My husband and I were in two minds as to whether to take the boys on a Father Christmas experience this year. After taking them to Lapland last year we had agreed that, that would be the end of going to visit Santa. However, when 4 Kingdoms got in touch, we decided that we would give their magical Christmas adventure a go as little man is still small and would enjoy it.
4 Kingdoms is based in Headley, which is near Newbury. The Christmas experience lasts 2 hours but you are free to use the parts of the park that are open before and after your visit.
The boys loved the go-karts and played on the soft play whilst we were waiting for lunch. I think it is best for me to describe the experience so you can decide if it would be something you would like to do next year. Santa experiences are hugely personal and in my experience choosing the right age to certain ones is the important. Big man was prepped beforehand that he needed to let his younger brothers (especially little man) enjoy the experience, as he likes to try and work out how things are done.
Our experience was booked for 1pm. When you are checked in, you need to go through a “believer” detector. Unfortunately my husband beeped and needed further checking! I think it was here that he was first called “furry pants” and this continued in pretty much every room we went to!
From check in, you go through to a reindeer sleigh ride. This was quite clever in that you felt like you were moving – but it also made me feel dizzy! Next up was a talking donkey who told you about the birth of Jesus.
The enchanted forest was a bit like a garden centre walkthrough. There was a talking tree which I couldn’t hear, but a guy with a giraffe balloon kept the kids entertained.
Then it was cookie decorating with Mrs Claus. What child isn’t going to like adding sweets and icing to a chocolate digestive?
For me, the Frozen castle was my least favourite part and just an excuse for them to take a photo of you with Elsa that you could buy at the end. Of course, if I had girls, or children that loved Frozen then my view would probably be different.
Next was a light show. Think, christmas house decorations lighting up to music. After one song some elves got up and messed around and got the Dad’s involved in the show which was good fun. The elf “Comic” was very good even if his jokes were “cracker” worthy.
Again more audience participation ensued and I have the video of my husband dancing ready to share the next time he annoys me.
We then went into an igloo which was ok. This was probably better suited for smaller children, although there were some good models.
Next came the most surreal part of the experience. A giant rabbit that knew everything about the kids! Here the adults got to have a hot chocolate whilst the children wondered how a large animated rabbit knew so much about them.
We then went to stuff polar bears. They had little hearts and needed to make a wish on it before stuffing the bear. They were then able to take the bear home.
Last but not least, we were taken into the Santa waiting area. Here reindeer’s sang songs whilst we waited for our names to be put on the computer screen.
Meeting Santa always seems to quieten down the boys and this year was no different. They had a short chat, were given a sweet and a key.
The key was then swapped in Santas toyshop for a present of their choosing. They liked this idea as did I. The presents were really good! Even big man commented on the quality of gifts. He went for shrinkles, middle man a game and much to my disappointment little man chose another soft toy!
Photographs could be purchased for £10 upwards.
We had then promised the boys a bounce on the jumping pillow and one last go on the go karts.
There is no doubt that this experience is good value. It isn’t as slick as some of the experiences we have been too, but it is a fraction of the price. The fact that the children get a bear and a present is really good. I personally wouldn’t describe the experience as magical, more as family fun with a pantomime feel. I liked the audience participation (my husband may disagree as it was him!) and the children loved the various elves that they talked to. The boys enjoyed it, especially the younger two, so I would recommend it for under 8’s. It is worth noting that if you have been in the park beforehand you may see the go kart guy or waiter dressed as an elf later in the day. This wasn’t a problem for us as the boys knew it was theatrical experience and middle man has even decided that when he grows up he wants to work at a Santas grotto like this. I have a feeling he will be a naughty elf in years to come!
We had a fun festive day and middle man is already asking if we can visit the park again in the summer. Have you been on any Santa experiences this year? What did you think?
We received complimentary tickets in return for an honest review.