Santa HQ at the Fashion Outlets of Chicago in Rosemont is back for it’s second year! Located on the first floor of the indoor mall near the food court, this multi-media experience uses augmented reality to make your journey to Santa enjoyable. There are plenty of things for kids to interact with, including a naughty or nice meter, opportunity to turn yourself into an elf to star in your own movie (which you can then email to yourself), and hidden places to search for elves that appear through an app on your device.
Santa HQ Overview
After checking in with the concierge, we stood in front of the “Naughty or Nice O’Meter” one at a time. The Santa HQ staff enters your name so you can see it on the big naughty or nice sign next to the meter. Although we never really talk about Santa’s lists in our house, our kids were excited to see where the dial would land and were entertained by it! New this year, Santa HQ has a fun Snapchat filter around the Naughty or Nice O’Meter. (Location services must be turned on in order for the filter to show up.) Also new this year, selfie sticks are available for you to borrow to take pictures easily with your children throughout the experience.
After finding that we were all varying levels of nice we went to the next room where we made a video with our faces on elves. Click here to see our Elfie Video at Santa HQ.
Before going or while you are there, you will want to download the app “ELF-Ray Vision” so you can look for Santa’s elves throughout the experience. It creates an augmented reality, similar to Pokemon Go. There are several spots with gear images that you can point your device towards to see elves busy at work right next to you. There are even interactive parts where you can tap gift boxes to open them in the virtual workshop.
The last room has more augmented reality opportunities along with a Control Center where kids can push buttons and pull levers that make sounds and change lights on the panel. Also be sure to point your device up at the ceiling and it will appear to open up to reveal a surprise!
Then you reach Santa’s sleigh where the man in red is there to listen to what you would like for Christmas and take a photo with him. The activities within Santa HQ are free. Fashion Outlets of Chicago offers a photo package available for $34.99 now through Dec. 8. This package includes one 5×7, two 4x6s and 8 wallet-sized photos and digital downloads. This package increase to $39.99 from Dec. 9 through Dec. 24. The photos are attached to your email address at celebrateyourholiday.com so you can opt to purchase at a later date.
Where to Park
Free parking is available in Fashion Outlets of Chicago’s parking garage. The best place to park is on “P3” (Level 3) of the parking garage near the Neiman Marcus Last Call entrance and you will enter on Level Two of the mall.
Santa HQ is open seven days a week now through December 24. Operating hours are:
- Mondays through Thursdays: 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.
- Fridays and Saturdays: 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.
- Sundays: 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Special holiday hours include:
- Friday, November 24: 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.
- Saturday, November 25: 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.
- Sunday, November 26: 9 a.m. – 8 p.m.
- Sunday, December 17: 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.
- Sunday, December 24: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Furry family members can join the fun and take part in family photos with Santa during Fashion Outlets of Chicago’s pet nights. Every Monday, from November 27 through December 18, families can bring their cat or dog to Santa HQ for photos with Santa from 6 to 8 p.m. Fashion Outlets of Chicago encourages shoppers participating in pet nights to park on P2 (second level) of the parking garage and enter the center by Helzberg Diamonds and Converse to easily access Santa HQ. For every shopper who purchases a Santa HQ photo package during pet nights, Fashion Outlets of Chicago will donate $10 to the Friends of Chicago Animal Care and Control.
Cost and Reservations
The activities within Santa HQ are free. Fashion Outlets of Chicago offers a variety of photo packages. Reservations to visit the experience can be made in advance at santa-hq.com.