Reservation with Santa? Yes, this year visitors are required to book a 30 minute time slot with the man in the red suit. Reservations can only be made up to five days in advance. Weekend slots fill up quickly. When I logged in at 9:30 AM five days in advance, the only options were 5:30 PM and later. When I looked the night before at 11 PM, reservations had not opened yet. It felt a bit cut throat to see Santa.
The whole time we were there we were feeling we were cheating on Santa
to see Santa
There is enough Santa love to go around. Not to spoil the magic too much, but we know the Santas during the 11 months of the year, too. It was our first time seeing the bottom Santa in red. The timing worked so we could do it. Must say it is fun to be greeted by Santa saying "I was wondering if I would see you today" and asking Ashley if she wanted "more art supplies" for Christmas. Made us realize we were in the right place.
The new system makes the line much shorter. From what I heard from his elves, the line used to stretch throughout the whole 8th floor, lasting 3-4 hours. Our line was only about 30 minutes with the reservation. I felt bad for the elves at the front of the line having to turn people away because they showed up at the wrong time, or did not have a reservation. The elves said they heavily advertised the new system on local radio and television studios, but I have a feeling at least a few of the guests did not live in the NYC Metropolitan Area. Just a hunch.
The line had giant TVs to entertain us, because we couldn't possibly wait on a quick moving line without entertainment. Much of the line was in what I would consider the behind the scenes area.
Santaland seemed smaller than I remembered. I think we were only in the queue with the giant train set and animatronics about five to ten of the thirty minute wait.
It was a pain-free experience -- as long as you make your reservation in advance. If not, be prepared for tears.
As a bonus, you can still ride their original escalators, which tied in nicely with the start of our day riding equally as old subway cars.