Shopping malls are eager to attract shoppers any time of year but especially during the holiday buying season.
When Pennsylvania-based software developer SchellGames created an interactive “Holidoodle” game and presented the idea to Beth Edwards, the General Manager of the Pittsburgh, PA Mall at Robinson, Edwards was interested in incorporating it into the mall’s Santa photography experience.
Along with the game, SchellGames had created a concept for a new experience. Realizing they needed a partner to design and create an attractive experience built around Santa and the game, the Mall enlisted Chicago Scenic’s help.
The result was a wonderland experience that featured an iconic 45-foot tree rimmed with LED lights programmed to provide a continuously projected 15-minute light show, acting as a beacon to draw shoppers directly to Santa.
"Making the tree a reality was the real challenge for us,” said Ross Hamilton, one of CSSI’s project directors. The mall ceiling had a 300-pound weight limit so the Chicago Scenic team, working with Skokie, IL-based partner Tectonics, designed the freestanding tree to attach to the ceiling’s dome for lateral support, while using a 30-foot truss to serve as the tree’s “trunk” to support and stabilize the structure.
"The solution was a unique and elegant structure that easily assembles, disassembles and stores in crates for quick and space efficient storage for continued use in future holiday seasons,” Hamilton said.
Seven train cars were constructed as benches, providing seating for parents and children as they wait their turn with Santa. Scenic artists painted them with bright colors and silver trim.
Throughout the mall, six chandeliers with cascading elements reminiscent of holiday paper chains were hung. The largest chandelier, 16′ diameter and 20′ tall, featured a double helix of lights coupled with reflective shells, making a grand centerpiece in the Mall’s center court.
The experience included purchased photo opportunities with Santa as well as the ‘selfie frame’ where visitors could take their own memorable photographs. The attraction was a success—the Mall reported a significant increase in photo sales, making the holiday attraction a memorable one for mall executives, shoppers, and kids alike.
Chicago Scenic worked with Bloomington, IL based designer David Warfel, who designed the elements for the experience and its accompanying light show.