Visiting Santa is one of the things that makes the holiday season magical for many families. It has become tradition for many people to stand in line for their turn to tell the jolly old elf himself what they want for Christmas, and of course, to get their picture taken.

Many stores, malls and other locations that have a place set up for Santa’s visit go all out with festive decor. If you weren’t already in the holiday spirit before visiting Santa, you most likely will be when you leave.

Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic is going to change how children visit Santa this year. While some stores may come up with creative ways to keep Santa and families safe during an in-person visit, Macy’s flagship store on 34th Street in New York City will not be creating their usual Santaland.

According to Macy’s vice president of branded entertainment, Susan Tercero, “For many, visiting Santa at Macy’s has become a long-standing highlight of the holiday season.” In fact, 200,000+ guests have visited Santa at Macy’s Santaland since 1977, and this will be the first year since 1861 that Santa will not be at Macy’s.

Just like Macy’s is reimagining the Thanksgiving Day Parade this year, they are also reimagining Santaland. Instead of an in-person visit, guests can visit Santaland online by taking a trip to the North Pole from the comfort of their home.

While it may be disappointing for many that they won’t get to see the big guy in person, this is an exciting opportunity for many people who would never otherwise get to visit Santaland at Macy’s. Tercero said, “Macy’s is delighted to have found a way to ensure even more families can enjoy this treasured experience safely during this festive time of the year.”

The new virtual Santaland experience is set to begin on Thanksgiving Day and last through Christmas Eve. According to Macy’s, the virtual experience will include a trip to Santa’s house where Santa “will interact with your children through a whimsical, open-ended pre-recorded conversation that will allow kids to express themselves. Santa enjoys hearing all of these wonderful thoughts and wishes and will respond in his uniquely whimsical way. Finally, the visit will culminate with a special Santa selfie.”

Although this is not the traditional way to visit Santa, we’re definitely going to check it out on Thanksgiving Day. As long as our kids get a chance to tell Santa what they want for Christmas, we know they’ll be happy, and a virtual visit to the North Pole sounds pretty magical.