Sensory-Friendly Santa Experiences

Posted November 18, 2022

Cincinnati Zoo Offers Sensory-Friendly Santa Experiences During PNC Festival of Lights  

Reservations for quiet, 10-minute visits with Santa open today! 

CINCINNATI (November 18, 2022)Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, Macy’s, and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital are partnering to offer sensory-friendly Santa visits during the 40th annual PNC Festival of Lights.  Starting today, visitors with sensory sensitivities and/or developmental disabilities can reserve 10-minute meet & greets with Santa, who has received training on developmental disabilities from Dr. Jen Smith of the Children’s Hospital Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and related Disabilities (LEND) program.  

Event Photos/Videos | map

“We’ve worked closely with our partners at LEND to create an experience with fewer distractions, less noise, and customized interactions with Santa,” said Cincinnati Zoo’s access for all manager Annie DeGrood. “The confirmation email families receive when they book their experience includes our Sensory-Friendly Santa Social Narrative, which provides a detailed description of what to expect, and a map showing directions to Santa’s Village. 

Sensory-Friendly Santa will be set up in the Zoo’s new Picnic Shelter area, which has been transformed into Santa’s Village! In addition to Santa’s meet & greet, there will be gingerbread houses, holiday decorations and a hot chocolate stand set up. Families have the option to purchase photos taken by the Zoo’s professional photography partner, PPA.   

Sensory-Friendly Santa will be at the Zoo from 1:00pm-3:00pm, before crowds arrive, on December 1, 2, 4, 8, 9, 10, 11, 15, 16, and 17.  Spots are limited, so reserve your spot now 

The experience does not include admission, so and families either need to be members or purchase regular admission tickets 

PNC Festival of Lights opens to the public tonight and runs through January 8, 2023!  Bring your family and friends to Cincinnati’s favorite holiday tradition and see why it’s been voted the #1 Zoo Lights display in the country four years in a row*. For more event information, visit  For more information about the Zoo’s Access for All program, and links to additional social narratives, visit 

 *VOTE for PNC Festival of Lights! USA Today readers have voted PNC Festival of Lights #1 in the Best Zoo Lights category for the last 4 years and it is nominated again this year – vote here! Help Cincinnati Zoo top the list 5 years in a row!