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Wonderland Express Features Replica of President Obama’s Hyde Park Home Holiday Exhibition Features Trains, Chicago Landmarks

for immediate release

Features Replica of President Obama’s Hyde Park Home

Holiday Exhibition Features Trains, Chicago Landmarks

November 27, 2009 – January 3, 2010

GLENCOE, Ill. (November 2, 2009) — Wonderland Express chugs into the Chicago Botanic Garden this holiday season and transforms the 385-acre oasis into a winter wonderland of twinkling lights, garden-scale trains, miniature Chicago landmarks, exquisite horticulture displays and indoor snowfall. This popular holiday exhibition runs from Nov. 27, 2009 through Jan. 3, 2010 and features new landmarks and fun outdoor winter activities including ice skating on the Esplanade and snowshoeing in McDonald Woods.

Held in the Regenstein Center, Wonderland Express features garden-scale trains winding their way over bridges, under trestles, past waterfalls and detailed landscapes with more than 80 miniature versions of Chicago’s favorite landmarks. New this year is the Union Stockyards’ Old Stone Gate, President Barack Obama’s Hyde Park home and Michelle Obama’s childhood home. Interpretive signs sprinkled throughout the exhibition give fun facts about Chicago's history and architecture. Realistic snow falls throughout the exhibition.

Model Railroad at Chicago Botanic Garden 08

 Made from all-natural materials, the Old Stone Gate is crafted out of walnut shells, poppy seeds and beech bark, and is topped off with magnolia leaves, pine cone scales, and leaves from a burning bush. The Gate’s iconic cow head, situated in the center of the Gate, is made from gourd seeds, peppercorns and sycamore leaf stems. The front of the Obama’s Hyde Park home is layered with white pine bark and catalpa beans, which gives the illusion of a brick facade. Miniature flower pots made out of burr oak caps and acorns rest upon the front steps that are fashioned out of palm stems and sea grape leaves. The home’s front porch is constructed out of Chinese honeysuckle, eucalyptus leaves, okra seeds, and magnolia and lotus pod stems. The bricks in Michelle Obama’s childhood home are actually pine tree bark and the dormers are crafted out of redbud seed pods.

Returning this year are visitor favorites including Navy Pier, Soldier Field, Millennium Park and the Shedd Aquarium.

The experience starts outdoors, where the Garden grounds have been transformed into a grand winter wonderland of trees and shrubs, dramatically-lit with over 750,000 energy-efficient LED lights. This year, the Garden is reusing approximately fifty-percent of the outdoor LED lights from last year which cuts down on cost and refuse. The esplanade features a 40-foot tree, lit with multi-colored lights, surrounded by large lit spheres that appear to be ornaments fallen from the tree.

Indoors, the Regenstein Center is a magical wonderland of trains, plants and architecture. The Greenhouses are specially lit, including the palm tree trunks in the South Greenhouse, and decorated with beautiful holiday plants. Gracing the walls of the Greenhouse Galleries are wreaths designed by area florists, shops and the Garden's own talented horticulturists. Decking the Joutras Gallery are holiday trees decorated by local designers and a gingerbread train depot. The Bridge Gallery features behind-the-scenes photographs of the exhibition designers, Paul Busse and Applied Imagination, Alexandria, Ky., creating the landmarks in their workshop.

Model Railroad at Chicago Botanic Garden 07

The Krehbiel Gallery features an English country train platform with an old-world feel, including more trains and landmarks found on Chicago's North Shore. A slide show chronicling the construction of the exhibition is shown in the Alsdorf Auditorium for those who don't want to end the journey just yet. Visitors can enjoy a light lunch, snack or dinner at the Caboose Café in Burnstein Hall or in the Garden Café. The Garden Shop features an array of extraordinary gifts, including a book on Wonderland Express, amidst the exquisite holiday décor during exhibition hours. 

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