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Dallas Morning News: Sanitizing Santaland: It’s Not a Holiday Miracle… It’s Science!

Thursday, December 16th, 2021

Two Dallas companies created ‘most magical’ holiday experiences at the Galleria. The mall kept two creative firms busy designing and operating its Santaland and Snowday experiences.

What makes Santaland the most magical?

There’s a big buildup to the visit with Santa. Families ride on the rumbling express train, where they look out the windows at the changing countryside. Then they walk through a “moonlit forest along an enchanted path filled with starry lights” to Santa’s chalet. There, Santa already has an idea about what the kiddos want for Christmas and knows the siblings’ names.

It’s not pandemic 2020′s standing in a line out in the mall corridor for your turn with Santa seated way up on his sleigh behind a Plexiglass screen.

What makes it the safest?

Santa’s chalet, the only fully enclosed space, is protected by technology from Addison-based CASPR Technology that continuously cleans viruses and bacteria off air and surfaces. Santa is vaccinated, and children don’t have to wear masks. They sit on a bench beside him. Santa will wear a face shield if families prefer that.

“[The company that designed and operates Santaland] Baymo had a vision and made it happen,” [General Manager of the Galleria] Angie Freed said. “They, too, have families and wanted it to be the most magical, layered in technology. It’s not your typical mall photo operator experience.”

Santaland is bringing additional traffic to the mall from people who wanted to see an “in-person” Santa, Freed said. NorthPark Center decided to make its Santa virtual for the second consecutive year.

Galleria Santa reservations are more than double last year’s numbers and are up 20% from 2019, Freed said.

The new experiences bring a new layer to Galleria’s longtime holiday traditions of the 95-foot Christmas tree in the ice rink and its official unveiling on Black Friday with a skating Santa and indoor fireworks.

The mall doesn’t know yet whether the new Santaland is a moneymaker, but, Freed said, “It’s meant to be a gift to North Texas.”

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