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Tips for Visiting HGTV’s Santa HQ

Thinking about visiting HGTV’s Santa HQ this holiday season? Here’s everything you need to know plus helpful tips for making the most of your experience.

This is a sponsored blog post. While the views expressed here were genuinely mine, consideration was paid to me by Macerich/HGTV’s Santa HQ to review this product.

Christmas trees with snow and ornaments with Santa HQ Ovservatory in the background

The holiday season is here. For our family that means decorating the Christmas tree, baking cookies and of course taking the kids to see Santa. Now that our kids are older, they need more than a photo op with the standard mall Santa. Thank goodness we’ve discovered HGTV’s Santa HQ, a fun holiday experience that kicks the Santa visit up a notch. It’s become a holiday tradition.

What is HGTV’s Santa HQ?

HGTV’s Santa HQ is not your average visit with Santa. It puts a new spin on the traditional Santa Claus visit by guiding visitors through an immersive, interactive holiday experience with the use of state-of-the-art digital technology. Santa HQ is presented at 15 of Macerich’s top properties, set in some of the most attractive and densely populated U.S. markets including: California, Arizona, Chicago, Metro New York, and the Washington, D.C. corridor. Sponsored by HGTV, Santa HQ incorporates special mobile apps, social-media-ready opportunities, and even augmented reality. It’s perfect for today’s kids who are all about social connection.

Tips for Visiting Santa HQ

We had the opportunity to visit Santa HQ at the Danbury Fair Mall. Having both a tween and a school-aged child, it’s sometimes hard to find experiences that will appeal to both of them. Santa HQ is something that they both enjoyed. The hands-on interactive exhibits that make up Santa HQ kept them engaged and excited on their way to meet Santa. Here are some tips for Santa HQ to help you make the most of your experience.

Save Time, Purchase Fast Pass

Holiday time at the mall can be very busy. The line to see Santa can be long. Spend less time in line. Purchase Fast Pass today! Guests can select the date, a 30-minute window of time to use Fast Pass, pre-pay online, upgrade their package by adding a family photo weeks/days in advance, and opt-in to receive text reminders about their Fast Pass window. 

To make a Fast Pass reservation for Santa HQ at the Danbury Fair Mall visit

Download the Elf Ray Vision App

Guests can explore Santa’s Observatory through the use of tablets. Special touchpoint areas within Santa HQ trigger an augmented reality experience for guests.  Though a few tablets are available, we recommend downloading the Elf Ray Vision app. Available through Apple and Android, the Elf Ray Vision app will give your kids a more personal experience and allow them to take their time enjoying the augmented reality features.

Take Time to Play

Santa HQ features several hands-on experiences. Take the time to let your kids play and explore. These features are what sets Santa HQ apart from other Santa visits.

● The Elf Academy includes the Magic Mirror: Guests can transform into one of Santa’s elves and virtually try on various elf outfits.

● Magic Mirror: Guests can transform into one of Santa’s elves and virtually try on various elf outfits. Kids can stand in front of the Magic Mirror video screen and, through augmented reality, transform into one of Santa’s Elves. Once the magic is completed, guests have the option to receive three photos by entering either their mobile number and/or email address. 

● Elf-ID: Guests can create their very own customized Elf-ID card using the new Elf-ID app and a “selfie”. Guests choose one of four cards to customize (Hazel, Ruby, Jack and Strawberry). The Elf-ID cards can then be emailed to you.

● Naughty or Nice Meter: This is our favorite experience at Santa HQ. Visitors can stand next to an interactive board to find out which of Santa’s lists – Naughty or Nice – they made. 

Dress in Your Holiday Best

Santa HQ offers not one, but two photo opportunities. The first is a holiday set up with a festive backdrop. The second is with the big man himself. Santa visits with guests in his state of the art sleigh as photographers capture the magical moment. Families are not allowed to use their own cameras, but a variety of photo packages are available for purchase.

Visit During a Special Event

Throughout the season, Santa HQ holds some special events.

● Sensory Santa: This sensory-friendly holiday event at Valley River Center allows families with all spectrums of special needs to experience the time-honored tradition of a visit with Santa, in a comforting environment prior to public hours. Accommodations are made to support the sensory, physical, and developmental needs of this special audience. 

● Yappy Hour: Special event for you and your furry friend to get time with the “Big Guy.” Bring your dog or cat to participating centers for an exciting night of pet photos, cocktails and holiday cheer.

Meet Santa’s Elves: Have fun with Jack & Strawberry, the official elves of Santa HQ. Kick off the holiday festivities and enjoy caroling, photo opportunities, story time, hot chocolate and much more.

Here is the events schedule for Santa HQ at the Danbury Fair Mall.

To learn more about HGTV’s Santa HQ at the Danbury Fair Mall visit

Santa HQ

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Baby advisor

Saturday 7th of December 2019

So, my two boys would have a blast at all four of these attractions in HGTV santa.. If we ever make it up to, I know what we will be checking out!

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