This post was most recently updated on July 9th, 2019
A new Christmas attraction has come to San Diego (in 2017) and it’s called Global Winter Wonderland. I learned about it when I passed it on the freeway one night and saw the beautiful lights. It was enough to make me want to see it in person. I love all things Christmas — Christmas music, Christmas decorations, and Christmas lights! There’s just something wonderful about being immersed in it all as we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ! Plus, the lights bring back fond memories of my Dad taking us for rides on December evenings to see all the Seattle light displays.
Well, Global Winter Wonderland is like that backseat ride to see the lights, times a thousand! I love the theme: Travel the World in One Night! There’s music, performances, even circus acts! And hundreds of traditional Chinese-style “lanterns” — colorful silk or gauze fabric stretched across wire frames and lit from within. Sometimes, the fabric is even painted or embellished with intricate designs.
Winter Wonderland Lanterns
Some designs are very simple in nature, while others are quite complicated and very detailed, like the dragon that was over 100 feet long!
Going along with the “global” theme were lots of famous landmarks from all over the world, re-created in lights and fabric: the White House, the Statue of Liberty, the Eiffel Tower, the Great Wall of China, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the pyramids of Egypt, and many more.
You’ll also see themes of the North Pole, Dinosaurland (with a fun maze you can walk through), Oceania, Asia, Africa, and the Americas. The entire Winter Wonderland is much larger than I realized, and it actually took quite some time to stroll around and see everything!
The Chinese lanterns are quite unique and beautiful. The colors, lights, designs, themes, and motion are all quite entertaining. Winter Wonderland is a great place to spend an evening on a date or with your family.
What else is at Global Winter Wonderland?
I thought this would be just a light display, but I was wrong. Global Winter Wonderland also includes a Midway with carnival-style rides and games for “children” of all ages. (We all have a bit of ‘child’ in us, right?). From a carousel and Ferris wheel to small roller coasters and carnival games of skill, there’s a lot to do. There is an additional charge for carnival rides, however.
You can also visit Santa inside the market tent. International vendors provide various food options, and we were delighted with the complimentary cup of steaming hot apple cider we received after entering Winter Wonderland. There’s even an outdoor fire pit to gather around, but the night my husband and I attended, it was plenty warm without it.
There is a market and souvenir items for sale, restrooms and hand-washing stations, plus plenty of seating (benches and chairs) should you wish to rest.
Winter Wonderland entertainment
This is what surprised me the most. I did not expect to see so many entertainment options. There was a motorcycle stage with as many as five motorcyclists crazily speeding around and around the inside of a cage without crashing into each other! We also enjoyed Winter Wonderland’s Circus of Light, which included talented acrobats, fire dancers, gymnasts and balancing acts. The quality of the circus performers’ acts definitely made the admission price a pretty good deal. The Star Stage had local holiday acts. The children who were singing and dancing were quite energetic (and cute!). Throw in a snow machine and stilt walkers, for added fun.
Global Winter Wonderland is a worthy new holiday attraction in San Diego (and Sacramento, too). If you’re looking for something fun to do with your family, this might be hard to beat. The international flavor of this event has great appeal, from the feeling of “touring” global attractions, to enjoying the tastes and talents of varied locations. Winter Wonderland is also a fun place to explore on a date. There was plenty to keep my husband and I interested and entertained for a few hours, and we didn’t even ride any rides.
Prices for Global Winter Wonderland admission are a bit steep ($22 adults, $19 children 4+, free for children 3 and under). But considering it is not just a light display, but also the Circus of Light, the prices are more understandable. There are discounts available through Groupon and on Global Winter Wonderland’s website. You can also buy discount tickets at Walgreen’s.There are season passes available which make visiting three or more times, considerably cheaper.
Midway carnival rides are an additional cost: $36 for unlimited rides or $1.25 per ticket (rides require 3 to 6 tickets each). There are ticket packages that combine admission and unlimited rides. Parking at the stadium is an additional $10, which surprised me because I hadn’t seen it in the information I read before arriving. It is on the website, however — in the ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ section.
We arrived close to 6:00 pm, and that must have been a popular time because lines at the entrance were long. It takes some time to go through a bag-searching line and scan prepaid vouchers for admission. About an hour later, we noticed there was hardly a line at all! There is room for improvement in the ticket-scanning process. Some people had a single voucher for multiple admission, and others had a ticket for each person in their party that needed to be scanned — that took much longer!
I’m glad we went to Global Winter Wonderland. It made a nice addition to our Christmas celebrations. It reminded me of the intricate Chinese lanterns we were introduced to in Montreal at the Botanical Gardens’ Gardens of Light a few months ago. If you’re looking for a new San Diego holiday tradition, this just might be it!
This was not a sponsored post. I just wanted to share my experience with you so you could decide if you’d like to see this San Diego attraction. In the comments below, share a favorite Christmas attraction with me and my readers!
Interested in other Christmas light displays I’ve been to?
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