When Municipalities Get It Right - Scottsdale Arizona

I wasn't sure how to post this.

It's kind of a trip report...but as I was thinking about it, it became more of a comment and series of questions. It's also a little late, but here goes...

In December, during the holiday vacation, my family and I flew out to Arizona for a vacation. I hadn't been on a plane in about 20 years and the reason for the destination was for my son to meet someone very respectable and sucessful in his chosen field.

In any case, we had a few days to spend in southern Arizona and it was very nice, though a little colder than I thought it would be - even for December.

We did a lot of "touristy" things Desert Museum (Very good) Musical Instrument Museum (Outstanding) but did not travel too far from the Scottsdale area.

Among our travels was a city-owned park that featured a fantastic Christmas train layout and a small, but pretty carousel and a building the size of a diner that housed several massive model train layouts that are frequently open for (free) public viewing. (Donations accepted)

The main train layout featured two trains on a single track. They were "steamers" and made a round trip in about 10 minutes. After you pull out of the station you meander around some elegantly lit trees in a park setting. Once you enter the tunnel and emerge from it...BOOM!It became a fantastic Christmas village with music, fake snowfall and a beautiful array of lights that were original and impressive. I was blown away by what I saw. Some elements I had never seen before...light fireworks and snowmen with mouths singing along with the music. (Classic up-tempo holiday hits.)

I think the ride was 5 bucks per person and the carousel three.

The layouts of the model trains were breathtaking. There were some "Easter-Eggs" and colletions of different scales. There are also several "inter-active" stations along the way. (You can press your hand to it and something will move, light up or come to life.)

Yes, there were venders selling hot chocolate, and train-paraphernalia - but of course I went over to one of the city workers (uniformed) and asked about the setup.

Apparently, there is a deal with the steamers. They can run their trains and the town gets a part of the ticket sales. I guess they get a cut of the concessions too...but what a win-win situation. The worker and the police officer were very proud of everything - and they have every right to be.

I thought that only Rye Playland was the only municipality overseeing a park and while this is not nearly the size of Rye Playland, it was so well done. It is a permanent set up - with lights, crossing gates, etc. although the Christmas stuff comes down after the holidays.

If you are even in the area, and like train-rides this is a must see. If you have kids or want a nice "date-night" thing to do...this is a must do.

This is the website - although the holiday stuff is no longer listed.


There are also some videos on youtube.

This is kind of new to me. Do other municipalities do this?

Thanks for reading this. (ALL ABOARD!)

Here's To Shorter Lines & Longer Trip Reports!

At least one Florida city and Florida county do something similar. Near Tampa you can check out Largo Central Park and in Broward County (Ft Lauderdale area) you can check out Tradewinds Park near Coconut Creek, FL. Two excellent examples of this.

For what it's worth, since you bring up Playland, Westchester County (owner's and operators of Playland) do something similar at a County Park (the Kensico Dam) about 10 miles away. I've never been, it's a gated POP. But it looks similar to what you describe. There appears to maybe be an outsourced circus tent component too. They actually truck over a few of the smaller rides from Rye. The Caterpillar, Fun Slide... With December wind off the Long Island Sound not done at the park itself for obvious reason...

This type of ticketed temporary experience is cropping up more and more. Millenial experience making mindset and instagram culture... all the rage! (Not a bad thing) The Bronx Zoo just brought back their outdoor holiday ticket too after like a decade hiatus.

Raven-Phile's avatar

Nothing like your holidays being filled with Bronx Cheer.

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