The magic of Christmas has always been a very powerful force in my life. I think it’s partly thanks to my vivid imagination as a child, which kept me happily leaving out milk and cookies for Santa long after I learned that he didn’t exist; and partly due to our family being on hard times over many a holiday season, which resulted in me clinging with a death grip to the wonder of the season as a way to keep spirits up. Because while presents may cost money, magic is priceless.
And sharing that magic with my own children is something I’ve always looked forward to with great anticipation and emotion. So last weekend, when Maevie met Santa for the first time ever, thanks to DreamWorks Adventure to Santa and Club MomMe, my heart exploded with such violence that the vibrations were felt all the way up in the North Pole. Honestly, the whole experience was so saturated with magic that my mom and I were choking back happy tears throughout the entire thing!
The adventure begins when you approach the DreamWorks animated LED Christmas house, where beloved characters from Shrek appear and disappear behind windows and doors, getting the house decorated and ready for the holidays.
Families are admitted 3 at-a-time to the house, by appointment, so there’s no waiting in endless lines like many mall Santa experiences. And better yet, there were many interactive features of the adventure as we got closer and closer to our encounter with Santa.
First, we played a video game in order to win our Pilot’s License, to help us pilot the sleigh to visit Santa at the North Pole. Later, we got to virtually decorate Gingy the Gingerbread Man from Shrek. 3-D printed ornaments of everyone’s finished product are available for purchase online at gingyscookiemaker.com.
These interactive elements are a great way to keep families entertained and engaged as they wait their turn to meet Santa, and bring great added value to the experience. It was great fun for my mom and me to do, since Maeve was too young to participate.
The ride to the North Pole was definitely a huge highlight. We all piled into a sleigh in front of a huge screen, which transformed into an amazing, exciting, and charming virtual ride to the North Pole with Shrek and Donkey. My mom and I had such a blast on the ride, and even Maeve seemed into it! Check out this brief clip from the beginning to get a glimpse into the magical illusion and excitement of the ride.
Soon after, came the moment we had all been waiting for. Santa’s elves told us to get ready, and opened the door with a cheerful exclamation: “It’s SANTA!” and we were ushered into a gorgeously decorated study featuring the man himself.
I’ve seen many a mall santa in my day, and let me tell you, this guy was the REAL DEAL. He was incredibly warm and tender and gentle with our wee Maeve, and had all the trappings of your dream Santa Claus conceivable. And when I saw my little girl look up into his eyes with such wonder, my heart burst.
DreamWorks Adventure to Santa is available in 14 locations across the US and even in London – and reservations are required.
If you’re lucky enough to live near one of the locations for Adventure to Santa, I cannot recommend it highly enough. I’m already looking forward to taking Maeve back next year, when she’s able to understand and enjoy the experience a little more. It was a completely magical day for 3 generations of LaRue women: Maeve, me and my mom!