Last weekend, we ventured to Lancaster on a snowy day to visit Dutch Winter Wonderland. Dutch Winter Wonderland offers visits with Santa, meet and greets with Dutch Wonderland characters, over 20 rides, festive shows, holiday treats, and beautiful lights throughout the land! It’s a fun time that small children will really enjoy!
Reasons to Visit Dutch Winter Wonderland
Dutch Wonderland is a top-rated Pennsylvania attraction. It has been named one of the top 10 “Very Best Small Amusement Parks in America” and is consistently recognized by TripAdvisor with a Certificate of Excellence.
Perfect for Little Ones
As mentioned above, this is a smaller theme park situated on 48 acres, so it is just the right size for smaller children. There are over 20 rides operating during the holiday season, with 9 rides that can accommodate handheld infants.
**TIP: there are six size ratings for the rides in 6” increments from under 30” tall to 54” and above. So, smaller siblings don’t get left behind in the fun!
Convenient Day Trip
Dutch Wonderland is a fantastic day trip from the Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Wilmington, Delaware areas. It is also a fun stop en route to Hershey Park’s Christmas Candylane. You can even buy a combination ticket to visit both parks.
Fun Weekend Excursion
You can also make a weekend out of it. When you buy any type of ticket, you can preview the park for three hours before closing on the night before your full day visit.
If you get the Dutch Wonderland/Hershey Park combination ticket, you have your choice to preview either park. However, note that Hershey’s preview only allows you to enter the park 2.5 hours before closing.
**TIP: The free park preview is a year-round perk, so if you cannot make it out this holiday season, keep it in mind for summertime family fun!
Close to other Lancaster Attractions
If you decide to stay overnight, there are also plenty of other things to do in the area. The Strasburg Railroad offers Santa-themed train rides. Kitchen Kettle Village is another cute place to stop offering over 40 shops and restaurants, plus holiday events on-site.
Discover Lancaster is a great website for planning a fun weekend itinerary and finding the latest events happening around the town.
Places to Stay Near Dutch Wonderland
There are several nearby hotels and resorts to choose from if you decide to stay all weekend. There is also an on-site campground open all year long with tent, RV, and cabin options! There is also an on-site campground open all year long with tent, RV, and cabin options!
**TIP: Guests that stay on-site at the Old Mill Stream Campground at Dutch Wonderland can get discounted park tickets!
Exploring Dutch Winter Wonderland
One of the coolest parts of the park is the grand castle entrance. Make sure you stop and get a picture next to the wooden soldiers!
Once you walk into the castle, you enter Castle Gift Shop that has a lot of cute stuff – everything from park character merchandise to Pennsylvania Dutch treats.
First Stop at Dutch Winter Wonderland – Duke, Merlin & Santa!
When we first walked in through the admission gates, we ran into Duke the Dragon and Merlin. There was no line and our kids enjoyed interacting with the dragon.
Next, we headed over to Santa Claus! He was sitting in Merlin’s Buffett, right next to the main entrance. There was no wait and our kids got to spend a while talking with Santa. No personal pictures are allowed, but you can buy professional photos and digital images at a reasonable price.
Next – Take the Wonderland Special
Next, we jumped on the train, which is right beyond the entrance. I recommend doing this first because it gives you a nice lay of the wonderland! Don’t forget to hop on again once it gets dark to rest your feet for a bit and appreciate the view of all the twinkling lights.
Onward to the Rides
After we disembarked from the Wonderland Special, we headed clockwise around the park to the rides.
Our favorite rides were the Wonder Whip (my daughter rode that twice), the Sky Fighter, the Panda Party, and the classic Merry-Go-Round.
Play in the Polar Playground
While we were on the train, we spotted a cute little play area that my son couldn’t wait to get to! Situated towards the back of the park, the Polar Playground is a fun, partially enclosed stop that has “ice” blocks that kids can use to build igloos and forts.
Warm Up with a Snack
After building an igloo, the kids were ready for some food! We headed clockwise further towards the back of the park to the Mill Stream Eatery for some snacks. Mill Stream Eatery is right near the bumper cars.
Mill Stream Eatery is a great stop if you have picky eaters because it offers everything from pizza and hamburgers to healthier options such as salads and chicken It has spacious seating if you decide to go during peak dinner time.
**TIP: The Miniature Train Display is located at the back of the Mill Stream Eatery. It is not pointed out that way on the map and we were initially a little confused in trying to find it.
The Holiday Lights
There are sparkling lights and holiday displays throughout the park. There is also a Royal Light Show set to festive holiday music. The light show takes place in Celebration Theater to the right of the park entrance as you are walking towards the castle. Shows are every 15 minutes starting at 5 p.m.
There are two shows that little ones will enjoy. Both shows are pretty short in duration so kids can get a little rest from walking around, but not get too antsy!
Storytime with the Princess takes place in Storytime Corner situated in the back of the park close to Mill Stream Eatery. Storytime is at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. weekends and 5:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. weekdays.
Toy Time Fun is a holiday favorite that takes place in the Amphitheater near the back of the park by That Panini Place. It features Raggedy Ann and Andy singing and dancing to holiday favorites.
**TIP: Stick around afterward to take pictures with the characters.
When to Visit
Dutch Winter Wonderland is a great place to visit during the holiday season! It is open weekends and select weekdays through December 30th.
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After Dutch Winter Wonderland ends, the park will close for the season and re-open the weekend of April 28th. Here are two other great times to visit:
Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, Duke’s Lagoon is open, with a huge water play, along with a lounge area that allows parents to relax while keeping an eye on their kids. Plus, there is also the Pipeline Plunge water slide with options for all ages too!
Dutch Wonderland’s Happy Hauntings offers trick or treating throughout the park plus special entertainment.