From November each year, the preparations for Santa’s Wonderland begin; the twinkle lights are hung, the snow is put on ice, Santa’s sleigh is polished and the big fellas boots are shined.
It’s Adelaide’s biggest Christmas event and welcomes families each year into a spectacular world of Christmas wonder, a jolly (and GIANT) extravaganza that will etch festive forever-memories into the minds of your kiddos that will last a lifetime.
With its three joyful Christmas lands – each more magical than the last -, festive activity trail, abundant amusement rides and attractions and special line-up of live Christmas entertainment, putting together an event like Santa’s Wonderland is no small feat!
We chat with Amanda McPherson, the creative director and chief magic maker behind Santa’s Wonderland, about what this year’s event will look like and how she manages the jolly juggle of managing large scale events with her young family!
Tell us a bit about yourself and your family?
Well I think its safe to say we are not a normal family! There is My husband Russell and myself, and we have 2 boys Oliver 11 and Harry 6 and life has always been pretty hectic and busy juggling work and parenting with our event business being on circuit for 9 months or the year!
Our home base in in Phillip Island in Victoria and we traditionally spend summer there. It’s a tourism destination and we provide a number of events and attractions during the summer holiday season.
The kids get to start the first term of school there and then (NORMALLY) by Easter we start to follow the sun and head up to NSW and QLD. A usual year would kick off at the Sydney Royal Easter Show in March/April then we visit regional NSW and the entire East Coast from Brisbane to Cairns before heading back to The Brisbane EKKA in August and then the Royal Show in Adelaide in September!
Then we only have a few short months in regional Victoria before we get the mass production on the road for Santa’s Wonderland as preparations start taking place from November each year. Its a busy circuit and we would tend to visit a different town each week as we follow the Agricultural show circuit and attend any number events including Winter festivals, Multicultural festivals, Music festival, you name it we have done it!
We are also very lucky that we have a mobile school (National School for travelling show children) that travels the event circuit with us so the kids get to go to school on the road! They have a curriculum from Dubbo school of distance education and then we have mobile class rooms and teachers that follow the sun with us, so the kids can maintain a routine and education along the way which is great!
What is your favourite Christmas pastime?
Christmas was always a very special time in my family and my husbands family too! We would get spoilt rotten and it was always so exciting opening presents in the morning! I don’t think I ever slept on Christmas Eve, my parents did a good job to bring it together! The best memories are from the times we got to spend it together with extended family including grandparents and even family friends, the more the merrier!
Santa’s Wonderland is an Adelaide institution, how did you come up with the idea and how has it evolved?
Santa’s Wonderland came from a series of ideas and concepts that we wanted to include into the one event. We identified Adelaide as the best destination early on as, being the home of the National Pharmacies Christmas Pageant, we knew that families in Adelaide loved Christmas and there was a real culture here. We calibrated with The National Pharmacies Christmas Pageant in year one and have continued that relationship as we grew! The concept was born from wanting the give children a magical experience and parents an all inclusive offer so that everyone that attended had an equal experience and there where no tears at the end of the day. The concept of the different lands i.e Candyland, Traditional family Christmas Land and Ice Wonderland created set themes for the event spaces and I could really get creative with the design concepts once we establish these event zones! I love the Christmas Activity Trail and the interactive stops, they are so fun and give the event a diverse range of inclusions on top of the popular attractions like rides and ice skating. It is so beautiful and Im very proud of what we have created. The best part after all the hard work is when the red curtains open and the families and children come inside, the lights a twinkling, the rides are turning, the snow is falling and Christmas music is playing, the looks on the families faces is amazing! It always brings a tear to Russell and my eye and it’s all worth it!
Running events is hard work, how did you get into it?
Both Russell and I grew up with our families in the business of events, Russell is actually the 3rd generation to follow in his grand fathers foot steps, It is hard work but it is a great life and we wouldn’t have it any other way. COVID-19 have been the hardest year for the events industry and has affected so many of our friends, family and colleges, its been really tough but there is light on the horizon.
What can we expect at this year’s Santa’s Wonderland event?
Santa’s Wonderland in 2020 to us and all the families is more than just Christmas, this year has had so may challenges and the meaning of spending time with family has never meant more! For those who have been separated by borders or by health its going to be really special to come together and create some magic memories and just have some fun again. Santa’s Wonderland will have all the same inclusions only we have had to modify to allow for COVID protocols like more room and additional cleaning, hand hygiene and new policies, however the same enchanting atmosphere will come alive. We have some new interactive stage shows, some new attractions on the Activity Trail and some “socially distanced” Santa sets which will be a photo with Santa that will be looked back on in years to come, I’m sure, when we reflect on the year that was 2020.
For more information or to book tickets to Santa’s Wonderland: