The holidays are here and with them comes Camp Christmas, Lonnie Hanzon’s vast winter wonderland of all things Santa, ornaments, gingerbread and lights at Heritage Lakewood Belmar Park. This year, said Hanzon, it will be bigger, better, have more lights, and offer visitors even more Christmas.
“It’s really exciting to be back at the same location because it means we can add a lot of lights and details and some surprises for this year,” said Hanzon, also known as Camp Director Lonnie.
Each camper, as the guests are called, should start the adventure with a group photo or selfie at Santa’s Glampsite, right at the beginning. From there, choose your own adventure following these three themes. Just make sure to pack a smart phone so you can scan QR codes for even more excitement and interactive features.
CAMP CHRISTMAS FOR KIDS
Celebrating the holidays with kids adds a whole new layer to the excitement, and that statement proves true at Camp Christmas. After snapping some photos, look out for these key activity enhancements: Merry Badges, Camp Activities, the Pun Trees for older kids, and Toasts, the perfect spot to raise a glass of hot cocoa and cheers to your family.
Start with Santa, which does cost $10 extra if you want to visit him (add on a ticket when reserving tickets), but otherwise you can wave from afar. This is also the spot to score the first hot chocolate, complete with marshmallows for kids and Christmas magic (aka a shot of spirits) for the adults.
Make sure to stop in the Gift-O-Rama and snap whimsical pictures of the kids holding up tall stacks of presents, which are suspended in the air but you don’t have to tell anyone that. Next visit Sweetsville Studio and Gingerbread Camp where Camp Director Lonnie has created a world of cookie imagination. And, if you visit more than once, you can watch this display grow.
There’s so much to see and do in between, from the Winter Wish Tree where you can leave a wish for Santa, to the Barnyard Boogie to shake off all excitement. Finish up with a ride on the carousel and a peek at the glittering ornament grove before you head home. Bonus, kids 2 and under are free — ride and all!
Pro Tip: Camp Christmas is built on a gentle hill, with the entrance at the top. If you stay to the course without going back, you will travel downhill the whole time, which is easier on legs of all sizes.
CAMP CHRISTMAS FOR LOVERS
Who says you need kids in order to enjoy the boldness of Christmas? In fact, Camp Christmas is also a great place to take a date. Share a steaming mug of spiked cocoa, and make sure to hit up every Toast station in order to share your gratitude for each other.
To make the most of the event, book a VIP package. This includes an exclusive personal tour by either Camp Director Lonnie himself or the fab drag queen guide, Dixie Krystals. It also includes a swag bag, cocktail, backpack and globe necklace.
Make sure to take plenty of selfies in the Pink Lodge, Vintage Holiday Cabin and Tractor Shed, each more Christmas-tastic than the last. There will also be plenty of fire pits for you to warm up and snuggle by. Then, wrap up your perfect holidate at a secret location where you’ll get to create a keepsake with your guide.
Pro Tip: Wear comfortable shoes. Camp Christmas is mainly outside and covers six acres uneven terrain.
CAMP CHRISTMAS FOR GIRLS’ NIGHT OUT
Ladies, before embarking on a night of pure Christmas-themed joy, make sure to check all emotional baggage at the front, and yes, there’s literally a place for that. Then, hit up the High Striker, also known as a strength tester, to measure your Christmas spirit. After that, find the activity all about Santa and share your own stories with friends about the man in red.
Beauty Camp should be on the list for plenty of hilarious and stylish photos, solo, together or both. Fuel up with dinner and/or snacks from the food trucks (two on the weekends and one on the off days) and concession stands, and then pose inside the classic looking Sweetsville Diner.
Stop in the unassuming Pump House where a disco dance party of your own creation awaits. The Pun Tree Forest is another great place to giggle and groan as you figure out the clues. Don’t forget to try the High Striker again before you go to see if your Christmas spirit grew during the event. Finally, snag a postcard from the Barn Bar and mail it to one of your girlfriends to remind them of the wonderful night you had together.
Pro Tip: Purchase a souvenir mug as a keepsake and to get discounted refills in.
All signs and audio guides in Camp Christmas are done in English and Spanish. It’s a great, over-the-top holiday adventure for everyone, no matter if in a group, with family or on a date.
Nov 17 – Dec 24 • Heritage Lakewood Belmar Park