Thanks to HGTV’s Santa HQ for sponsoring this post.
Christmas is right around the corner which means if you haven’t taken your kids to see the big guy in red yet, you better hurry! We did our annual Santa visit this weekend and went to HGTV’s Santa HQ in the Fashion Outlets of Chicago where we have gone the past three years. Today’s families are always connected, and the innovative Santa HQ guides visitors through an immersive, interactive holiday experience with the use of state-of-the-art digital technology that incorporates special mobile apps, social-media-ready opportunities, and even augmented reality. They really revolutionized the traditional Santa Claus visit!
My favorite part of the Santa HQ experience though? Not having to wait in long lines to see Santa! I don’t remember much about my family’s Santa visits when I was younger other than having to wear matching outfits and, worst of all, standing in lines with my parents for what seemed like hours.
Instead of standing in lines, children will enjoy a visit to Santa HQ’s Elf Academy. The Elf Academy is a family-friendly experience that features interactive technology to make the wait fun. It includes the following:
- Magic Mirror where guests can transform into one of Santa’s elves and virtually try on various elf outfits
- Elf-ID where guests can create their very own customized Elf-ID card using the new Elf-ID app and a “selfie”.
- Elf-Ray Vision where guests can explore Santa’s Observatory through the use of tablets. Areas within Santa HQ trigger an augmented reality experience for guests.
- Naughty or Nice Meter where visitors can stand next to an interactive board to find out which of Santa’s lists – Naughty or Nice – they made.
My favorite area – and I think the kid’s favorite- is the “naughty or nice” meter. Somehow my kids always end up on the nice list… lol. They are lucky because after they make it through the academy it’s time to see Santa Claus and you know he always asks if you’ve been naughty or nice!
Santa HQ offers the traditional Santa visit exprience and a variety of photo packages. My favorite package is the one that gives prints (because, let’s be honest, I never actually take the time to get my digital images printed on my own) and also the digital images that are perfect for sharing on social media. I love that you get three digital photos with Package A and you can pick which images you get.
I remember last year the best one of my two boys featured a pasted-on smile on my oldest’s face. The second photo I chose had him with a genuinely happy smile which is something every parent of tweens and teens wants to see! And this year? I was just trying to get a picture where my 11 month old wasn’t crying…
Emma realizing she’s not on Santa’s lap anymore and maybe this big guy in red isn’t so scary…
This last expression can kind of pass as a smile, right? At least she’s not crying! #WINNING It definitely helped when we had big brother hold her!
Check out my video of the fun at Santa HQ below!
Want to take your kids to HGTV’s Santa HQ? They have 15 locations around the U.S. so hopefully you can find a location near you! Limited on time this holiday season? Visit http://bit.ly/32vmTQ1 to secure a Fast Pass and pre-purchase a photo package to make your visit to Santa even quicker! You can select the date, a 30-minute window of time to use the Fast Pass, pre-pay online, upgrade your package by adding a family photo weeks/days in advance, and opt-in to receive text reminders about your Fast Pass window.