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Santa experiences on Long Island: Polar Express, pajama parties, more

Kids can meet Old St. Nick and have some fun in Nassau and Suffolk.

The North Fork Trolley Polar Express kicks off

The North Fork Trolley Polar Express kicks off the holiday season with visits to the "North Pole" on Long Island's East End. Photo Credit: Randee Daddona

It seems like the kids know before you do, but just in case they (and you) missed it — Santa Claus is once again on his way to Long Island.

Sure, your young ones can visit Old St. Nick at the mall — but maybe instead of the ol’ reliable way of getting that moment in, consider these places where kids can meet Santa and have some fun, too.

Bounce with Santa

Santa and Frosty are coming to Pump It Up of Great Neck (225 Community Dr., Suite 250) for a jumping, climbing and sliding holiday event. Kids can take pictures with Santa and Frosty, there will be a bagel breakfast or pizza dinner and a holiday goodie bag for kids. Information: $20.95 per child; 9-11 a.m. Dec. 15, 5:10-7:10 p.m. Dec. 16, 10:10 a.m.-12:10 p.m. Dec. 22 and Dec. 23; Space is limied and registration is required; 516-466-PUMP; pumpitupparty.com/great-neck-ny/.

Visit Santa and his reindeer

Spirit Promise Equine Rescue (2746 Sound Ave., Riverhead) normally spends its time rescuing and rehabilitating neglected or abused horses — and at the Spirit of Christmas event, the animals will appear as “equine reindeer.” There will be a Santa story time and cookies will be served. Food trucks and vendors will also be available. Information: $25 admission donation (parents pay $5 to enter); noon-4 p.m. Dec. 2, 9, 16; 631-875-0433; spiritspromiserescue.org.

Enjoy cookies and cocoa with Santa

Santa will be heading to Bounce U (101 Carolyn Blvd., Farmingdale). Kids can meet and take pictures with Santa, enjoy an hour of bouncing, cookies and hot chocolate. Information: $19.95 per child; registration is required; noon-1:45 p.m. and 1-2:45 p.m. Dec. 22, 11 a.m.-12:45 p.m. and noon-1:45 p.m. Dec. 23; 631-777-5867; bounceu.com/farmingdale.

$19.95 an hour of bouncing, cookies and hot chocolate. Pictures with Santa.

Have a pajama party with Santa and Mrs. Claus

Kids can spend an evening with Santa and Mrs. Claus at Dees' Nursery (69 Atlantic Ave., Oceanside) during the Pajama Night & Cookie Decorating event from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Dec. 8, 14. Story time with Santa, a cookie box craft, an apron craft and gingerbread cookie decorating are included. If your kids are more early birds, there is a Pancake Breakfast with Mrs. Claus from 9 to 10 a.m. Dec. 8-9, 15-16. Information:  $21.99, seatings are limited and reservations are required; 516-678-3535; deesnursery.com.

Drive through a light show 

The 2018 Magic of Lights drive-through show at Jones Beach (1000 Ocean Pkwy, Wantagh) features new LED sparkling displays, festive animations and classics like "The 12 Days of Christmas" and "Winter Wonderland." Afterward, be sure to check out the Holiday Festival Village (bring cash), where you can meet Santa, listen to holiday music or watch holiday movies, play on a hay maze, try s'mores by a fire pit and more. On Tuesdays, cars can drive through a second time for free. Information: $25 Monday-Thursday, $30 Friday-Sunday; dusk to 10 p.m. through Dec. 30; holidaylights.jonesbeach.com.

Enjoy open play and hot cocoa

Adventure Kids (5676 Sunrise Hwy., Sayville) is hosting Polar Express open play sessions with Santa. The event includes trolley rides (ages 2 and older because car seats are not allowed), story time, crafts, pizza, juice, hot cocoa and open play. Information: $25 ages 2 and older, $15 ages 6-23 months, $10 adults; two-hour sessions at 5 p.m., 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. Dec. 15, 10 a.m., 11 a.m. and noon Dec. 16; 631-319-5737 or reserve a spot using this Google form.

Check out a winter wonderland

This Santa experience at Bayville Winter Wonderland (8 Bayville Ave., Bayville) includes a photo with Old St. Nick and a letter sent to your child before Christmas. Photos are good for families up to six with two custom letters. While there, families can visit Santa's Toy Factory Funhouse, watch Captain Bay's "Yo-Ho-Holiday" light show, ride the Holiday Express train and check out the ice skating rink, among other attractions. Information: $22.75 park admission, $15 additional for Santa visit; hours vary on Friday, Saturday and Sunday from Nov. 23 through Jan. 1 (also open Dec. 26-27 and 31); 516-628-8697, bayvillewinterwonderland.com.

Embark on a trolley ride to the North Pole

Parents and kids take a 20-22 minute trolley ride (must be age 2 or older; no children younger permitted) to “The North Pole,” a secret location where families can grab hot cocoa and cookies, meet elves, Santa and other characters (for about 30 minutes) before departure back to points of origin. Trolley rides feature music and storytelling. Anyone looking to take photos (free) need to act quickly as Santa only appears briefly; pajama-wearing is encouraged. Information: $55 per person, includes trip, refreshments and small gift for kids; trolley departs from All-Star Bowling in Riverhead and the Omni Hampton Jitney Terminal in Southampton; 7 p.m.-9:30 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays from Nov. 23 to Dec. 23 (additional times may be available; arrive 30 minutes in advance); 631-369-3031, northforktrolley.com.

Have brunch under the sea

Santa will visit the Long Island Aquarium & Exhibition Center (431 E. Main St.) in Riverhead for the annual Santa Brunch. There is a buffet brunch in the Sea Star Ballroom, guests can make a take-home holiday craft and there are photo opportunities with Santa. After brunch, families can explore the aquarium. Bring your camera to capture the moments, but there will also be 5x7 photos available for purchase. Information: $54.95 adults, $26.95 ages 3-12, free ages 2 and younger; 90-minute sessions at 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m. Dec. 16; 631-208-9200, longislandaquarium.com.

Meet Santa's friends

It's not a skating event, but United Skates of America (1276 Hicksville Rd., Seaford) is hosting a breakfast with Santa, Mrs. Claus, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, the Gingerbread Man, Frosty and a Wooden Soldier. The buffet includes eggs, bacon, pancakes, cereal, bagels, unlimited coffee, tea and fruit punch. Information: $20 adults, $15 children, free ages 2 and younger; 9:30-11 a.m. Dec. 16; 516-795-5474; unitedskates.com.

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