Santa arrived at a newly renovated Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg Thursday, greeted by the Conant High School drum line and a new online reservation system for families who don't want to wait in long lines for their time with the jolly old elf.
For the first time, Woodfield and all Simon Properties malls are offering a chance to bypass the crowds this holiday season with a $10 reservation for an appointment with Santa.
Though free visits with Santa are still available through Christmas Eve, the new system allows patrons to save time by making an appointment online, Woodfield spokeswoman Lauren Fyke said.
While the fee is nonrefundable if the appointment isn't kept, it can be put toward the purchase of a professional photo package at the mall's Minion-themed Ice Palace.
For reservations booked before Black Friday, Nov. 27, a free multi-image CD package with a $29.99 value is available with the purchase of a $39.99 photo package. To make an appointment online, go to woodfieldmall.fullslate.com.
Santa will be available throughout the holiday season during the expected hours of 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays.
While Black Friday hours are still unconfirmed, they're expected to resemble last year's which began at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day and ran until 10 p.m. the following day for a total of 28 continuous hours.
Santa's arrival coincides with the near-completion of Woodfield's yearlong, $13.9 million interior renovation. All that's being left until after the holidays is the installation of a third elevator in the center court.