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For many families, the most wonderful time of the year isn’t complete without a visit to the big man in red: Santa Claus. Our family believes that the real Santa is a busy man, so he can only visit a certain number of children in person. To see as many kids as possible, he heads to bustling NYC each holiday season where he hangs out in Santaland, a very festive place Macy’s created that feels like the North Pole.

Santaland (Photo courtesy of Macy’s)

Santaland at Macy’s Herald Square in NYC is a holiday wonderland where you don’t just visit Santa himself, but also wander through a 13,000-square-foot Christmas village comprised of an enchanted forest, rainbow bridge, trees, lights, snow-capped mountains, reindeer, train sets, Santa’s sleigh and oh-so-much more. More than 170,000 visitors make their way through Santaland each year, and in years past, the wait has gotten long. Hours long.

Reservations required at Santaland (Photo courtesy of Macy
Reservations required at Santaland (Photo courtesy of Macy’s)

Macy’s has tweaked the process in the past few years and for 2018 Santaland is officially reservations-only. You can make free reservations online anywhere from 30 minutes to five days before your visit. This means that reservations are now open for Santaland’s opening day: Black Friday. Not only are reservations open, but they are going quickly.

On the busiest days, which are Friday through Sunday, you may also have the option to make your wait even shorter with a Santa Express Pass. This pass skips most of Santaland and sends you directly to Santa himself. If time is of the essence, this is a good option, but I recommend taking in the whole Santaland experience if you can.

While a visit to Santa is free, photo packages start at $20.99 (you can also take your own). I recommend paying for the photos at Macy’s with your Chase Freedom to earn 5 points per dollar (5% cash back) this quarter at department stores (up to $1,500 quarterly limit).

tips for visiting Santaland
Santa lets you take your own photos if you wish

Should your child prefer a visit to an African American or Spanish-speaking Santa, just let the elves know when you arrive. Those who require special accommodations to visit with Santa can call (212) 494-4495.

New York City is especially magical during the holidays, so don’t miss the chance to visit Santaland while you are in town. Just be sure to make a free reservation in advance. If a family trip to NYC is in your future, here are some additional articles to point you in the right direction:

Featured image courtesy of Macy’s.

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