For the 2002 season of Winter Lights there were over 1 million lights in 188 exhibits. For the 2003 season it truly became Bigger and Brighter when it increased by 50%.  The route was 2.5 miles in 2002, and 3 miles in 2003.  Over 80% of the displays were animated.

 
 
     
Artist Renderings of Winter Lights
     
     
   
   
     
     
Preparations in Fall 2002
     


 In the late summer of 2002, the park announced it would be debuting a new event for what has been traditionally the off-season.   The new Winter Lights event would run from November 15 (2 weeks after the park had closed for the season) through January 1, and would offer a drive through light display with a small shopping area at the end.

As the end of the season approached, the preparation began with the construction of a temporary building in the Outer Mall and the installation of light displays around the property. 
   
   
     
     
     
Debut Season:  2002-2003
     
     


Winter Lights animated displays were very whimsical, and featured local merchants who helped sponsor the event.
   
   
     
     
     
     
The animated displays were setup in themed groups.   They offered a comical look at the North Pole Beach Party, Santa's Safari and The Twelve Days of Christmas, as well as a display of varying seasonal religious symbols and a  Victorian Village.
     
     
     
     
     
     
Twelve Drummers Drumming Eleven Pipers Piping Ten Lords A Leaping
Nine Ladies Dancing Eight Maids A Milking Seven Swans A Swimming
Six Geese A Laying Five Golden Rings Four Calling Birds
Three French Hens Two Turtle Doves And A Partridge In A Pear Tree!
     
     
     
     
     
     
The park's dolphins and seal lions had their own displays with Sasha and Tamara diving in and out of the water, and Kali and Cassi tossing presents back and forth.
     






Winter Lights wrapped around the construction area of the Superman Ultimate Flight coaster and offered enthusiasts a tantalizing view of construction and promoted season pass sales for the coming year.
   
   
   
   
The
Christmas
Village
     
     
     
     
The first season's Holiday Village was fairly simple, and featured a train ride, a hay bale maze and pony rides for the kids.

Christmas trees were available for sale, and a temporary building served as the home to Santa Claus as well as a gift shop.

The biggest drawback to this setup was lack of amenities, since restrooms and the ATM machine were a long walk down the Mall which had to be shoveled and lit. 

During the run of Winter Lights, there was at least one snowfall, turning the event into a true Winter Wonderland!
   
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
Watch video footage of driving through Winter Lights!

 
A unique aspect of Winter Lights was getting a glimpse of the park in the off-season.  The areas that many guests are used to seeing bustling with activity were eerily quiet and almost ghostly, especially covered in snow. 
 
     
Season Two:  2003-2004
"Bigger & Brighter"
     
     
     
Winter Lights came back for a second season in 2003-2004, and once again promotion of the event began at the same time promotion for the park's Fright Fest event started.


For the second season the slogan was "Bigger & Brighter" and reflected the additional displays added as well as the larger village area at the end of the drive through portion, which this time took advantage of the park's existing structures.
     
     
     
All of the displays from the inaugural season returned, with dozens of new ones, and a longer drive-through course, extending by an additional half mile to 3 miles.

The Twelve Days of Christmas display was moved to the overflow parking lot, along with the new North Pole displays and a blue and white village in the main parking area.



   


   
     
     
     
     
     
   
     
     
     
Twinkle
Towne
     
Probably the most dramatic change of the second season of Winter Lights was the expansion of the village area at the end of the drive through.

The new Twinkle Towne area utilized the Garden of Eatin' section of the park and its existing facilities rather than using the Outer Mall and requiring the building of temporary structures.

The Picnic Pavilion was partially enclosed, and became home to a shop, snack bar and pictures with Santa, as well as a full sized ice rink.   The rest of the Garden of Eatin grounds featured displays, games and attractions.
   
     
     
     
     
     
     
Other new features of the Holiday Village included a large model train display which was setup in the Fest Haus, and a trackless children's train ride which ran alongside the Picnic Pavilion. 
     
     
     
     
Since Winter Lights was discontinued, it has been sorely missed by many of the regular park-goers who appreciated this great Holiday event, and looked forward to it returning.

Hopefully Winter Lights or a similar park holiday event will return in the future.
     
 
 
Click on the brochure cover to see the full Winter Lights program
   
2002 Route 2003 Route
   
   
 
 
Winter Lights Souvenirs 
     
     
   
Several Winter Lights souvenirs were available at the event including numerous ornaments, a Christmas music CD, apparel, and "Magical Specs" which made all the Winter Lights appear as if each bulb was a snowflake!
     
     
     
 
 
TRIVIA

This piece of art was hanging in the area where you could get your picture taken with Santa in the Twinkle Towne for the second season of Winter Lights.  What is unique about this picture (where did it originally come from)?



For the answer,
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