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Photos with Santa: Where to get them in Phoenix, and how they'll be different due to COVID-19

Santa at Bass Pro Shop (handout).jpg
Posted at 9:51 AM, Nov 24, 2020

PHOENIX — Santa is still scheduled to make his yearly rounds at malls, shopping centers, and community events for family photos and collecting Christmas wish lists, though the experience will be a bit different due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The biggest differences: instead of sitting on Santa's lap, kids will take a socially-distant photo with the big guy, often with a barrier between them; masks will be required for those two and older, and reservations are recommended or required.

Others have transformed their experiences into a drive-thru visit with Santa. For those staying in, Santa and Mrs. Claus are also available for virtual visits.

Finding Santa around Phoenix

Santa will visit a dozen malls and shopping centers in the Valley, like Kierland Commons, Biltmore Fashion Park, Scottsdale Fashion Square, Chandler Fashion Center, Arrowhead Towne Center, Superstition Springs Center, Arizona Mills, and others.

Those photo experiences are managed and operated by Cherry Hill Programs, a company based in Marlton, New Jersey.

In addition to the safety measures listed above, Santa will undergo a temperature check, there will be social distancing markers in the queue, physical barriers, and contactless payment, according to Cherry Hill's website.

Reservations can be made for any location at whereissanta.com. You can search by state, city, and zip code (not just in Arizona). Direct links for malls in the Phoenix area are below.

Photo packages vary between $40-$50, but double-check each location's website for the latest information and pricing.

A live virtual visit with Santa starts at $99 and can be booked here.

Merry Main Street

Santa will visit Merry Main Street in downtown Mesa on Fridays and Saturdays in November and December.

Because of the pandemic, Santa will be inside a snow globe and families will take their photos in front of him. Photos are free and will be taken with your personal cell phone or camera.

Santa is scheduled to visit on Nov. 28, Dec. 4-5, Dec. 11-12, and Dec. 18-19, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Visit merrymainst.com for more information.

The City of Mesa will also host a drive-thru breakfast visit with Santa on Saturday, Dec. 12. The cost is $3 and advanced registration is required. Details can be found here.

Westgate Entertainment District

Over at Westgate Entertainment District, Santa will visit on four Saturdays in November and December: Nov. 28, Dec. 5, 12 and 19. He will visit from 12 p.m. - 2 p.m. and pose for socially-distanced photos for 30 minutes at three spots, according to Westgate's website.

Photos are free and will be taken on your personal cell phone or camera. There are no reservations needed.

Westgate is also offering virtual visits with Santa, called "Santa Calls." Visit westgateaz.com for more information.

Bass Pro Shops and Cabela's

Santa will be at Bass Pro Shops in Mesa and Cabela's in Glendale for free photos from Nov. 7 - Dec. 24.

Because of COVID-19, Santa will appear behind an acrylic barrier, and kids and families will sit or stand in front of it. Each family will receive a free 4x6 print and a digital copy.

Advanced reservations are required and can be made at basspro.com or cabelas.com.

Outlets at Anthem

Santa will be at the Outlets at Anthem shopping center between Nov. 21 and Dec. 24. Photo sessions are available between 11 a.m. - 7 p.m. every day (Santa is on break from 3 p.m. - 4 p.m.).

Due to the pandemic, Santa will appear behind a protective barrier for photos, both employees and families will have to wear masks, and temperatures will be checked.

Photo packages vary between $20-$40. Visit OutletsAnthem.com to book an appointment and for more information. Anthem is also home to the tallest fresh-cut Christmas tree in the state.

NOT SANTA, BUT OTHER PHOTO SPOTS

While Santa may not be at these spots, there are still places to take photos for that holiday greeting card. And best of all, most of these spots are free.

Sugarland Downtown Chandler, Nov. 28 - Jan. 3

No, it's not the country duo, but you already knew that. Downtown Chandler is home to Arizona's famous Tumbleweed Tree, which features nearly 1,000 tumbleweeds that are covered with lights and ornaments.

You can take pictures during the day, or at night when the tree is lit. New this year is "Sugarland," an interactive display that features more than 500 lights synced to holiday music, including "Jingle Bell Rock" and "All I Want For Christmas Is You."

The lights will be on from 5 p.m. - 10 p.m. every day, from Nov. 28 - Jan. 3. Get more information.

Tempe Marketplace, now through Dec. 31

Near Dave and Buster's, Tempe Marketplace has installed a 40-foot star-shaped tunnel that people can walk through or pose in front of.

There is also Candy Cane Lane near H&M. People can post in front of larger-than-life candies, like gumdrops, lollipops, candy canes, gingerbread men, and a hot chocolate pond.

In the same area is the shopping center's holiday tree. More information.

Desert Ridge Marketplace, now through Dec. 31

Desert Ridge Marketplace also has a lighted star tunnel that has been installed near the AMC movie theater. Near H&M, they have installed a festive garland with cutouts of bells, trees, and Santa beards. More information.

Scottsdazzle, Nov. 27 - Jan. 1

Each year, the City of Scottsdale rings in the holidays with a month-long celebration of events and activities. Due to the pandemic, Scottsdale's event has been reimagined, but there are a number of events planned.

On Nov. 27 and 28, Scottsdale will host its "Scottsdale Stroll" event, where the Scottsdale Waterfront will be illuminated with lights and displays, including the city's holiday tree. The event runs 6 p.m. - 9 p.m. both nights, though the decorations will be up through the end of the year. More information.