Adventure to Santa at Oakbrook Center – CLOSED

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.

adventure to santa

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.

About the Author

Annie Tandy
Annie loves making great memories with her kids and started Kidlist in 2011 so she can help others do the same! Besides finding fun and exciting things to do, Annie and her kids enjoy caring for their chickens and hanging out with them in the backyard. Click here to read about Annie's chickens and see pictures! She also finds joy in gardening, home improvement projects, knitting, soap making, and painting along with being active in her community, church, and as a board member of the Western Springs Business Association. Click here to follow Annie on Instagram.

78 Comments on "Adventure to Santa at Oakbrook Center – CLOSED"

  1. Awesome! Thank you so much…just made our reservation.

  2. very cool. Do they let you take your own photo, or must you purchase theirs?

  3. Thanks for the great review. Can you share how much the digital copy of the picture is? The links just list the package price!

  4. What ages do you think this is best suited for? Thanks!

    • I would say any kids that believe in Santa, but honestly my husband and I had a great time too! :) I think toddlers would think it’s fun too, you just might have to hold them up to the screen to choose the colors for the sleigh etc.

  5. My sister and her family are visiting over thanksgiving. Do you know if more than one family at a time can go through the experience together? Thanks!!

    • We went in with one other family family. I’m not sure what the criteria is though. How many kids/people would it be total? I can find out for you.

      • I was wondering the same thing, we have out of town friends visiting the day we want to go and would love to have kids go in together! Will check back to see what you find out!

        • I work with Adventure to Santa and 8 is the number that we usually take through. There can be exceptions made though.

          • Brooke, would the consider having a special needs night/day? Sounds like something my older son with special needs would love but the lines/crowds are very hard for kids like him.

          • Brooke Conkle | November 18, 2014 at 6:45 pm |

            I will definitely bring this idea up to my boss! Thank you for the amazing idea.

          • VERY interested in the Special Needs Night request as we have many family members and friends that would be highly interested. Many of our teens and young adults who still BELIEVE in Santa but traditionaly are not well received at the typical Santa veiwings would find this a perfect setting! It appears there would be a bit more discreetness and individual attention then being observed by grand society while they express their joy in seeing the big man in red :) Do please consider and we will be there with bells on, jingle bells of course…

  6. Awesome, thanks for sharing!

  7. Wendy hinojosa | November 18, 2014 at 9:25 am | Reply

    Do you know how much individual photos are? Like 2 4×6 or 5×7?

  8. How many people can fit in the sleigh. Can a mom, dad, grandma and 2 kids fit in the sleigh?

  9. Where is this located within the mall?

  10. The FAQ section on their website says it allows up to 8 people per appointment for those wondering.

  11. I made the reservation for my daughter’s family. I would like to order the pre-paid photo package for them. Is it too late because I already made the reservation in their name, and the payment would be in my name?

    • It looks like there is an email confirmation code that they can bring along with them, but I am not employed by Oakbrook Center so I can’t give you a definite answer. I would recommend calling the mall: (630) 573-0700 or the number found at the bottom of the photo ordering page: (800) 768-3987.

  12. Nichole Withaeger | November 18, 2014 at 8:35 pm | Reply

    I see many people wearing Shrek ears and wearing light up necklaces. Are those available for purchase?

    • They gave us those Shrek ears and light-up necklaces to celebrate the grand opening, however there is a room full of DreamWorks merchandise before you exit the Adventure to Santa house, so perhaps they have those for purchase there?

  13. Is there a breakdown of the photovideo prices anywhere? The preorder package discount is only available online and not at the event from the way it sounds?

    • Yes, the pre-order discount is only available if you purchase it ahead of time. Digital download of the photo is $12.99. 4×6 is $10.99 and 5×7 is $12.99 to give you an idea of the prices. I was able to look that up with my photo code, but I have not seen a breakdown that you can reference ahead of time. If you want all of the photos and video in the package, $50 seems like a great deal.

      • Thanks for your reply Annie. I would like the video and likely a print or two, but the full package seems to include more than I’d likely need so was just curious of options.

  14. I have questions regarding pricing and photos.Can u just purchase a 5×7 photo there? And is the photo all rights included so if u needed or wanted to make copies will it work? Or cheaper packages? I have a 2 year old so photo may come out crying, hence the spirit of Christmas and 50 is a lot for tears :)-. And family photo is Santa in it or is it just a family photo?

