We were thrilled to be invited along to experience Christmas at Marwell recently. The day before our arrival the kids were really excited when we received an email from the elves at Marwell the night before our arrival with a special poem:
ONE MORE SLEEP
For Christmas as Marwell there’s one more sleep
A special memory to treasure and keep
Whilst in bed I mustn’t peep
I’ll close my eyes and start counting sheep
And when I wake we’ll make our way
To Marwell Zoo for a fabulous day
Meerkats squeek and penguins bray
I wonder what dear Santa will say …
C wanted to wear his Elf Christmas jumper & Santa hat. He also chose Elf to come along with us for the day. So all wrapped up with our scarfs, hats and gloves we headed off.
Our time slot to see Santa wasn’t until 14.45 but we had full access to Marwell as part of our ticket so we arrived around 11.30 to make time to enjoy the rest of the park.
On arrival we were greeted at the entrance and was told to be either back at the gift shop for 14.30 to collect the train to Marwell Hall, or alternatively we could make our own way there.
First up we headed to the little gift shop & coffee shop just inside the entrance for some much needed hot chocolates and made a note of where the train station was for later.
We made our way round the park stopping by the Penguins, Giraffes, Cheetahs, Zebras, Rhinos .. to name but a few. We stopped by Cafe Graze at lunchtime. Cafe Graze offer full hot meals, from roast dinners right down to sandwiches and drinks. It was nice to be able to sit down in the warm for half an hour.
After lunch we sat and let C play in one of the play areas for a little bit – he enjoyed the climbing and sliding whilst we sat watching him freezing cold from the benches.
Before we knew it, it was time to make our way back to the gift & coffee shop so we could wait for the train to take us to Santa.
We weren’t waiting too long because the train arrived on time. We all piled on and off we went. The first stop was the Giraffes – if you didn’t fancy walking round the park like we did you could choose to get the train to various drop off points. Once we had stopped at the Giraffes the driver announced the next stop was Marwell Hall and Santa. C’s face lit up when he heard that!
As the train pulled up outside Marwell Hall I couldn’t help but think it was something like out of Downton Abbey! The house was huge and so very beautiful. There was a huge Christmas Tree outside and there was an Elf waiting to greet us at the door.
We were led into the foyer which was decorated from top to bottom in Christmas decorations and in the corner the biggest tree i’ve ever seen. We were offered mulled wine and blackcurrant for the children and mince pies whilst we waited for everyone to arrive. There was somewhere to hang our coats and we were told they would be waiting for us at the end of our experience. It was nice to not have to carry them around with us.
There was a big TV screen with a list of people who were on the naughty and nice list – the children had fun looking out for their names. They were both delighted to see they were on the nice list.
We then had a poem read out to us from a very happy and excited Elf whilst we waited for Mrs Christmas to come and get us. He was such a great character and made everyone laugh.
We then followed Mrs Christmas to her story room, the corridor was decorated with sacks of reindeer food and lots of little paw prints of various woodland animals showing us the way.
We entered a lovely room where Mrs Christmas sat down and read the children a story – they all sat on little foam tree stumps and were encouraged to take part in the story with various actions and songs. Underneath their little cushions was a surprise for them to fine at the end in keeping with the story. It was lovely.
After the story we waited until the Elves in the next room come calling for us – we were taken in and the children each had a place at a table to sit and make edible Christmas Trees. This was the last stop before they got to see the important man himself!
One by one the elves called each family, and we were then taken though to see Father Christmas. He greeted them both by their name as they walked in which was a nice touch. He sat them down either side of him and chatted to them both about what they would like for Christmas. Seeing as L is 13 he knew she was acting the part for her brother, so what I thought was nice was he had a little laugh and joke with her. There was a professional photographer taking photos but they didn’t mind us taking our own too.
They both received a present from Santa before we left and we went through to the final part of the experience. This is where you collect your coats, view and buy any photos you want to. There was a dancing penguin there to entertain the children too.
We decided to buy one of the photos the photographer had taken – just one of Santa & C, L didn’t like any of the ones she was in so she wasn’t keen on us getting any with her in .. teenagers eh?. Each print cost £7 and not only did they print one there and pop it in a Christmas at Marwell frame we were also emailed a digital copy too. Seeing as most places you only get the printed version I was impressed they gave you the download too.
Seeing as we were the last family they held the train back for us until we were ready. We were escorted out by some friendly elves and on we jumped for a ride back to the main entrance. By the time we had finished our Christmas experience the park was closed so we were driven to the main gates.
We had such a lovely day and would like to thank Marwell for inviting us along.