It’s getting to be that time of year again. The time when Christmas carols play through our heads on repeat, every café on the planet transitions from pumpkin to peppermint specialty drinks, and there’s finally a valid purpose for having all those Christmas lights draped across your dorm room. Down in Miami we’re fortunate enough to escape the wintertime blues, but that comes at a price. The holidays in Miami tend to feel like any other time of the year and this can take away from the magical feeling surrounding the season.
Luckily I have just the solution to reduce that subtle jealousy towards the rest of the country. Every year, in the months of November through January, Olympia Heights hosts the Christmas-themed fair called Santa’s Enchanted Forest. The mini amusement park has a lot of mixed reviews, so I decided to check it out for myself. Here’s the rundown.
Heading into the fair, I have to admit, the little kid in me was practically bubbling over with excitement. I hadn’t been to anything like this in years and all I could think about were childhood memories from my hometown’s annual fair. The grand entrance into the park only added to my anticipation. The long path to the rides and games was lined with a canopy of trees adorned with multi-colored Christmas lights, some of them flashing in coordination with the music. On either side of the road there were holiday themed booths with reindeer and elves broken up by vendors and candy booths. This entryway is certain to remind South Florida residents of the magical aura of the holidays.
Beyond this initial introduction, however, there is not much else “Christmasy” about the carnival. The walk through the lights ends and it opens up to the main fairground with rollercoasters, festival rides and game booths. From this point on, Santa’s Enchanted Forest seems to be a typical fair. The rides were exciting and there was definitely something for everyone. Whether you’re a safe player or a daredevil, they have everything from funhouses and a ferris wheel to spinning teacups and steep rollercoasters.
Overall, my first time going to Santa’s Enchanted Forest was great. If there was one thing that the fair could improve upon, it would be the food. As of right now, I would advise eating beforehand or going early to beat the long lines and then eating afterwards. The typical fair food options were available: corndogs, funnel cakes and fried Oreos alike. But I must say, the Miami-cuisine foodie within me was disappointed with what the fair had to offer. A city filled with such amazing food trucks and eateries should provide a much larger array of food choices at the fair.
Regardless, Santa’s Enchanted Forest is an enchanting way to bring winter to Miami. The Christmas theme isn’t an overkill and it hits just the spot that us Floridians need in a supposedly season-less environment. The carnival is fun, thrilling, vibrant and the perfect trip down memory lane for us college kids.
Teddy Willson is a freshman majoring in journalism and minoring in music business and entertainment industries. She has an obsession with Nutella, Pinterest and late night jam sessions.