so while we've not had an elf on our shelf for a good three years now, when we saw the advertisements for a drive-thru EOTS experience at the nearby fairplex i knew we'd probably end up going.
until i saw the pricing for it...instead of charging per car, they charged for each individual person in the car. that's kind of crappy, no? and so we brushed it aside and didn't think about it again until one day when i got an email from goldstar offering heavily discounted tickets. and when i put three tickets in my cart for a thursday evening, it ended up totaling pretty much what i would have expected to pay for an event like this. so we picked a date and bought the tickets.
aaaaaand then covid hit our house - the very week we were scheduled to go. man. we were pretty bummed, but there was definitely no way around it. i offered them to one of our friends, and they were all set until they realized that one of the kids had practice at the very same time as the event. and so i turned to another friend who has two kids and luckily, they were available and excited to go. she texted me later on and raved about how much fun they'd had and how it'd lifted the girls' spirits after being on lockdown for most of the year, and i was so glad they'd been able to use the tickets.
after we received our second negative covid tests, i decided to try again. and happily, we were able to find tickets again at the same discounted prices. so on a thursday evening after cheer practice, the girls and i made our way to pomona and started our elf on the shelf adventure.
they have an app that you download before going through the gate, and it plays music and tells you the story of what you're seeing as you drive through. it's divided into 16 chapters, with signage to show you when to move on to the next one.
we checked in with one of the staffers, who then handed us the light-up necklace that came with the bean's ticket and showed us a sneak peek of the merchandise we'd be able to buy at the end of the line.
next, we had the chance to order some snacks and hot cocoa to enjoy in the car together. the girls went for the cocoa and the "reindeer bites," which were just little bite-sized churros.
then it was time to wait in line to enter the fairgrounds and actually get the show on the road. at the very beginning, each car stopped at the "spirit escalation station," where elf helpers would scan the car and measure our level of christmas spirit.
apparently, santa's sleigh crash-landed here.
this is where we entered the "shrinkin' tunnel," and when we emerged we were shrunken down to elf size.
right afterwards, elves were on hand to collect our letters to santa.
from there, we were treated to a lot of cute light displays and elf antics.
and every so often, we'd come up to another spirit escalation system to see if our level of christmas spirit had improved. of course, we moved up a notch or two every time.
it really was very cute, and lots of fun to drive through and see what was coming up next. the elves were all very animated and full of enthusiasm - although i suppose it helped that our visit was really early in the season still.
and because we were all still shrunken down to the size of an elf, this EOTS kit looked gigantic. heh.
one last check of our christmas spirit before going through the UN-shrinkin' tunnel:
and look who was waiting around the bend for us!
this was pretty much the end of the experience. as we drove towards the exit, we looked out at the fairplex where we usually go for funnel cake, bacon wrapped deep-fried stuff, ice cream, cotton candy...and where i usually see my cookies displayed - assuming i've actually placed. sigh.
turns out that we were waiting in line because there was a quick photo op.
you can't even really see us, but it's still pretty funny.
right after that was where we got the most fun surprise of all - those letters to santa that we'd dropped off had been shrunken down to elf size, perfect for hanging from the christmas tree. so cute!
all in all, it had taken about an hour from start to finish. super cute, and a fun way to kick off the holiday season. i'm not sure it would be worth full price, nor would i suggest the $75 VIP upgrade (which got you a shorter wait to check in plus a goody bag of some sort and a socially distanced photo op with santa). but if you can still get your hands on the off-peak pricing...do it. it'll get you into the christmas spirit for sure.