This time of the year is a very busy time for everyone taking part in many festive activities, but for some families with children that have additional needs it can sometimes be difficult to organise outings. Magical trips to visit Santa can be seen as an anxious time due to such things as communication difficulties, sensory overload or wheelchair accessibility.
Unfortunately, there is not a lot of information available online regarding accessibility of Santa grottos, which means planning visits to meet a child’s additional requirements can be a challenge. More awareness needs to be spread to allow everyone to be included in this festive time and to share great memories together.
A great example of a Santa’s Grotto that is providing a fantastic customer experience is at intu Metrocentre in Newcastle. It is a free Grotto that is open now until Monday 24th December, offering relaxed Santa sessions for children with autism spectrum conditions and those who require BSL signing Santa sessions. There are some restrictions with these sessions however, they have to be booked in advance and are only available every Sunday between 10am and 12pm.
Our Marketing Manager, who is a wheelchair user, thinks back to when she was a child and would visit Santa with her family. She can’t remember not being able to get into any Grottos however, she feels the experience could have been so much better for all involved if the Grotto locations provided the necessary access information to enable families to plan easier.
We’d love more Santa’s Grottos to be fully accessible next year. If you are involved in organising one, working in one, arranging where one is placed, have a look at some of the great examples out there, like the one mentioned above, as ask if there is anything you can be doing better.
Are you visiting any of Santa’s Grottos this year? Let us know of the best accessible ones.