We’ve always taken the kids to see Father Christmas at an attraction of some sort since Big was, er, little. We’ve done Thomas Land a few times, the Severn Valley Railway’s ‘Santa Steam Specials’, The Magical Journey (anyone remember that farce?! If not, take a look!) and Planter’s Garden Centre. This year, I wasn’t going to bother, with Big wavering on the edge of non-belief and Small already booked to see the Big Man at a Sensory Santa session run by our favourite local charity Square Peg Foundation. But, after chatting to a friend outside school one day, I got an attack of the guilts and decided to try her suggestion of Santa at The Snowdome in their ‘Santa’s Winter Wonderland’.
Santa’s Winter Wonderland has been running at the Snowdome in Tamworth for 13 years and is hugely popular. Tickets must be pre-booked for specific timeslots and those at weekends and close to Christmas book up quickly. However, booking this way does mean that sessions aren’t overly crowded.
Tickets are various prices, depending on when you book – peak times such as weekends typically cost more, so we booked for a Monday evening session to keep the cost down a little. The ticket price includes half an hour of ‘snow play’ in real snow in ‘Santa’s Christmas Snow Trail’, a theatre show and then a wander around Santa’s animals. It does not include a one-to-one visit with Santa or a gift, although children do receive a Thornton’s chocolate lolly.
We arrived a little before our booked time, as advised on the ticket. We made use of the facilities and had some chips and a drink in the restaurant while we waited. This overlooks the ski slope, and Small was transfixed!
At our allotted time, we made our way to the Wonderland entrance and went through to a holding area, suitably decorated and wintery feeling. We had to wait here for around 20 minutes or so, which was a little annoying; Small is actually quite good at queuing and waiting, but Big isn’t so much and wasn’t happy that we hadn’t gone in at the time stated! A few minutes before the doors opened, an ‘elf’ appeared and attempted to gee up the kids ready for their experience.
Finally, the doors opened and we entered the trail area, around an ice rink. Small was enraptured. She hasn’t seen real snow since she was a baby and too young to remember it. It certainly felt quite magical and festive, with Christmas songs, trees, lights and, of course, cold snow! I felt there could have been a bit more fresh snow as it wasn’t really deep enough to do much with, but the kids seemed happy enough.
We made our way around the trail, throwing snow and posing in the various cut-out frames. There were sledges to use, which Small thought were brilliant, and there were slopes for tiny tubing, which both kids loved and did over and over again. There were buttons to press, instruments to play and even a motorbike to sit on, with Rudolph in the sidecar!
After half an hour, horns signaled the end of the snow play and that it was time to move into the theatre for Santa’s show. I was a bit worried that Small wasn’t going to want to leave the snow trail, but I think she must have been cold enough to want to as she didn’t put up a fight! The theatre was incredibly warm, however, so we had to strip off some layers.
The Santa show was very entertaining, with lots of singing and audience interaction, and even Big, who usually hates stuff like that, was jiggling about a tiny bit to the ‘best ever Christmas song EVER’! Small was a little overwhelmed by the experience and the noise, so The Hubby took her out of the theatre. (There are ‘relaxed’ sessions available, although details of when these are are not available on the website; there is a number to call, but this might be a bit offputting – or it was for me!). In hindsight, I would have taken Small’s ear defenders, but we didn’t realise beforehand.
Once the show had finished, we left the theatre and went into the next area, where Santa’s reindeer were waiting, as well as other animals. (Be warned, this is an assault on your sense of smell as you walk in!) We “ooohed” and “awwwwed” at the rabbits, pigs, pygmy goats and ducks and, of course, the reindeer. There was an area where children could sit and write a letter to Santa, and a postbox ready and waiting so they could post it too.
After a few minutes, Small had had enough, so we left via the exit, which brought us out into the photo area. There was a large sleigh and a helpful elf on hand to take a green-screen photo which you can buy for a fair few pounds. We were pestered by Big, so we ended up buying a bauble for Grandma and Grandad’s tree! Before we left, another elf offered the kids a Thornton’s chocolate lolly each, and even the adults were offered a wrapped chocolate too.
We had a brilliant time! The kids loved the snow play, especially the tubing and Small was in her element with the lights, smells, temperature – it was a very sensory experience! I liked the fact that the number of families were limited and, while there were enough people for there to be a good atmosphere, it wasn’t so busy that we all got in each other’s way. The Santa show was entertaining and the animals cute.
We felt the Snowdome had made a real effort to make it a fun experience and it felt really magical when we first entered the snow area. I felt it was pretty good value for money at the ‘saver’ prices we paid, although I’m not sure I’d want to pay much more, especially as you don’t get a one-to-one visit with Santa at the Snowdome.
Santa’s Winter Wonderland at the Snowdome, Tamworth is open until New Year’s Eve. Prices are £13.95 for a saver ticket, to £17.95 for a standard ticket, and under 2s are free with a paying adult. Full details are available on the website here.
See what we’re doing to countdown to Christmas with our Reverse Advent Calendar!
Disclosure: I chose to review our experience of Santa’s Winter Wonderland at the Snowdome, which we paid for ourselves. All thoughts and opinions are my own.