Malls Cave on Charging to See Santa

In perhaps one of the only legitimate beefs in the so-called “war on Christmas” it appears the good guys actually won one. Malls across the country have attempted to capitalize on the Santa business by installing what they call “the Santa adventure” and charging parents fees from $35 to $50 just to get their children in to see Santa Claus. In the most high profile of these cases Cherry Hill Mall near Philadelphia famous imposed the charges and then faced a brutal customer backlash that went viral on social media. The mall has since made Santa a free attraction, as he has been in the past.

The backdrop to all the Santa controversy comes courtesy of Dream Works who launched an enhanced Santa attraction described as a first-of-its-kind holiday experience that features Shrek, Santa and interactive storytelling with cutting-edge technology.

Shrek and friends take families on an enchanting journey to the North Pole. Five captivating rooms within the Adventure to Santa experience keep families engaged and entertained, including a cinematic adventure featuring a wrap-around screen and motion-based effects sure to excite guests of all ages. Once families complete the activities in each room, Adventure to Santa culminates in a special moment where children and their families enjoy a private visit with Santa.

Dream Works and malls featuring the service have been providing touring school groups with free access in order to build buzz and goodwill about the attraction. The problem comes when a mall allows Dream Works to control access to Santa — where seeing him requires an online reservation, a process that in turn requires the purchase of a photo package at a cost between $35 and $50.

Will the Dream Works attraction catch hold? Will parents actually pay $35 to give their children what amounts to a commercial experience with Santa Claus?

That remains to be seen.

What appears to be settled is that malls will continue to offer free access to Santa for those parents who can do without “the experience” or the cost.

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