Macy's 8th Floor Holiday Display: Enchanting Families for Decades
For nearly 50 years, families have stood in line each holiday season, waiting in anticipation for a tradition that delights both children and adults alike – what Minnesotans call the Macy’s 8th floor holiday display.
Since 1963, Macy’s (Dayton’s/Marshall Fields) 8th Floor Auditorium holiday display has enchanted visitors of all ages. The animated display is like a giant New York City department store window display, allowing visitors to walk through elaborately decorated scenes with every twist and turn. Over the years, the display’s themes have included Dickens’ Village, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Velveteen Rabbit, Nutcracker and The Wizard of Oz.
“It's about family and holiday tradition,” said Mike Gansmoe, vice president of Macy’s special productions, of the annual display. “Macy's is home to the real Santa Claus and we're very proud to give him the most amazing home.”
Now known as Macy’s Santaland, the annual “A Day in the Life of an Elf” animated theme is the story of how Santa’s elves prepare for the holiday season. Visitors walk through the elves’ bunk room, kitchen, a school, a toy factory and Santa’s mailroom, as the elves prepare for Santa’s big night.
First introduced in 2008, the Life of an Elf theme was created by 45 artists, carpenters and technicians who worked for a full year to develop the theme and translate it into an animated display that is seen by a quarter of a million visitors during the holiday season. Each year more than 20 carpenters, scenic painters, prop-masters, lighting and sound designers, and technicians work to recreate the magic beginning each August.
“Macy's Santaland itself is unique to the Twin Cities in that it was created as a gift to our shoppers,” said Mike. “Our animated and elaborate walk-through display depicts an elf’s typical day of activities at the North Pole. Visitors can then enjoy Macy’s Puppet Theatre with the show Moose Crossing, Santa’s gift shop, Mrs. Claus’ Bakery and of course, visit with the jolly old guy himself!”
The Moose Crossing puppet theatre was added to Santaland in 2010. Located just outside the gift shop, visitors coming Thursdays through Sundays can see a half-hour performance with the voices of Julie Andrews, Mario Cantone and Walter Cronkite.
After visiting Santaland, guests also have the opportunity to participate in Macy’s annual Believe campaign, benefiting the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
“True to tradition during the season of giving back, customers will once again be able visit our Believe mail station that benefits the Make-A-Wish Foundation,” explained Mike. “Macy’s Believe campaign returns again and during its run, for every letter written to Santa and dropped off at any Macy’s Believe mailbox in store, Macy's donates $1 up to $1 million dollars to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.”
On December 14, wishes will be granted during Macy’s annual National Believe Day.
“National Believe Day is a pinnacle moment aimed to inspire generosity and giving throughout the season and encouraging Americans to embrace the spirit of goodwill and charity,” said Mike. “On this day, Macy's works to grant ‘Wishes Across America’ for Make-A-Wish children.”
The Believe campaign is just one element of the annual holiday celebration at Macy’s. While Minnesotans may remember celebrating a new 8th floor display theme each year, the “A Day in the Life of an Elf” animated display is expected to stay an annual tradition at the store.
“Just like Macy’s Believe campaign, we have created a new holiday tradition [with the display] – a story that is unique to the Twin Cities and cannot be viewed or experienced anywhere else,” said Mike. “It’s much like other magical traditions such as seeing the Nutcracker or the Christmas Carol – it’s all part of the magic of the holidays.”
No matter how many times you’ve been there, the Macy’s Santaland (or as Minnesotans like to call it, the 8th Floor holiday display) is a holiday tradition that can’t be missed.
If You Go: Macy's Santaland 8th Floor holiday display is open daily during store hours mid-November through mid-December. The Moose Madness puppet show plays Thursdays through Sundays. While the display is free, the 30-minute puppet show requires tickets.
While You’re There: Be sure to come downtown early enough for the Holidazzle Parade, taking place Thursdays through Sundays at 6:30 p.m. beginning the day after Thanksgiving. Afterwards, stay for shopping and dining downtown.
Getting There: Macy’s 8th Floor Auditorium is located in the downtown Minneapolis store at 7th Street and Nicollet Mall.
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