Well, we went to the Magical Journey last night, and after all the media attention, negative feedback, closing down and reopening, we weren’t really sure what to expect.
So we wrapped everyone up warm and headed off with trepidation.
The traffic was horrendous and we arrived a few minutes late for our slot. But they said nothing, and we were able to join the 5.20pm slot.
On arrival, it wasn’t clearly signposted. I would have imagined giant banners on the main road and really clear signs as you turned in to the Belfry but hey ho, we still managed to find it.
Once inside the tent, we were greeted by an elf who directed us to the check in table, where we signed in without a problem.
In the tent there were 2 characters on stilts – a princess and I guess a prince. There was also a teddy bear outside the build a bear shop that the kids loved!
It took a moment for me to realise that this was the christmas market and magical cafe. It was a little underwhelming compared to what I was expecting. The little huts were cute but, in my opinion they could have laden the place with stalls and overfilled the place with Christmas decor to make it seem more inviting and I think people would have felt more engaged and christmassy from the start if they had done this. Having said that, if you ventured into the huts, they were nicely set out.
Once it was our turn, we were taken into the Father Christmas museum. Here the elf told us we were going on a journey and explained about the missing baby reindeer. The children loved sitting on Santa’s “original” sleigh, but the rest of the room was a little half-hearted and we were rushed on to the next room.
The next room was Mary Christmas’s kitchen. The decor in here was lovely and very authentically christmassy. Mary Christmas told a story of how Nicholas became Santa, but it was difficult to hear as the sound quality, even with the microphone, was poor, and also Mary’s quiet voice was somewhat drowned out by all the sounds of cheering coming from the next room.
After the story, we were taken to Simeon Cowelf’s room. Again it was hard to hear what was being said in here and it wasn’t exactly the talent show that was advertised in the brochure. We had to cheer or boo for a handful of presents, to decide if they were worthy for Santa’s sack. Then the phone “rang”, although no one but Simeon noticed it ringing! It was Santa asking everyone to look out for Rudi – the missong baby reindeer. Then Simeon produced a bitten carrot – a clue that Rudi had been here…(lame for grown-ups but I think the kids enjoyed it!)
After this we went out to get on the train. You take a short ride through the snowy woods, lit with ropelights – quite pretty, and again the children seemed to enjoy it.
When you get off the train, you are led into a teepee. This was one of the highlights for me. We were given a mini cup of hot chocolate and entertained by Jack Frost. Card tricks are not great for 3 year olds, but Jack cheered and announced “that was good!” very enthusiastically.
Then we came to another teepee. Here, an elf greeted us and took the childrens names to write on the blackboard. There was still a few from the last group waiting to see Santa, but they had a storyteller in there to keep people entertained. Our 2 weren’t interested though, and were getting cold and tired and hungry. Luckily, we only had to wait around 10 minutes, before the most Northern elf ever came to lead us on.
Finally the best part of the journey! Meeting the big man himself!
Santa was brilliant, really engaged with the children and even hubby, who is not very christmassy, thought he was great!
The children got to choose a present – I actually thought it was great that the presents weren’t wrapped, so they could choose what they wanted, and the elf rooted around in another sack to see if he had anything else they might want! Rachel had asked for a notebook (as well as other things!) so he found her a dressing up pad. Finally, we had our photo taken with Santa, then Northern elf took us to see the reindeer.
We headed back to the entrance tent, grabbed our framed photo (which we had pre-paid for and was rather overpriced for what you got – a nicer frame with a logo would have been better), grabbed a couple of hot dogs for the tired and hungry kids, and left.
All in all we were there for about an hour and a half.
Overall it was ok. Some bits were better than others. The children enjoyed it – which was the main thing – but for grown-ups, and for the price, it was quite lame.
We could have gone to Drayton Manor to see Santa, had a day out and been able to ride on all the Thomasland rides for pretty much the same price.
But it could have been so much worse.
I definitely think it was better to go when it was dark, as the lights made it very pretty and the dark masked the roads nearby and anything else that would have ruined the illusion.
Have you been to the Magical Journey?
What was your overall impression and what were your highlights and lowlights?