N.J. Mall Decides Not To Charge Admission To Santa’s Lap After All

(Consumerist reader Lindsey)

This photo was not taken in New Jersey but we have word that is in fact, the real Santa. (Consumerist reader Lindsey)

When something is free one year and then comes with a fee the next, you better believe there are going to be customers who notice. As such, the management company at a New Jersey mall has backed off its experiment to charge visitors for the privilege of meeting (or even seeing) Santa Claus after parents complained that access to St. Nick’s lap should be free for everyone.

The Grinch’s heart must have grown three sizes a bit early, as the mall’s higher-ups announced later on Monday that parents wouldn’t have to pay a minimum of $35 for the right to bring their kids to see the big guy.

In a statement (warning: link contains video that autoplays) that calls last year’s “Adventure to Santa” display “wildly successful,” again, a display that was free, mall management says it decided to bring back the “interactive journey” this season.

After going on a bit about the “immersive” 17-20 minute attraction, the mall says it’s had a change of heart.

“In the spirit of the holiday season, we want to keep things festive and bright,” management said. “We have heard and value our loyal customers’ feedback and as a result, have decided to remove the photo package purchase requirements.”

Though it’s common practice to charge parents a fee for photos or videos to commemorate the visit, many were upset that even sitting on St. Nick’s lap to bend his ear would cost money. And because Santa’s house has no windows at this mall, children wouldn’t be able to catch a glimpse of the Big Guy without paying up first.

“I find it classist and it creates a divide between children during a holiday which is supposed to be about equality and giving and having everyone participate in the joy of Christmas,” one customer told the Philadelphia Inquirer before the mall backtracked.

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