Take a tour of G Boys 2021 Animation Wonderland in Cherry Hill
New York City ushered in the holiday season Saturday with the arrival of a 79-foot (24-meter) Norway spruce that will serve as one of the world's most famous Christmas trees, in Rockefeller Center. (Nov. 13) AP Domestic
Ralph Gaudio may have made his living selling garden and landscaping supplies, but he is never surprised if some calls him Mr. Christmas.
After all, generations of South Jersey families made it a holiday tradition to tour the animated Christmas display that sprung up each year at G Boys Garden Center & Christmas Center in Marlton.
That business is long closed, the site expected to become a car wash, but the holiday magic comes back in time for holiday shopping season at McNaughton's Garden Center in Cherry Hill, where G Boys owner Ralph Gaudio creates new scenes each year.
His success with both his family business and his holiday display even inspired him to write a book, The Gaudio Family Dynasty, in which he offers lots of trade secrets.
The G Boys Animated Wonderland took a breather last year, as did most things, when COVID made it impossible to do safely.
But it's back with all its charm and magic, there beyond the stands of artificial trees..
For the fifth year at its new location, Gaudio's G Boys Animated Wonderland offers visitors a chance to recapture all those memories, whether or not they are shopping for a Christmas lights, a wreath, ornaments or tree.
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Gaudio has created 56 different scenes over the years.
The walk-through experience includes Santa's Workshop, a Victorian village, a Looney Tunes fishing boat excursion, Winnie-the-Pooh and Piglet, some very merry Muppets and even a Bat Cave.
Sponsor McDonald's is recreated in miniature.
If you time your visit right, you may meet Mr. Christmas himself. Gaudio likes to take tickets, greet guests — especially families with kids — and sign copies of his book.
Visitors will also relive G Boys memories through the years, as the walk-through display includes a long wall of old photos, including celebrity visits to past displays by local celebrities such as WMMR DJ Pierre Robert and Captain Noah.
There are also lots of opportunities to take pictures with Santa.
Gaudio's G Boys Animation Wonderland is open through Christmas Eve at McNaughton's Garden Center, 351 Kresson Road, Cherry Hill. Visit https://www.facebook.com/mcnaughtonsgardens
Hours are noon to 8:30 p.m. Mondays to Wednesdays; Noon to 8:30 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays; 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Sundays; 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Saturdays; 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Sundays. The display is closed on Thanksgiving.
Santa will be on hand Fridays 6 to 8:30 p.m.; Saturdays 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.; Sundays 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Tammy Paolino is Features Editor for the Atlantic South region of the USA Today Network. She’s an award-winning reporter and editor who loves to cover trends, diversity, the arts, food and drink. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 856-486-2477 or on Twitter @CP_TammyPaolino. Help support local journalism with a digital subscription.