🎄 You pre-book a time slot, so you don’t have to wait in a long line to see Santa. With a baby that could start fussing at any moment — not to mention RSV and Covid swirling around — we were grateful to get in and out. (You can also book a virtual visit if you’re not comfortable going in-person.)
🎄 There are six Santas to choose from — the most diverse mix the mall has ever hosted. Santa Pat, pictured here, has a great smile. Julian only cried when one of the “elves” rattled a toy that scared him.
🎄 You can submit a short message for Santa to relay to your child, which is fun (though not guaranteed). Julian likes octopuses, so Santa Pat told him that if he was a good boy, his parents might surprise him with a trip to the Osaka Aquarium next year!
🎄 No kids? No problem. Adults can schedule meet ‘n’ greets with Santa, too, and there was a designated pet night earlier this week.
🎄 The wham-bam-thank-you-Santa nature of the encounter can feel transactional. The photo shoot itself is three to five minutes, which we expected, but choosing the images you want to buy feels a bit rushed.
🎄 The pop-up is located in an empty storefront. While the photo backdrops are festive, the check-in area has all the charm of the DMV.
🎄 Package prices aren’t posted online, which is annoying; you have to decide what you want on the spot. We paid a $35.18 booking fee and realized only on arrival that a $30.99 credit would go toward the photo package of our choosing. We picked the most basic package for $30.99, which included one pose, plus an a la carte add-on with a second pose for $14.99. The two most affordable packages do not include digital copies of your prints. For that, you have to pay upward of $80. The baller package — with digital photos, prints, and video — costs more than $120. Yeesh!
All that said, we liked Santa Pat and are pretty tickled by our pics. It cost a pretty penny, but can you really put a price on the alternate take below? 😂
The Santa Experience
Mall of America, 105 South Ave., Bloomington, MN; 612-203-2656.