One of my absolute favorite holiday events that we do every year is Breakfast with Santa at the Milwaukee County Zoo. Each Saturday and Sunday in December the Milwaukee Co. Zoo hosts a breakfast or lunch with Santa. Tickets usually go on sale in early November and you have to get them right away to ensure you get the date and time you want – especially when you have a toddler who naps!
There were a slew of changes to this year’s breakfast with Santa event that I noticed right away – and they were absolutely fantastic. When you first check in they have a pre-determined seating chart based on your (registered) family size. Let me tell you – this is genius! It is so helpful so you don’t have people wandering around looking for seating and trying to figure out what is open and what isn’t – leaving scattered empty chairs everywhere. All events should take note of this!
One of the differences with this year was that they had fruit, beverages and Racine Danish Kringles ready and waiting on the tables. Noah wasted no time stuffing his face with the grapes and kringles.
The event kicks off with Fred Turk hopping on stage for fun and merriment singing a slew of different holiday songs. This year he sang a couple sounds to get the kids excited then invited all of the kids up on stage to grab some jingle bells and join in the fun. Of course, this also meant half of the parents in the room went running to the stage to capture the moment on their phones. Naturally, we did the same thing.
It was a very pleasant surprise that after the sing-along we came back to our table and they had somehow managed to put plates of breakfast on all of the tables. I literally didn’t even see this happen – it was truly impressive. And smart.
Normally at a breakfast with Santa event I expect the breakfast food to include you standard continental breakfast offer of pastries and a whole slew of cards. To my very surprise, that was not the case here. They did a great job serving a variety of your breakfast items and they were pretty decent for parents and kiddos.
Throughout breakfast they had Santa and Mrs. Claus walking around greeting all of the kids and giving each kiddo a little stuffed animal moose. They were a huge hit with all of the kids. I recall getting a stuffed penguin last year and that was also a hit. The stuffed animals are a nice little take-home gift for attending the event – so much better than a bag of sponsor papers that’s going to go straight in the recycling bin.
Throughout the breakfast they continued the live music and singing, which was really nice for a toddler who can spend an hour picking at his breakfast. Noah and Chris had a pretty fun time singing along.
Last, but certainly not least, was getting to visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus before we left. Typically when you are at any kind of Santa event that includes a line with people waiting to see Santa you get about 10 seconds to sit on his lap, one photo and it’s on to the next kid.
One of the things I really like about Breakfast with Santa at the Zoo is that they let you spend a couple minutes with Santa so you can get an individual picture with Santa, the kids can tell him what they want for Christmas (a Paw Patrol Tower, if you’re Noah) and then also get a quick family photo. They are surprisingly great at getting kids to smile here – apparently a stuffed dog and a lady who has no shame with dancing it around is pretty funny. Naturally, we bought packages for both the individual and family photos. Maybe I’m a sucker, but I really love having these keepsakes.
One of the other things we also love to do at the Milwaukee Zoo in December is to stop by the front atrium area to see all of the Christmas trees. There are about 24 different Christmas trees that are decorated by local schools. Each tree has a different theme and the kids decorate the tree with animal ornaments, based on that theme. I knew Noah would love to see the different trees this year – and he sure did!
Something new this year (at least I think it’s new!?) is the Zoo Animal Enrichment Giving Tree. There is one tree in the center of the front atrium that is full of ornaments that indicate the area in the zoo that has a wish for one of their animals. The ornament tells you a specific animal at the Zoo, what it’s zookeepers are wishing for, where you can buy it and how much it costs. How it works is you pull an ornament off the tree, take it home, go buy the gift for the animal and then bring it back to the Zoo (or mail cash or check for the Zoo to make the purchase for you).
I absolutely love this. There was no way we weren’t taking an ornament home with us. I really didn’t want to take an ornament that was wishing for a gift card because I want to be able to purchase a gift and bring it back to the Zoo with Noah. I spend some time searching the tree for the right animal and wish that made the most sense for us – and was in a budget that I wanted to spend. We chose the penguins because it’s one of Noah’s top five favorite animals at the Zoo and I know he’ll love wrapping it up and bringing it back to the Zoo next week to give to the penguins.
If you’re considering purchasing tickets for Breakfast (or lunch) with Santa at the Milwaukee Co. Zoo, I would strongly recommend it. Not only is it a fantastic event, but it’s a great cause. The Milwaukee Co. Zoo is one of our absolute favorite places in Milwaukee and people often forget them during the holiday season.
Thanks again to the Milwaukee County Zoo for another fabulous Breakfast with Santa event. We had an absolute blast and will certainly be there again next year!