The lights are flashing inside the trolley as it races through the darkness to its destination – the North Pole*. As we passed through the portal, the strobe lights stop and the elves tell us to look for the lights of Santa’s Workshop. We drive by the reindeer barn and see Rudolph’s antlers and the red glow of his stall. The trolley stops in front of double green wooden doors and we disembark. Mylan and Solvay hang back and let the smaller children take the lead. Our escort elves, Sprinkles and Fruitcake, knock on the door. They tell the elves on the other side that they have brought “helpers” to Santa’s workshop. The doors fly open and elves Sparky and Holly Jolly Molly greet us with open arms and usher us inside.
The beginning of the adventure takes you into an exhibit of popular toys from yesteryear (a lot of which Evan and I remembered either receiving or wishing we had!). Then you are greeted by head elf, Alabaster Snowflake, and given some pointers about being an elf helper. Another set of doors open and you find yourself in Santa’s workshop! There are toys everywhere, workbenches, trees, a bakery with bakers preparing sugar cookies and “snowman soup” (hot chocolate) and a giant wrapping station with rolls of ribbon lining the wall.
The kids were given toy teddy bears to dress (that will be donated to underprivileged children) and foam rocket launchers to play with. When the bears had been dressed and the elves had been used for target practice, they gathered the children up for cookies and cocoa. After the treats came a quick lesson in the Elf University classroom and then to Santa’s private office to write wish lists.
The grand finale happens when you leave his office and walk into the next room where the big guy is waiting! The best part is that you get Santa all to yourself for pictures and for your kids to tell him their Christmas wishes. After our visit, we went out behind the workshop to sit by a giant fire pit and wait for our trolley back to the “other side of the portal.”
Upon returning to the 100-year-old Molly Butler Lodge, parents can relax in the lounge while the children are entertained by stories read by Mrs. Claus herself. We all got a cup of hot tea and talked about our adventure. “I know that was the real Santa.” Solvay stated. Mylan quickly agreed. Even though my kids are getting older, to have them still believe in the magic is the best Christmas present that I can receive!
*The North Pole Experience runs through Dec 30th and is located in the small northeastern Arizona town of Greer. We stayed overnight in one of the Greer’s Cabin Keepers cabins and had dinner and breakfast at the Molly Butler Lodge. Santa even joins you for breakfast in the morning which allows for more pictures and one-on-one time with the big guy!