Cut in line to see Santa – for a fee

    Imagine cutting in line to see Santa Claus.  You’re at the mall with the kids. Your feet ache.  The packages are heavy.  The kids are impatient and cranky.  Any parent who’s lingered in line waiting to see a mall Santa has dreamed of doing it.

    But the fear of ending up on the naughty list usually keeps people in line, literally.

    But now, several area malls are encouraging you to cut to the front of the queue – for a fee of course.
    The Santa Fast Pass, designed by Cherry Hill Photo, has debuted at malls around the region as a way to take the hassle out of holiday photos.“It’s a way for customer to kind of skip the line,” Ashlyn Delson, marketing director for Willow Grove Park Mall said of the system. “[The line] moves very quickly.”The convenience fee is $2.50. The pass can be used any day, any time before Christmas Eve. 
    Pass holders get to stand in their own, much shorter line, which alternates with the longer, traditional line in getting a crack at the guy in the red suit and white beard.Lisa Wolstromer, senior marketing director for Cherry Hill Mall, said she’s seen only two or three people at one time in the fast pass line.

    So, do any fistfights break out between exhausted parents who’ve been in the traditional line forever and fast-passers who zip to the front?“Cherry Hill Photo trains the staff to manage the lines,” added Wolstromer, who notes those in the regular line are alerted to what’s happening before VIP customers cut in front of them. “It’s a smooth process.”

    • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

    It’s also early in the holiday season.  It will be interesting to see how the idea works later on, when the days before Christmas, and tempers, get shorter.  But mall spokespeople are confident that seasonal good cheer will win out.
    “It’s managed really well,” said Kathy Smith, marketing manager for King of Prussia Mall. “I think people are more aware of how the fast pass works because amusement parks use them. We haven’t had any complaints.”

    More than a dozen tri-state malls operated by Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust partner with Cherry Hill Photo for the fast pass program, including Bergen Town Center, Cherry Hill, Hamilton, Monmouth, Moorestown and Quaker Bridge malls in New Jersey; Willow Grove Park, King of Prussia Court, Springfield, Lehigh Valley, Exton Square and Coventry malls in Pennsylvania; and Delaware’s Christiana Mall.Some malls, like Cherry Hill, are participating for the second year, while Delson said this is Willow Grove’s first season. Both malls offered the Easter Bunny Fast Pass last Spring.

    WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal