Last year we went to Lapland UK for the first time. You can read my review here. We chose to book again this year as I hadn't had time to look into alternative Santa experiences and quite frankly don't think that you will find a better one in the UK. It is worth noting that we paid for this ourselves. It was not a press trip. It is expensive going to Lapland UK and when I was looking to go for the first time, trying to find reviews for it from anyone that had stumped up their hard earned cash were few and far between.
There were some changes from last year. It was a shame that some of these parts were missing but it did not make a difference to the experience and I am assuming the changes were put in place to make life easier for the elves who work there.
We booked an evening session this year as last year we had gone in the day on opening weekend. The weekday evening slots are cheaper and we have the advantage of living near to the Ascot/Bracknell area where it is based. We arrived around 30 minutes before our allotted tour time of 4.30 and were shown where to park the car. It is worth noting that the car park is really really muddy. Wear boots or flat shoes.
On arrival I checked in and we were put into the reindeer group. Basically there are two groups, Reindeers and Huskys. You start the tour together going into the magical forest. Here an elf tells you about the magical path into Lapland UK. He checks that the children received elf passports on their way in. Little man was so keen that his was ok he was trying to get on stage! The door was opened and 2 reindeer herders greet each group. You are then taken off the next part of the tour. There was no "snow" falling this year which was a shame, but at least it made for no questions being asked if one of your children had spotted the snow machine.
We walked through the forest filled with "magic" snow and went into the toy workshop. The children have their own door which they love.
Here the tell you that they are behind on their toy making and ask the children to help.
The activities were different to last year which was good. First was stuffing a reindeer toy. Last year it was a bear.
Then you put together a glockenspiel and even got to test it was working. This was lovely and the tune of jingle bells was written out for the older ones to play.
We then went through to Mother Christmas' kitchen. On the way were some elf houses which I am sure were a new addition.
In the kitchen the children get to decorate gingerbread men which my boys loved. The adults are offered a biscuit here too.
Mother Christmas then tells the childen the story of the gingerbread baby and then you are free to go into the village.
We were told that we just needed to follow the path to see Father Christmas between 7.30 and 8.00pm. It was 6 o'clock and we went to have tea first. The food was much better than last year and I can highly recommend Mother Christmas' Christmas pie. Childrens meals were £4 plus drink and in total we spent £45 on our family of 5, which is reasonable.
We then said hello to some real husky's.
And a giant Rudolph.
Next we went ice skating. There were lots more penguins than last year which was good. Smaller children have double blades that they attach to their shoes.
At around 7.30 we followed the path to see Father Christmas. This path is really beautiful and if your children aren't as over excited as ours were you could get some beautiful pictures. The only problem with going in the dark is that it is harder to take photos due to the lighting.
We entered a room where I checked in and confirmed the details that I had told Father Christmas about the children at the time of booking. Last year an elf wrote your name on a chalk board when they were ready for you but this year they just come over to you instead.
Then you are taken to Father Christmas' house via a pathway of snow covered trees.
The children sit on a bench outside whilst an elf checks that Father Christmas is ready. The children (small folk) sit on the bench by Father Christmas and the adults (big folk) stand to the side. Cameras are not to be used inside as it is distracting. We had a lovely Father Christmas who was good with the boys. The were extremely over excited and wouldn't stop talking. He used little of the information that I had given him this year, but it didn't really matter as it was obvious they were believers. He was slightly confused by little man shouting out he wanted a Gup (I'm thinking he hasn't watched much CBeebies) and then screaming "Octonauts to your stations!" He gave each of the boys a soft toy husky and then a photo of the boys was taken and then one of the family. He kindly told the boys that they should try sleeping in until 7 on Christmas Day. I can wish!
We then walked up and saw his reindeer and sleigh before meeting a character husky in the photo shop. The photo's had increased in price this year and the standard photo was £15.
Then exhausted we made our way home.
I have had a lot of people ask me about Lapland UK (and many more searching on my blog about it.) Most people want to see if it is worth the money. Tickets cost from £49.50 - £95.50 per person depending on the time you go. It needs to be viewed in the same way as taking your children to see a West End show as it is a theatrical production. We are lucky in that we live nearby and don't have the added cost of having to stay in a hotel. We have been to a number of Santa experiences and this is by far the best. I think it is key that you go here when the children are the correct age - which I think is between 3 and 6. Little man had a much better idea of what was going on this year and it was lovely to see. It also meant we could spend more time ice skating.
You can buy elf jingles to pay for goods whilst in Lapland UK, but I don't really see the need for this and just used my credit card.
We had a lovely time, I am glad that we chose night to go this time to make it different, and it was nice that the activities had changed slightly. You can read my 2013 review and top tips posts here. One last thing to note is that it is hugely weather dependent. We were lucky this year and last. It didn't rain and although the car park was muddy it wasn't too bad in the village. The weather will undoubtedly have an effect on your experience, and you can't see Father Christmas early.
So now the big question is where do we go next year? Can you recommend anywhere that would be just as good?