Review: WonderLAnd Drive-Through Adventure

We were fulsome in our praise of Experiential Supply Company's Haunt 'O Ween drive-through attraction this October. This December, Experiential Supply is back with the WonderLAand Drive-Through Adventure, which is even better. It's a little difficult to say exactly why: perhaps the joys of Christmas are more welcome at the end of a year marked by so much strife and tragedy, or it may simply be that winter holiday decorations are more suited to a drive through experience. Whereas Halloween relies on shadows, darkness, and a limited color palette, December decorations traditionally emphasize glittering lights and towering trees festooned with twinkling tinsel. WonderLAnd takes the tinsel and runs with it, providing a Santa's sack full of glistening eye-candy.

As with Haunt 'O'Ween, WonderLAnd is situated in the parking lot of the Topanga Canyon Mall, but the apparently inauspicious location is almost complete disguised: lighted tunnels and beautiful facades create a winter wonderland that eclipses the outside world; the winding path transports you to numerous locations, a new one seemingly revealed around every curve: The North Pole is nicely simulated with "icebergs" and "snow," and a row of domiciles represents numerous holiday traditions, such as Christmas, Hanukkah, etc.

We didn't tabulate the actual numbers, but WonderLAnd seems more more densely filled with decorations, mannequins, and actors: it seems as if static figures of penguins, polar bears, snowmen, reindeer, and Nutcracker soldiers are around everywhere, and the scenery is enlivened with live actors: fairies on roller skates, elves at work in Santa's shop, and of course Mr. and Mrs. Claus.

The route has been slightly readjusted so that even those who visited during Halloween will not know what to expect around each corner, and even familiar elements have been adjusted for the winter season. Once again there is a drive by several facades representing houses, each with a distinct look, but since this is not Halloween, no one is handing out treats this time; instead, there is a gift bestowed by elves near the end (a sock full of candy) just before reaching Santa Claus.

WonderLAnd Drive-Through Adventure Review: Conclusion

How good is the WonderLAand Drive-Through Adventure? The best yardstick we have for comparison purposes is a similar event at Six Flags Magic Mountain. Of course, comparing WonderLAnd to Magic Mountain's Holiday Drive-Through might not be fair, but WonderLAnd really is in the same league in terms of beauty and wonder. If it can't quite match Magic Mountain's presentation, it is only because the theme park's location offers a broader canvas with more room for grandeur. Squeezed into a smaller space, WonderLAnd packs more in per square foot, yielding a delightful holiday confection that will raise your Christmas spirits.

WonderLAand Drive-Through Adventure Rating
4.5

Bottom Line

Squeezing an incredible array of illumination and decoration, this wonderful drive-through is guaranteed to raise your Christmas spirits.

The WonderLAand Drive-Through Adventure scheduled dates through December 30, but tickets are sold out. Call (805) 719-1906 to check for cancellations and last-minute openings. The address is 6100 Topanga Canyon Boulevard, Woodland Hills, CA 91367. For more information, visit: socalwonderland.com.

WonderLAnd Drive-Through Adventure Review: Photo Gallery

Steve Biodrowski, Administrator

A graduate of USC film school, Steve Biodrowski has worked as a film critic, journalist, and editor at Movieline, Premiere, Le Cinephage, The Dark Side., Cinefantastique magazine, Fandom.com, and Cinescape Online. He is currently Managing Editor of Cinefantastique Online and owner-operator of Hollywood Gothique.

%d bloggers like this: