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Taubman Centers Inc. has called upon Santa Claus to make their malls more experiential.

Taubman has created Santa’s Flight Academy in 12 shopping centers that in a North Pole setting, gets kids working with elves to inspect and ready Santa’s sleigh for the Christmas Eve gift-giving flight, donning virtual flight suits and 3-D crew badges, and dancing in snow on a giant, 22-foot-tall sleigh.

While the experience goes beyond the usual sit-in-the-lap, meet-and-greet, Santa is there at the end of the journey giving gifts to the kids.

“This is major physical construction,” William Taubman, chief operating officer of the Taubman Cos., told WWD. “It’s a personalized one-of-a-kind, immersive experience with an amazing amount of technology. It’s interactive with multiple stations for the kids.”

On average, it takes the kids about 12 minutes to make their way through Santa’s Flight Academy, with or without their parents. Visit times can be reserved to avoid waiting on line via each shopping center’s web site, through the mobile app for Android and iPhone platforms and onsite at kiosks at Santa’s Flight Academy, which will be open through Dec. 24.

Taubman has a long association with Santa, but for this holiday, “We’ve pursued a maximum strategy for Santa when most of our competitors have gone minimal. The mall needs to overdeliver to the family for Christmas, to solidify emotional bonds with customers.”

The 12 Taubman shopping centers with Santa’s Flight Academy are Cherry Creek Shopping Center, Denver; Dolphin Mall in Miami; Fair Oaks Mall in Fairfax, Va.; Great Lakes Crossing Outlets in Auburn Hills, Mich.; International Plaza in Tampa, Fla.; The Mall at Green Hills in Nashville; The Mall of San Juan in Puerto Rico; The Mall at Short Hills in New Jersey; The Mall at University Town Center in Sarasota, Fla.; Sunvalley Shopping Center in Concord, Calif.; Twelve Oaks Mall in Novi, Mich., and the Westfarms mall in Hartford, Conn.

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