Last weekend, we took Pip and our nephew to the Adventures to Santa’s Grotto at Westfield Stratford. Or should that be that we were “whisked away on a fun, interactive adventure to visit Santa with help from our friends Shrek and Donkey and enjoyed a magical, personalised journey complete with a 4D cinematic sleigh ride which transported us through the skies to Santa’s workshop in the North Pole.”
The 4D cinematic sleigh ride was excellent and we were all thrilled by it, adults as well. With the cold air blowing in our faces and the wrap around screen, we are found it an exhilarating ride and the kids seemed to be transported by it, even if my 4 and half year old nephew did say to my husband that he knew it was just a film. I won’t say too much as I don’t want to spoil if you go, but we really did feel like we were flying and that cold snow was hitting us in the face! Santa was also excellent and we enjoyed having a photo taken altogether. I was surprised that the promised present to the children was a ‘only’ a pair of Shrek ears, but these also seemed to go down well, and Pip didn’t take hers off all weekend, so they were a definite hit!
Admittedly I don’t have much to compare it to as this was our first Grotto experience, but I thought the magic of the sleigh ride definitely outweighed some of the more irritating parts, and the things which were frustrating to me were things that the kids didn’t even to notice, and they thought it was excellent all round. Even if we did forget to watch Shrek beforehand so I found it most amusing that Pip was referring to “the green one and the horse” all afternoon afterwards.
Even first thing in the morning on a Saturday the Grotto was busy and the waiting area whilst you collect the boarding passes is rather small and drafty and on the day we visited seemed particularly chilly and the staff rather frantic. Not that the kids noticed of course. You might be lucky and get a seat on the bench whilst you wait for your Elf to take you over for your flight. (Don’t make the same mistake I did and leave the kids in the warm whilst you pop over for the tickets – although you probably wouldn’t be so ill-informed about grottos to turn up sans kids!)
My only other comment was that no photo was included in the price of the ticket. If a free download to share straight to Facebook or similar had been available I think that would have been a great marketing opportunity as I would have happily shared it there and then, particularly as it was strongly stated throughout that no photographs or filming was allowed during the experience. As it was, we were magic-ed back out of the grotto straight into a gift shop packed to the rafters with purchasing opportunities. We of course felt obliged to buy something, particularly as we’d encouraged the kids to pose for a photo with Santa, and we were immediately directed to the photographs which are for sale (in addition to the fee for the grotto). We bought Pip and her cousin a fridge magnet each and then a third one for them to both give to their grandparents – the three magnets cost £18, so not cheap.
All in all, if you have a reason to go to Westfield, I though the grotto experience was very good. £35 for 4 people is a little on the expensive side, particularly when the cost of the photos/gifts is factored in, but I think it still within the realms of affordable or compared to say a cinema ticket for 4.
Post in collaboration with Westfield. I received free entry into the grotto and a Westfield gift card to cover my costs.