Tips for Visiting HGTV’s Santa HQ

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This post is sponsored by Macerich and HGTV.  All opinions are 100% our own.

Santa has arrived at malls across the country!  If you happen to have a Santa HQ (presented by HGTV) at a mall nearby, check out our post to learn what you can expect and learn some tips for having a great experience.

Santa HQ Freehold

Santa’s got a brand new bag, er, headquarters, and you are NOT going to want to miss it! We have all done the typical mall Santa with the kids in years’ past, right? You wait in a boring line, pose with the big guy for a picture, and you’re done. But if your mall offers a Santa HQ location, you are going to want to make plans to check out this totally immersive holiday experience.

We took the kids to the Freehold Raceway Mall (in Freehold, NJ) earlier this week to see what the excited chatter was all about.

Located in 15 malls across the country, HGTV’s Santa HQ completely revolutionizes the Santa experience using state-of-the-art digital technology, including augmented reality.

Features of Santa HQ

When you arrive at Santa HQ at the mall, there are two queue lines. You can stand in the regular line, or you can spend less time in line by purchasing a Fast Pass.

How to get a Fast Pass: To purchase a Fast Pass for the Freehold location, simply head over here.  Once there you can select a date, a 30-minute window of time to use Fast Pass, pre-pay online, upgrade your package by adding a family photo weeks/days in advance, and opt-in to receive text reminders about their Fast Pass window.

Magic Mirror

My kids had so much fun at the Magic Mirror! Kids can transform into elves, choose their outfits and make silly poses. These photos can be delivered to you electronically via text or email.

Santa HQ Magic Mirror

Elf Magic Mirror

Elf-ID Card

Choose which of the four elves you want to be, snap your pic to go on the ID and fill out some information like name, favorite food, etc. Just like the Magic Mirror, you can get your Elf-ID cards delivered free via text or email.

Santa HQ Elf ID

Naughty or Nice Meter

Always a huge hit with everyone!  Who doesn’t want to see where they are on Santa’s list?  Enter your name and stand next to the interactive board and await your fate. Watch your name pop up on the board!

Sidenote – I love this pic that I snapped of Lily… look at Landon crossing his fingers hoping that his sister landed on the nice list!

Lily Nice Meter

Elf-Ray Vision

I think this was my favorite part of Santa IQ!  Visitors use tablets to explore Santa’s Observatory through the use of tablets. Areas within Santa HQ trigger an augmented reality experience for guests. So awesome!

elf vision augmented reality

Tips for Visiting HGTV’s Santa HQ

  • Bring your camera! There are many fun photo/video opps as you go through Santa HQ.
  • Peak times will be busy.  Consider buying a Fast Pass to lessen your wait.
  • If you don’t buy a Fast Pass, you can avoid some crowds by visiting earlier in the season OR during midday weekday hours when the mall is less crowded.
  • Double-check Santa HQ hours on your location’s website – hours vary by date.
  • Bring your patience – this is definitely going to be a hot spot as the days tick down towards Christmas.
  • Bring a new, unwrapped toy to donate to HGTV’s Help Through Holiday Giving toy drive. Toys collected will benefit local organizations such as Forgotten Angel Tree, Salvation Army Angel Tree, Toys for Tots, and Spark of Love Stuff a Bus.
  • Check your specific Santa HQ location for special events during the holiday season including: Sensory Santa, Elf Meet and Greets, and Yappy Hour (bring your dogs and cats for pictures with Santa!)

Watch the video of our experience at Santa HQ:

We had a great time at Santa HQ!

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