Is it possible that you and the family could emerge from Target’s fun and technically “free” Wonderland without being parted with a single dollar? Um, sure, it’s possible. But in all fairness, it would be kind of irresponsible of us not to warn parents that this festive, no-cost, interactive holiday playspace-cum-store is treacherous territory for those wanting to stem impulse buys and seasonal shopping. Should you go? Absolutely. Will you buy something? Yeah, you probably will — but it’ll be pretty cool, so there’s that.
Welcome to Target Wonderland!
Officially open to the public on December 9, Target Wonderland will be bringing the cheer to the Meatpacking District through December 22. (It’s located at 10th Avenue and 15th Street.) The bi-level, 16,000-square-foot experience is filled with 10 free-of-charge “spectacles”, all of which just so happen to tie-in to some of the retailer’s hottest toys of the season.
Prepare to Enter Wonderland
When you arrive at Target Wonderland, you’ll have the opportunity to register your very own personal RFID, or radio frequency identification tag, which allows you to not only have items like photos taken during your Wonderland experience emailed to you, but also enables you to buy any of the featured toys with a single swipe of the tag. (Convenient!)
After visitors are done exploring Wonderland, they can step up to a checkout line and pay for items added to their digital shopping list. But the toys don’t just roll out on a conveyor belt a la baggage pickup at the airport and appear in a branded bag. Oh no: shoppers then retire to the sleek-but-cozy and oh-so-Target living room complete with faux fireplace — and then Santa’s arm reaches down and delivers the toys via the chimney.
The Many Wonders of Wonderland
There’s a lot to experience here. “Spectacles” include a life-sized version of the ice palace from Frozen, where visitors can receive groovy glitter tattoos; a Tsum Tsum Snap Station, where people can be captured peeking through a wall of Target-exclusive Disney Tsum Tsum plush characters; a Santa Calls station, at which kids can essentially FaceTime with Santa and tell him their wishlists, and the Snow-N-Roll game powered by Xbox Kinect, an interactive video game that finds players rolling down wintry hills as a snowball, attempting to hit presents for points.
Visitors can also make their own personalized ornament at the Orna-Maker (it’s laser-etched on site), marvel at the Hulk Hands Christmas Tree, a conifer constructed of 320 Hulk Hand 3D wall nightlights and topped with a Captain America Shield and even gobble up free holiday treats at the Wonderwave Treat Maker.
You Can’t Miss Them, But Don’t Miss Them
Everything at Target Wonderland is pretty cool, but our top picks for fun include the Christmas Cove, which features the LEGO pirate ship from the retailer’s holiday commercials and a snowball pit; the Peppermint Raceway, where kids can try their hand at maneuvering Star Wars’ BB-8, remote control Ultimate Millennium Falcon Quadcopters and more, and the Mega Magic Etch a Sketch, an enormous version of the iconic red toy that will recreate a selfie snapped just moments before. (But don’t take our word for it, celeb kids were on hand to launch Wonderland, and online toy reviewer extraordinaire Evan of EvanTubeHD was all about the Millennium Falcon Quadcopters. Alexa and Eliana, daughters of Jorge Narvaez, founder of San Diego educational non-profit and Target partner Reality Changers, had high praise for the S.S. Free Shipping, the vessel from LEGO.)
As mentioned, most things visitors can play with are also for sale. Yes, some of it is kind of pricey (those drone Millennium Falcons will set you back $109.99, and the Frozen Elsa Castle Playset is a cool $103.99) but plenty of toys here are both fun and won’t break the bank; a plush Tsum Tsum is $12.95 is and you can pick up an Etch a Sketch (in cool retro 1960s packaging) for $15.69, for example.
Wonderland also offers cute ready-made “Wonderpacks” many of which aren’t outrageously priced, either. Examples include the “Disco Bath Time” with a disco ball, glow sticks and more for $25, and the “Backseat Boredom Blaster” with an art kit, Pictionary Relay Game, etc., also for $25.
While Wonderland is big, we’re guessing it will also be crowded. We recommend hitting it up on a weekday if at all possible. A quick note: If you really need to bring your stroller in, you can, but we advise making use of the stroller parking provided in a tent right outside the venue. (P.S. If you love any and all things Target, you should know that the retailer has partnered with ABC to bring everyone’s favorite flying nanny Mary Poppins to the network for the first time in almost 13 years on Saturday, December 12. We’re guessing you’ll see some of the store’s hottest holiday goods during commercial breaks.)
Dec. 9 -Dec. 22; Mon -Sat. 10 a.m. – 8 p.m., Sun., 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
70 10th Avenue at 15th Street
Will you be heading to Wonderland? Did you go? Tell us about your experience in the comments!