How do you pick which grotto you visit?
Do join on the end of the local shopping centre grotto queue and pray that you your child(ren) play nice and smile after their looong wait in line and not freak out and refuse the obligatory shot with Santa wasting the £xxx amount of pounds you just paid the whole beautiful experience topped off with a 99p shop toy that, if they are anything like my daughter they will hate!
Oh the joys of the holidays! Or do you....................
Plan ahead scout out the best places and promptly book into one of the newest swankiest grotto experiences to be had??
Well after previous "fun" experiences in the first scenario in years gone by, the past few visits have been ones that really are visits to remember. Last year my sisters and I paid for a private story time one on one with the big man himself with the local theatre group and it was a huge success, all the kids loved it! Could we top that this year? Well the people over at intu Trafford Centre thought that maybe they could and well, who was I not try it out after all Olivia is 8 now and I think pretty soon she will be too old to be sitting on Santa's lap! (although these days it's more standing next to, not sitting actually on Santa's lap!)
Situated in Barton Square (outside Legoland Discovery Centre) intu Trafford Centre's The Snowman and the Snowdog Grotto promises a magical experience for children of all ages based on the book and film of the same name a new story with a twist on the classic and timeless The Snowman. The grotto itself is adorned with many different snowmen statues and the snowdog is sat out front waiting to greet everyone.
Unfortunately due to traffic we were actually running late, bloomin' football grrr....... and the usually short bus ride took twice as long (and over an hour on the way home!) but the staff at the grotto were very nice and understanding about it especially with the confusion of us not receiving the correct voucher, but all that was irrelevant in the end when we made it inside.
First we were greeted by Billy's mum. Billy is the little boy who decided to build himself a snowman and a snowdog. Here Billy's mum told us her story interspersed with bits of the film sitting in her front room.
After listening to her story and discovering the magic of snow we were finally on our way to see Santa. Led past a display of snowmen in a beautiful christmas setting, all children were invited to sit at lovely little old fashioned school desks with lamps on to write a letter to hand into Santa. No letters getting lost in the post for us! Olivia asked for an Orbeez soothing spa and some Monster High dolls and she kept tight hold of it.
One at a time the children were taken through to where Santa was ready and waiting for them and boy, was Santa shocked when he seen how much Olivia had grown this year! Join the club my friend, join the club!
What I really enjoyed was the tailored and personal conversation Santa had with Olivia, none of this 'have you been a good girl' stuff, they actually had a little chat. He kindly asked Olivia if she would be able to make him jelly on Christmas eve as the mince pies get stuck in his teeth! So that's our Christmas eve cooking taken care of! He then took her list and carefully folded it in front of her and popped into his magical bag sending it straight to the top of the list pile back in the North Pole! She was delighted (I was thankful I knew what was on said list!)
After having her picture taken Santa sent us on our way as he is obviously a very busy man with lots of children to see and she was one happy little girl.
The experience for me was made more special by the fact that there are showing times for the grotto meaning that you are not waiting in massive queues with cranky kids you turn up for your booked time, I do recommend you book as it is really busy then you wont be disappointed by being turned away due to it being full.
You can find out more details including opening times (10am till 10pm from 3rd November to 24th December) and prices (£4.50 per child with a gift and £2.50 per adult) I am in 2 minds about the adult charge but considering you also get the full experience with story and film and the fact that £4.50 is very reasonable for what you get for me the total of £7 was cheaper than what I paid last year so it wouldn't be too bothered paying for me really. There is an online booking fee but for the peace of mind knowing that you get to experience this magical visit with Santa without waiting in long queues or being turned away, as many where whilst I was there its a small price to pay really. Hop over to this page to find out more Britain's First The Snowman and The Snowdog Grotto