  15. I made my reservations but it didn’t ask how many adults, just kids. I just want to be sure that my husband will also get to experience this :)

    • Yes, you should be fine. Up to eight people can enter at one time and the Adventure to Santa employee that commented on this thread also said that more can be accommodated if need be.

  16. Do you have to purchase prints in order to get the download? Or can you purchase just the download alone? And if you purchase their stuff will they then let you take photos? or is that a “no” no matter what?

    • It looks to me that you can just purchase the digital download if you would like, but I would recommend that you call the number on the bottom of the photo ordering page to confirm if you would like to know ahead of time. They ask that you do not take personal photographs, but you can ask them that as well.

  17. What’s the video of?

  18. Thanks for sharing – Just made our reservations!

  19. My,friend and I made reservations that are within 4 min of each other. Would they let us all go in together instead? I know we are fine for the sleigh since we would only have 7 people. But just wondering if I should set that up ahead of time or just ask when we are there?

    • There is an option to change your reservation under the calendar. I would suggest adding your friend to your reservation and having her cancel hers. That way it will be taken care of and someone else will have the opportunity to go in her time slot. Just an idea. :)

      • Just made a reservation, did an account through FB. Wanted to view my reservation but it’s no listing anything… I have an email conf. We have a group on moms and kids and we made out own to get the passports. Would combine if we could. Anyone know how to manage the reservation?? Website just goes to making a new one.

  20. How about bringing babies through? I’d love to go with my sister who has girls, 5 and 7 and would love this, but I have 9 month old twins and wonder if adults can easily carry (or stroller) them through? Can they sit in a lap on the sleigh, etc? Thanks!

    • The whole house was made wheelchair accessible so I assume a stroller would be fine. Or you could definitely carry them and they can sit in the sleigh. I think they would enjoy it too… lots to look at! :)

    • I came tonight with my daughter and strollers are not allowed in, there is no room and they make you park it outside.

  21. Also, I made a reservation but combined mine and my sister’s families (4 kid’s total), but there will be 3 (maybe 4 adults, not just 2), does this matter?

  22. Is this indoors or outdoors?

  23. Ok I read through all of these and I’m still confused on the digital download. Can that be purchased on line ahead of time or is that something you can buy there for the $12.95? The only option that I see is the whole $50 package. Thanks!

    • After they take the photos they give you a website and a code to view your photos online when you get home. You can purchase the digital download at that time.

  24. Is it good for a one and two year old?

  25. What website can you see your photo’s at?

  26. Can you take your own pics with Santa or do you have to purchase?

  27. We live far away, so we need to attend on the weekend…but no reservations remain. Is it possible to walk up?

  28. I went this evening with a 5:58p reservation. It was terribly cold. We waited nearly 20min outside, just to get into the entry. Then waited another 20 min to get inside. After the sleigh designing and ride, the doors to wait for Santa couldn’t open because the room was so packed. It was definitely disappointing to have to wait so long after reading the reviews that this seemed to go really fast. We ended up leaving, bc we had already waited an hour and probably would have waited another hour to see Santa. Many families ended up leaving also. It was really sad for all of the children who were waiting so long. I can’t imagine what the weekends will be like!

  29. The experience was fun. HOWEVER, there was over a 30 minute wait outside and the entire time in the house was over an hour and a half. My family was frozen because we were not dressed to stand outside for so long, as we assumed a reservation would be honored at the assigned time.
    Assume you will need a 2 hour window and dress properly for waiting outside.

    • Waited over an hour and a half to see Santa and 30 minutes of that was standing in the freezing cold! What takes soo long and what is the point of a reservation? The right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing! Ridiculous and then they want $50 for a picture/video package?Amber

  30. Warning!! Just an FYI we went to the oakbrook location last night and ended up waiting for 1 1/2 hours in frigid chicago temps with a reservation! I only share because I was not prepared to wait outside and online said no wait with reservations so I did not bundle my 2 year old up as much as I would have if we had known we would be waiting outside in the cold. My recommendation is to have tents, outside heaters, hot chocolate/tea available for purchase while in long lines.

