Upon rolling up to “Elf on the Shelf’s Magical Holiday Journey,” your car will be “scanned”–and found to be decidedly low on holiday spirit. This is 2020, after all, so nobody can blame you for that. But, as you drive through the massive, elaborate experience, kitted out with elements of immersive theater, live performances, and so, so many twinkle lights, your festive feelings are sure to be restored.
While this drive-through experience has a completely original story that plays over your car speakers as you move along—accompanied by an original score from The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel composer Curtis Moore—it’s inspired by the wildly popular 2005 book, The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition by Carol Aebersold and Chanda Bell, and the team was actively involved in the production of the attraction.
“Bringing an experience that expands on the beloved stories, characters, and themes of The Elf on the Shelf to life, particularly in a year when we are all in need of extra cheer, means the world to us,” Bell and her business partner, Christa Pitts, wrote in a statement. “The profound magic of the holidays and the way it enlightens and excites both children and adults are why we first wanted to share The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition with the world.”
The “magical journey” takes about an hour, as cars pass through nearly two miles of outdoor space at the Pomona Fairplex. As you move through, you will see sets pieces designed by David Korins (Hamilton, Dear Evan Hanson, Beetlejuice), lighting designed by Outside Lands Festiaval lighting director David Weiner, live actors, circus performers, and more. Organizers note that, for many visitors, it might be the first time they’ve seen a live performance of any kind since March–and for several of the performers and creatives themselves, it’s the first chance they’ve had to work in months.
Pulling the project together is Constellation Immersive, a brand-new affiliate division of Hollywood talent agency CAA. The division was envisioned as a home for creatives who assemble these large-scale in-person experiences for music festivals, brand activations, and the like–but when the pandemic hit, they suddenly found all their initial projects on hold. After a few months of regrouping, the team decided the could still find a way to put on a safe event this year, and turned their talents to sparking a bit of holiday joy.
“Elf on the Shelf’s Magical Holiday Journey” is powered, in part, by a custom app, which triggers bits of audio narration and music at specific moments in the experience by relying on geolocation technology. And, because the audio comes from the app, rather than over a radio station like at a drive-in movie, it’s possible to experience the journey in English or Spanish simultaneously.
To activate all the senses, there will be some food and beverage available on site, offering hot chocolate, candy, and other holiday treats. The experience wraps up with a drive-thru gift shop for souvenirs.
Elf on the Shelf’s Magical Holiday Journey is located at the Fairplex, 1101 E. McKinley Ave., Pomona. The experience runs November 11, 2020 to January 3, 2021. Tickets start at $24.95 and are available online now.