Getting Festive at Avon Valley adventure and wildlife park!
Last weekend we decided to start the festive season early (actually is it even considered early? Things seem to start before then now anyway!) Anyway, we were invited to visit Father Christmas in the North Pole (actually Avon Valley adventure park!) and go on a Christmas adventure!
We always try and fit in a little visit to Father Christmas over December and with Theo turning 8 in January I'm pretty conscious of how long he's still going to believe in it all, as well as that Rohan is becoming so much more aware of his wider surroundings and really enjoying activities too, so we thought it would be the perfect place for them to visit and both enjoy!
We arrived just in the nick of time (a warning, if you're going then make sure you read the ticket properly and arrive ten minutes before unlike us!!) but even though we were there slightly on the late side everyone was really accommodating and waited for us before it all started. First of all we entered into a small cave like room filled with foliage and lights to meet two very enthusiastic elves! It was a great introduction and really set the tone for how the whole experience would go. We had to use magic to get through the door and walk through a wintery tree lined path to meet the other Elves, in the toy making workshop. The children then had to help the elves make some teddy bears (and then give them back again which I was surprised none of the children complained about!!) as well as use some Christmas spirit to get the machines all working. It was so well done and all the children were completely captivated! Rohan loved watching the Elves as they jumped around lots and just giggled with delight every time they came near, they made sure they said hello and interacted with every child which was lovely.
Next we travelled on to the gingerbread workshop where the children could decorate their own biscuit (and thankfully keep!!) and had a story read to them by the three Elves; Snap, Crackle and Pop. Rohan pretty much just sat and ate most of his chocolate whilst we helped him decorate and Theo got properly stuck in to the decorating, including wearing the sweet chefs hat!
Once we'd finished the last workshop we entered into the Yuletide Square and the Enchanted village with about an hour to spare before taking the magic portal to Santas Grotto. It just felt so magical with dozens of snowy Christmas trees lining the square, rides and Christmas music! We entered into the dark and cosy village full of tiny Elf houses, decorated trees and reindeers and visited the mail room where Theo wrote a little letter to Father Christmas before it being whizzed off. He liked the mail room so much that he volunteered his services to help out! We had our photo taken with some snowmen and showed Rohan all the lights and the (fake) snow before heading back outside for our free hot chocolate and enjoyed some doughnuts too (because it's totally ok to have just sugar for lunch in the North Pole right?)
After we'd finished up our snack we visited two real Reindeer (Donna and Blitzen if I remember correctly!) and the boys were able to feed them themselves which I think Rohan was very intrigued by! The whole feel of the village and square was really magical and I'm pretty sure Theo believed that we were actually in a different place to where we started and I just thought the scale and detail of the event was brilliant. We managed to a little go on the rides just before we had to go on to the next part of the experience to meet Father Christmas. I liked how we didn't feel rushed though and had the full hour in the village to be able to explore properly.
The last stop was upon the virtual reality shuttle which took us on a long journey around the world to see the sights before arriving at Santas secret location. Rohan loved the ride so much and again giggled through the whole thing! We were taken in a small group into his cabin filled with trinkets and pictures where Santa Claus and Mrs Claus greeted us and asked what the children wanted as gifts, it was all pretty magical and very believable! Next the children were given presents with their names on (a really lovely touch I think!) before having a photo opportunity. Non of it felt rushed at all and there was none of that panic to try and get your photo in quick and move off again.
Finally our experience was drawing to a close, and we took a little train ride out of the village and arrived back in the park where we could spend the rest of the day to enjoy the grounds, animals and indoor play area. We honestly had the most magical experience and it was such a great way to kick off the festive season! I thought that the level of detail and entertainment that you get for your money (considering it includes entry to the park also) was brilliant and it really was a whole days experience, compared to paying a tenner at the local shopping centre for 5 minutes! I know the tickets have all pretty much sold out as I speak, so if you can't make it this year I highly recommend getting in early and booking next year!
We were gifted the experience in exchange for a review but all words and images are my own! x