Friday, December 27, 2013

North Pole Experience


December always starts out calm and slow but all of a sudden, the Christmas rush creeps up on me and we have no time for ANYTHING.   This year was particularly tricky for me since I have a screaming baby, everything is tainted when you have a screaming baby.

Also, before I move on with this post I should catch up anyone who doesn't know, that Joy fell off her step stool while "helping" me make dinner and smacked her face on the tile floor resulting in a magnificent black eye.  It was the darkest black eye I have ever seen. By the time these pictures were taken, it was clearing up - but still not good.

Alright, last week we had 24 hours of family time in Flagstaff to go to the North Pole Experience.   Last year we did the Polar Express and it was great but lacking in many areas.  I had heard of the NPX a while ago and had been debating and looking into it but could find little info of what actually happens during it, no photos, no descriptions.  We ultimately decided to go with NPX beause it is closer, in Flagstaff and my parents have a house 10 minutes outside of Flagstaff so we wouldn't have to get a hotel.  (which was out of the question with Paige).

Our drive up was filled with two excited girls and 1 screaming girl.  We were lucky that only 45 minutes of the trip were filled with ear splitting screams.

It was a little scary driving, the fog was so dense.

We got to my parents house and it started to snow lightly.  We were so excited!  It had snowed quite a bit the night before so Josh had to dig out a place for us to park. 



We had just enough time to play in the snow for a little bit and unpack, then it was off to the Little America Hotel, where the NPX started.

The outside of the Little America Hotel is super cheesy, seriously people, change the sign, but inside the lobby was beautiful,  it was packed with people so I didn't want to take a picture of everybody but here are the girls waiting for our turn to line up for our trolley.
 

We gave an elf sitting at the NPX desk our tickets and he gave us colored wrist bands to indicate which trolley we were on.  The whole schedule ran smoothly and the trolleys left exactly on time, they definitely had a good system going.

We got lined up for our trolley and in line a really pretty girl elf came and talked to every family, asked the kids' names, if they've been good, etc.  Then our group of about 50 people got on the trolley, (which was a bus painted red and green.  It was way nicer inside then the Polar Express was though)


We were accompanied by a "Trolley Elf", Bernard, who was there to keep spirits high during the 15 minute drive to the North Pole.  We sang songs and he talked about how the elves are all really really old (he was 227) and that he invented Lincoln Logs.   Then we traveled through "The Portal" to get us to the North Pole really fast, cause you know, Flagstaff is really far from the North Pole.  So we all closed our eyes and said some silly chant and to pleeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaasssseeee get us through the portal.  The bus was equipped with some red and green flashing lights that Bernard turned on during this part.  It was cheesy.

We got to the North Pole which was a camp with a bunch of wood buildings  I couldn't see the name of it on the signs, that was the part I was supposed to have my eyes closed.  The buildings had red and gold signs on them that said things like "Wood Toys" and "Eletronic Toys" on them to indicated what kind of toys were being made in each building.  The biggest building is where the whole NPX took place.

 The front door was a very magical looking carved door, the kids knocked on the door and 2 very annoying toy soldiers (high school girls dressed up) let us in.   They said their 10 minutes of talking/acting and showed us the compass at the very top of the North Pole.  It was spinning around and around.   That room had a toy train on on a track suspended from he ceiling which kept the kids attention. 

From there, we all filed into the toy making room.  
The kids took a seat at a bench and an elf came and showed them what to do.   It turns out the "making toys" means dressing a teddy bear

and testing out a nerfy air rocket thing.



The main thing that I noticed and did not like is that all of the rooms we were in were very dark.   I don't know if this was on purpose or not but it was not how I would have imagined the North Pole when I was a kid.

We then moved on to the even darker wrapping room.   The walls were all covered in wrapped presents, the kids were in awe.

 2 Elves talked to us in there and it was very boring to me.  Thankfully Santa and Mrs Claus were up in the loft area and they talked a little too, then an elf and Mrs. Claus threw toys down the shoots and the kids had to make sure they landed in the crates below. 


After that we went to another room to get some snowman soup. (hot chocolate) and a cookie.  We sang our 3rd round of rudolph the red nose reindeer and the elves in that room asked the kids questions while they ate.
 

 Then we had to go the Elf University which was a cute old fashioned school house room but I honestly don't know what the elves were saying, it was just silly stuff that was over the kids heads.  Paige was fussing so I tried to discreetly nurse her in the back.

We then went to the Mail Room where the kids wrote a list for Santa.  This and Elf University were just stalling rooms while other groups that were ahead of us got through the Santa parts of the Experience. 



I really liked how they did the next few parts here.  They let each family individually into a room with Mrs. Claus.
 
They could talk to her and take a picture.

 Then we went family at a time to Santa's Sleigh room.

 It was an impressive sleigh.

Then the moment we had all been waiting for..... we got to go privately in with Santa and the girls told him what they wanted for Christmas.  Joy was not too shy and sat on his lap.  Then an elf took a picture of our family with Santa and some of the girls with him. (which they gave us on a disk drive for free)

 I took a couple too - just in case.  But the family one turned out pretty well considering.


We then got up on the bus, sang Rudolph again and Bernard came by and asked all the kids how they liked the North Pole.



 All in all it was a lot of fun.  It was impressive to me how perky and excited the elves all were when you considered that they had done their acting/talking part about 30 times that day.  Most of the elves were upper high school/college kids and did an excellent job.  (except the toy soldiers - I didn't like them at all)  The main thing that could use improvement was the lighting and I could do without the Elf University and list writing.  I also think it would have been nice if the toy they made was actually something they "made" and could take home with them.  At $42 per person I don't think that is an unreasonable expectation.

The girls were exhausted when we got back to the house.  We watched Christmas shows and went to bed.

The next day it was snowing lightly again and Claire was so excited to get out in the snow.
 Joy - not so much.  She enjoyed eating the snow and spending time inside with me.

Warming her buns by the fire.

Snow angels with her legs.


Paige seemed to like being cold.....



nevermind.

 Thankfully Josh isn't paralyized by the cold like I am so he was out there with Claire most of the day.




They built a nice snowman.

It was such a fun trip!  The girls absolutely loved it.  It was good to get away - even it was only for a day.

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