For me, the holiday season officially kicks off with our annual visit to Santa. It’s honestly one of the things I look forward to the most with the kids. Those annual Santa pictures have given us some priceless memories over the years. My son was never really afraid of Santa and I have some of the cutest pictures of him when he was younger with Santa. My daughter, on the other hand, is not so sure. The last two years, she’s cried through the photos and, if I’m being honest, they’re some of my favorite pictures, and I couldn’t wait to see how she would react this year. Last week, I dressed the kids in their holiday outfits and we made our way to the Freehold Mall for the HGTV Santa HQ to officially kick off the holiday season.
This year, our visit to Santa was an immersive, interactive photo experience thanks to Santa HQ. Gone are the days of waiting in long, boring lines waiting for your turn to visit Santa. Do you remember those days? I do and it wasn’t fun because, after about ten minutes, we were already ready to leave. Thankfully, with Santa HQ, I don’t have to worry about that.
HGTV’s Santa HQ adds a whole new dimension to the traditional family Santa Claus visit by guiding visitors through an immersive, interactive holiday extravaganza that uses state-of-the-art digital technology.
From the minute you arrive, you’re treated to a dazzling array of holiday experiences while you wait. As you make your way through Santa HQ you’ll experience:
- The traditional photo-op with Santa Claus
- Elfie Selfie: Where visitors take a selfie and star in their own holiday video
- Elf-Ray Vision: Guests can explore Santa’s Observatory through the use of special goggles that trigger a series of augmented reality experiences at multiple locations throughout Santa HQ including two triggers at Entrance Arch; one trigger on exterior of the Workshop; Toy triggers underneath the Christmas Tree in the Workshop, and enhanced triggers in the observatory
- Naughty or Nice Meters: Where visitors can stand next to an interactive board to find out which list of Santa’s they made
- Light Show: With more than 10,000 individual holiday lights synchronized to the tune of “Carol of the Bells” to create an illuminated orchestra
To minimize your wait even more, you can select the date and time of your photo session by making your reservation online at Santa-HQ.com. You can select and pre-pay for your photo package ahead of your visit so you can focus on enjoying these memory making moments with your kids. You can even upgrade our package to a family photo session, which we loved! If you’re worried about forgetting your appointment, don’t be! You can opt-in to receive text messages reminding you of your appointment.
The visit with the big man himself went even better than expected this year. While there were no tears shed, she definitely didn’t want to get too close! She made her big brother do all the talking for her!
Not only did I love all our photos from Santa HQ this year but the kids had fun with all the interactive exhibits. Obviously, my son is a bit past the Santa experience age but what I truly loved was that the magic wasn’t completely lost on him. He loved showing his little sister the exhibits and talking to Santa with her. He was able to enjoy the magic Santa brings in a whole new way seeing it through his sister’s eyes.
To me, that’s the meaning of the holidays and I couldn’t think of a better way for my family to officially kick off the holiday season.
Visitors to Santa HQ will also be able to enjoy the holiday spirit of giving through HGTV’s Help Through Holiday Giving Drive. The program encourages visitors to donate new, unwrapped toys for local children in need with the goal of collecting over 1,000 toys per center. In 2016, HGTV’s Help Through Holiday Giving program collected over 66,000 toys benefiting local organizations like Forgotten Angel Tree, Salvation Army Angel Tree, Toys for Tots, and Spark of Love Stuff a Bus.
With 15 different locations at Macerich Shopping Centers in California, Arizona, Chicago, Metro New York, and the Washington, D.C. corridor. visit HGTV’s Santa HQ to find a location near you.