King of Prussia Mall Ditches “Spaceship” Santa After Complaints

An experiment gets caught up in "War on Christmas" backlash.

Simon Malls, the country’s largest real estate trust and the owner of several malls in the Philadelphia area, had an idea for a “modern” and “interactive” presentation of Santa this year. There wouldn’t be a big Christmas tree, reindeer or other traditional secular Christmas symbols. There would just be Santa, sitting in a giant glacier.

The company planned to put it in six malls. One was set up at King of Prussia.

Santa is supposed to look like he’s in a giant glacier or igloo. But he kind of looks like he’s on a really cheap spaceship set. He’s a cool, hip, futuristic Santa for the modern age! It was only installed in several malls, but it got a lot of attention.

And guess what kind of attention it got? Put it this way: You’re not reading a puff piece about a cool, new idea for mall Santas. Complaints ranged from the simple — the set-up looks cheap and/or ugly — to the usual overblown “War on Christmas” outcry we see around this time every year. (Much like Christmas creep, War on Christmas creep is real too. We’re now seeing it in early November!)

Unique to the situation at King of Prussia, the second-largest mall in the country (and the one with the most retail space), was the presence of two Santas: One glacier, one traditional. The Santa in front of Bloomingdale’s in The Court has a traditional setup, while the Santa in The Plaza was the glacier setup.

But now the Spaceship Santa is hitting the (ice) bricks.

“In six of our nearly 200 malls, Simon had developed a new Santa experience,” the company said in a release. “It was our intention to experiment with delivering a modern interactive experience for the family. After listening to customer feedback, we immediately decided to reinstall our existing Christmas decor and hope our customers will join us in celebrating the Christmas season.”

“It was a mistake, and we had to correct,” Simon Malls President David Contis told the Charlotte Observer about the glacier displays. “If we lose money, so be it.”

A KoP spokesperson did not return a request for comment. A spokesman for a Charlotte mall with a similar display at first told a Fox station there the mall was “thrilled to be among the first wave of Simon centers to receive the new ‘Glacier’ Santa experience.” The Glacier Santa was supposed to be a “reinvented and modernized experience.” But customer feedback was uniformly negative, Simon Malls has apologized and now all the glaciers at Simon Malls are being demolished.

Complaints had flooded the King of Prussia Mall Facebook page. A petition called the KoP Mall “the new Grinch” for the weird new Santa setup. A second petition was created by a local teenager.

Both attracted a few hundred signatures. A sampling of comments from the former petition:

  • Santa needs a Christmas tree. We aren’t in space!
  • Christmas is our past times and future time if people from other countries come here and say it’s stupid or offends them then get out of our country and stop changing our ways of life!!!
  • Regardless of motive, you’ve bleached away the magic Christmas I want [my daughter] to have, so I’ll be taking her to Macy’s in the city, and will not be supporting your mall or stores this Christmas season.
  • This is still AMERICA RIGHT???
  • Whether you’re a religious person or not, this is about the holiday season and we don’t need pictures with Santa on the set of Star Trek.
  • Freedom of speech and freedom of religion MUST be equal for everyone! Do not take my right to celebrate Christmas and the birth of Jesus Christ because someone else doesn’t believe it. I do… what about my rights??!!
  • Because we are tired of the political correctness BULLSHIT in this country this is nothing more than liberal socialism wildfire spreading throughout this country and we have to put a stop to it NOW!!!
  • I’m surprised a mall as classy as KOP would even consider this terrible idea. I’m a politically correct liberal, but Christmas is Christmas — with trees, lights, candy canes, snowmen, reindeer.… no child is going to smile when they see this.
  • I’m tired of people changing their way of life to please Muslims.
  • No Christmas tree this year, no shopping in your stores. What is the true reason for Christmas. The Bird of Jesus, The Christ !!! What are you going to tell the children??
  • I’m just SAD! I’m disgusted and so upset for my children what this country has become!!

They go on like that. The Simon Malls Facebook page is also entertaining. KoP’s Spaceship Santa seems to have caused less of a stir than similar displays in North Carolina, North Jersey and Long Island, perhaps because King of Prussia also has a traditional mall Santa.

Complaints about the new setup started arriving on the KoP Facebook page almost immediately after setup: “Is that big white alien thing where Santa is suppose to be?! If so, definitely going elsewhere to see Santa!” Many complaints see Spaceship Santa as a bow to political correctness, though no complaints about the previous traditional setup appear to have been recorded anywhere. (Some people have complainted in the past about Santa’s “ho ho ho.”)

Regardless, the protesters have won: King of Prussia Mall will be returning to a traditional mall santa setup in the Plaza. Currently, the Santa in the Court outside Bloomingdale’s is open with a traditional setup.