We’ve now visited Father Christmas at two different grottos this season, and I’ve definitely learnt that one is probably fine per year. Plus, I’ve learnt that I can’t rely on me taking photos of N with Father Christmas. There’s always one of them blurry because N 1) won’t stand close enough to Father Christmas to get in frame and 2) him refusing to let go of my hand doesn’t help said photo attempts. In future I’m thinking the Father Christmas selfie is going to be a better option! Bit late for this review post though.
Anyway, after the fun we’d had at Hatton Adventure World’s pumpkin week, we definitely weren’t going to turn down the offer of tickets to their Enchanted Christmas Kingdom. The event’s running right up until Christmas from Friday 19th (after opening weekends only from 6th December). The plan was to take N’s cousin with us, but birthday parties got in the way, so we went with a friend and her 3 year old.
The boys don’t see each other very often, but it was great to see N remembering them from the last time we met up, and they got stuck in to playing on the various ride on diggers, the combine harvester and tractor they spotted.
Like at Halloween, most of the staff were dressed up as elves, and there was plenty of decoration around the whole of the site. Even if you were just there to shop, you could see the live nativity play because the stable setting was outside the Adventure Park for everyone to access (2 performances a day).
When we arrived, we were advised to see Father Christmas earlier rather than later which was handy to know. As with all the special event dates at Hatton Adventure World, all the activities are included in the price (£14.95 for kids and £7.95 for adults), and you have a wristband handed over after paying. We headed straight over to Santa’s Enchanted Kingdom because we didn’t really want to queue. Rather than doing timed tickets, it’s just queue through the kingdom, so you can work with your children….if they want to go in the sandpit or on the trampolines on the way, then you won’t miss a slot.
When we first entered the kingdom we spotted the table to write a letter to Father Christmas. The boys weren’t that excited, but we duly posted them in the letterbox anyway before heading through to join the queue and see the displays. Even at 10.30 we did have to queue, and it probably took round 15 minutes to work our way through, but all Santa’s grottos seem to be busy unless a group goes in en-masse. First we entered the elves wrapping and delivery workshop….and then N cried and refused to go any further. Typical when I’m there to review somewhere. I have a feeling he doesn’t like it when models move, because we had the same thing at Halloween where he was fine with static models, but have them movement activated and he hates them.
To get him to stay, I had to carry him through, so we didn’t get to have a really good look at all the presents being wrapped ready for delivery. I have to say that the initial displays did look a little tired until we got into the colourful fairy lighted next area.
Then we walked through to the North Pole outdoor kingdom. This was much more special. Lots of trees lit up and sparkling, snow falling which the boys loved. An elf driven aeroplane ready to deliver parcels, Santa’s sleigh, penguins at the waterfall, and a Polar Bear family chilling out.
This was lovely to see and something to look at each side we turned to. Then we reached Santa’s door and met the elf. We decided to go in separately, and I handed over the bit of paper with N’s name, age and his likes on. I imagine these were meant to go to Father Christmas, but the elf had already sent us through so it was too late to hand to Father Christmas. I’ve never been to a multiple Father Christmas grotto but am glad I was warned after reading another blog.
Another elf pointed us towards a curtain and told us to go in, 2 sets of curtains and we were in to see our Father Christmas. He was extremely chatty, which made up for N’s lack of communication. I have a feeling N was a little confused, wondering how Father Christmas could have forgotten his name from one week to the next. And of course a different accent! I’m thinking next year, we only visit Father Christmas once! Needless to say I had to do so much chatting, I forget to take a photo!
Once he was asked what he wanted for Christmas, N did decide to speak….or shout ‘a combine harvester’. I think Father Christmas almost fell off his chair with surprise.
‘Well, I don’t think anyone’s asked for a combine this year, it might make the sleigh a bit off balance’.
After a bit more of a chat about Christmas parties, and what was going on back at home on the farm…’Daddy’s plucking turkeys, I’m going to help later’, the magic book appeared, and the golden key was handed over. Each child is given a golden key and then can head to Santa’s toy workshop to choose their own toy.
N knew straight what he wanted when he spotted what his friend had chosen. A tractor. He whizzed straight past all the other options…there was a great choice, and the toys looked like reasonable quality. N’s tractor was die cast and plastic. He handed his key over to the elf, was given a bag to put his toy in (so sensible to avoid other children seeing the toys before they’ve been in, and to carry), and we headed back outside again.
The boys had also been given a Reindeer Quest where we had to find all the reindeer and write down the names. So we headed off round the park to find the reindeer. We also tried to encourage the boys to recognise the numbers on the boards – I was surprised that N could recognise a couple so there is hope for his learning numbers!
Being winter a few of the activities – the bouncy castle and slide – weren’t available, but there were still children enjoying the obstacle course and ride on diggers despite the cold. We also saw the Christmas carnival parade which was driving round the park waving at all the children…a little bit off fun, and I quite fancied a go at driving the sleigh.
After a bit of outdoor play we headed inside to see the animals in their festively decorated barns. We arrived to see the lizard handling taking place but neither fancied that, and N didn’t want to stroke the rabbits. The great thing about Hatton is that if you’re looking at certain animals and there’s a staff member nearby, they quite often offer to get an animal out (obviously the small ones, not the goats or pigs) for you to hold or touch.
In the Guinea Pig village, they had some of them out for visitors to hold. N’s friend had a hold, and N stroked some in their box – he’s more used to guinea pigs because they have some at nursery. I expected more people to be inside but it wasn’t so busy that you couldn’t see anything.
We nipped in quickly to see what was going on in the Family Theatre, and found the tail end of the magic show going on. N loves a magic show and the 2 boys were giggling away at Zoobee’s show and the boy volunteer. The family theatre’s larger than I expected, and handy if you want a bit of a sit down and relax before the children start running around again or are getting tired.
Of course we couldn’t head in for lunch without letting the boys have a go on the softplay at Snorty’s Superslide Mania. N’s much better with softplay when he’s got a friend to follow, and he really enjoyed it. He wouldn’t go on the big slides, but as he’s not been to softplay for a while he’s not as used to it as he used to be. The place was packed out being a Sunday, and there being a few parties going on; we were lucky to get a table even arriving just before midday. There is another restaurant without children’s play areas, so we could have gone there if we couldn’t find anywhere to eat lunch.
On the way out we handed over our completed reindeer quest sheet, and the boys were given their prize of a little santa chocolate. We’d had a pretty full morning, although hadn’t experienced everything on offer – there was obviously the Nativity play, and there were also Elves doing the falconry displays, and we also visited the Christmas market, so there’s always something going on whatever time you arrive.
The Christmas event is still on from 18th to 24th December so you can still get to Hatton Adventure World to experience it for yourself.
Disclosure: We received tickets to Hatton Adventure World for review purposes. All opinions and words are my own.
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