Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Pre-Holiday Fun!

"Oh I don't know. I'm not sure about that whole seeing Santa before Thanksgiving portion of the whole deal," I chatted to my husband over a boiling pot of spaghetti. The mister, an avid proponent of keeping holidays within their rigid boxes of timelines, just shook his head. But the kids had already heard the words "cookies" and "Shrek," so it was either go to the event or find 3,468 new ways to manage whining.

Mid way through the week, the desire to hang with friends and try a free kid event prevailed, and thank goodness it did. The Shrek Experience is an absolute blast! Located outside of the downstairs Dillards of Oak Park Mall, it's an interactive playground of imagination and holiday joy. Even the big man himself (not Santa), who is incredibly hard to impress, has asked multiple times to return. Stick it on your holiday bucket list!

High level, here's how it works, noting ours was the soft opening, VIP event (thanks S!):

You check in with some of the friendliest gals around. Poised and professional, they get you ready for what almost feels like a Disney-esque experience. In groups of eight or less, you enter, immediately placed with "Candy" who gives clear instructions and points children to iPads on the wall. Here, they receive strategies on how to fly a sleigh and even get some practice in, all the while the flashes of light and beautifully decorated walls dancing around them.

Next you go and have the flight experience. Unsure of what our "spidey sense" kiddo could endure, we perched near the back of the sleigh and awaited our adventure. The kiddos and adults were all smiles as we floated across star lit skies, delighted in the room's changing temps and cascaded down hills of ice, only to finally land in the North Pole. It felt authentic, unique and like a little piece of amusement park without actually moving. Even this motion sickness mama had no trouble!

The next holding room couples kiddos with more iPad fun, engaging them in building a gingerbread cookie. All I know is that our big guy walked away with a topless gingerbread woman with a lea, purple cowboy boots, floral shorts and pigtails. I'm not even going to ask...

Finally we land on the lap of Santa, who is joyful and fun and plays little tricks with the candy canes to capture that perfect smile on film. The walls behind him are glorious, feeling just as if you had entered his personal study just to share your wish list of the season.

Walking away with a candy cane, jump drive and the opportunity to donate was just a delight.

So go ahead and see your regular Santa, but add this one too. It's worth it...even 50+ days before the big day.

Happy pre-holidays!

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