You can come and visit Santa and have an indoor snowball fight at Chilliwack Country Christmas in Chilliwack Mall now until Dec. 24. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)

You can come and visit Santa and have an indoor snowball fight at Chilliwack Country Christmas in Chilliwack Mall now until Dec. 24. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)

Fantasy Farms moves its country Christmas attraction inside Chilliwack Mall

Festive agri-tourism event moved from Morans’ farm to shopping mall following cease-and-desist notice

Gary and Lisa Moran aren’t letting a provincial regulation stop them from bringing Christmas to Chilliwack this year.

For the past 26 years, the owners of Fantasy Farms have been holding agri-tourism events at their farm on Gibson Road, but it all came to a halt this Halloween.

“We were told [by the City of Chilliwack] to cease and desist on Oct. 4,” Gary Moran told The Progress a few months ago. The city did, however, allow them finish their Halloween event.

According to Agricultural Land Reserve rules, permanent agricultural buildings, like the Fantasy Farms’ greenhouses, cannot be used for non-farm related events on agricultural land, as per the decision of the Agricultural Land Commission in April 2019. City of Chilliwack officials notified the Morans that they’d received a complaint about their Halloween event, Reapers Haunted Attraction, which triggered the investigation back in October.

READ MORE: Fantasy Farms told to stop holding special events on farmland that go against agricultural rules

READ MORE: Fantasy Farms of Chilliwack are planning to apply for reconsideration of decision against them

But in November, after they had packed up their ghouls, witches and goblins for the season, they still wanted to bring out the Christmas decorations.

But where would they set up Chilliwack Country Christmas?

To keep a steady income going, the Morans needed to find a new location.

“If I can’t do it on the farm, where can I do it?” Moran said. “I knew this mall was slated for [demalling], I knew it was going to be empty and I thought why not reach out.”

Mall management thought it was a “brilliant” idea, he said.

“We’re thrilled to have them. It’s a good-neighbour thing, that’s what Chilliwack is all about,” said Valerie Storey, property administrator of Chilliwack Mall. “We love the Christmas atmosphere, it’s just wonderful.”

The space is about two-thirds the size they’re used to at the farm, but nonetheless, the Morans packed as much fun into their new location as possible.

The have a bouncy castle, arcade games, train rides, a play area for younger children, candy shop and, of course, Santa.

There’s even a snowball arena for indoor snowball fights.

“We found these snowballs about three or four years ago and they actually feel like snowballs, but they’re fluffy. You can’t get hurt,” Moran said.

Chilliwack Country Christmas opened on Dec. 1, and already they have seen a 40 per cent increase in customers during the first week compared to last year. About 75 per cent of them have been repeat Fantasy Farms customers.

“Out of those, 95 per cent of them have said ‘this is amazing, but we still love your farm more.’”

It took two days for the Morans and their elves to move everything in to the mall, and another two weeks to build the structures inside and get everything ready for opening day. They even decorated the inside of the mall itself and all of the empty storefront windows with their excess props, turning the fairly vacant mall into a winter wonderland.

Now that everything is up and running, every day Moran drives from his farm to the mall and slips into a suit of red. It’s an outfit he’s truly earned being a graduate of Santa Claus school last year.

While in the Claus-room, Moran learned how to walk like Santa and talk like Santa. He was taught how to make his “ho, ho, ho!” more jolly. He learned about Santa history, plus hair and makeup.

Moran was even taught how to answer difficult requests from kids that he can’t fulfill, such as when they ask for a sick or late parent to be home for Christmas.

He knows some children need a bit more time than others to warm up to Santa. He’ll wave at kids from a distance as they’re jumping in the bouncy castle, or go for a stroll through the mall and visit staff and customers in the stores.

He said visitors have described Chilliwack Country Christmas is “comfortable and cozy.”

You can check it out for yourself at the Chilliwack Mall (near the west end, by Safeway) now until Dec. 24. Chilliwack Country Christmas is open daily and hours are: 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays to Fridays; 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturdays; and 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays.

