I think we are now at the stage of my daughter no longer believing in Father Christmas or really close, she hasn’t said anything directly but I have a sneaking suspicion she may no longer believe. She’s a rather bright kid, but also very honest so I think she may be a bit torn and has worked out that if she doesn’t believe that means one less present.
Earlier in the year, as I know time was against us I had a look around the net for trips to Lapland as I felt it would be our last time to experience the magic with her. Unfortunately, it was simply too expensive for us so I shelved the idea.
So when, we were offered the opportunity to visit Lapland UK, apparently the next best thing but here in the UK, I jumped at the chance. However, the first thing I did was have a look to make sure it wasn’t one of the Crap-lands, Blunder-lands or Rip-Off Lands that were in the news last year; with brawling Elves, Fag Smoking Santa and poorly treated Reindeer and Huskies.
The Real McCoy
I can assure you this is the real one. All in all it was very well organised. We travelled down to Whitmoor Forest, near Bracknell Forest from St Albans, Herts and it took less than an hour and only made one wrong turn, it could have been better sign posted from the M3. There was ample parking and we arrived in plenty of time.
After grabbing a much needed coffee, we signed in and got ready for our tour. The Elves were great and kept in character throughout. The overall decoration and ‘sets’ were beautiful and did transport you to a magical place. The snowy tree lined paths really did make you feel like you were in a Winter Wonderland.
What to Expect
The whole experience takes approx 3.5 hours, to be honest I thought it was going to be less. The tour starts in the Enchanted Forest where you meet a rather old Elf and Ekko and learn that Elves come from Pine Cones.
You are then ushered into the Elves Toy Workshop where the children help out Father Christmas as he wasn’t anticipating so many good girls and boys and is short gifts this year. Children set to stuffing bears and putting together wooden horses. Then it’s off to Mother Christmas’ kitchen to make a Gingerbread houses and listen to a story. You can probably guess which story it was….. ‘you can’t catch me, no one can’……
At this point you get an opportunity to break away from the group and had about 90 minutes to ourselves before making our way to the big guy in a red suit, we grabbed some food in the restaurant and for this type of venue, it was decent and reasonably priced. Did a spot of ice-skating, some of us were more wobbly than others, visited the Sweet Shop, stroked the huskies, visited the iron-mongers and posted a letter to Father Christmas.
An Private Audience with Father Christmas
The visit with Father Christmas at the end was very special, the fact he knew the children’s names, their interests and a recent event, may have persuaded these two 8 year olds to believe for one more year. I may have taken a sneaky photo before being told off for doing so.
Things we liked:
- Personalised invites from Santa prior to the event
- Location and organisation
- Beautiful scenery
- Cheeky Elves
- Insider knowledge from Santa
- Good quality toy from Father Christmas albeit another soft toy.
- Thank you cards from Father Christmas
Things that could be improved:
- I appreciate they have to get a huge number of people through each day and have to coordinate timings to keep the flow going, but did feel a bit like cattle at times and there was a fair amount of time spent waiting.
- The skit by the older Elf and Ekko in the beginning could be improved as it seemed to go on for a bit and felt like it was purely to fill time.
- As my mate said ‘Mother Christmas was a bit cr*p’. This will secure her a place on the naughty list.
- Allowing families to take their own photos with Santa, instead of being pressured to buy one of the commercially taken ones on the way out.
- Like many other people who have commented on trip advisor, it’s expensive. For the four of us to have gone it would have cost us approx £280 (£70 each) and in the run up to Christmas this is out of reach for most families. Yes, it is cheap in comparison to the real Lapland, but does shut out a lot of families.
- Introduction of a reduced family ticket.
- For that price, a mince pie and glass of mulled wine for parents on arrival would be a nice touch.
However, overall we had a lovely day but probably wouldn’t pay that kind of money ourselves.
Thanks to Lapland UK for the once in a lifetime opportunity.