Socially Christmas’d – A Drive Through and Drive-in Experience

Congrats everyone! We’ve made it through to December 2020. Some states are back in lockdown, although fortunately, Hawaii is doing okay comparatively. While the vaccine has just starting to be supplied to the medical community and some extremely at-risk individuals, we will be nowhere near normal by Christmas. So Kani Kanoa Creative and Farmer’s Insurance Company provided the state with Socially Christmas’d, a family-friendly drive-through and drive-in experience. The event lasts for 1-week (through Wednesday, December 23rd) and it looks like tickets are still available if you are interested.

How does Socially Christmas’d work?

Arrival at Kailua United Methodist Church

Come early. We arrived about 15-minutes before our time-slot and were the 5th car in line. Note: this was the first time slot of the night. While we couldn’t enter until our time (and actually the “experience” started about 10 minutes late), it’ll make a difference at the very end. As you go through the drive-through experience, it doesn’t matter where you are in line. However, once you drive through all the themed tents, the parking attendants will line you up drive-in movie style based on the order you arrived. Therefore, the earlier you are the closer you will be to the large 22-foot theater screen.

Kick off Socially Christmas’d with a 30-foot-tall Santa photo op.

The very first stop during the drive-through experience is a photo op with a huge, inflatable 30-foot-tall Santa. Once you pull up, the “elves” will give you a two-minute break outside of your car. This is the only time you are allowed outside. Since your group will be the only ones outside of the car, you are allowed to take off your masks for a picture.

Socially Christmas'd: Private Photo Time

The Drive-Through Experience

I somehow missed that Socially Christmas’d was also a drive-through event. I thought the drive-in video with Santa was all that there was. The drive-through experience turned out to be my favorite part. Amazing actors were all over the place. There was a hilarious Grinch, sweet elves, and three characters in particular that stole the show – Edward Scissorhands, Jack Skellington, and the Ice Queen herself, Elsa of Arendelle.

Socially Christmas'd: Edward Scissorhands

I’m including a video at the end of this blog to show how the drive-through experience was. What sadly is lacking from the below video are longer footage of Jack and Elsa. I was so surprised by their appearance that I didn’t have my camera pointed in their direction. So if you want good pictures or video, make sure your cameras are at the passenger side of the car.

The Drive-In Experience

At the end of the drive-through tents, a parking attendant lines you up for the drive-in experience. The entire time you are at Kailua United Methodist Church, the huge theater screen is playing Christmas music clips as a clock at the top of the screen counts down to zero. With about 10 minutes to go on the clock, the videos switches from Mickey, Olaf and Mariah Carey Christmas clips to taped footage of (what I believe are) local dancers. At the same time, live dancers join in with the video, dancing amongst the cars. We watched as the live dancers danced the countdown clock down to zero. And then it was finally time for Santa Claus.

Frosty on the Big Screen

Santa Claus is (virtually) coming to town

Sadly, Santa was the most disappointing part of Socially Christmas’d for me. However, my daughter loved seeing Santa the most. To give some background, the lowest level ticket to the experience costs $37 and comes with Santa addressing 1 child. However, you can add on “Santa shout outs”, up to a total of 4 kids, for additional costs. I didn’t want Baby L to be left out (even though he is too young to know who Santa is) so I forked over an additional $14 in order for both kids to get a shout-out.

When Santa came on the theater screen, it seemed like he wasn’t sure what names he was supposed to read off. He eventually seemed to recover and called Em’s name towards the beginning. Her eyes filled with happiness as he told her that she was such a good sister, student, and dancer. It completely made her night, if not her year. Baby L, meanwhile, never received a shout out. Neither did any other sibling there. Granted I can only assume the latter. However, I think it’s a pretty good guess on my part as out of all the kids mentioned, no child called shared the same last name while there seemed to be more than 1 child in each car we (nosily) peered into.

Of course, at 20-months-old, Baby L had no idea he was overlooked. As a result of that, I wasn’t too upset about the slight. But what about the little kids that got slighted that DO know who Santa is and heard their sibling’s name get called (unless I’m wrong and every other car only paid for 1 child… which isn’t impossible… but certainly isn’t likely). Here’s hoping that was just opening-night issues.

Socially Christmas’d: in summary

My 6-year-old had a great time. My 20-month-old not so much. He loved, loved, loved the drive-through experience. However, by the time we got to Santa Claus he had been stuck in the car for 90+ minutes (including our 30-minute commute) and he was over it. If I were to do it all again, I would have left my toddler at home. He is just too active to handle such a long wait. Initially I thought I would just advise not bringing the under 2 set. However, there was a girl one car over from us that looked to be Baby L’s name. She calmly clapped along with the music without a care in the world. So I guess my advice is to ask yourself if YOUR child handle being in the car for the 60 minute show?

I’m crossing my fingers that the name slight got taken care of after the first show… if it did, I think it’s definitely a good way to spend a covid Christmas evening with your elementary-school aged children.

Summary video of the drive-through experience part of Socially Christmas’d:

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Brave New (Pandemic) World: A Trip to the Honolulu Zoo Post-Shelter-in-Place