We chose a weekday and as a result the place was practically empty, entry cost £10 for myself & £15 pounds for Little B(Entry for under 2’s is still free if you chose not to meet Santa).
The above price included a visit to Santa and his toy shop where you can chose any present, and a make-a-bear teddy which you are allowed to take home!I decided to take Little B to visit Santa first, something I wish I had left till later. Santa’s grotto is accessed through the marquee where the ice rink & JCB Little Learners is situated, don’t worry, you are given a map along with an itinerary for the day & it is clearly indicated when & where everything is.
I think what made this grotto one of the best I’ve ever been to had to be the atmosphere. So many places now just don’t bother trying to make it special for children, they think one room where they can meet Santa is enough. Willows on the other hand are fully aware that what makes it special for children is a lot more than that.We were greeted by a lovely Elf, she has to be one of the happiest members of staff I have ever come across.She asked to see our elf passport, this is given to you along with a token for Santa & a make-a-bear workshop token at the entrance when you pay, B’s passport was then stamped and we made our way through what I can only guess was the north pole to visit the big man himself!
A huge amount of effort had been made here & B seemed to appreciate it just as much as me, although I don’t quite think he understood why he couldn’t take one of the polar bear toys from the display.
I think once he is older he will appreciate things like this a little more, but it was down to me to appreciate it fully this year.
We were asked to wait while the next elf went to check that Santa was ready to see us, again this member of staff was super sweet & played the part perfectly. She came back & said he was finishing off a mince pie(YUCK) & that he was ready for us.
Now I can’t possibly lie & tell you this went picture perfectly….Because alas it didn’t. The moment we stepped foot in that room B decided to kick off and wouldn’t let go of me!
This Santa handled it like a pro & Little B soon warmed to him, although sadly not before admitting that he had been a bad boy this year(He hadn’t been bad LOL)
Santa played it well, I think I was more interested than B though. We were given a fair amount of time with Santa & I certainly didn’t feel rushed like I have done elsewhere, we were given around 5 to 10 minutes.
Picture taken we said our ”Ta’s” & made our way to Santa’s toy shop with the key the big man himself had given us.
The next elf we came across asked for our key, which was duly posted though the letter box & we were IN!
Now I am truly hoping & praying that next year choosing a toy will be a heck of a lot easier. ALAS this year it was down to me to choose a toy, what ensued was me walking around the room like a headless chicken desperately trying to decide on something.
This decision was made difficult because the toy shop is HUGE & the toys on offer are truly amazing. From Tractors to pushchairs, even some really sweet dressing up outfits. Trust Little B he wanted a ball, which I refused due to the fact that we have so many.
Finally I decided on a bus as our current fascination is ‘The wheels on the bus’.
Once you’ve sorted out the long chore of choosing a toy, it’s time to view your picture with Santa!
I’ll admit I’m a sucker for buying stuff for B, I spoil him rotten but this was more for memory box purposes! *Wink Wink*
Let’s say at £20 for three pictures it wasn’t cheap.
Picture 1 is big and picture 2 & 3 are an average size( I am no good with measurements but lets say they are big enough)
This is our large image:
You can see why I couldn’t leave this bad boy of a picture, HIS FACE <3
After purchasing the pictures I decided that it was time to go & build-a-bear.
A short walk, 1 minute for the average adult but around 5 minutes for an adult with an inquisitive 1 and a half year old in their arms.
Again this place is clearly labelled on both the marquee & map.
Once inside we handed over our teddy token, I say handed over it took me 5 minutes to remember the ”special place” I had popped it in, we were then given a choice of colour for our love heart & once chosen we were given our bear & his filling.
I thought this would be a lovely cute bonding experience but as you can see from this video, it ended up purely being a mummy activity.
As the elf workshop/house is in the same marquee as build-a-bear, I decided that we would write a well needed letter to Santa.
This is another free activity & you can receive a free reply, B got his today, if you post the letter before the 16th of December.
Yet again this turned out to be an activity that only mummy joined in on, Little B’s input was green squiggles all over the letter!
As you can see it was all down to me to make the letter just right!
Needless to say I didn’t have a clue what to say, however I shouldn’t have worried as the letter from Santa isn’t personalised but still very very sweet.
Bryson didn’t want to leave this place so we ended up spending 30 minutes colouring in with intermittent screeching when I asked if we could leave to do something else.
What can I say…..This kid knows what he wants to do & god help you if you try and do anything different.
Thankfully after what seemed like an age, we finally made our way down to Tristan The Tractor for the festive wood ride.
Last time we came to Willows I had to opt out of this as I wasn’t very well, that was a choice well made.
Tristan’s festive wood ride, while sweet, is very uncomfortable.
I don’t think it would be possible to explain the full uncomfortable experience without the use of my video.
Please excuse the sound issues & the frightened look on my face.
Whilst the idea is there I don’t quite feel the festive wood ride completely worked. I felt like most of the ride was spent looking at very little and then only a minute of the actual ‘festive woodland’, which I felt looked low budget compared to the efforts put in elsewhere at the farm.
I was beyond thankful to get off of Tristan. I can’t moan too much though as B really enjoyed it & loved the songs they played as we went around.
NEXT STOP, Mumma’s fave, THE ANIMALS!
Feed for the animals is available at the entrance, when you pay, & also in the barn where the animals are housed.
Numerous animals are in this area & B especially loves the fact that at certain times in the day you can pet & hold some of the animals. This time around he petted a lovely, but cheeky, Guinea Pig who loved eating its handlers zip!
B then took it upon himself to force me to hand feed two massive shire horses, I mean I just can’t say no to this child when he shouts MORE MORE MORE at me.
My two bags of feed were demolished by these two beautiful animals, much to the dismay of B who wanted me to continue feeding them.
We enjoyed our short stay but it was time to move on as Bryson was getting a bit funny near the animals.
I was about to leave but noticed a sign directing us towards the Nativity Story marquee. I am beyond happy that I did as Little B got to take part in his very first Nativity play.
Unfortunately we arrived just part way through and didn’t get to catch it from the beginning.
The woman telling the story was amazing, once I got home I realised she was one of the voices that you hear on Tristan the Tractor!
I’m not religious but I enjoyed hearing the story & it was told in a very appropriate manner.
I can’t help but laugh wondering if B still would have been lording it up the front if the place was packed out.
It was time to end our trip to Willows. B was tired & my feet were soaked.
We headed home & the little monkey fell asleep on the journey back!
*Wear wellies or at least appropriate flat shoes/boots, especially if its been raining.
*Regardless of conditions, make sure your little ones have on or have access to waterproofs & wellies.
*Bring snacks, food prices here aren’t extortionate but they aren’t cheap either.
*Be aware of how expensive your trip may be. Take into account entry, picture prices & food(They do allow you to bring your own food)
*Bring cash, the card machines in the build-a-bear marquee were struggling to get signal, so to avoid disappointment cash is a wise move.
*Try to come with a friend or friends. I struggled on my own carrying B & the numerous items I had amassed. If thats not possible then bring a pushchair.
I can’t begin to recommend Willow’s Santa Spectacular enough, while it isn’t cheap I feel it wipes the floor with cheaper priced grottos. This place is sure to satisfy any child, so much so that I doubt they will want to go to any other grotto.
If you decide to go I hope you have as fantastic a trip as we did.
Thanks for reading<3
Hugs, Love, Kisses & Christmas wishes
Little B & Me.