App Development

WillowTree, Macerich, and HGTV Unveil ‘Santa HQ’ Cutting-Edge, North Pole Adventure

We’re pleased to announce that WillowTree, along with Macerich, and HGTV have teamed up to bring a visit to Santa into the mobile age this holiday season. Santa HQ, an interactive North Pole adventure, is an immersive and cutting-edge experience for children and families.

Santa HQ: HGTV

Macerich worked with WillowTree to revamp a traditional holiday experience by giving visitors insight into the world of Santa in a way that it’s never been done before.

“Our goal at Macerich is to enhance the customer experience in every way possible, and we seek out exceptional partners who share our passion and want to deliver exciting new opportunities that guests can’t find anywhere else,” said Ken Volk, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, Macerich.

The attraction places Santa’s headquarters directly inside the mall, and instead of a conventional area for photo opportunities with Santa, families can tour through Santa’s workshop using unique and high-tech applications. WillowTree created Android apps built around two interactive experiences for children and parents alike to enjoy. Visitors who download the mobile applications or use one of the provided tablets on location at _Santa HQ _have a portal to experience magical displays that creatively marry the physical world with technology.

Santa HQ: naughty or nice o'meter

The Naughty or Nice O’Meter, for example, interactively scans parents and children to determine if they’ve landed on Santa’s naughty or nice list this year. After entering their names in the app, guests can watch two large screens dynamically scroll through Santa’s list, making it seem as if names were streaming directly from the North Pole.

Santa HQ: nice list

“Taking advantage of Android’s flexibility also allowed us to incorporate Santa HQ light and sound shows into the Naughty or Nice O’Meter application, creating an even more engaging experience for families that you simply can’t get anywhere else,” said Derek Brameyer, WillowTree’s Lead Android Developer for the Santa HQ project.

WillowTree also built out the Elfie app that places smartphone users directly in Santa’s workshop through a fun video narrative. After taking a few Elfie selfies, the application stitches together a quick video capturing the magic of Christmas, and users can choose to receive a link in their inbox to view the video later. Visitors to Santa HQ can also explore Santa’s Observatory using ELF-RAY Vision.

“In the first tests with kids, they immediately ‘got it’ and wanted to use the apps.” said Tobias Dengel, CEO of WillowTree, Inc. “One child, who couldn’t be older than 5, understood, after watching his father input his brother’s name, what the app did and how to input his own name too. It’s the perfect example that shows how fast media is changing and leaning towards the internet of things and a smart, more connected world. Macerich’s innovative vision combined with our team’s technical expertise is going to bring a lot of holiday cheer to children of all ages this season.”

Santa HQ will arrive at 10 Macerich properties starting November 4th.

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