A couple of weeks ago, we got to fly to the North Pole and meet Santa Claus! Thanks to Club Momme and South Bay Galleria, we got a chance to experience Adventure to Santa! A Dreamworks Dreamplace. To say this was an experience is a bit of an understatement. We arrived to the mall at 9am (two hours before they open) for a morning of pancakes and family fun. While we waited for our turn to meet Santa, we decorated gingerbread men, colored with Yoobi crayons, (thankfully washable) markers and colored pencils, wrote letters to Santa and played on the red carpet with Shrek, Donkey and our very own ogre ears.Eight people at a time, we were led into the “Adventure to Santa!” Before the adventure began, we were handed a boarding pass that we used throughout the experience. We were led into what looks like a miniature Grand Central Station/airport terminal complete with a listing of scheduled flights. The upstate New Yorker in me loved that there was a flight scheduled to Ithaca…the realist in me was bothered that the flight wasn’t cancelled or delayed (as it would most likely be this time of year.) But alas, our flight to the North Pole was on time…until we were told that something was wrong with the plane and in order to see Santa and we must learn to fly a sleigh. We used our boarding pass to log onto a “flight simulator” where A got to practice ‘flying’ via an adorable iPad video game.After A got his pilot’s license, we were ushered onto the sleigh in the next room, which is an actual sleigh that feels more like a ride at Universal Studios than a kiosk in a mall. The sleigh ride ended up being a bit overwhelming for A. Let’s just say we had an early flight departure and detour to the North Pole. (They were amazing about this too – as soon as he was “not having it” they let us quietly move onto the next room without disturbing any of the other guests.) But, for those that love rides, the sleigh ride in its entirety (yes, I went through again so I could experience it) is amazeballs! You really feel like you are flying through the sky to the North Pole – complete with misting cool air, the temperature dropping drastically and fog appearing as you enter the icy North Pole.
Once we arrived at the North Pole, we were led into Santa’s Workshop and greeted by the world’s happiest elf. (Seriously, he was adorable and so happy. He was insanely enthusiastic even when I went through the second time, as a full-grown adult – that’s commitment.) We used our boarding pass number to access the virtual gingerbread cookie decorator. We got to pick the color, decorate, dress and accessorize our gingerbread man. You even have the option of having your personally designed gingerbread man turned into a real gingerbread ornament. (Full disclosure: this little ornament costs $25!!) Which is insane…but hey, kudos to them for finding creative and heartwarming ways to up sell.
After we decorated our cookie, it was time for the main event – Santa! We entered the final room of the Adventure and were greeted by the sweetest, jolliest Santa I have ever seen. A gave Santa his christmas wish which consisted of “a train, a caboose and um…a train” (at least he’s consistent) and posed for some “less than enthused”/”I may cry at any moment” pictures. Finally, A got to shake a set of jingle bells as hard as he could in order to magically travel from the North Pole back to the mall.
All in all, the Adventure to Santa was amazing. I love that instead of just standing in line for 20 minutes waiting, it is truly an experience that fills kids imaginations and leaves them believing they actually flew with Shrek on a sleigh to the North Pole right inside the mall. I mean seriously at one point I wasn’t sure if we were still at the mall. If you are looking for a fun, different, very “L.A” way to see Santa, check it out!
South Bay Galleria Adventure to Santa
Hours: M-Sa 10am to 9pm, Sun. 11am to 7pm
1815 Hawthorne Blvd., Redondo Beach, CA 90278