Phoenix With Kids

Visit the North Pole Experience in Flagstaff

I just want to start off by saying that The North Pole Experience in Flagstaff was so much more than I imagined or expected. 

Liz Haveman

I just want to start off by saying that The North Pole Experience in Flagstaff was so much more than I imagined or expected. 

I’m a researcher. When I plan a trip, I know every detail of the trip almost to the minute. But when we planned a snowboarding trip for my daughter’s birthday in December, we needed something to do the first evening we arrived. I’d heard of the North Pole Experience but didn’t know much about it. So almost on a whim, we bought tickets for the Friday afternoon of our trip.

On December 8, we pulled the kids out of school 3 hours early, had some quick birthday donuts, and started the 2 and a half hour drive to Flagstaff. Starting in the middle of the day was a great choice, because we avoided all the rush hour traffic getting through Phoenix. 

When we arrived at the Little America Hotel, (where the North Pole Experience begins,) we were all surprised by how beautiful it was. The entire place, inside and out, exuded warmth and welcome. The trees outside were wrapped in Christmas lights. The lobby was beautiful, enhanced by a large, glowing fire on the back wall, and decorations and Christmas trees cheering every corner.  We were welcomed by North Pole elves at the door who kindly pointed us down a hallway to the right to check in for our appointment. 

The girls were each given a special golden ticket to Santa’s Workshop, and we were told to come back to the waiting area 20 minutes before our scheduled time of 4:50 p.m. We arrived a bit early, and they asked us if we wanted to go ahead and start early. Absolutely! So we were on a magic trolly by 4:20. 

We started off by watching a welcome video from an elf who told us about the magic portal that would be transporting us to the North Pole. We had to learn the secret passwords, and then laughed and squealed as the bus swayed back and forth, floating through the magic portal. 

When we stepped off the bus, we were greeted by a lovely elf named Noel, who told us the history of Santa’s workshop, and about the antique wooden doors that were about to open. In just a few minutes, two toy soldiers opened the doors and led us into Santa’s special toy hall of fame. We got to enjoy seeing toys through the ages that, we were told, were some of Santa’s all-time favorites. After the toy soldiers told some funny stories, we went into the next room, which was Santa’s original workshop. It was much smaller, and all the kids enjoyed spotting the scout elves, who are very mischievous.

In the next room we got to help Elf Spice by dressing some lovely stuffed bears, and putting together robot toys. 

After that, we went into another toy assembly room, and helped out elves Doodle and Snickers by creating an assembly line to get the stuffing up to where the bears would be stuffed. Then we had an elf parade to celebrate everyone’s hard work. 

Our next stop was Mrs. Clause’s kitchen, where we all got Yetti-O’s and Snowman soup (small fried donuts and hot chocolate). They were delicious, perfectly fried, both crispy and soft. We had been smelling those Yetti-O’s for about two rooms, so we really couldn’t wait to try them! Mrs. Clause was so sweet and welcoming, and the elves taught us some dances. 

The next room was a school house where we learned some North Pole history, and got first hand elf training. After that was a fantastic mailroom where we all wrote letters to Santa. The detailed decorations in each of these rooms were charming and beautiful. 

The next space was mostly a line, but the elves here were very entertaining, and we got to see the magic portal communication headquarters, Santa’s sleigh, and watch reindeer walking around and taking off! When we reached the end of the line, we went into a small corridor, and a doorway in front of us opened up. An elf led us through, and there was the big guy himself. Santa sat on a bench in a golden vest, red pants, black boots, and fuzzy hat. “His eyes, how they twinkled. His dimples- how merry!  His Cheeks were like roses, his nose, like a cherry!”

He was gentle and kind, not at all intimidating. He welcomed the kids with open arms and a cheerful smile. They were so excited to see him. He asked them what they wanted for Christmas, and told them he was so happy to see them. Then, each girl was handed a bear. Santa said, “these bears have never had a hug before. They needed hugs, and names, and someone to love them. And would you girls like to take care of these bears?” What a sweet privilege to give a toy a new home. Then we all got our pictures with Santa. To my delight, I found out the pictures were included! 

After we said goodbye, we went back out to the magic trolly, and were transported home through the very scientific and reliable magic portal. 

The entire experience was beautiful and magical and very sweet. All the elves along the whole journey really were the heart and soul of the place. They made each room magical and fun. The elves really brought each station to life. My only regret is not taking the kids years ago. Even so, it was enjoyed equally by a 7 year old, 11 year old, and 12 year old. You’re never too old to experience the magic of the North Pole.

If you haven’t gone yet and you’re afraid your kids are too old, go! It was incredible, and turned imagination and fantasy into reality. Learn more on their website.

More great holiday events can be found on our events calendar!


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