22 November 2016


We were lucky enough to be invited by Marwell to review their 'Christmas at Marwell' event. Growing up in southampton means Marwell is somewhere that holds memories for me, and reminds me of my own childhood visits. We've only taken Lucas once before due to not being able to drive and needing to get the train, but it is such a lovely zoo, and it has improved a lot since I was a child too.

We were looking at Santa experiences to take Lucas to just before we received the email from Marwell. Most were either overpriced, out of our travel distance or just looked a little naff. I mean who wants to see a skinny Santa, that's beards half hanging off his face and smells of beef a cheese. (Only I could throw in an ELF quote so easily.) When looking at what Marwell had to offer, I was very impressed and straight away got very excited. The price for our family of 4, was £71 and in all honesty that's such a bargain for what we got and also compared to a lot of the local competitors, it's really not much difference and you get a lot more for your money than most too.

I'll get onto the experience now.

We chose an evening slot, and I would suggest to anyone to chose an evening slot if you can, as seeing it all in the darkness just adds to the magic.We were greeted at the admissions gate, where we showed our ticket and were told to queue up for the trains arrival. Iris desperately needed a nappy change whilst we were in the queue, but due to the park closing at 4, that meant the toilets were closed, but they were also too dark to get to. The ladies in the ticket booth, kindly put up with her awful smell, and let me change her in their little office space. This is obviously not part of the christmas at marwell experience, but it made me feel really happy knowing that such a small thing added to my list of great things, of the evening.

The train arrived and it was little carriages, pulled by a tractor, lit up with the most beautiful christmas lights and Lucas' little face lit up with excitement. He adores trains, and had been repeating all day to us about going on the "missmass train." The train takes around 6-7 minutes to drive you up through the darkness, and strangely silent zoo, thats also beautifully lit up with twinkly christmas lights.
Once we arrived at Marwell hall, you were met with the most magically lit up, grandest house, with the most amazing christmas tree outside it. snowflakes projected onto the hall and it just looked magnificent.

We were greeted by an Elf as we entered the hall, and were made at home by having somewhere to put our coats, and then offered a mince pie and a glass of warm mulled wine or blackcurrant, because i'm breastfeeding I decided to opt for a blackcurrant squash instead and watched Lucas and Brad scoff mince pies, and Brad warm himself up with mulled wine.
There was an interactive board with all the children's names on it, as the "nice list." Which I thought was a wonderful touch.
After a little sing song of jingle bells, and dancing, Mrs Claus arrived and took us into a wildlife themed room, to read the story of 'the animals that saved christmas' based at Marwell.
There were little masks under every little log cushion, to encourage the children to be involved in the story too.

After the story, we were taken into the next room for crafts. The children were given an ice cream cone, buttercream, sweets and a digestive to make a christmas tree. Lucas just ate everything, there was no real making of the tree, he just wanted to eat it all. A lot of the sweets disappeared into his mouth instead of onto the tree. 

Iris slept the whole time really, which was nice as it meant Brad and I could take it in turns to bond with Lucas. Brad and Lucas had the one on one time in the story telling section, I had the craft section. It's important Brad and I split our time between both children, especially as Lucas is still adapting.

Then finally the big finale! Meeting the big man himself! We finally met Santa, he was wonderful, he knows you by name as you walk through, so instead of saying "Hello, whats your name?" You get "Hello, you must be Lucas, and this must be your little sister, Iris." So personal, so sweet, and just made it. Lucas was a little unsure of Santa, and Iris, well she just slept. They were given a gift each and there was a photographer in the room too, who was an elf, and you have the option to buy them after. We bought one for £7.

When every child made it through, we headed back on the elf express and headed home. We headed home with one tired little boy saying "Ducas, tired."
Once home Lucas opened his gift, he had a boat and Iris had a lamaze teether toy.

We had such an amazing time, and you can watch the vlog here, I hope you do as it really shows how magical it was, and you can see how much Lucas enjoyed himself.

Thank you for reading! I hope i've inspired you to head to your nearest Santa experience!

*We were gifted this experience by Marwell Wildlife for a review. All words and opinions are my own and honest*

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