Hyde Park Winter Wonderland gets a mixed reception among friends and fellow mamas – ranging from ‘OMG I LOVE that place, I want to move in there until Christmas’ to ‘My husband adores it but I can’t take the crowds and it’s just so expensive!’
Fact: The costs can stack up, but overall the rides at Hyde Park Winter Wonderland are no more expensive than your local funfair. And for the entire experience, you’ll get loads more bang for your buck.
And don’t forget entrance to the park and to visit Santa and his Elves is completely FREE; so for a low-budget evening, you could actually skip the rides, possibly fork out for only one activity (e.g. circus), or just walk about soaking up the Christmassy vibes.
The Babes about Town brood were invited** for VIP preview night, along with the likes of models Georgia May Jagger and Cara Delevingne (pictured), Tim Burton and Helena Bonham-Carter, Stella McCartney, Nicole and Natalie Appleton (didn’t spot a single one of them!).
It had been two years since our last visit and as soon as we saw the glowing arch, I got that familiar buzz. I do enjoy the whimsical feel of this place, with its sparkling lights and rows and rows of German style chalets selling random goodies.
Being a hot dog family, we couldn’t wait to get our chomps around some delicious bratwurst.
Winter Wonderland keeps getting bigger and this year it feels like it’s swallowed Hyde Park whole.
Along with food and drink stalls (including the super cool Mirror Bar shining disco lights around the punters) and rides for all ages, Hyde Park Winter Wonderland offers a variety of family fun attractions.
You can go ice skating (note to those with toddlers: youngest skate size is 9), ride the Giant Observation Wheel, watch Zippo’s Circus (there’s an early show for younger audiences) or shiver your way past gargoyles and lions in the Magical Ice Kingdom.
There were a couple hiccups on preview night: a power cut at the first ride we queued up for, and the second ride the boys went on lasted all of 30 seconds! Luckily the next one, a Disney Cars ride, was good and bumpy. The boys also loved the penguin boat ride and a nostalgic trip around the park on the LEGO Duplo Santa Express.
By far our favourite attraction was the Giant Observation Wheel –- this was our first time going up and it was genuinely thrilling gliding so high above the park.
We were in an upbeat mood when we came off the wheel and headed for the Magical Ice Kingdom. When you walk in, the cold (-8 degrees C!) hits you like a fist to the chest. My 4-year-old was ‘cool’ but my 7-year-old was frozen solid.
The sculptures are stunning, although some might be scary for youngsters (Ezra was too cold to notice).
On our exit, both boys had epic meltdowns!
Word to the wise: wrap up for Arctic temperatures, especially if you have little ones!
Luckily, the babes cheered up with some Belgian frites in hand and before we knew it, Winter Wonderland was closing for the night.
The best word I can use to describe Hyde Park Winter Wonderland is über on all fronts. We had a really good time and, despite his icy trauma, Ezra’s already planning his next visit!
Hyde Park Winter Wonderland is at Hyde Park, W2 (Hyde Park Corner tube) until Jan 5. Open 10am-10pm daily (check web site on day of your visit to confirm). Entry is free, ride tokens cost £1 and rides start at £2 for kid rides, £3 for adults. Book for special attractions and skating in advance at www.hydeparkwinterwonderland.com/tickets
**free review tickets