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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 16, 2018

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

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, Nov. 17 and Saturday, Dec. 1
Book: Online
Cost: Package prices vary for 1–5 people; additonial charge for additional people

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. 1, 9 a.m.–3:30 p.m.
Book: Online; one ticket per family
Cost: $16; includes one professional photo

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. 2, 1–3 p.m.
Book: Stop in to meet Santa and jump
Cost: Free

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: Typically first three Saturdays in December; check Facebook page for announcement and booking
Book: Online; look for posts with registration link on Facebook
Cost: Free

Caring Santa

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

Location: Tacoma Mall, Tacoma
Date: Sunday, Dec. 2, 8–9:30 a.m
Book: Online
Cost: Free to visit; optional photo packages available to purchase

Santa Cares

This Santa is a presented by Cherry Hill Programs and Autism Speaks to support families of kids with sensory or other special needs.

Location: Issaquah Commons, Issaquah
Date: Sunday, Dec. 2, 10–11 a.m.
Book: Online
Cost: Free; optional photo packages available for purchase

Santa Cares

Another appearance by a special Santa presented by Pacific Place and Autism Speaks to support families of kids with sensory or other special needs.

Location: Pacific Place, downtown Seattle
Date: Sunday, Dec. 2, 10–11 a.m.
Book: Online
Cost: Free; optional photo packages available for purchase

Caring Santa

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

Location: Northgate Mall, Seattle
Dates: Sundays, Dec. 2 and 9; 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.

Location: Kitsap Mall, Silverdale
Date: Sundays, Dec. 2 and 9; 8–10 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: Sundays, Dec. 2 and 9; 9–11 a.m.
Book: No advance booking; activities provided for wait time
Cost: Free to visit; optional photo packages available to purchase

Santa Cares

This Santa is a presented by Cherry Hill Programs and Autism Speaks ot support families of kids with sensory or other special needs.

Location: Westwood Village, West Seattle
Date: Sunday, Dec. 9, 10–11 a.m.
Book: Online
Cost: Free; optional photo packages available for purchase

Kent Station Santa

The Santa at Kent Station has in the past made appointments for families of kids with special needs, whereas the general public waits in line. We're awaiting word if this will be the case again for 2018 and will update here when we gather more information. Call 253-856-2301 to ask about the possibility of making an appointment.

Location: Kent Station
Dates: Daily through Saturday, Dec. 23.
Book: Call 253-856-2301 with questions about appointments for families of kids with special needs
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.

Editor's note: This article was originally published in 2017 and updated for 2018.

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