Review: Santaland

I have always wanted to take the kids to Lapland to see Santa while Christmas was still magical . My eldest ones dad refused to go as he is scared of flying, and for one reason or another I have never been able to take the younger two :(

This weekend we were in Weston Super Mare for a Christmas party, and we saw the sign saying Wookey Hole had a Santaland experience to visit. So we decided as they had baby reindeer we would go along and see the caves, see Santa and that would be ok and more importantly we would cease to feel guilty if we never got to Lapland.

The drive to Wookey was interesting, the sat nav took us down icy, narrow country lanes and a few times we slid… but we arrived in one piece.

First impressions
OMG, it was a very clean and neat place. Not a scrap of litter anywhere, not a sweet wrapper, not a crisp packet… not a blade of grass out of place. We walked up to the ice cream parlour to buy our tickets. Staff were courteous, polite and helpful. At £15 a ticket, we thought it was expensive, for a family of 5 that is £75. But compared to Lapland at £1000+ it’s a bargain :)

The Caves
Our first stop was to walk up the slope to the Caves. Tours take place every 15 mins. The caves are stunning, the tour guide explains everything to you and highlights the best bits to look at. Young children may not like the caves, our 5 year old was complaining a lot about the cold, the wet, the dark, the smell (cheese being aged) but she was in a complaining mood. The 15 year old and 6 year old loved the caves, and were impressed to find at one point we were 200 feet underground. The river was lit up and the caves looked peaceful and tranquil.

Caves at Wookey

Caves at Wookey

Dinosaur valley
Upon leaving the caves you walk through a fairy garden and then the dinosaur valley. Snow hadn’t reached the west country, so they had sprayed fake snow over the dinosaurs to make then look Christmassy.

dinosaur valley wookey

dinosaur valley Wookey

Museums and Mills
After Dinosaur valley, which all the girls loved came museums and the paper mills. The guide at the paper mill showed the girls how to make paper, which of course they loved :)

Jess Papermaking at wookey

Papermaking at wookey

Papermakingmore paper makingPapermaking

Santa’s grotto

Christmas grotto

Christmas grotto

No visit to santa is complete without a ten minute queue outside his grotto. I recall as a child being taken to Selfridges and my godparent queueing for what seemed like a whole day but was actually just 4 hours. Yes 4 hours and here I am griping about ten mins!

The grotto is nicely laid out with moving displays of reindeer, huskies, polar bears and then you can have a pic taken with the two elves waiting to greet you. Santa was probably the best Santa the kids have ever seen, polite, authorative and taking no nonsense about snakes :) he gave the girls a pre Christmas gift and they chose teddies. Even the 15 year old was given a gift, which surprised us all. The girls all sat with Santa on the sofa for a Christmas pic and then promised to see that the reindeer got a carrot and a drink left out for him. It was truly a magical experience.
Huskies

The toys are good quality and all my girls choose cuddlies, and two of them were Ty Beanie bears. The little ones left the grotto with a spring in their step and the big one was smiling. Santa had worked his magic once more.

Food
By now the girls were hungry, and although we had had the bright idea of bringing a picnic, we hadn’t actually done that. Instead we ate in the big top restaurant. The dining areas are beautiful, one like a waiting room at a station, tiffany lights and the other has a cloth covered ceiling and chandeliers. Beautiful, words do not do the rooms justice.

The food is ok, but at £3.00 for a sandwich some what expensive for families, but when you see the effort the the staff make to see everyone has a good experience, the high standards, the cleanliness you understand that has to be paid for somehow, and it doesn’t hurt so much to pay £25 for sandwiches and drinks for 5.

Big top dining room

The restaurant is self service.

The Circus

The circus blew us away. As a person who hates circuses and fairs I was more than surprised to find that I loved this one. the performers are children from the local village and what a performance! Even the moany 5 year old was mesmorised. Trapeze artists who have barely hit puberty, tots that walk on huge balls across a seesaw, and never hesitate… the magic tricks, the circus tricks, the whole theatre joining in because they were captivated! These kids are really talented and when you see something so nicely choreographed  you feel there is hope for talented performers, something beyond “Britain’s got talent”.

The Reindeer

The reindeer were a small disappointment in an otherwise fab day. They were held in a pen and the children couldn’t see the properly but to be honest, at this stage they really didn’t care. They wanted to go to the mirror maze, the hall of mirrors and the soft play areas and fire balls at each other. They were all having a lovely time and what I started out thinking was a very expensive treat worked out to be incredibly good value for money. Wookey now have a hotel and do seasonal events for the kids. It is so rare to find something that I can do with all three girls (10 year age gap) that Wookey once a year is now on our permanent fixture list.

The hotel prices start at £99 for a family room and that includes entrances to the Caves.

We had a great day out, the kids have wonderful memories and we are thrilled that we went.

Sarah

Reindeer at wookey

Reindeer at Wookey

PS Santaland is open at Weekends except for the 26th December. You can book online

Disclosure: This is an unpaid review, it was not asked for by the people at Wookey, they have no idea that I have chosen to review them.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1134202412 Morag Gaherty

    It sounds really good, Sarah. Was the Wookey Hole Witch there? You didn’t mention her.

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