    The + side is the experience was great, the elves were awesome, friendly, and funny (even though we fell asleep on the sleigh while waiting), and Santa was amazing, no really amazing!!!
    It did take us 3 hours from standing in line to parking lot.
    I am not barking about this “free” experience (we bought the multi media package) just trying to help other parents make their experience better until the kinks are worked out.

  31. The wait was too long and it was freezing outside. We had reservations for 6:20pm to later find out another family was leaving with there children. I asked, how long have they been waiting and they said since 5:30pm. We had to leave because it was too cold. Be prepared to stand before you enter, and dress warm.

  32. I REALLY think “they” shouldn’t advertise a 15min experience! I was NOT prepared! I have a CRAZY schedule, as I’m sure many of you have, and if you didn’t plan on an hour and a half, you’ll have to leave in the middle to make it to the next appointment (ex. My son had CCD and we had to leave before we could see Santa). NOT COOL! Just tell people how it really is so we can properly schedule out our lives! BTW my “reservation was on a Monday at 3:30pm. No reason for that kind of wait!

  33. we have reservations tonight and are trying to decide if it’s worth the wait. After all the negative reviews, I am not so sure. Thoughts?

  34. We went last night and the wait time was fine. We got in and through quickly. However, the pricing didn’t make any sense based on what other people are saying. We didn’t pre-order the package, but she said we could get the package for $50. If I wanted to buy just one picture it was going to cost $30. A friend went last week and paid $21 for one 5×7. I ended up going with the package and got home to no images on the thumb drive they gave me. They are clueless there and I was frustrated. The kids enjoyed it except that they spit you out in an overpriced small gift shop and my 4-year old didn’t understand that those weren’t toys from Santa. So that resulted in some tears, but I guess that’s to be expected.

  35. We just went and the ttiming was fine, they seemed to be within 5 mins of most reservation times. We ended up about 15 minutes wait but that was because other people were late for their reservations and one group ahead of us added people. No big whoop. However, the pricing was way off from what’s being reported here and they were not very happy about it. She said that there was no digital only option, and that the 12.99 or whatever price was a”lie that comes from blog comments ” quote unquote. The cheapest option she gave us was 39.99 for a 5×7 and 2 4x6s. No thanks! I’ll be curious to see if they send an email or something with a better offer?

    • I’m glad you had a good time and that they are doing so much better with reservations times!

      That is really upsetting about the prices and their comments. I went back and logged into and entered my photo code. It looks like they increased all the prices, but there is a digital download option. It is now $19.99 instead of $12.99. Here’s a screen shot: Maybe you just can’t purchase the digital download on location but you can do it when you get home?

  36. OK – Update, I just looked online at (which I found here, they didn’t give me that information as we left) and the cheapest option is the digital download of one photo for $19.99. I still think that’s way too pricey, but I’m cheap. As I said in my previous comment, I may wait and see if an email offer comes through in the next week or so…?

    • Did they give you a code to look up your ordering options or anything like that? I’m surprised that they increased the prices after the event launched, but at least you could have a copy of the picture to print out, use for Christmas cards or anything else you might want. I did not receive an email offer, but you never know? Obviously things change! :)

      • They didn’t give me any options after I declined the packages in person – I had to even ask her how to view it online and she just said “you just go to the website and enter in your passport number”. Of course, the website doesn’t have any link to, luckily I saw it here on your review! :) And it lets you log in with your email, which is good because otherwise the code to log in is not the passport code at all. I was a little worried about that – I saw the code on the bottom of the printouts they made and I could tell it didn’t match the (much shorter) passport code. In any case, the event was fun, the photos were really good so I will fork over the 20 bucks after all, (sigh, LOL) and I appreciate your review and everyone’s helpful comments! :)

  37. This was a great experience, but really, if you are not going to allow us to take our own pictures with Santa, then please make the pictures AFORDABLE for us to purchase. I had to walk out of there with 2 crying kids and no pictures because they wanted a ridiculous $30 for one 5 x 7 and that was the cheapest option. No pictures with Santa this year :(
    Very disappointed.

  38. I have lost my confirmation email printout and cannot find it… What do I do?

    • Did they send you an email you can print out? If not I would suggest you call the phone numbers I listed in the comments above. I do not have a direct affiliation with Oak Brook Center or Adventure to Santa.

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