Christmas in November is usually a bit of a No No in our house. Not out of my choice I hasten to add. I am a Christmas fanatic. If I had my way the whole house would be decorated from November 1st every year. Hubby tends to reign me in and honestly I do understand why. It does all get a bit much and unless you can absorb all the Christmas spirit and really get involved it is very ‘in your face’. Every year I try to delicately help Hubby feel more festive before the 24th December so when the opportunity arose to visit Winter Wonderland for their Parent Blogger day in November I was not going to say no. Even Hubby said he was looking forward to feeling a little more festive. (Seriously, those words actually came out of his mouth.)
Winter Wonderland London 2017
We don’t live too far from London as far as a train journey goes but of course we went up on a Sunday. So it was up and at ’em like it was a weekday morning. It was seriously cold, but that was perfect for me. I love the winter and I particularly like it to be cold over Christmas. I couldn’t think of anything worse than being somewhere hot for Christmas. When we do go up to London with the girls it is usually touch to tell if they are more excited about going on a train or whatever activity we have planned. Well with the promise of The Sooty Show, Zippos Circus, Candy Floss and Popcorn it is safe to say the train was not what they were most excited about.
Getting to Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park is very easy, especially if you are on the Jubilee line. We get into Waterloo and then it is pushchair friendly from the street to the train. That means there are no gaps, no steps and no bumps along the way. We got off at Green Park tube station as it is only a short walk down to Hyde Park from there (which is not pushchair friendly at all). Be warned that Green Park is like a rabbit warren and whilst there are a few short cuts that are well documented online and if you are walking, however if you need to take a lift (or the 2/3 lifts it takes to get to the street from the jubilee line) then you are going to see every inch of Green Park Tube station. Then after a beautiful walk through Green Park you will be at Hyde Park Corner and from there Winter Wonderland is very well sign posted.
Entry to Winter Wonderland is actually free. But be prepared for long queues as it gets very busy and the security staff there conduct bag searches. Once inside you will be greeted by Christmas Market stalls, rides, shows and loads of food and drink stands. To go on any of the rides you will need to purchase tokens at one of the many token stands. I believe it is £1 per token and each ride will require a specific amount of Tokens to ride. Many of the kids rides were 2 tokens and I saw a couple of adult rides that were 9 tokens. To go to any of the shows or to skate on the outdoor ice rink then you will need to prebook a time slot. And get booking soon because every year these sell out really fast.
The Sooty Show
We had tickets for The Sooty Show which is on daily in the Mega Dome at 11am. Ellie and Trix don’t currently watch Sooty but Hubby and I grew up watching Sooty, Sweep and Sue. That is not to say that they weren’t excited about a puppet show because they really were. And they loved it. Especially Trixie who is nearly 3. She wouldn’t take her eyes off them all and ended up missing out on all the candy floss (which was eaten by her sister) because she was so engrossed in it all.
I was most excited about seeing the circus. We went to the 12.30 showing which was the first one after Sooty. This gave us enough time between the shows for a toilet trip, a pretzel and a drink before going back into the Mega Dome. For us the schedule was perfect or us and we all still had some of the initial excitement going on. Zippos Circus was amazing! It exceeded all my expectations. There was something for everyone and this was Ellie’s time to be mesmerised. Trixie was less fussed by the Acrobatics but Ellie had a much greater sense of the talent of the circus performers. It is hard to pick a favourite act as each had it’s own appeal. For me the best thing about both the Sooty Show and the Circus was being able to watch the pure amazement and joy that adorned my daughters faces.
We were given tokens for 2 rides each so after both the shows we headed straight for the rides. I would have happily got some food and drink but Ellie didn’t want to wait any longer. They went on the Reindeer Carousel, a kids Merry-Go-Round and then we all went on the flying Elephants together. I personally think the rides are very expensive but I appreciate that the maintenance of them of probably very pricy and I would rather they were expensive and safe than cheap and dangerous. However if we were to go again I would give the girls an expectation of two or three rides each and that is it. I don’t think you could go and not go on at least one ride. They are everywhere with their appealing flashy lights.
The Food & Drink
The food and drink are amazing! Technically that is all you need to know but here is why I think so…..
Wondering round Winter Wonderland there are themed areas however you can pretty much get the same or similar food and drink anywhere in the park. The pretzels were delicious. We tried a salty on and a cinnamon and sugar one. The salty pretzel was seriously salty. Even I struggled with it and I like an unhealthy amount of salt. But I would absolutely have another one. We went over to the Bavarian Village and shared a spicy sausage hot dog which was possibly the best hot dog we have ever had. The atmosphere in the Bavarian village was electric and very similar to the atmosphere you find in the Austrian Christmas Markets (I know, I have been, I’m not just saying that). Dotted around the park, near the food outlets, were little fire pits where many families were huddled around roasting marshmallows. Ellie finished off her day of food and sweets with a tray of mini pancakes with chocolate sauce. I tried one and they were really light and fluffy.
As for the drinks I mixed it like my former 18 year old self. I started with a Hot Apple Pie which was made with Southern Comfort, Fire Cracker and Cloudy Apple Juice. I got very excited when I saw this as it is very similar to the Apfelpunsch I had in Vienna a few years ago and is also reminiscent of the tribute AppleJack cocktail I make every year now. It was delicious and my only criticism would be that it wasn’t sold and every drinks vendor. I was immediately transported back to Vienna. Then I had a mulled wine…. It is Christmas after all. And finally a hot apple juice with amaretto. These were also both very yummy.
After all that we decided to call it a day. It was a bit earlier than we had planned but both the girls were exhausted and Ellie even fell asleep standing up on the buggy board (which I am now incredibly pleased we bought with us). The reverse journey was just as easy and on the way home Hubby and I agreed that it was the best family day out we have ever had. I know that is quite a bold claim to make but it is true. Both the girls were as good as gold all day. We didn’t have a single tantrum. They watched everything in pure innocent wonder, they laughed, they ate they drank and they were happy. And because they were so happy we were also so happy. It would be a great place to go one year without the kids as there was so much for us to do as adults but for now it is likely to become a yearly family tradition to head up to Winter Wonderland London.
*We were gifted tickets to The Sooty Show, Zippos Circus and 2 rides each in exchange for this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.