Secure a sleigh for Oakbrook Center’s Adventure to Santa

Oakbrook Center just announced extended holiday hours- that means Adventure to Santa now has additional sleigh rides available the first and last couple hours of each day! Extended hours are as follows:

Monday-Saturday: 8:00 a.m. – 10:00 pm

Sunday, Dec. 7: 10:00 a.m. – 7:00pm

Sunday Dec. 14& 21: 9 a.m. – 8 p.m.

Christmas Eve, Wed., Dec. 24: 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Secure your sleigh here. Reservations are required and, because of limited availability, a photo package pre-purchase is needed to hold your spot.

Visiting Santa at the mall can be an experience, but often not much more exciting than a few photos snapped on the big guy’s lap before the little one cries. If you’re looking for something more memorable, Oakbrook Center’s new Adventure to Santa is a magical journey sure to fire up the holiday spirit for the whole family.

Created by DreamWorks Animation and hosted by Shrek and Donkey, this 15-minute adventure is unlike any other Santa experience my family has encountered. Details are below if you’d like the inside scoop; but I’d recommend making it a surprise for the young ones. Watching their eyes light up with wonder and their imaginations soar is truly the best part of this experience.

The enchanting 2,000-square-foot holiday cottage is located on the Village Green, near Microsoft and Land of Nod. Once ushered into the ornately detailed holiday cottage by gracious and interactive host elves, we were told the unfortunate news that Santa wasn’t there to see us.

Instead, Shrek and Donkey said we’d be visiting him in the North Pole! My five-year-old son’s eyes glistened with delight as he learned he would venture to the snowy land of St. Nick. We just needed to design our own rocket-boosted sleigh first.

In the next room, kids used wall-mounted tablets to customize sleighs with different colors, designs and silly license plates. Next the doors opened to a gorgeous red sleigh, which jetted us to the North Pole. With a domed screen similar to a mini IMAX, we took a simulated sleigh ride, that shook, swayed and blew cool wind and fog as we flew high over the skies behind Shrek and Donkey on their purple dragon. The ride was so astonishing; my beaming son leaned over to ask, “Is this real?”

Upon our arrival at the North Pole, friendly Santa’s helpers demonstrated how to play a “Naughty or Nice” snowball throwing game on wall-mounted tablets while we awaited our turn to share holiday requests with the big guy.

The fact that our family was able to visit with Santa alone in a beautiful, calm, quiet room made a huge difference in the experience for our three-year-old daughter. She was so comfortable with the kind and relaxed Santa that she was an utter delight. She actually talked and giggled, unlike the shy grimaces or tears of previous years. The patient photographer snapped several digital photos to ensure everyone looked their best. After our time with Santa was complete, we were magically transported back to Chicago, into a reindeer stable where our photos were delivered.

Although appointments are booked in advance, a wait can still be encountered. However, I think the experience is definitely worth it to see the surprise and delight in youngsters’ eyes as they take a unique and magical ride to the North Pole.

Book now before the all the sleighs are full!

Cortney Fries
Cortney Fries
An award-winning travel journalist, Cortney Fries (pronounced "freeze") has been writing about family travel for over a decade. She knows that parents planning trips are looking for all members to have fun and make lasting memories. Cortney believes that you should definitely try anything that makes you slightly nervous.
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