Back in 2015 we discovered LaplandUK and by far it was and has been the best Christmas experience we have ever done.
This year we were invited back to see if visiting is as magical the second time around.
A visit to LaplandUK needs some preparation, but it is all self-explanatory on the website. When you book your tickets you are invited to personalise the experience and enter the names and fun facts about the children e.g what activities they like to do and their favourite people.
The excitement started a couple of weeks before our visit then when Isaac, Eliza and Sebastian received some very special invitations in the post.
The personalised stamp sealed envelopes requested their help at Father Christmas’ secret Elf Toy Factory at his Arctic wonderland.
Before visiting I also purchased Elf Jingles (elf currency) for the children to spend in the shop – the exchange rate is very reasonable at 1J for £1, but you can pay by card if you wish to.
LaplandUK is set in Bracknell Forest, Ascot so about an hour and a half drive from home for us and our time slot was at 11.00. The magic starts when you get out of the car and race through the woods, following the signs to the Enchanted Forest.
As you get closer to the entrance, you start to see Elf houses and the kids loved knocking on the doors and ringing the bells to see if they would get an answer.
You are advised to get to LaplandUK half an hour before your booking to get checked in, and receive your Elf passports and when we arrived there were no queues at all.
As we had visited before we not only received our elf passports, but also a special activity book for the kids to do whilst we waited to start our adventure. There is also a small cafe so you can treat yourselves to a hot chocolate treat whilst you wait.
The magic starts as soon as you are checked in with elves wandering around and greeting all the guests with the special elf wave. We even had our passports examined by the Elf Travel Master.
It was soon time to set off on our journey and the guests were divided into teams which meant we were in smaller groups of about 30 children (small folk) and their big folk and we lined up for our departure which left bang on 11.30am.
LaplandUK is an original adaptation of the Father Christmas story and the secret world of the elves brought to life through a 4-hour immersive experience. We were ushered into a large marquee which was decorated just like a woodland and met two Elves. Sage, the Woodland Elf, who loved divulging lots of Elf secrets and his friend Ecco, who told us all how elves were made and how elves look after the environment we live in.
We were then taught a magical to rhyme to open the doors that would take us to Lapland and in came the Husky keepers who would act as our guides.
As soon as you walk out the door it really does feel like you are in Lapland. We had a beautiful cold and sunny day for our visit which made the “snow” really glisten as we walked to the Toy Factory.
What sets LaplandUK apart from other Christmas attractions is the attention to detail everywhere. There were snowshoes and sledges propped up by doorways, the workshop felt like a real one with targets, blueprints and to-do lists on the walls and the elves were entertaining and fun. They even had special doorways for the “small folk” to go through.
In the Toy Factory we met elves, Whittle – Head of the Toy Factory, Wish and silly elf Conker who enjoyed playing the fool, especially when Whittle wasn’t looking. Our task for the day was to help stuff the cuddly polar bears.
Once we had finished, we then had to hand them to the wrapping elves so they are ready for Christmas Eve.
After the kids had done their work it was off to meet Mother Christmas in her kitchen to lend a hand at decorating delicious gingerbread trees with icing and sweets.
Once we had finished our decorating our trees it was time for a story with Mother Christmas.
Next up is the Elves’ Village, where you can get a bite to eat in the restaurant, indulge in some retail therapy in the Elf Emporium and Bauble shop and post your letters to Santa in the post office.
In a change from our last visit, for doing such a good job in the Toy Factory, the kids were awarded a golden bell in the Elf Emporium.
There was also elves to meet and chat to and gorgeous Huskies to meet and stroke.
It was the ice skating that the kids were keen to try though.
At one point one of the elves took Sebby and was whizzing around the ice rink with him stood on one of the penguins. The giggles from him were infectious and everyone was smiling as he was span around in circles.
You get around an hour and a half to enjoy everything the Elf Village has to offer and then it is time to go in search of the big man himself.
This is where LaplandUK changed most since our last visit, as along the walk to find Santa’s cabin, we came across the reindeers and the Ambolts forge where we saw them making magic keys and other magical goodies.
We even got to see Santa’s sleigh!
The final part of the experience was a personalised meeting with Father Christmas in his snowy woodland home. For me this was the highlight of the day as not only was Father Christmas authentic, but he talked to the children for about ten minutes. Taking the time to fill in the information forms before our visit really paid off and Isaac was dumbfounded when Santa congratulated him for taking part in his first swimming gala. Father Christmas talked to Eliza about her football lessons and meeting the Princesses at Disney and chatted to Sebby about his Jedi training and even knew that big brother, Kian, was his favourite.
There was a photographer taking pictures as the kids chatted meaning we didn’t have to and they each got to check they were on the good list and take away a luxury husky soft toy.
A visit to LaplandUK does come at a cost with ticket priced from £65 per person and available until 24th December. This experience lasts around 4 hours and I would liken it to a theatre-style performance rather than a stand-alone Father Christmas visit.
The facilities were excellent, with heated toilets and baby change rooms. All the activities, including the ice skating, were included in the price but lunch and photographs cost extra.
Was it is magical the second time around?