Whenever the holiday season rolls around, our televisions sets are tuned in to all the popular Christmas themed movies that we’ve seen what feels like a thousand times. Everything from fantastical films like “The Santa Clause” and the live action “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” to goofy holiday comedies like “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” starring Chevy Chase, and “Elf,” starring Will Ferrell.
These motion pictures have captured our hearts and have become staples year after year. These films all have a special Ohio connection, as well. Memorabilia from the sets of these Christmas movies (among many more) can be found in the Northeast Ohio town of Medina at Castle Noel, the nation’s largest indoor year-round Christmas entertainment attraction.
The spirit of the holidays is bursting at the seams at Castle Noel. Upon entering, you will feel immediately embraced by all things Christmas. The lobby and gift shop only slightly prepare you for what you will experience on your 2-hour guided tour.
If you are lucky, your tour guide might be the owner and creator himself, Mark Klaus (whose name and long white beard undoubtedly destined him to be in the business of Christmas).If he is not your guide, you might catch him in the gift shop (like I did), or at the very least, see his jolly self in the short video you watch prior to your tour.
Castle Noel is 40,000 square feet of pure magic. My friends and I recently experienced this magic first hand, touring as a way to kick off our holidays. However, it is important to note that Castle Noel is open all year long – not just in the months leading up to Christmas. Naturally, tours book up quickly during the holidays, so it is advised you order tickets ahead of time (although walk-ins are welcome on a first come, first served basis).
Every nook and cranny of Castle Noel is filled with authentic props, costumes, and sets from your favorite Christmas films. In fact, it’s the largest private collection of its kind in the entire world! Some of the favorite things I saw along the tour included the famous green and yellow elf costume Will Ferrell wore in “Elf,” animatronic reindeer from Tim Allen’s “The Santa Clause,” and the unmistakable RV owned by the character of Cousin Eddie in “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.” The funniest thing I saw happened to be an extremely realistic mask of Arnold Schwarzenegger from when he starred in the comedy “Jingle All the Way.”
In addition to the movie memorabilia, you will also find several Christmas-themed exhibits, such as one dedicated to toys of yesteryear, and several displays showcasing millions of dollars worth of animated Christmas windows from shopping centers in New York City.
There’s also fun interactive elements of the tour, including the trippy “blizzard vortex” tunnel, and the “Santa Squeeze,” which simulates what it’s like for Santa to shoot down the chimney.
In my opinion, the best part is sitting on Santa’s lap at the end of the tour, and zooming down Santa Klaus Mountain Slide on a burlap sack! This giant red spiral slide is a replica of the one seen in the film “A Christmas Story,” when the character Ralphie asks Santa for a BB gun. Professional photos are taken during your ride down, and they can be purchased on your way out. Riders over the age of 80 will get their photo on the “Wall of Fame,” so be sure to bring the whole family to make this a multi-generational outing.
It’s tough to catch it all on your first visit, and new items are always being added to Mark Klaus’s awesome collection. For that reason, it’s easy to make Castle Noel a tradition for you and your loved ones. My friends and I are itching to take another ride on the giant slide and get our fix of Christmas magic!
For more holiday fun, Find It Here at Ohio.org.