Rates: Admission is $8 per person ($6 for seniors) and includes access to everything except the train ride and hard copies of photos with Santa. Family admission is $25 (two adults, two kids). If you just want to visit Santa, it’s $15 (you’re welcome to use your own camera). Or you can use their photo printing options for an added cost. Bring a non-perishable item for the food bank and get $1 off.

Train ride tickets are $2 each. Train runs every 15 minutes and hours are: Mondays to Fridays from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m., Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m.

– with files from Jennifer Feinberg



Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here


Two-year-old Matteo Souch visits Santa along with his parents, Rob and Katrina, at Chilliwack Country Christmas in Chilliwack Mall. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)

Two-year-old Matteo Souch visits Santa along with his parents, Rob and Katrina, at Chilliwack Country Christmas in Chilliwack Mall. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)

Just Posted

A map showing where the most number of cases were recorded from April 23 to 29. This map, revealing a breakdown of infections by neighborhood, was pulled from a data package leaked to the Vancouver Sun last week (and independently verified).
36 Abbotsford schools flagged for COVID-19 exposures in the last 2 weeks, shattering record

Clearbrook Elementary recorded an ‘exposure’ on all 11 school days

An injection kit is seen inside a Fraser Health supervised consumption site is pictured in Surrey, B.C., Tuesday, June 6, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Hope’s high rate of drug overdose noted in BC Coroners Service report

Up-to-date numbers not available yet for 2021, but Fraser Health deaths on the rise

Screenshot from security footage a young, thin cougar prowling on Oliver Crescent in Sardis on May 7, 2021. (Dustin Meyer photo)
VIDEO: Cougar sighting in residential Chilliwack neighbourhood prompts warning

Springtime cougar sightings likely due to cats following deer down to valley floor, says CO

<a href="Facebook users reported seeing a body on the side of the road this morning." target="_blank"></a>Facebook users reported seeing a body on the side of the road this morning. (File photo)
Man killed in fatal hit-and-run collision between Abbotsford and Chilliwack

Body reported at 6 a.m., police close North Parallel Road, single highway lane as they investigate

Westbound traffic is slow moving on Highway 1 following a crash that has police blocking one lane. Google Maps screenshot taken at 9:07 a.m.
TRAFFIC: Crash on North Parallel Road causes road closure, single westbound Highway 1 lane blocked

Abbotsford Police investigating, roads closed between McDermott and No. 3 Road

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

The body of Brenda Ware, 35, was found along Highway 93 in Kootenay National Park on Thursday, May 6, 2021. (RCMP handout)
RCMP ask for tips after woman’s body found in Kootenay National Park

Brenda Ware was found along Highway 93 in the park, 54 kilometres north of the town of Radium

Police tape is shown in Toronto Tuesday, May 2, 2017. Statistics Canada says the country's crime rate ticked up again in 2018, for a fourth year in a row, though it was still lower than it was a decade ago. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for the week of May 9

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

People pass the red hearts on the COVID-19 Memorial Wall mourning those who have died, opposite the Houses of Parliament on the Embankment in London, Wednesday, April 7, 2021. On May 3, the British government announced that only one person had died of COVID-19 in the previous 24 hours. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Kirsty Wigglesworth
For a view of a COVID-19 future, Canadians should look across the pond

Britain, like Canada, is one of the only countries in the world to delay second doses for several months

Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid (97) celebrates his 100th point this season with Leon Draisaitl (29) against the Vancouver Canucks during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, May 8, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Edmonton superstar McDavid hits 100-point mark as Oilers edge Canucks 4-3

NHL scoring leader needs just 53 games to reach century mark

Nuns of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, carry some of her relics during a vigil of prayer in preparation for the canonization of Mother Teresa in the St. John in Latheran Basilica at the Vatican, Friday, Sept. 2, 2016. In which city did she do much of her charitable work? (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
QUIZ: How much do you know about these motherhood issues?

In honour of Mother’s Day, take this 10-question quiz

Twenty-nine staff members at Sunrise Poultry Processors Ltd. in Newton have tested positive for the virus, according to an information bulletin from Fraser Health Saturday (May 8). The health authority issued a 10-day closure order, effective May 7. (Image: Google Maps)
29 staff test positive for COVID-19 at Surrey poultry processing plant

Meantime, outbreak over at Surrey Memorial Hospital

Most Read