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Sensitive Santas Around Seattle, the Eastside and South Sound

Santa encounters for families of children with sensory or special needs

Published on: November 21, 2017

Sensitive Santa

Photos of your kids with Santa are a time-honored holiday tradition for many families. But the jingling bells, long lines and noisy crowds that are typical of many Santa photo sessions just don’t work for some families.

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Luckily, there are lots of opportunities to meet with Santa in a kinder, gentler situation — with fewer other people, less noise and minimal hustle and bustle. Sensitive Santas make sweet holiday photos possible for families with sensory-sensitive kids, children on the autism spectrum or with other special needs.

Read on for sensitive Santas around Seattle, the Eastside and South Sound, and book soon: Santa's appointment times fill up fast.

Special Santa

This Santa doesn’t believe in lines. Children can hang out in Santa’s workshop while waiting for Santa and participate in supported crafts and activities. Visits with Santa are in a private room and are not rushed. One professional photo is included with opportunity to purchase more.

Location: Eastside Foursquare Church, Bothell
Date: Saturday, Dec. 2, 9 a.m.–3:30 p.m.
Book: Online; one ticket per family
Cost: $16; includes one professional photo

Sensational Santa

Sensational Santa offers portrait appointments in a calm environment and supported activities for kids should there be a wait. A social story with slides explaining every step of the process is also available online to share with your child in anticipation of the visit.

Location: St. Rita of Cascia Catholic Church, Tacoma
Date: Saturday, Dec. 2
Book: Online
Cost: $20 for seatings with 1–4 kids; $25 for 5 or more kids for one digital portrait.

Sensory Sensitive Santa

Santa Land at The Old Cannery Furniture Warehouse in Sumner turns down the music and dims the lights during a portion of three of Santa's days to welcome families of children with special needs. Appointment times will be posted on its Facebook page the week prior to each session.

Location: The Old Cannery Furniture Warehouse, Sumner
Dates: Saturdays, Dec. 2, 9 and 16
Book: Online; look for posts with registration link on Facebook
Cost: Free

Caring Santa

Caring Santa in Seattle takes place prior to mall opening to reduce sensory stimuli. Register for your 15-minute appointment. This Santa appears thanks to a partnership with Autism Speaks and Cherry Hill Programs.

Location: Northgate Mall, Seattle
Dates: Sunday, Dec. 3, 8–9:30 a.m
Book: Online
Cost: Free to visit; optional photo packages available to purchase

Caring Santa

Caring Santa in Tacoma takes place prior to mall opening to reduce sensory stimuli. Register for your 15-minute appointment. This Santa is also part of the Autism Speaks roster of Santas.

Location: Tacoma Mall, Tacoma
Date: Sunday, Dec. 3, 8–9:30 a.m
Book: Online
Cost: Free to visit; optional photo packages available to purchase

Soothing Santa 

This Santa offers a quiet and understanding environment to provide a positive visit and photo op. Register for your 15-minute appointment. This Santa, too, is connected with Autism Speaks.

Location: Kitsap Mall, Silverdale
Date: Sunday, Dec. 3, 9–11 a.m.
Book: Online
Cost: Free to visit; optional photo packages available to purchase

Sensitive Santa

This Santa creates a sensory-friendly visit by muting music and lights and offering activity tables during wait times. Preregister. This is the fourth area Santa connected with Autism Speaks.

Location: The Outlet Collection, Auburn
Date: Sunday, Dec. 3, 9–11 a.m.
Book: Online
Cost: Free to visit; optional photo packages available to purchase

Sensitive Santa

Head to Springfree Trampoline to visit Santa in a sensory-friendly setting with light refreshments plus the opportunity to bounce.

Location: Spring Free Trampoline, Issaquah
Date: Sunday, Dec. 3, noon–4 p.m.
Book: Online
Cost: Free; preregister

Sensory Sensitive Santa Photos

Join Santa at Grand Ridge Plaza during specific quiet hours set aside for kids with special needs on multiple dates.

Location: Grand Ridge Plaza, Issaquah
Dates: Monday, Dec. 4, 10–11 a.m.; Saturday, Dec. 9, 10–11 a.m.; Monday, Dec. 11, 10–11 a.m.; Monday, Dec. 18, 9–10 a.m.
Book: No need to preregister
Cost: Free to visit; optional photo packages start at $23.95

Kent Station Santa

The Santa at Kent Station invites families of children with special needs to call ahead and book a private appointment with Santa — no waiting in line. Kent Station partners with Children's Therapy Services to welcome families into Santa's cozy cottage. Call 253-856-2301 to make an appointment.

Location: Kent Station
Dates: Daily through Saturday, Dec. 23.
Book: Call 253-856-2301 for a specific appointment time.
Cost: Photo packages $25–$45

If the dates or locations above don’t work for your family, or your first-choice place is booked up, many photography studios offer private Santa sessions throughout the season. Most will work hard to accommodate special needs with prior notification.

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