If you take the twisting backroads of New York far enough, if you push into the Adirondack Mountains, you will come to a theme park known as Santa's Workshop in a place they call North Pole, which is in Wilmington, NY, where Christmas is celebrated all year round.
The thing is, the little park attracts maybe 1,000 a day. That is way down from its heyday, when 14,000 came, but it is still a goodly number.
One wonders if Salt Lake City could set up such a park, and pull in 1,000 people a day. If we were to have an expansive tourist zone west of the airport, where there were all kinds of tourist offerings, this could be one of the attractions. Have Santa's toy factory, complete with Santa, Mrs. Claus, the elves and an assortment of reindeer. Maybe even offer sleigh rides year-round, with Donner and Blitzen pulling the sleigh.
But, don't leave Santa as the only Christmas-themed visitors' attraction. Next door, have a display on the birth of the Savior, replaying the whole of the Christmas story in either video or live presentation -- or both. Build the most authentic-looking replica inn in the world, complete with stage lighting. In my life, I have never witnessed the story of Christ's birth acted out in an authentic, well-crafted setting. I would guess there is room to make the Salt Lake City attraction the most authentic-looking and well-produced in all the world, good enough that those who witnessed it would go home to tell others that it was the best live depiction they had ever seen.
Other possibilities for Christmas-based tourism? Have a stage for local singers to perform Christmas songs. There would be no usual expense to hire the musicians (although you might bring in name artists on occasion and pay them) and it would provide them a place to perform.
And, you could have a mini museum, offering the history of Christmas, with displays depicting celebrations of the past. If you included such museums throughout the tourist zone, not just in the Christmas city, you could bill Salt Lake City as the City of Museums.
Another idea for the Christmas city? Make a tunnel where you could ride a horse-pulled sleigh to grandma's house, the tunnel keeping the temperature cold enough that snow from a snow-making machine would not melt. The tunnel would be complete with a video graphics on the ceiling and sides to make it seem you were traveling through the countryside. If the walls and lighting were done well enough, it might even be more dramatic and fanciful than real life. At the end of the tunnel, have Grandma's House, a restaurant where you are fed a Christmas meal with "Grandma" and "Grandpa" bringing you the food and sitting with you.
Those of us who live in rural areas might be able to ride horse-drawn wagons at Christmastime, but it is something not availed the average person, and especially not availed to urbanites. Make Salt Lake City the place you come to ride an actual sleigh. If you are the only place on the map offering such an experience, it is certainly should be a draw.
Those of us who live in rural areas might be able to ride horse-drawn wagons at Christmastime, but it is something not availed the average person, and especially not availed to urbanites. Make Salt Lake City the place you come to ride an actual sleigh.
You could stretch the sleigh tunnel from the airport hotels, making it the transportation system for the tourists. The sleigh ride then becomes a more integral part of the Christmas experience in Salt Lake. If the walls of the tunnel are done in high-tech fashion, this would truly be a memorable experience. Some of the sleighs could be horse-drawn, and take you to Grandma's House restaurant, and others could be reindeer pulled, maybe even having Santa driving the sleigh. How many places are there where you can actually ride with Santa in his sleigh?
If you put all these attractions together in one park, you could call it simply Christmas Park. Whether you leave the park open year-round, or just open it for the Christmas season, either way it would be a wonderful draw for tourism.
And, for the person not given to turning Christmas more into a Santa Claus event, who worries Christmas Park would do just that, consider that Christmas Park would include the story of Christ and the principles of Christianity in a compelling way. The visitor who came for Santa would stay for the Babe Jesus, so to speak, as the display of the Savior's birth would be wonderful and inviting. If it gained fame as the most wonderful display of the Savior's birth in the world, the visitor would be much inclined to not leave town without seeing it.
(Blog last altered 11/24/16)