It's 82 degrees out, and palm trees are swaying in a light breeze on a balmy November afternoon. In Miami, that means all thoughts are turning to Saint Nick.
Santa's Enchanted Forest opens tonight at Tropical Park for its 34th revolution around the sun.
Touted as the largest Christmas theme park, the attraction has everything you need to celebrate the season's most commercial aspects — 3 million twinkling lights, a 90-foot Christmas tree, dioramas featuring Santa and space aliens, carnival games, 40 rides (including ten roller coasters to suit all ages and levels of hysteria), sea lions, pig races, a circus, and a motorcycle death cage.
Of all the numerous diversions, it's the food that garners the biggest oohs and aahs — because nothing says merriment like a seemingly endless variety of treats such as cotton candy, arepas, candy apples, pork parfaits, and fried Oreos.
In fact, the motto at Santa's Enchanted Forest might just be "If it can fit into a deep fryer, it can be turned into a snack." Perfect miniature doughnuts, golden chicken, pickles, chicharrones, and elephant ears are all offered in a giddy display of delicious excess. If you're looking for the exotic, try fried Pepsi. Thankfully, Rudolph and his brethren have escaped becoming reindeer nuggets.
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The park opens today at 5 p.m. and features a Christmas-tree-lighting ceremony. Once the sun sets, Santa and a special surprise guest will light the towering tree. This year, the tree promises to be "supercharged," decked out in LED lights synchronized to holiday music.
Santa's Enchanted Forest is open daily from 5 p.m. to midnight today through January 8, 2017, including Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year's Day. The park is open New Year's Eve until 11 p.m. Single-evening admission costs $31.78 for adults and $22.43 for children and seniors. Admission includes unlimited access to all rides and attractions. Food is not included, and vendors accept cash only. Purchase tickets and annual passes at santasenchantedforest.com.