In Holiday Guide

Winter Wonders opens Black Friday at Boerner Botanical Gardens.

First look: Winter Wonders drive-though holiday display at Whitnall Park

It's the most wonderful time of the year ... especially if you have an insatiable taste for the holiday cheer.

In addition to favorite holiday lights displays like the ones Downtown, at Candy Cane Lane, in the Miller Valley, at the Ingleside in Pewaukee and at Grand Geneva in Lake Geneva, to name but a few, there's a new attraction for holiday lights lovers.

"Winter Wonders" is a nearly one-and-a-half-mile-long drive-through holiday lights experience through the Boerner Botanical Gardens, Whitnall Park and the Root River Parkway.

The show, which opens on Black Friday and runs through Jan. 1, was produced by Festival Pro LLC, which is also responsible for the "China Lights" display at Boerner.

"Winter Wonders" includes more than 80 displays that make use of a variety of technologies, with 2D and 3D displays, animated displays, theatrical LED colored lighting enhancements and an accompanying radio broadcast of holiday musical cheer to provide a soundtrack for your drive.

Of course, you'll find snowflakes and snowmen and Christmas trees adorned with twinkling lights, but "Winter Wonders" takes an international approach, too, with geographically themed displays like one for North America, which has three firs inspired by Charlie Brown's sad sack tree; illuminated palm trees representing the Middle East; and candy canes and those Sputniky Moravian Stars, signifying Europe.

There is also a Santas of the World display.

Some of the most alluring and evocative displays are the lights on the park's trees, including swirling lights that create an eerie effect.

The show runs 5 to 10 p.m. daily – except Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve, when it's closed – and vehicles enter at the Whitnall Park Golf Course, 6751 S. 92nd St., beginning at 4:30 p.m., where they will form a line and hear a narrated introduction. There is a nightly limit of 800 vehicles and last entry is at 9:30 p.m.

Everyone must stay in their vehicles on the "Winter Wonders" route.

Hot apple cider, popcorn and other snacks are available for purchase at the entrance, where there are also portable toilets. More portable toilets will be available a special pullout midway through the route.

Tickets are $25 for a car (or minivan, SUV or pickup) with up to seven occupants, $50 for large vans and limos.

Larger groups, including minibuses (12-25 occupants) are $100 and commercial bus tours pay $200. For these groups, advance reservations are required. Call (414) 525-5602.

Admission includes a holiday gift bag with an ice scraper, a voucher for pearl earrings, coupons and instructions for a free, personalized letter emailed from Santa. There will also be promotions, like Wimmer Wednesdays, during which everyone in the vehicle gets special starlight glasses.

Tickets are available online at at WinterWonders.org, or in person at Milwaukee County Parks administration building, 9480 Watertown Plank Rd., and Boerner Botanical Gardens Education & Visitor Center, 9400 Boerner Dr., in Hales Corners.

For more information, call (888) 733-1888 or go to WinterWonders.org.


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