Macy’s Santaland: A Christmas Tradition

There are very few things in life that are genuinely free these days. Usually—somewhere—there’s a catch, a hidden fee, a too-good-to-be-true “offer.”

The Minneapolis Macy’s Santaland display is one of those rare free finds—it’s cute, it’s clever, it’s incredibly detailed, and it will take the Scrooge right out of you and replace your “Bah humbug!” attitude with good old-fashioned Christmas cheer.

If little elves in various states of work/rest/play can’t put a smile on your face, I’m not sure what can.

If you’re one of those people who has fond memories of what the tradition used to be—back when the eighth floor holiday display changed every year (when Macy’s was Dayton’s)—and you don’t like that it’s been “A Day in the Life of an Elf” for the past few seasons, I suggest you give the display another chance.

I get that you want something new. I’m the girl who doesn’t like to read the same book twice (there are so many good books out there, why would I want to read the same one again?), or watch the same movie twice (that “rule” went right out the window once I had kids. I’m talking to you, Toy Story 3), but I also understand that times have changed, and maybe it makes the most sense economically to stick with the same theme. It still takes 50 crewmembers to build the display every year. There are 700 handwritten letters in one scene alone.

Heck, I’ve gone to see the elves preparing for Christmas three times now, and I’m still not sick of it. Every time I go, I notice something different. It’s also fun to witness the wide-eyed stares and excitement of the little ones going through the display for the first time.

singing tree  

There’s a new element this year—a puppet theater. It’s not free, but it sounds like it’s worth every dollar of the $4 admission fee (free for kids 2 and under). This year’s show is “Moose Crossing,” a trio of song-filled tales set in the deep woods community of Moose Crossing, USA. The all-star cast features the voices of Julie Andrews, Mario Cantone, John Tartaglia, and Walter Cronkite. The performances are Thursday through Sunday, 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m., and 3:30 p.m. Tickets are available for 30 minutes prior to each performance. Seating is limited.

You can also buy fresh cookies and treats in Mrs. Claus’ Bakery, take photos with Santa, and find holiday gifts in Santa’s Toy Shop. (*Tip: There can be long lines on the weekends. Plan accordingly.) You can also donate to the “Wishing Well,” with 100 percent of the proceeds going to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Macy’s Santaland runs through Monday, Dec. 24 in the eighth floor auditorium of Macy’s downtown Minneapolis. 

If you’re heading downtown for the Holidazzle Parade, you have a day off and plan to do a little shopping, or you already work downtown, check it out. It will help remind you of the magic of Christmas, and that sometimes the best things in life really are free.

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