I am going to try to be wordy at the beginning of this post so that you can just easy breezy scroll through all the pictures and not have to stop much to read. It's three days before Christmas. Nobody has time to read my latest novel.
Waaaaaay back in early September I logged on the the ol' internet to buy tickets for the Polar Express. We went two years ago and thought it would be fun to go again, now that Elliott is older. Unfortunately all of the Saturday tickets were already sold out. And it was going to be really hard to figure out the logistics of going on a Friday or Sunday. Luckily I remembered some people talking about this other "Christmas thing" to do in Northern Arizona. I just couldn't remember what it was. I did a bit of googling, found it and immediately bought tickets, lest this event sell out too.
So, fast forward 3.5 months and we drove to Flagstaff on Friday then woke up on Saturday morning and got the kids got "dressed" in their pajamas. Why? Because we were headed to SANTA'S WORKSHOP at the North Pole Experience!
They were much more excited than this picture would lead you to believe.
This is the description from the website:
The North Pole Experience (NPX) is the home of Santa’s authentic workshop and one-of-a-kind Christmas adventure in Arizona. Families will enjoy this "Christmas adventure of a lifetime" with a trolley ride to the North Pole through a magic portal. Inside his famously grand workshop and toy factory headquarters, they will work side-by-side with Santa and his elves, building toys. Families will also tour Santa's Toy Hall of Fame, attend Elf University, eat cookies inside Santa's Bakery and enjoy special one-on-one family time with Santa.
One of the extra add-ons for the North Pole Experience is a brunch with Santa Claus in the hotel where the trolleys leave from. We figured it we were going to make all the effort and spend all the money to do this we might as well do it all the way, so we also went to the brunch.
We went a little bit later in the morning. It was not crowded at all so I'm glad we didn't go earlier.
The brunch Santa was very friendly but he had a bad case of whooping cough, bronchitis or SARS. We're not sure which. It may have been all three. He coughed all over my kids (thanks Santa!) and had to drink some hot tea with honey before they climbed onto his germ infested lap. I was cringing the entire time.
And then we thought, what the heck. Let's get infected too!
You can't go to the North Pole without light up necklaces.
On the way to the trolleys. Wait until you see what this place calls a "trolley".
Yeah. That's the fanciest trolley I've seen in my entire life.
The excitement was thick in the air.
The sides of the bus were covered with contact paper so that kids couldn't see out the windows. There was an entire story and video about driving into a magic vortex that sucked us up to the North Pole. Spencer totally didn't fall for it.
Waiting to get in!
The first room was Santa's Toy Invention Hall of Fame. Santa's elves led us on the entire tour. We were in each room for 10 to 20 minutes. The entire thing (trolley ride included) was about 2 hours long.
Up next. Santa's original work room with his original workbench.
Shelf elves were hidden in some of the rooms too.
In the next room the kids got to help assemble and test toys.
Then we went to the wrapping room. It was my favorite room. It was just so pretty with all the wrapping paper and packages and ribbon.
I SWEAR to you they had a good time even though it looks like we took them on a factory tour of needles and medicine.
Spencer and Elliott's favorite room was next. The Cookie and Hot Cocoa room. I was underwhelmed in the quality of both. I expected more from North Pole elves.
Then we went to Elf University. Spencer hated this room. It was BOOOOOOOOORING.
The mail room was next. Santa gets lots and lots of mail.
We're like 99% positive this was Winston sneaking in to see us!
The mail chute.
Each kid wrote Santa a letter or colored him a picture.
We're getting closer and closer now! Santa's garage where he keeps his sleigh, all of his navigation equipment and anything and everything reindeer related. The reindeer weren't there though. They were out training in preparation for the big night.
And finally. We met Santa himself. Never mind that he is completely different from Black Plague Santa from the morning brunch and different from the car dealership Santa and different from the Aikido Santa. Just accept it, smile and nod.
He was a very good Santa. Authentic beard, plump, jolly and we didn't need to purell ourselves afterwards, so he got bonus points for that.
After Santa we were immediately led into the blinding and choking smoke from a large bon fire.
And this is where Spencer called bull on us being at the North Pole. He was pretty concerned about it too. He said that this looked nothing like the North Pole and everything like Flagstaff.
So there was no convincing him that we were traveling through another vortex on our way back to Arizona.
He wasn't upset about us not really going to the North Pole and he still had fun, but I think it would have been a bit more magical if he really believed it.
All in all, it was a delightful experience and I'm glad that we went. And I'm glad that I don't feel the need to go again anytime soon.