‘It’s true’. That’s the strapline of LaplandUK, one of the country’s leading Christmas themed experiences – and one of the most expensive.
Tucked away in Whitmoor Forest in Ascot, Berkshire, tickets go on sale as early as June and cost as much £120 each for a Christmas Eve visit – that’s almost £500 for a family of four. But is it worth it?
We were invited to see what all the fuss is about and I have to say I was sceptical. Almost £500 for a family day out? Surely we could get to actual Lapland for that! I won’t repeat what Misery Guts said when I told him the price – let’s just say it was rather colourful.
Needless to say I had high hopes for our visit – this needed to be good, really good – and do you know what? It really is true! Here’s why.
12 reasons to visit LaplandUK
1. You can use it as a bribe for weeks. Before your visit each child receives a personalised letter from Father Christmas telling them his ‘good list’ is especially long this year so his elves need some help in the toy factory. In return for their help he promises to meet them and give them a special gift – but only if they’ve been good. I can’t tell you how many times we used this to get BB to do what we wanted in the run up to the trip!
2. It’s like something from a Harry Potter movie. Stepping through the doors of LaplandUK is like stepping into another world. Think miniature elf houses, lopsided windows, separate doors for ‘big folk’ (grown-ups) and ‘little folk’ (kids) and more film-quality props than you can shake a stick at. The attention to detail is second to none.
3. There’s real snow. Or as good as you’re ever likely to get in the UK, anyway. Walking through the doors to Lapland is like stepping into Narnia – there are snow covered pine trees (real ones, so the experience is a real assault on the senses), snow covered pathways and snow covered buildings. In fact there’s so much snow you’ll end up covered in it too.
4. They get to help the elves in the toy factory. And this isn’t any old toy factory. There’s a conveyor belt with cogs carrying newly-made toys around the factory ceiling, Father Christmas calling on the phone asking for help from the children and elves in full regalia spinning them a tale about how busy they are.
5. You get to decorate gingerbread men in Mother Christmas’s kitchen. Like the toy factory, this isn’t any old kitchen. There’s a proper range oven, a dresser laden with sweets and treats, the smell of freshly baked gingerbread wafting throughout and Mother Christmas herself complete with cloth cap, apron and big wooden chair in the midst of it all.
6. There’s an ice rink. There’s strap-on skates for the kids, and proper ones for the grown-ups (sorry ‘big folk’). This was BB’s first time on ice and with a penguin to help her she soon got the hang of it. Owing to being seven months pregnant I couldn’t take part, but watching from the sidelines was hilarious. Especially bravado dads who suddenly weren’t so bravado when they actually made it onto the ice!
7. Father Christmas was the best I’ve ever seen. So good was his get-up that Misery Guts and I still can’t work out whether his beard was real or fake, or whether his tummy was real or padding.
The looks on their faces meeting Father Christmas: absolutely priceless #lapland #laplanduk #laplanduk2016 #christmas #magic #fun #family #childhoodunplugged #simplychildren #letthembelittle #our_everyday_moments #documentyourdays
A photo posted by Natalie Brown (@confessionsofacrummymummy) on
8. Your visit to Father Christmas is tailored to your child. Before your visit you fill in a form all about your kids – their names, favourite toys, favourite pastimes and something memorable that’s happened to them in the two weeks prior to your visit – so Father Christmas knows all about them. This made the visit really personal and our Father Christmas knew his stuff – all the names of the Teletubbies and an array of Frozen songs – and he did a surprisingly good job of understanding Little B, who’s only just turned two and hard to understand at the best of times.
9. There are no hidden ‘extras’. Included in the ticket price is the aforementioned letter from Father Christmas before your visit, entry to LaplandUK, elf passports, gingerbread decorating in Mother Christmas’s kitchen (you get to keep the gingerbread), the ice rink and skate hire, a visit to and present from Father Christmas (a plush cuddly toy) and a souvenir photo. You also get thank you letters from Father Christmas to leave with their stockings on Christmas Day. With the exception of food and drink and anything you want to buy in the shops it’s all-inclusive, although beware food and drink isn’t cheap.
Decorating #gingerbread men in Mother Christmas’s kitchen at @laplanduk – as you do! #christmas #magic #fun #family #childhoodunplugged #simplychildren #letthembelittle #saturdaysiblings #lapland #laplanduk #laplanduk2016 @tobyandroo @someone_s_mum
A photo posted by Natalie Brown (@confessionsofacrummymummy) on
10. You can continue to use it as a bribe in the run up to Christmas. Because Father Christmas knew so much about BB and Little B, BB totally believes the elves are watching. And there’s no better bribe for good behaviour than that.
11. The window of time in which they actually believe in Father Christmas is so short, you might as well make it as magical as possible. I reckon by the time BB is seven or eight she’ll know the truth about Father Christmas. Which gives us just two more years to make the most of it (Misery Guts is horrified by this and reckons she’ll be at least 10 or 11, but I bet some little oick in the school playground will have put paid to it by then).
12. You’re giving them a memory that will last a lifetime. Admittedly £500 is a lot of money, especially in the run up to Christmas. But the number of times I caught both BB and Little B with their little mouths open, totally agog at what they were seeing and totally buying into it, was priceless. If you add together what you spend on not-so-great days out over the course of a year and swapped them for one epic day out to LaplandUK at Christmas, you probably wouldn’t be out of pocket.
It’s fair to say that by the end of our visit not only did BB and Little B believe in the magic, we believed in the magic too. Which is saying something for Misery Guts, who is not easily impressed.
Is it worth almost £500? For a memory that will last a lifetime, my answer has to be yes. That’s also the most you will pay – tickets for Christmas 2017 start from £65 per person, so that’s £260 for a family of four.
Have you been to LaplandUK? Would you like to go?
We received tickets to LaplandUK free of charge in exchange for this review. As always all opinions are my own, and based on my own honest experience.