Suburban Mamas correspondent Marie-France visited Santa HQ in Los Cerritos Shopping Center with her family. Los Cerritos Center partnered with HGTV to present the incomparable, immersive “Santa HQ.” Families are invited to explore the wonder of Santa in the digital age. Exciting interactive technology transforms and customizes the experience. Read on to see how one mama and her kids experienced Santa HQ. Santa HQ runs from November 10-December 24, 2018.
By Marie-France Arcilla
I piled my kids E and H into the minivan and said, “We’re going somewhere.” “Where?” E asks. “It’s a surprise, you’ll like it!” “School?”
They weren’t that wrong. We were on our way to Elf Academy at Santa HQ in Los Cerritos. Here, we were meant to learn all the skills necessary to become an effective helper for the big man himself.
After walking through the racks and racks of Grinch memorabilia at Forever 21 (most convenient place to park, by the way) we found it: Santa HQ.
We were greeted by a bunch of elves, and Elf Andy immediately took us under his wing. First lesson: gift wrapping!
Lots of people considering a career in the Elfing Arts, apparently.
The reward for a job well done: a hug from Santa.
After attending Elf Academy, we toured Santa HQ. First up, finding the invisible elves who are working painstakingly to make Christmas awesome. You can download an app onto your phone and it turns your camera into a magic elf finder. The images of gears strewn about HQ give a good indication of where to find them.
Once registered with the entrance Elf, it’s time for a scan. Were you Naughty or Nice this year? After a quick scan, you can look for your name on the list. Such interactive fun!
There is also a booth to “Elf Yourself.” It takes your image and dresses it up in Elf clothes and uses motion tracking so that the elf on the screen poses the way you do. When we tried to use it, however, it had a difficult time sensing that there was a self to Elf. When we finally got it to work, the image of my son scanned in was so dark that it was impossible to tell it was him, not to mention a little sinister! It was the first day of the exhibit so understandably, there were kinks to work out.
Next up: The Control Center, where everything happens. Kids are at liberty to push buttons and pull levers to their hearts’ content. And if you decided not to download the app at the entrance, in this room they have tablets preloaded with the Elf Finder for your use.
The end to our morning-filled with interactive-fun at Santa HQ in Los Cerritos is a visit with the man himself. The wait for Santa can belong but worth it. When our turn finally came to see Santa, here’s what happened: E was thrilled to see him again after Elf School, but little H wasn’t quite so sure.
Mama was more than happy to tell Santa what she wanted for Christmas!
ABOUT SANTA HQ:
Los Cerritos Center in partnership with HGTV presents Santa HQ. To make things easier, guests can make reservations with the man of the hour to spend less time in line. Visit: www.santa-hq.com for more information. Photo packages are available starting at $39.99
Shoppers also are invited to bring an unwrapped toy and participate in Help Through Holiday Giving. Los Cerritos Center hopes to gather over 1,000 toys to be donated to YMCA of Greater Long Beach for their 10th Annual Toy Giveaway on December 15.
• Santa Paws, Pet nights with Santa: November 12, 19, 26, December 3 &10 from 5 – 8pm
• Grandparents Day: November 29
• Holiday PJ Days: November 30 & December 6
• Ugly Sweater Day: December 13
Los Cerritos Center – 239 Los Cerritos Center, Cerritos, CA 90703
Main Court in front of Forever 21
Best parking can be found in the parking lot on the west side of the shopping center, adjacent to Forever 21.