The History of Village Animation

The very first “moving” or animated accessory introduced by Department 56 was the “Animated Skating Pond” back in 1994. It quickly became the centerpiece of many Village displays, and it didn’t matter which Village you collected because the skaters were children who can be universally found enjoying a spin on the ice. The artist who designed the skaters was conscious that this set might be used in multiple Villages so he made sure that they would cross over. They work in Snow Village, Dickens’ Village, Christmas in the City, Alpine Village and New England Village.

The original 56.52299 “Animated Skating Pond” had a direct wired cord and plug attached to the base. And the “New Animated Skating Pond” (#801130) (introduced in 2007) was improved and used a detachable adapter (#053) which made fixing the power much easier.

Replacement Skaters and Tacky Wax

The new set modified the skaters slightly, and these are the skaters you can order today should you need replacements, and they will work on both ponds. Both ponds also include the free-standing snowman and cute little dog. Some collectors tell us that they have trouble keeping these free-standing pieces in place. We suggest using a little “Tacky Wax” to secure the figures. This product also works well to keep trees, fences and lampposts from falling over.

About the same time we introduced the Skating Pond, we also introduced the Animated “All Around The Park” which was only in the line for 2 years. It wasn’t nearly as popular.

Original Skating Pond Centerfold

Here is the centerfold layout of the Skating Pond in the January 1994 Quarterly magazine. And this animated accessory is still going strong.

In 2020 we have many more choices for animation – “Building A Snowman”, “Animated Hockey Practice” (a classic), “Up, Up & Away Flying Sleigh” (which has been reinvented several times), the “Animated Swan Pond” and the “Lit Rotating Festive Tree,” is a great example of how far we’ve come in the field of animation, and how we’ve listened to our collectors. Lighted trees, lighted fences, lighted shrubs and streetlamps all add to “life” in the Villages.

Haunted MansionOur Christmas themed Villages are not the only places we offer animation. Our Halloween Village has long offered lit buildings with exterior and interior animation starting right at the beginning with the Haunted Mansion. This was the brainchild of Village artist Scott Enter who was inspired by a music box that cast shadows on the wall of his daughter’s nursery. After a bit of tinkering, the result was a turntable with witches and ghosts revolving around and could be seen through the windows of this stately, spooky Victorian house.

We went on to add animation and sound with “Grimsly Manor,” “Mordecai Mansion”, “Haunted Barn” with sounds, and the popular “Helga’s House of Fortunes” that included a witch who gives five different fortunes when the button is pressed.

And we could go on and on.

Foggy Point

This year we added several Halloween animated sets to the popular “Foggy Point Platform” (#809379) that fogs and creates an additional spooky effect.

  • Animated Little Red Riding Hood (#6005553)
  • Animated Ghosts in the Graveyard (#6005552)
  • Animated Pumpkin Patch (#6005554)

Our wide variety of twinkling trees are also considered to be part of the group of products we call “animated” because they don’t just stand there, they flash on and off, they twinkle and they come in many different colors.

We will continue to add animation to many of our Villages where it is appropriate, and when you ask. If it’s possible – we’ll research it and perhaps your good ideas will be a new animated accessory. If you’ve got an idea, please write to us at

Ready to Animated Village Accessories? SHOP NOW


You may also like

View all
Example blog post
Example blog post
Example blog post
Example blog post
Example blog post
Example blog post