Chicago Botanic Garden's Wonderland Express

December 17, 2009 Wonderland Express pulls into the Chicago Botanic Garden for its fourth holiday season, bringing with it captivating scenes of the President's home in Kenwood, the First Lady's childhood home, Chicago's loop, the Museum campus and Millennium Park; a horticulture display of over 5,000 plants, 750,000 twinkling LED lights, two gingerbread villages, 20-foot tall decorated trees and greenhouses that feel and look like tropical paradise. Eleven garden- scale trains chug over bridges, under trestles and through more than 80 miniature versions of Chicago's favorite landmarks - all intricately handcrafted with natural materials, such as twigs, bark, leaves, acorns and pebbles. New outdoor activities include ice-skating on the Esplanade and snowshoeing through McDonald Woods.

Chicago Botanic Garden
1000 Lake Cook Road
(One-half mile east of the Edens)

November 27, 2009 through January 3, 2010, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., daily (closed at 3 p.m. on Dec. 3 and Dec. 24 and all day on Dec. 25)

Free Tuesdays through December 23, sponsored by Grainger

New landmarks this year include the Union Stockyards' Old Stone Gate, President Barack Obama's Kenwood home and Michelle Obama's childhood home.

-The visual experience begins outdoors, where the Garden grounds have been dramatically lit with over 750,000 LED lights. This year the Garden is reusing 1/2 of the outdoor LED lights from last year.

-A 40-foot tree on the Esplanade is aglow with thousands of multi-colored LED lights and surrounded by oversized lit spheres.

-The Regenstein Center is decked out with over 1,700 poinsettias, hundreds of red and white kalanchoe, African violets, cyclamens and a variety of conifers with tinges of yellow and blue foliage.

-Realistic snow falls over garden-scale trains winding their way past waterfalls and detailed landscapes.

-Interpretive signs give fun facts about Chicago's history and architecture.

-The Esplanade will be transformed into an ice rink (weather permitting) and visitors are encouraged to display their best ice skating moves from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Nov. 27 through Jan. 3, 2010 and weekends from Jan. 9-31 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Visitors must supply their own ice skates.

-Walk through McDonald Woods on snowshoes (weather permitting) from Nov. 27 through Mar. 31 from 8 a.m. to sunset. Visitors must supply their own snowshoes.

Fees: Wonderland Express: $10 for adults; $8 for children (ages 3-12) and seniors (62+). Garden members save $2 per ticket.

Ice Skating: $5 for adults; $3 for children (ages 3-12). Garden members save $1 per ticket.

Wonderland Express/Ice Skating Combo: $13 for adults; $10 for children (ages 3-12). Garden members save $3 per ticket.

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