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GLENCOE, Ill. (November 5, 2013) – Wonderland Express celebrates the holiday season with outdoor light displays, an indoor model train exhibition, halls decked with wreaths, and greenhouses staged with abundant poinsettias and amaryllis. New this year to the festivities will be ice sculpting. Holiday concerts; a wine, beer and spirit tasting; visits with both Santa and Mrs. Claus; and other special events will take place over the course of the exhibition, which runs from Friday, November 29, 2013, to Sunday, January 5, 2014.
The outdoor display of 750,000 LED lights begins at the Lake Cook Road entrance to the Garden and continues through the Visitor Center—including its bridge and decks—the Heritage Garden, the Esplanade, and Runnells and Searle Courtyards. A 40-foot tree aglow with multicolored lights and multiple tree trunks wrapped in white lights will decorate the Esplanade, a vantage point for viewing the lighted spheres across the lake at the Regenstein Fruit & Vegetable Garden.
The Regenstein Center houses the festive indoor exhibition of seasonal decorations and horticultural displays, gift shop, and model railroad. The railway will be staged in Nichols Hall, where garden-scale trains wind past more than 80 miniature replicas of Chicago-area landmarks including Navy Pier, Soldier Field, Willis Tower, and others. All the structures are crafted from natural materials by Applied Imagination, a nationally recognized company specializing in model railroad garden installations. New this year will be a replica of the Como Inn, a Chicago institution that served customers for 77 years before closing in 2001. This new structure honors the late Larry Marchetti, a longtime Model Railroad Garden and Wonderland Express employee who took over the restaurant founded by his father.
The Bridge Gallery will provide a beautiful wooded entrance to Nichols Hall, and Joutras Gallery will display ornamented trees and a gingerbread village with new features sculpted out of sugar. The Greenhouse Gallery walls will be hung with wreaths made by Garden employees. The wreaths are available for sale throughout the run of the exhibition for $150 and $200 and can be picked up starting Tuesday, January 7. Special lighting and lush plant arrangements will make the Greenhouses a colorful, warm, and cheerful place to visit. The Krehbiel Gallery will be transformed into an English country train platform and will also house a Garden Shop kiosk.
Burnstein Hall will host family drop-in activities on the weekends, during half-price Tuesdays, and daily beginning December 21. The Caboose Café will also be in Burnstein Hall the last two weeks of the exhibition. The Morrison Waud Collection of storybook felt figurines will be on display in the Lenhardt Library. Major sponsors of Wonderland Express include ComEd and NorthShore University HealthSystem. Discover and W.W. Grainger, Inc. are also providing generous support.
Tickets are $12 for adults; $10 for seniors ages 62 and older and children 3 to 12 years old. Children under 3 are free. Members receive a $2 discount per ticket. Tickets are sold as timed tickets and can be purchased online or on site. Half-price Tuesdays are sponsored by Grainger. Use your Discover card when purchasing tickets at the Garden and receive two-for-one pricing; not valid on half-price Tuesdays. Closed at 3 p.m. on December 5, 10, 12, 13 and 24, and closed December 25. Please check the website for other early closing dates.
- Hanukkah Concert by the Maxwell Street Klezmer Band at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Sunday, December 1, in Alsdorf Auditorium. Advance tickets are $17; day-of tickets are $20. Members receive $2 off each ticket. Children under 3 are free. Ticket price includes admission to the Wonderland Express exhibition. Standard parking fees apply.
- Holiday Cheers! Seasonal Wine Tasting at Wonderland Express from 6 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, December 11, in Burnstein Hall. Enjoy local spirits, wine and winter brews amid the Wonderland Express model train exhibition. Advance tickets are $25; day-of tickets are $28. Members receive $5 off each ticket. Price includes tasting glass, tasting guide, and access to Wonderland Express. Must be 21 or older to attend and a valid I.D. must be shown. Standard parking fees apply.
- Breakfast with Santa at 8:30 and 9:30 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday, December 14 and 15. Tickers are $35 for adults and $27 for children 3 to 12 years old. Children under 3 are free. Members receive $5 off each ticket. Ticket price includes parking, meal, visit with Santa, and the Wonderland Express exhibition.
- Christmas Concert at 2 and 4 p.m. on Saturday, December 21, in the Alsdorf Auditorium. Advance tickets are $17; day-of tickets are $20. Children under 3 are free. Members receive $2 off each ticket. Price includes entry to the Wonderland Express exhibition. Standard parking fees apply.
- Hot Chocolate with Mrs. Claus at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Monday, December 23. Advance tickets are $17; day-of tickets are $20. Members receive $2 off each ticket. Children under 3 are free. Price includes hot chocolate, cookies, visit with Mrs. Claus, and entry to the Wonderland Express exhibition. Standard parking fees apply.
- Ice Sculpting: See the sculptor in action as he carves winter figurines from a block of ice at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on two Saturdays, December 14 and 28.
- Family Drop-in Activities will take place from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. November 29 to December 1, December 7 and 8, and December 21, 2013, to January 5, 2014; from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Tuesdays, December 3, 10 and 17; from noon to 6 p.m. on December 14 and 15; and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on December 24. Activities will include Friendly Fir, Spiky Spruce, an exploration of conifer branches and cones, and Tree Jewelry, making strands fashioned from cranberries and pinecones to decorate trees and feed birds. Sparkly Snowflakes will enable children to examine snowflakes under a magiscope and create paper-cutout snowflakes. Winter-themed books, puzzles, stuffed animals and bird explorations will also be available.
- Take home a part of Wonderland Express with a special commemorative book available for purchase in the Garden Shop or online. The book gives a “sneak peek” into the Applied Imagination studio, includes large colorful pictures of the created and actual landmarks, and details how the landmarks included in the exhibition are created.
Complimentary areas include the outdoor holiday light display and lighted trees on the Esplanade and Heritage Garden, the lush horticultural display in the Greenhouses and the wreath exhibition in the Greenhouse Gallery.