefront, with classic attractions to remind you of your youth, and a few exciting new things to experience for the first time with your own kids.
The glittering entrance ushers you and your little ones toward a canopy of rainbow lights, guiding the way to a tree-lined path into the park. The smell of popcorn welcomes you to a night of indulgence in your favorite childhood treats – but not before you stop to catch a daredevil display of balance and strength. Look up in awe as an acrobat stacks chair after chair to build a ladder and the platform for his effortless handstand. Then pick up a corn dog (and fondly remember a time when food on a stick was a perfectly viable dinner option), as you make your way through the Christmas displays and over to Santa’s house.
Snapping a photo with the man in the jolly red suit may take a bit of cajoling for shy children, but this is a photo op you won’t want to pass up, so go pose by Santa’s chair and flash the camera your biggest grin – making memories like these is worth a bit of effort. One more stop at the big Christmas tree in the center of the park, with maybe a little dancing to its blaring holiday tunes, will lead to rides, attractions, and games to trigger your competitive side. Just try to remember to stay on the “nice” list as you strike up a bit of friendly competition with your partner. Try not to gloat too much when you dunk Bozo with your first throw — you want to set a good example for the kids, after all.
If you’re feeling brave after a bout with the comic-insult clown, a ride on the Windstorm roller coaster is definitely the way to go. But for a view of the city the whole family will remember, gather up on the Ferris wheel and gaze out over the cars that zoom by on the highway below. Feeling tiny at the top of that ride will make you feel like a child again. A night at Santa’s Enchanted Forest brings it all back.