Take a trolley to the north pole and Santa's workshop. Help the elves build toys for the children of the world, enjoy cookies with Mrs. Claus, and visit Santa himself.
My family of 7 (with kids ages 1-10 years) rode the trolley from Flagstaff to the North Pole and Santa’s Workshop. We were amazed at the detail, the friendly elves, and the fun, interactive elements of this event.
So a quick rundown of the whole experience: You check in at The Little America Hotel. The lobby is swarming with families waiting for their turn to board the trolley (a coach bus decorated on the outside with NXP vinyl). The check-in process is quick and easy. Each member of your party receives a wristband to wear with your boarding time. You are free to roam the lobby and gift shop until your boarding group lines up. At the appropriate time, your group boards the trolley and drives to the North Pole through a magic portal, which is displayed on the television screens throughout the bus. You exit the trolley at Santa’s Workshop (a big white barn with a fancy door). All the kids go forward and follow instructions to perform a special knock to get the door to open. The doors are then thrown wide to reveal the first room of the workshop, the Toy Hall of Fame. You then proceed with your group through the original workshop, current workshop, factory floor, Mrs. Claus’ bakery, Elf University, the mail room, and Santa’s sleigh hangar. Each room has a different interactive activity or experience to try, like assembling toys with the elves. Each family enters the last room separately where they enjoy one-on-one time with Santa before proceeding out of the workshop to a large bonfire where the trolley comes to return North Pole visitors to the hotel.
The attention to detail makes the whole experience incredible. I don’t even know where to start to describe it! The elves dress in unique costumes, each with their own fancy nametag and elf name. They take time to engage with each child, asking and answering questions. They never once break character, even when talking to parents. The control elf in “Area 47” sat at her control desk off to the side of the room and guided trolleys through the magic portal while she flipped switches and talked into a microphone. She wasn’t even the main focus but it totally added to the authenticity of the North Pole. The rooms are decorated from floor to ceiling and everything looks fresh and new, unless it’s supposed to look old. My husband and I were most impressed by Santa’s main factory floor. The walls are stacked floor to super-tall ceiling with wrapped presents, spools of ribbons, and rolls of paper.
The age range of visitors to the North Pole Experience spanned from new babies to adults, some even without children. While children under 2 will still have fun, they may not understand why this is any better than Santa at the mall. Children ages 2-10 will probably enjoy this experience the most because they are old enough to understand what is going on, but young enough to still believe in the magic. Children over 10 will still have a great time participating in the activities and adults will marvel at the decorations and detail. The older crowd may even be persuaded to believe again.
Bottomline: The North Pole Experience is a great interactive holiday activity for families with young kids. I would recommend this event for any family looking to bring a little more magic to the holidays.
*Make sure to arrive more than 30 minutes early so you’ll have time to go to the gift shop. At the gift shop, purchase a large ball ornament and have the elves, Mrs. Claus, and Santa sign it as you visit the workshop. We saw lots of people doing this and wish we had too.
*Anything you bring, you have to carry, so pack light.
* There are scout elves (elf on the shelf) that pop-out in each room, so be on the lookout.
*Dress warm-the parking area is a little far from the entrance to the hotel. Also, some of the rooms at Santa’s workshop didn’t seem to be heated.
*Bring a good camera that can take pictures in low light. There are many photo ops but lighting isn’t ideal.
Disclosure: This review is based on a complimentary visit to the North Pole Experience. I received no other compensation and the options expressed are completely my own.