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Review: The Ultimate Santa Adventure takes flight at Northlake Mall

Mandy Turvey Ravin

Mixing the traditions of the holiday with ultra-modern technology, this interactive experience starts with Shrek, ends with Santa and seamlessly blends storytelling with cutting-edge technology.
Mixing the traditions of the holiday with ultra-modern technology, this interactive experience starts with Shrek, ends with Santa and seamlessly blends storytelling with cutting-edge technology.

Shrek may be known as a crusty old ogre, but when it comes to Christmas, he knows a thing or two about making the holiday special. Northlake Mall is one of only 14 locations in the world, and the only in the Carolinas, that offers "The Ultimate Santa Adventure" - an interactive digital experience that takes holiday goers on a 4D sleigh ride with Shrek and friends to the North Pole for a visit with Santa.

I had the opportunity to take a ride on Shrek’s adventure with two 8-year old boys in tow, and it was well worth the visit to Northlake Mall. To begin our voyage, we were greeted by Cinnamon, one of Santa’s elves, who took our photo and presented our group with boarding passes, before sending us to a “departure lounge” where the kids were tasked with sleigh flying lessons via an interactive game on individual iPads.

Once mastered, the children were deemed official "Flight School Pilots," and we were escorted to a sleigh, where we began a 4D movie/ride unlike any we’d ever experienced. The kids really felt like we were flying and loved the landing at the North Pole.

Before a private visit with Santa Claus in his cozy room at the North Pole, the kids were able to create a virtual Gingy ornament, choosing colorful outfits and accessories for their gingerbread men. These creations were available for purchase for an extra cost, to be made into real ornaments and shipped to our home.

After a private visit and final farewell to the man in the red suit, we "landed" back in the mall, received our photo with Santa, and were on our merry way.

The entire experience lasted about 15-20 minutes, but you are constantly moving through so it keeps kids’ attention well. Being the first day and with so many interactive elements, we experienced a few technical challenges along the way, but overall things went very smoothly and really flowed seamlessly. The overall concept was really well done, and the private setting was a nice change of pace from typical visits with Santa at the mall. My 8-year old companions began the experience as too-cool-for Santa skeptics, but ended with enthusiasm and even a “Wow! that was fun!” thumbs up. 

What: The Ultimate Santa Experience

Where: Northlake Mall, level 1

Cost: $35 for up to 5 participants; $50 - $75 for up to 8 people. Price includes a photo package, personalized boarding passes, family sleigh ride to the North Pole & private visit with Santa

Reservations: Make reservations ahead of time at www.ShopNorthlake.com

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