One of the biggest challenges of going to Santa’s Magical Kingdom at the start of November would be that Christmas still seems so very far away.
Nonetheless the Kingdom successfully gets you into the mood as soon as you arrive, with a snowy, glistening walk through fir trees and a small army of smiling elves eager to thrust golden tickets into the hands of your young ’uns. These tickets are stamped at various spots throughout the Kingdom and mark your progress towards the Big Man himself.
As you enter the Kingdom you are greeted by a further phalanx of elves and immersed in a white, glittering world of animatronic animals and snow. Then, once the secret password is yelled we go through to a brief 4D show where we see Santa preparing for his long journey through the night. Bubbles blown at the audience add the 4th dimension and Tom, my 5 year old, certainly thought this was a fab idea. ‘They’re real!’ he yelled, tearing off his glasses!
The progress from here around the Kingdom takes in a Post Office where kids can write and post their lists up a chimney that whisks their paper away, and an area where we meet the actual reindeer that Santa will be using in only 6 short weeks. They seemed pretty chilled, I guess they’re practised now! Mother Christmas then has a little chat about the time she had to take over Christmas five years ago. This was followed by a brief magic show by one of the elves which was more in keeping with the age group present and which, in truth, could have been longer. Both Tom and Harry, 2, laughed at this and were thoroughly entertained, whereas Mother Christmas was a touch too straight.
The craft area was fun and we had a helpful elf to aid stencilling and pasting and even a Snow Queen wandering about shedding good will. One of the most inventive spots came towards the end of the journey with an electronic floor where pixelated snow could be kicked and brushed about whilst a friendly singing Yeti looked on.
After this we met Santa. Thanks to the miracle of organisation he knew our kids’ names as they walked through the door and was thoroughly lovely, funny and cuddly. He was a real success and ensured that both Harry and Tom left with warm feelings from the whole adventure. Our 7 month old was less convinced with St. Nick but Caitlin absolutely loved the lights on the way through the Kingdom. A last 3D ‘Spot the Goblin’ maze was a nice, clever touch at the end but was a little too advanced for Harry.
All in all this was an enjoyable and heart-warming day out, in a spot where there are lots of other activities for children once the Christmas fun is done.
Now here’s the drawback: the price. For everyone over 18 months the cheapest ticket is £27.50 and this rises to £35.00 nearer Christmas. A family of five like ours will cost between £110 and £140. When you are there you can see where the money has gone but this still doesn’t ensure you leave with the feeling that you have quite had your money’s worth. It is a lovely day out and I’d guess that any child under 8 would really enjoy it but for that sort of money there are competitive alternatives out there.
DaveF, Dad to Tom 5, Harry 2 and Caitlin 7 months
Santa’s Magical Kingdom can be found at
The Hop Farm Family Park
Paddock Wood, Tonbridge