By Van Mitchell
John Conner says he wasn’t necessarily shocked when told he would have to find a new home for his holiday attraction business North Pole Adventure.
But, the timing of the announcement last month of the closing of Plaza Mayor at the Crossroads, left him wondering if he would find a new location for the holiday season.
Conner, a Mid-Del native, found that new space in a former Hobby Lobby store in Midwest City’s Gateway Plaza shopping center on the northeast corner at SE 15 and Air Depot Boulevard.
The owners, he said, were seeking to rebrand the shopping center because of other nearby, ongoing retail development.
He plans to open Friday, Nov. 24 and run daily until Christmas Eve.
“That area is familiar to us,” Conner said. “That space lends itself to an opportunity to more than just a seasonal-type of operation. It is quite a challenge, but it is something that I look forward to.”
Conner opened the North Pole Adventure at Plaza Mayor in 2014, operating in two 40-by-100-foot tents in the parking lot on the mall’s south side. He said 22,000 kids visited the attraction that year.
After that, he remodeled the mall’s old arcade space on its lower level, near its west end. He opened the North Pole Adventure there in 2015.
In 2016, with an added attraction called the North Pole Live where children could see Santa Claus training reindeer, other North Pole images, and also see and visit with elves working on toys, the adventure was visited by about 45,000 kids.
Other stops for children in the North Pole Adventure included the North Pole Post Office, where they can write a letter to Santa, the Elf Clubhouse and Bedroom where they can play games, Toy Land, where elves help them make and donate toys to area charities, a stable area for reindeer and Elf University, an area where they can do craft-related projects.
Conner said this year’s North Pole Adventure will include those features and more.
“Every year we change a little bit and add something new and exciting and interesting,” he said. “And, this year will be no different.”
Robert Coleman, Midwest City’s economic development director, said the local business community is excited to welcome North Pole Adventure into its fold, and added the city is doing everything within its power to get the project completed on time.
“Mr. Conner seems like wonderful gentleman who genuinely cares about the quality of his guest’s experience,” Coleman said. “We are extremely proud he has chosen to relocate the North Pole to Midwest City. His business will be another local family-friendly entertainment venue and a significant draw for visitors from throughout the Metro area.”
Coleman added that the new location should help Conner’s business grow.
“Gateway Plaza is perfectly positioned at the halfway point between our existing Town Center Plaza and the new Sooner Rose Shopping Center, home of the future Warren Theatre,” Coleman said. “This should really enable North Pole Adventure prosper.”
Conner said he wants to give families opportunities to bond by participating in what he hopes would become an annual family tradition for them vising North Pole Adventure.
“I am hopeful that people will make the trek to Midwest City not just for the North Pole Adventure, but all the things that Midwest City has to offer including the holiday lights and shopping and restaurants,” he said.