$50 to See Santa at NJ Mall? Parents are Anything But Jolly
If some parents get their way the Cherry Hill Mall, will get a big lump of coal in its stocking because it is charging up to $50 to visit with Santa Claus.
The mall is home to "Adventure to Santa," a display created by Dreamworks featuring Santa along with Shrek characters. The display made its debut last year but this year comes with a pricetag.
Visitors who buy one of three packages ranging in price from $35 to $75 for up to five people take a virtual roller coaster ride to the North Pole and visit with Santa. Packages include a private visit with Ol' Saint Nick, a personalized boarding pass keepsake and photos in various sizes.
The higher-priced packages include high resolution photos and videos.
Most complaints on the Mall Facebook page are about children from lower income families not being able to afford a visit with Santa.
"You are effectively telling less fortunate children that Santa doesn't want to see them unless their parents can pay. Disgusting! I don't care that it's an 'attraction.' To the kids, it's just Santa, and he's rejecting them," Alison Potter Bramhall wrote.
And from Karen Wilson: "I've gone to Macy's Herald Square and they don't charge (and they could) but put the spirit of Christmas first. Disappointed Cherry Hill Mall. I don't even have young children anymore but you just lost my holiday shopping for leaving out the less financially gifted families."
Daniel Kochanowicz wrote that he was upset that Santa is not visible for shoppers to see.
"One of the perks of Christmas shopping in a mall is catching a glimpse of Santa on his throne, holding a kid or two in his lap and trying to stay jolly no matter what time of day or how loud or wet the kiddies. The only thing Cherry Hill Mall shoppers can gaze at it is the flat exteriors of this charmless pre-fab commercialized Shrek castle," he wrote.
Not all the comments were negative. Becky Wall thought it was the best experience she has ever had and plans on making it a family tradition.
The mall's owner, Philadelphia-based PREIT, owns 35 malls including 4 in New Jersey. Messages left at PREIT seeking comment have not yet been returned.
Several Malls owned by Simon in New Jersey including Menlo Park Mall and Rockaway Townsquare came under heavy criticism for their Santa Claus display: an "enchanted glacier" that looked like a cave made of snow. Mainstream and social media attention convinced Simon to change the displays back to a more "traditional" look.