Last weekend Bonus Boy and I set out together to visit LaplandUK by special invitation from The Big Man himself and we were VERY excited! We parked in the forest and made our way to Reception, a large wooden cabin, manned by elves and housing the LaplandUK exchange where we swapped a few of our pound coins for Elf Jingles and collected our Passport.
The clock told us we had ten minutes to wait until our departure so we wandered around and admired the fairy lights, read the names on the huge pile of elf suitcases and I thought about a cuppa from the inviting café in the corner. But just then an elf skipped past us, his suitcase flying open and his belongings scattering everywhere! Curious children gathered around and helped him reload his suitcase just in time as Compass, the elf in charge of travel to LaplandUK, called us to the departure area.
We were split into two groups, Reindeer group made their way through one departure door and we Huskies exited left. We followed the colourfully lit trail through the woodland before we reached a tented clearing with benches arranged in a semi circle. BB and I plonked ourselves down and waited to see what would happen next.
Two woodland elves told us stories and outlined the adventures ahead before we all sang a song, the large door opened and we realised we had arrived in Lapland! Big Folk actually gasped as they caught sight of the snowy scene outside!
We had been asked to LaplandUK by Father Christmas to help clear the backlog at the toy factory so it was time to get to work. The Toy Workshop was fabulous – I wandered around admiring the tools (I love tools) and toy blueprints while BB and all the other Small Folk made a batch of toys at their workbenches.
Click on the images below to make them bigger if you are a tool and blueprint fan too!
The elf in charge and his assistants made sure everyone knew what they were doing and explained how important it was to remember to put the heart inside Rudolf as they were stuffing him – ‘because every cuddly toy needs a heart’. One elf, yet to earn the bell on his hat due to his mischievous antics, kept the elf in charge on his toes and everyone entertained as our Small Folk moved on from Rudolph stuffing (!) to wooden horse making and I watched BB begin to relax and really enjoy himself.
Our next port of call was Mother Christmas’ kitchen to listen to stories and decorate gingerbread houses. Regular readers won’t be surprised to hear that I rather loved this part of our visit – I’d quite like to bring that kitchen home!
Leaving Mother Christmas’ warm company we made our way once again through the snowy forest to Elf Village where we had time to explore before our date with the Man in Red.
Like everything so far Elf Village was peopled by happy elves who were happy to chat to Small Folk and to show their Big Folk where to go. BB and I had empty tummies so we decided our first port of call needed to be the Elf Restaurant for some soup and bread to set us up for a spot of ice skating after lunch. Excuse this slightly wonky photo of my boy whizzing by – I was on skates too!
We had just enough time to pop into the Post Office, Pixie Mixie’s Sweet Shop and The Elf Forge before our appointment to see Father Christmas.
Passing the reindeer and Santa’s sleigh we arrived at check in and waited briefly to be collected.
We were guided through the snowy forest by our own chatty elf, just me and my boy, and sat together outside Father Christmas’ cabin where we admired his sledge and skis before being called in to see him.
Our experience so far had been magical but this was the best bit for me. Father Christmas spent at least 5 minutes chatting to my boy about things he’d been up to (he knew BB’s team had won a football match last week!) and about what he wanted for Christmas. There was no sense of urgency, FC seemed to have all the time in the world to chat. When he found out that BB would really like a big pile of drawing paper the conversation moved onto the painting and drawing styles of famous artists (they had a bit of a natter about Picasso and Cubism – as you do) and Father Christmas turned to me and reeled off a list of book suggestions to add to the Christmas list for my budding artist.
Reaching into his sack and producing a beautiful Husky as a gift Father Christmas added the final magical touch to our day ‘Will you do me an enormous favour BB? Will you make sure you are all tucked up and asleep nice and early on Christmas Eve and…will you make sure that Cloudy and Bee are kept out of the way so I don’t trip over them?’ We both gasped and looked at each other – how did he know the names of our cats?! It can only be because he has encountered them on previous visits – this was definitely the REAL Father Christmas, how lucky were we?!
So – that was our LaplandUK experience but was it worth the money and did it live up to expectations?
This is a pretty pricey Christmas experience, it would cost you £74 per person plus a £4.50 booking fee per ticket if you went on the day we were invited so it’s pretty important that I tell you whether or not that is money well spent isn’t it?!
The best bits about LaplandUK
- This is a magical experience from beginning to end, there are no grumpy elves in sight, there are plenty of twinkling lights and just the right amount of snow. A visit to LaplandUK is an immersive theatrical event and it is done VERY well.
- Father Christmas is real and any doubters/wobblers would be hard pressed to think otherwise – the time we got to spend with him is one of the best bits of my parenting journey so far and I have been to 20 years worth of Christmas experiences. He judged BB really well, didn’t talk down to him, rush him or fake interest – they had a conversation I think my boy will cherish for quite some time.
- All the buildings at LaplandUK felt ‘right’, this is a well put together Christmas experience with lots of attention to detail. I didn’t notice any rough edges or signs of the world outside. The sweet shop was a particular delight as was the forge.
- Queuing was minimal – we didn’t feel herded or crowded. We did feel special and welcome.
Things to bear in mind when booking for LaplandUK
This is a big outlay for most people in the run up to Christmas so I would suggest the following to ensure you get value for money
- I’m not sure very young children would squeeze every drop of joy from this experience, this might be the Christmas experience you save up for when they are a bit older and can join in with the elves, the activities and the skating all of which are included in the price (which, if you think about it, is a jolly good thing!)
- Plan your time carefully – I cocked up a bit, we spent so long on the ice having a good time that we didn’t leave enough time to browse in the shops properly which meant we came home with Elf Jingles which aren’t actually currency in Somerset (although BB is very chuffed with them and the bag they came in so it’s not too disastrous!). I think I might pass on the soup if we went again and opt for a quick toastie from the Elf Café instead of a sit down lunch – it was lovely but it bit into our time in the village.
- I’m not keen on animals as entertainment and there are huskies and reindeer at LaplandUK. However, the dogs were rotated so that none of them was available for patting for too long (BB loved stroking these beautiful animals and, like every animal he ever meets, they nuzzled up to him happily) and the reindeer were in an enclosure so that the passing humans couldn’t bother them and they could sleep and chomp away in preparation for their biggest night of the year!
So – Would I Pay to go to LaplandUK?
We were lucky to be offered tickets for the purpose of this review so the question is, would I pay to go? Overall I think that LaplandUK is good value for money, my boy is an imaginative, creative fellow and the theatrical experience provided in Whitmoor Forest totally drew him (and me) in, we left with grins on our faces and magic in our hearts – it’s a Once in a Childhood experience, yes, I’d pay to take him!