Christmastime: A Little Piece of Wales, in Alabama


Years ago, my wife worked at a local bank.  She started to tell me about these workers who would come in to cash their checks, that were helping to build an extraordinary RV Resort.   They would spin tales of a large steam locomotive, intricate architecture and stonework and a massive effort in construction.

I'm not a RV person.  I'm a sailboat person.  So, my naivity kicks in when I hear "RV Resort".  I immediately imagine a few shotgun-style roads lined with lots and power hookups, sparse trees, filled with RVs, usually at a nice location such as a forest, lake or waterfront.

Fastforward a few years and we hear from friends these references of a place called "Wales West", primarily famous for Thomas the Train, Halloween and Christmas train-events.  That year, my wife, daughter, son and I, all dress down into our pajamas and head to their take on The Polar Express.  (Called, I'm sure for legal purposes, The Arctic Express)

What we found when we arrived was trully more than I expected.  Beautifully decorated grounds connected, largely with intricate stonework and european architecture.   Smiling faces all-around.  

DSC06848_49_50_tonemapped copy

On the grounds, numerous buildings stand, all with super attention to detail and a very classic styling, surrounded by endless droves of Christmas decorations of all kinds.


DSC06870_1_tonemapped copy

As we waited at the train depot for our trip to the North Pole, a small clean shop sits with some of the most welcoming and delightful Christmas decorations.  You can't help but stop and view them with the eyes and wonder of a child.

You board a train, something right out of a Walt Disney home video - and embark on a journey to the North Pole the kids with likely not forget.  

DSC06887_8_9_fused copy

The 5-10 minute train ride snakes through the resort and out past a small lake, adorned with the brilliant reflections of Christmas lights on the shore.  A photograph cannot do this scene justice!  The train works its way into the woods just far enough that on a cold night the child in you can imagine that you may have actually been magically transported to the North Pole.

At your destination, you unload and find Santa Claus, ready to pose with photos and bearing a gift for the youngsters.    Around Santa is a creative and fun arts-crafts style play area for the kids and more fantastic decorations and music.

DSC06821_2_3_tonemapped copy

Upon your return home, you find a spacious tent with a wooden railroad track and tables around it.  Parents can sit and relax, enjoying hot cocoa and cookies while the children's imagination go wild on this large wooden railway.

With the point of this blog being to share interesting sights and sites, I feel like Wales West is one of those best-kept-secrets that families in our area need to know about.    

DSC06786_7_tonemapped copy 

Christmastime, above all, is about family and making memories.  Wales West, the unlikliest place to a programmer-sailior such as myself, has earned a special spot in our Christmas family tradition.  There's still time, this year!  Check them out online, at: