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10 Sensitive Santas Around Seattle, the Eastside and South Sound

Santa encounters for families of children with sensory or special needs

Published on: November 14, 2019

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.

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.

Sensational Santa

Meet Santa in a calm and supportive environment at your own designated time. Sensational Santa offers portrait appointments to book in advance so there is no more waiting in long lines. A social story with slides explaining every step of the process is also available online to help introduce the experience to your child beforehand.

Location: St. Rita of Cascia Catholic Church, Tacoma
Date: Saturdays, Nov. 16 and Dec. 7, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.
Book: Online; more than 5 people must book two consecutive sessions
Cost: $20

Santa Cares

Partnering with Autism Speaks and other local special needs organizations, Alderwood Mall has designated a quieter, less stressful time in which to visit with Santa. The program is for children and adults with special needs and abilities who would like additional support and extra time getting comfortable.

Location: Alderwood Mall, Lynnwood
Date: Sunday, Nov. 24, 8:30–10:30 a.m.
Book: Online; one ticket per family
Cost: Free to visit; optional photo packages available for purchase

Santa Cares

A private, sensory-friendly photo session for children within every spectrum of special needs and their families. Santa Cares is held in partnership with Autism Speaks. 

Location: South Hill Mall, Puyallup
Date: Sunday, Nov. 24, 9–10:30 a.m.
Book: Online; one ticket per family
Cost: Free to visit; optional photo packages available for purchase

Soothing Santa 

Soothing Santa in partnership with Autism Speaks is offering a quieter time with Santa for children with special needs.  No music, no lines and no flash on request. Children can enjoy a coloring activity, games and morning pastries, and can take their time with the Santa experience. 

Location: Kitsap Mall, Silverdale
Date: Sunday, Nov. 24; 9–10:30 a.m.
Book: Online; one ticket per family
Cost: Free to visit; optional photo packages available to purchase

Soothing Santa

Capital Mall knows that the hustle and bustle of the holiday season can be overwhelming for some children. They are proud to offer sensory-friendly appointments where children and adults with sensory-sensitivity needs can meet Santa in a calm and quiet environment. Reservations are required. A portion of Soothing Santa photo sales will be donated to Autism Speaks. 

Location: Capital Mall, Olympia
Date: Sundays, Nov. 24 and Dec. 8, 8:30–10:30 a.m.
Book: Online; one ticket per family
Cost: Free to visit; optional photo packages available for purchase

Sensitive Santa

This Santa creates a sensory-friendly visit by muting music and lights and offering activity tables during wait times in partnership with Autism Speaks. 

Location: The Outlet Collection, Auburn
Date: Sunday, Dec. 1; 9–11 a.m.
Book: Online; one ticket per family
Cost: Free to visit; optional photo packages available to purchase

Santa Cares

Children within every spectrum of special needs and their families are invited to a private 15-minute photo session, to experience the time-honored tradition of a visit with Santa Claus during dedicated hours. The event is held in cooperation with Autism Speaks.

Location: Issaquah Commons, Issaquah
Date: Sundays, Dec. 1 and Dec. 8, 8:30–10:30 a.m.
Book: Online; one ticket per family
Cost: Free to visit; optional photo packages available for purchase

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 the opportunity to purchase more. If things become too much, enjoy the refuge of the designated "quiet room". 

Location: Eastside Foursquare Church, Bothell
Date: Saturday, Dec. 7, 9 a.m.–3:30 p.m.
Book: Online; one ticket per family
Cost: $16; includes one professional photo

Caring Santa

Caring Santa in Tacoma takes place before mall opening to reduce sensory stimuli. Register for your 15-minute appointment.

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

Special Santa

Santa will be visiting the We Rock the Spectrum gym in Bellevue during an Open Play session. Bring your cameras and take your own photos with Santa and then enjoy all the gym has to offer.

Location: We Rock the Spectrum, Bellevue
Date: To be announced, likely first week of December; check Facebook for updates
Book: No reservations required
Cost: $12 for entry

Editor's note: This article was originally published in 2017 and updated for 2019.

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