INDIANAPOLIS, Dec. 6, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Interacting with Santa has never been easier than it will be at Simon Malls during the 2017 holiday shopping season. Simon, a global leader in premier shopping, dining and entertainment destinations, has announced exciting new ways to interact with Santa including the revolutionary 'Santa Messenger Bot,' which allows everyone's favorite bearded man to come to life via a Santa Bot add on for Facebook Messenger. The Santa Bot will help shoppers find the right store for the perfect gift based upon for whom they are shopping or the shoppers' categories of interest.
An interactive augmented reality game, 'Santa's Helpers,' will launch at select properties in the new Simon Family app this holiday season and will further enrich the on-mall shopping experience. The app uses AR to take kids or kids at heart into three locations at the North Pole where they will help Santa get ready for his big night. After completing the three challenges in the game, shoppers can enter a sweepstakes in the app to win a grand prize and receive a special keepsake at Simon Guest Services to commemorate the year they helped Santa.
As always, eager children and their families can experience the joy and magic of the holiday season with a visit to the Simon® Santa Photo Experience at most Simon properties. Families can save time and avoid the line with 'Santa by Appointment,' by making reservations online at http://simonsanta.com. Select Simon malls will have a 'Fast Pass' option available whereby, for a nominal fee, families reserve a two-hour 'window' for their big date with Santa.
The 'I Saw Santa' program provides children with an easy opportunity to relive their special photo experience. Children will get special stickers to commemorate their visit with Santa and will be recognized by staff and fellow shoppers as they travel about the mall with their parents!
At select Simon properties, families can share a snack or a story with Santa through the popular Breakfast with Santa, Story Time with Santa, and Cookies with Santa programs.
And speaking of cookies, there is something new this holiday season. On Saturday December 9th, over 120 Simon properties will help provide shoppers with Santa's favorite holiday treat, cookies! Simon is teaming up with Cookies For Kids Cancer, Mrs. Fields, Nestlé® Toll House® Café by Chip®, and the Great American Cookies® to distribute 133,000 cookies in one day!
The nationally-recognized 'Caring Santa' program, offered in alliance with Autism Speaks, returns to provide children with special needs and their families an opportunity to enjoy this time-honored holiday tradition through a sensory-friendly experience. 'Caring Santa' has become incredibly popular, growing from seven events in 2011 to an all-time high of 145 events this year, reflecting the positive impact of this unique program.
Our four-legged friends won't be forgotten this year either as the popular 'Pet Photo Night' with Santa returns. There will be 98 Pet Photo Night events this year. Allergy sufferers shouldn't fret, however, as Pet Photo nights are hosted after the mall's normal operating hours and the set gets an extensive cleaning following the event to remove any potential allergen risks.
"Our on-mall Santa experiences have evolved into a great mix of honoring timeless holiday traditions and bringing the best in innovation to our customers," said Mikael Thygesen, Simon's Chief Marketing Officer. "Our robust 2017 program is sure to please everyone."
The Simon Santa Photo Experience is again sponsored by GYMBOREE GROUP. The GYMBOREE GROUP is a specialty retailer operating stores selling high-quality apparel and accessories for children under the Gymboree, Gymboree Outlet, Janie and Jack, and Crazy 8 brands.
The 2017 Simon Santa Photo Experience is also sponsored by Universal Pictures Home Entertainment which is celebrating the highly-anticipated release of "Despicable Me 3," available on Digital and on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray™, DVD and On Demand. Come visit the Simon Santa Photo Experience and receive a fun-filled Despicable Me 3 activity sheet and watch highlights from the movie.
Guests to every Simon Photo Experience will have another opportunity to share Santa's heart by making a donation via The Cherry Hill Programs to Save the Children. For nearly 100 years, this non-profit has given underserved children in the U.S. a healthy start, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. Since this program began five years ago, Cherry Hill Programs has collected over $1,000,000 largely due to the generosity of Simon shoppers.
Simon is a global leader in the ownership of premier shopping, dining, entertainment and mixed-use destinations and an S&P 100 company (Simon Property Group,NYSE: SPG). Our properties across North America, Europe and Asia provide community gathering places for millions of people every day and generate billions in annual sales. For more information, visit simon.com.