Christmas on the Lake: Lanier World Winter Adventure & Legacy Lodge

When you’re three years old, you know you’ve started your Christmas season off right when you’ve been tucked in bed by an elf named Marshmallow.

That’s just what happened to my two little, delighted boys last weekend at Lanier Islands’ Legacy Lodge in Buford, Georgia. We checked in on Friday night for the Ultimate Santa Package, and the Christmas magic began!

We began our visit at Lanier World Winter Adventure. My three-year-old, Trace, rode this little car ride:

Although it may seem small, it was a big deal for him! He has never really done a “big” ride like that, and he looked a little concerned when all the other kids screamed, but I think he was very proud of himself by the end of the ride. He’s the serious little fella in the front.

Next we rode the carousel. Lane, my one-year-old, was pretty intimidated by the horses, so we sat on a little bench on the carousel. Trace rode with his Grammy, Charmane, who went on our Christmas adventure with us. Lane was happy to ride, look at the lights and listen to the music.

After a couple of rides, it was time to head back to catch the Polar Express Trolley. My older son loves Daniel Tiger, so being able to ride a trolley was amazing to him. (If you’re not in the Daniel Tiger stage, FYI- the trolley is a big deal on the show.)

The Polar Express is a real trolley, complete with peppy Christmas music and a ride through the Magical Lights. With seven miles of lights, including everything from gingerbread men to McDonald’s fries (my three-year-old’s favorite!), Magical Lights is a fun trip all on its own! My family has been riding through the lights for years. Seeing them from the trolley was a special treat!

This nativity lights scene was one of my favorites. There is also a live nativity scene at one of the stops that guests can park and view.

After about an hour-long trolley ride, we stopped back at the lodge. Some little elves had left Christmas pajamas for the boys:

After they changed into them, we heard a knock at the door. It was time for Elf Tuck-in! Elf Tuck-in is a special add-on at Legacy Lodge that is included in the Ultimate Santa Package.

You can specifically request certain elves to come to your room. After visiting with “Marshmallow” in the lobby, Trace wanted her to tuck him in (but he really just wanted to show her his Shopkins.) When she arrived, he had his toys arranged on the bed and gave her a detailed explanation of all of them.

After listening intently (“It looks like you’ve had Christmas already!” she said), Marshmallow read a sweet story and gave special gifts to the boys, including milk and cookies “made by Mrs. Claus!” and some “Reindeer Dust” in a red velvet bag, to be sprinkled on our yard on Christmas Eve.

Lane, who is just over one year old, loved Marshmallow just as much as Trace. He even let her tuck him in, too. Before she left, she gave the boys “Report Cards” with their names on them, noting how respectful they were. By the way, the cookies were really home made, and were really good! I may have sneaked a few bites.

The next morning, as if Elf Tuck-in weren’t enough, it was time for Breakfast with Santa! We waited in the hallway outside the Grand Ballroom until the doors swung open and we were greeted by Santa himself. After we were seated, Santa mingled with the guests.

Trace talked to Santa a bit, but also wanted to get a photo with Jelly Bean, another elf he had met in the lobby the night before.

The elves were a BIG hit with Trace. Little Lane waved at Santa from afar.

Breakfast with Santa at Legacy Lodge is a full buffet, including eggs, bacon, sausage, grits, gravy and biscuits, breakfast potatoes, made-to-order omelets, waffles, pancakes, pastries and more.

It was all so good, but my favorite part was the incredible pancakes created by Legacy Lodge’s Culinary Director, Michael Klein.

Trace got Rudolph’s face:

Lane got a full-size deer (also Rudolph.)

How cute is that? Michael said he can do any pancake a guest requests. He said he gets some challenging requests like very specific Pokemon characters, which he does with a little assistance from looking them up on his phone. Part of the fun is watching him draw free-hand with the batter in a squirt bottle- he doesn’t use molds!

After a photo with Santa, we checked out of Legacy Lodge.

The lodge was so welcoming and cozy!

I can’t finish this post without sharing the amazing gingerbread house created by its culinary team.

The house was created with 50 pounds of chocolate and almost 30 square feet of gingerbread!

If you go to Lanier World Winter Adventure AND you’re staying at Legacy Lodge, I think a two-night stay might be in order so you can fully experience everything Lanier Islands has to offer. Because we arrived at 6 p.m., we didn’t have much time before we were supposed to be back for the Polar Express trolley ride.

We weren’t able to take advantage of all the fun things Winter Adventure has to offer. Here’s a look at Winter Adventure during the day, and some of the things we plan on doing next time:

  • Snow play and slides! Some areas of the beach are covered with snow during Winter Adventure. Kids can build snowmen, have a snowball fight and go sledding.

  • Visiting Santa’s Workshop, which features a photo-op with Santa and yummy hot chocolate and desserts to purchase.

  • Making s’mores by the fire! There are bonfires both on the beach at Winter Adventure and outside the hotel at Legacy Lodge.
  • Eating supper at one of the many restaurants located at Lanier Islands. Two I want to try are Sidney’s, located at Legacy Lodge, which offers upscale Southern and seasonal farm-to-table fare, and Gianni’s Italian Bistro, located at Lanier World, which has pizza and pasta and is within walking distance of the activities at Winter Adventure.
  • Ice skating at the Bubble Rink, a fun little rink located at Winter Adventure with bubbles filling the air as you skate.
  • Riding the candy-colored ferris wheel!

If you go and you’re staying only one night, I would recommend the following schedule, to make sure you (try to!) take advantage of all the resort has to offer:

  • If you want Elf Tuck-in and Breakfast with Santa, along with tickets to ride the trolley through Magical Lights, book the Ultimate Santa Package. Check in to Legacy Lodge at 4 p.m.
  • Unload your luggage into your room and get dressed in your coziest snow play clothes. Go right down to Winter Adventure as soon as it opens for the evening and do snow play and skating first.
  • After you’re all tuckered out, take a break and eat supper at Gianni’s or grab something quicker.
  • After you eat, visit Santa at Santa’s Workshop and get S’more Packs for roasting at the bonfire.
  • Ride rides like the carousel and the ferris wheel.
  • Go back to the hotel to catch the Polar Express trolley ride. This rides through the lights. You will need to schedule your Elf Tuck-in and Polar Express Trolley rides ahead of time through Reservations. I think those are best scheduled together, right before bed.
  • Allow about an hour for the trolley ride, and time to get pajamas on and get settled before Elf Tuck-in.
  • The next morning, enjoy Breakfast with Santa in the Grand Ballroom. Earlier in the season, it may be offered at another location like Sidney’s.

We had so much fun at Lanier Islands! Have you ever been to Lanier World Winter Adventure? What was your favorite part?

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