We had the pleasure of going to the Grand Opening of Adventure to Santa at Oakbrook Center tonight. I have never seen a more unique Santa experience and would definitely recommend taking your family!
Adventure to Santa is free, but you make a reservation = no waiting in long lines! If you would like to purchase the pictures with Santa you can buy them there, when you get home or save 33% on the photo package by pre-ordering here. I just checked out ours online and you can purchase the digital download by itself, any combination of sizes and gift items, or the large photo package complete with a video (which is what is on sale for the pre-order).
Warning: Spoiler Alert. We had no idea what the experience was going to be like, so if you want to be surprised too, don’t read any further! Just book your time slot at this link. Want to know what to expect? (I recommend not telling your kids or letting them read this because it was way too fun to see their faces throughout the experience!)
Santa’s elves greet you in the entry and escort you throughout the house. They did a wonderful job welcoming everyone with their cheerful dispositions and treated the kids with respect, shaking their hands and introducing themselves, which I thought was great. You are then taken into the room to see Santa, but he’s not there! Via video, Shrek tells everyone that Santa couldn’t make it, but invites the group to go to the North Pole to see him.
You enter a room with mounted tablets where the kids can design their own sleigh to take the journey. They choose the design along the side, colors and name on the license plate. My kids had so much fun with this part! Designing the sleigh takes about 2-3 minutes and had the perfect amount of interaction.
Then you are ushered into the next room where the sleigh awaits. The sleigh isn’t actually changing with each group, but my kids were so excited about the opportunity to design it that the magic was there and they didn’t notice that the details were not the same. When you sit down in the sleigh the multimedia experience begins with a dome-like screen, similar to the Omnimax theater but smaller, and you travel to the North Pole with Shrek guiding you on a friendly dragon.
The sleigh shudders and thumps along with the video as you soar through the sky. Gentle wind blows through your hair and the video moves to make you feel like you are flying. There are three rows of seats on the sleigh, so if you tend to get dizzy on “rides” like this then I recommend sitting in the back row.
You finally make it to the North Pole and you are taken to another room while you wait to see Santa. There are more mounted tablets where the kids can play a North Pole game called “Naughty or Nice.” My son is a fan of apps and games, so this was right up his alley. The elf in the room was singing Christmas carols, so my daughter joined right in. It wasn’t a long wait (maybe a few minutes?) until we got to see the big man himself. Santa was great, talking to the kids, really listening to what they wanted for Christmas and they felt comfortable with him.
Consequently, the photo was great: relaxed, happy kids and the scene was really special. The elf gives each child a Christmas bell and you are led to a small room with DreamWorks merchandise before you exit.
The whole experience is about 15 minutes, is wheelchair accessible and fun for all ages. Like I mentioned, there isn’t an admission fee so I highly recommend that you make a reservation right now! I’m sure the schedule is going to fill up.
We were granted admission into the private Grand Opening celebration for Adventure to Santa, but all opinions are mine.