Last weekend we were invited along to Santa’s Lakeshore Wonderland at the Avon Ri in County Wicklow to see Santa and experience and review their ‘Lakeshore Wonderland’, here’s how we got on…

Upon arrival we were directed to the main door of the experience and greeted into a small room which resembled a postal sorting office, the Big Kid assumed it was where she wrote her letter to Santa but it was just registration. It’s a small enough room, cramped and claustrophobic but we weren’t there for long… before we knew it we were in to see Mrs’ Claus. Beaming ear to ear she greeted everyone with the biggest smile and all the kids got comfy at her feet (including me), she was brilliant! She had a magical invisibility book then took out her laptop to check Santa’s naughty and nice list.

Santa's Lakeshore Wonderland at the Avon Ri in County Wicklow review

The kids got some magic dust, made a Christmas wish and shook some Christmas tambourines to let Santa know we they were here.

Santa's Lakeshore Wonderland at the Avon Ri in County Wicklow review

The Toddler was on a mission to rob Mrs. Claus’ rather large pencil. He got in the end!

Santa's Lakeshore Wonderland at the Avon Ri in County Wicklow review

Next up the kids got a rather quick opportunity to design some gingerbread men. Frankie couldn’t really see his and opted to eat the sweets laid out to decorate it with instead. And before we knew we were in to see Crackers the Elf. A gas character, he had us all in stitches. He did some tricks, getting the kids involved which made it even funnier. The Toddler tried to rob him blind too but Crackers turned it around and played a trick on him leaving him breathless with laughter.

Santa's Lakeshore Wonderland at the Avon Ri in County Wicklow review

Each kid in the group received a little bag of reindeer food upon the departure of Crackers the Elf’s tent.

Santa's Lakeshore Wonderland at the Avon Ri in County Wicklow review

Then we were outside under a marquee with breathtaking views of the Blessington Lakes and stood in the middle was Santa’s log cabin. The Toddler spotted hot dogs and the Big Kid spotted popcorn for sale. So we sat and they munched and I got a cappuccino from a little van off the side as we waited to see Santa, it wasn’t long before we were in his toasty little cabin. He wasn’t a real Santa but he was still very engaging with all of the kids. The kids all received a gift including Kenzie. Both the Big Kid and Toddler received 48 piece wooden jigsaws, the Wobbler got a Dealz-like bath book and Kenzie received a cotton bath mitt. We had some pictures with the big man himself and were on our way.

Santa's Lakeshore Wonderland at the Avon Ri in County Wicklow review

It would have cost us €18 per child and €5 for adults, totaling €64 for our visit to Santa’s Lakeshore Wonderland. The Baby would have been free, I think. I would not have paid for her anyways if we had of went of our own accord because she’s only four months old. As far as I’m aware we were the first group into Santa’s Lakeshore Wonderland, so I’m taking into account they have new inexperienced elves but for us, it wasn’t a magical fun filled experience. It was rushed, lasting a total of 35 minutes from start to finish. I’d expect more value for my money (had we have paid!). Also, I did not get the whole laptop thing, Mrs. Claus needs to put it away and keep the magic of the Christmas alive without technology. She had the most amazing big Christmas book – stick with that! Upon leaving that room the big kid whispered she could she Mrs. Claus’s real hair and that the laptop wasn’t even switched on. We spent less than five minutes making gingerbread men and I found the promotional video very misleading. In the short clip kids sit down, it looks relaxed and carefree and super fun whereas the Big Kid was standing and rushing to complete her gingerbread man, she was getting flustered and very frustrated. The Toddler couldn’t see his gingerbread man, as for the Wobbler she looked on from afar. I must say though Crackers the Elf was a gas man, we all loved him. He was the craic and gave us good auld belly laughs from the minute we stepped in his tent. Santa was great but the Elf didn’t get a photo worth sharing on our phone so we basically have no photo with Santa either. However, I did like that you could take your own and that there was no ‘extra’ charge like some places.

I feel kind of awful writing this but it just didn’t tick all the boxes for me, Joe or the Big Kid, who left very disappointed asking ‘is that it, is it over already?‘. Overall, I think it’s way overpriced for what it is or they need to add a little something extra to make the experience a bit more magical, maybe some hot chocolates with extra cream and marshmallows for the kiddies, or roasted marshmallow out on the decking whilst waiting to see Santa, or maybe a little room to make some Christmas tree decorations and I would definitely slow the experience down, it was way too quick – we hadn’t settled in one room and we were being ushered into another. Mrs’ Claus had some musical instruments and I can see that been turned into a big sing song and less of the laptop, there’s no place for a laptop visiting Santa. We’ve been to so many Santa experiences over the past six years, some costing less and lasting longer and we’ve even had to peel fingers off fences when it was time to leave. Unfortunately, we didn’t leave Santa’s Lakeshore Wonderland feeling wonderful and it’s a shame it has so much potential considering it’s the beautiful location!

For more information on Santa’s Lakeshore Wonderland check out their website.

We received a free visit to Santa’s Lakeshore Wonderland in return for an honest review. Also please excuse the photo’s from Joe’s phone, I forgot my camera and was snap chatting from my own!

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