Santa's Elf Academy

My daughter is turning 5 soon.

Before she was born, we did not celebrate Christmas. Once she was born, we were not sure if it was appropriate to create a fantasy out of the entire Christmas experience. With time, we both gave in and let our daughter enjoy the magic of Santa Claus.

The past few years, getting my daughter’s picture with Santa has been more of a hassle than you would think. Instead of waiting for the season to get busier, we decided to get her picture taken at the beginning of the Christmas season.

Our Visit to Santa’s Academy

This year we decided to choose the Mall of San Juan.

The prices of the pictures are more affordable and attractive than other malls around us.

But the full experience even before you get to see Santa was well worth it.

Many malls have chosen to have an independent vendor as a photographer. Santa becomes a revenue source instead of a marketing opportunity.

After watching the movie, Miracle on 34th Street, I see how the Mall of San Juan gets it right. Like Kris Kringle, they create an experience making you want to return to them.

The complete experience incorporates technology and old holiday traditions. The Santa’s Academy is free of charge for anyone visiting the mall.

The Mall as a Partner of their Tenants

The Mall of San Juan is a partner and brings holiday shoppers near their tenants. The Santa’s Academy experience brings more people to the mall. Parents like me are easily influenced by their kids. I am sure that I overheard my daughter tell her mom she wants to return to Santa’s Academy last night.

On our visit we had some lunch at our favorite vegan-friendly restaurant, Kona Grill. We also visited some of the newer stores that opened up.  I fell in love with the awesome space created by  Anthropologie. The decoration was creative and artistic. It made me want to stay in the store longer to keep browsing their inventory.

I love how easy it is to park. At every other mall, I feel I am battling other holiday shoppers  for a parking spot. The Mall of San Juan still creates the most relaxed environment of any mall here on the Island.

Grateful for the Digital Image Option

The biggest plus of the experience with taking pictures, was actually having access to a digital copy of the image.

For years I have asked photographers at the mall to sell me the digital copy. I have even told them to name a price.

As a photographer, I see the value and understand what they do. Yet every other photographer ignored my request and just sold the prints. On one occasion, we waited about an hour just to get the pictures printed. I wonder what they do with all those digital images.

Once there was a photographer who told me he would send me the file later just to get rid of me. After many emails and calls, I gave up. That was Christmas of 2011, I am still waiting for his response.

I am grateful to finally get my digital copy of the photo with Santa.

There are various packages at affordable prices.

Two of those packages include a digital jpeg image. With the other lower tier packages, you can include the option for an extra fee. Our package also included a Shutterfly gift card.

Why I favor Digital over Print

As a Minimalist, I rather have digital files than a bunch of actual print photos.

I can also backup digital photos in many places. It will also make it easier for me to send pictures to all my loved ones; many of them are outside of the Island. If I forgot someone, I can order a few extra prints, mail directly from my online photo print shop of choice, and right to their home. I hate packing photos for delivery. I rather have professionals take care of that.

Great Job Mall of San Juan

I have to commend the management and those creating the complete Santa Academy experience.

Great Job!

Daniela, Lucy, and I had an awesome time.

Disclaimer: I was not given any type compensation for this blog post. I paid for Santa’s photos with a big smile because of the great service.

Daniela and Santa

Santa Claus