Last weekend we were invited to try out the Magical Christmas Family Experience at 4 Kingdoms Adventure Park in Newbury, which is about an hour’s drive from Slough. It’s a 2 hour experience and I was really excited to take the kids and get in the festive spirit. And I can tell you that they both LOVED it. It was quite long with lots of activities and they definitely slept well that evening. Here’s what we did.
First we were given our ‘passports’ and ‘boarding pass’ and had to check in at the airport which was in a marquee outside. There was even a pretend body scanning machine, and pretend airport announcements, as if we were really flying somewhere.
After checking in, we had a little wait in the waiting room before getting our passports stamped and boarding our sleigh. Led by two pretend reindeer, the sleigh actually moved and took us to ‘Bethlehem’.
At Bethlehem, we were greeted by a shepherd called Dave. Tyler was so funny when he went to pose for this photo. He went ‘Wait!” and unzipped his coat so he could show his Christmas jumper!
After waiting for the rest of our group which the sleigh had gone back to collect, Dave the shepherd led us through Bethlehem to a seated area. I was impressed with how they had decorated the area.
There was a talking donkey who told us the story of the Nativity. Tyler listened very intently, as did the other children. It was so cute!
After the story we walked through the rest of Bethlehem and then there was a little congestion to get to the next bit. But it got a real wow once we got there, all fairy lights and snow. The kids looked amazed, and it did actually feel magical. Then this crazy, crazy elf with an Essex accent came out of nowhere and made us follow him.
His name was Tic Toc. He was nuts. But the kids loved him, as did the adults. This guy should have his own stand up comedy show. The kids stood in a semi-circle around him while he chatted some stuff I can’t remember. Lily looked on, she was a bit excited about this moving bunny rabbit.
Then this tree started singing. It was all a bit surreal.
We said goodbye to Tic Toc and we were led outside, past a stream to this other hut when Mrs Clause greeted us. It was time to make Christmas cookies in Mrs Clause’s Kitchen! Except they were just chocolate digestives. But it was well needed as the kids munched them down within seconds. Stuff this decorating malarkey.
With only coffee stick stirrers to stick the icing sugar on, it was a bit tricky, yummy nonetheless. After eating the digestives, we were led through another wooden door to…
Yep, Elsa as in Elsa from Frozen. Here we got to take a photo with Elsa herself (ie the poor little 18-year-old) There were grumbles from the parents in the group in front of us about the 1.40pm and the 1.50pm groups being mixed up and Elsa panicked and the photos were rushed, and a little boy needed the loo and he couldn’t wait and… panic!! We took our photo quickly, the kids posed on demand as they are so used to taking photos haha – but I forgot to take a photo of Elsa on my own camera much to Tyler’s dismay – “Mummy, where’s the photo of Elsa?!?!” – OOPS!
After the photos there was a little wait until we were led through into the light show – which Lily LOVED. Look at her little face! It was lots of snowmen with the lights changing as some songs played including Let It Go of course.
After the light show where the seating was like a cinema, we were led to another Elf area. It was a psychedelic toy factory with a crazy elf telling the kids all about it. It was all lights and decs and pretty amazing to look at. Toys were coming out of the conveyor belt.
He was a bit nuts, this elf, East End accent, posing for photos for me, hehe. Then he made all the dads stand in a row and sing Jingle Bells – it was hilarious.
After that we went into this snowy area with cool displays – I loved the rainbows. The floor was covered in polysterene little balls (as in snow), which looked nice but was VERY slippery. If you are going on this experience, be very careful in this section. Tyler actually slipped on it and bumped his head on the doorframe.
After this section we were led to a seating area where there was a giant talking rabbit who looked like something out of Alice in Wonderland. Now, when we booked this experience, we had to fill in some questions about our children. This was where it came into action. The rabbit went “Tyler and Lily, where are you?” And then he talked all about the things they liked and what they had achieved that year. Unfortunately, Tyler was a bit distracted trying to get the polystyrene balls out of his shoes to be truly amazed.
After the talking rabbit, we were led to the ‘Build a Polar Bear’ workshop and I was really impressed with this bit. There was a table with baskets of bears ready to be stuffed. And these bears were really soft, like Build-a-Bear quality, not any old cheap tat. I sat Lily on the table and stuffed her bear for her. We each had a velvet heart to kiss and make a wish on before putting it inside the bear. There were also optional bear outfits that we could buy for £10 – £15. We passed on that.
The next bit was a bit tough as there was a HUGE crowd. I think because we were in an afternoon slot, everything was over-running, leading to a big wait for ‘Meet Santa’. There were chairs to sit on and singing reindeers – although kids were having meltdowns at this stage – it is hard to have children waiting in a confined space.
We were waiting 15 minutes before having our names called out and were then led to this cosy little room to meet Santa. I actually gasped as it was very private. I don’t know what I was expecting, but this was very nice.
And this Santa was incredible. He had the kindest face and such warmth emanating from him, it really felt like he was Santa. All the anger and stress from waiting faded away, from just from the kindness in his face and his voice! I have never met a more authentic Santa than this guy! He asked Tyler questions and he gave one word answers as usual, and then he asked what was his favourite part of the day and Tyler said the donkey! That made us all laugh. We posed for the camera, and Lily was going ‘cheese’ at the camera the whole time. We took a family photo too and Santa gave us some sweeties.
Then the best bit for the kids was choosing their toy from Santa’s toy collection. It was a really good selection, I was surprised, these toys looked worth about £5 I would say. Tyler chose a monster truck, while we chose a set of mini monster trucks for Lily – she’s just not into cuddly toys.
My husband bought our family photo for a tenner, as it came out really nice. And then we had a coffee and cake in the cafe area before heading home as it was was dark and freezing and 5pm by the time we left.
Despite the grumbling from the parents for the waiting and the length of this experience, the children LOVED it. And I don’t just mean my children, but the other children in our group also. The happiness and laughter from them all. It was so heart-warming! I am really glad I took my kids on this Christmas Experience and would definitely recommend it. I would say to book a morning slot so there would be less chance of things over-running, wrap up really warm as it’s very cold, and bring snacks for your kids. And I don’t think you need a pushchair if your toddler is of walking age, we didn’t bother with Lily and she was fine just toddling along.
If you would like to book this experience, go to 4-kingdoms.co.uk/christmas. Tickets cost from £10.95 to £27.95 and it’s open until December 24th. Address: 4 Kindoms Adventure Park, Newbury Rd, Headley RG19 8JY
I was gifted tickets for the purpose of this review and these are my honest thoughts and opinions of the experience.