Reviewed by Nealy Collins
The temperatures have dropped and Christmas is on its way so we visited Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland as a family of four, including our two sons aged 5 and 4.
We got the tube to Hyde Park Corner which is just a couple of minute’s walk from the main entrance to Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park.
The entrance itself is impressive, we visited in the evening so it was dark and the sky was lit up from all the attractions and the Giant Wheel could be seen from a distance.
As we made our way into the park the boys were immediately excited and wanted to head straight for a ride so we started on Santa’s Sleigh Ride which was a great family roller coaster.
From there we took a walk round the park and were amazed at the variety of rides on offer, suitable for all ages, some gentle and fun, some really thrill seeking and scary! Some of the bigger rides are definitely on par with those that you would find at large theme parks.
Although entry into the park is free, pre-paid tokens are required for the rides. Tokens are £1 each and rides are on average 3 tokens per person.
Our boys enjoyed Santa’s Flying Sleigh Coaster, the Helter Skelter, Tea Cups, Carousel and the Mirror Maze. There was also a Haunted House that was an attraction just from the outside!
We also braved the new Xmas Maus XXL roller coaster. This was a popular ride and we queued for 20 minutes to get on it but there was a fun ‘obstacle course’ to keep us entertained while we waited – a really novel and enjoyable idea! Our youngest son just reached the 110cm height restriction and at 4 years old I think he did well – I was petrified! It was definitely scarier than it looks!
Although our children made the most of the rides while we were at the park, there is so much more that Winter Wonderland has to offer, your visit doesn’t have to be spent entirely on these.
Mid way we stopped in the Bavarian Village and sampled a mulled wine and giant pretzel. The village is really authentic and you could easily be at a German beer festival instead of in the middle of London! We sat in the Bavarian Great Hall which had a great atmosphere with a live band playing on stage.
Whilst the Bavarian Village is quite big and gives a German feel to the park there is a variety of food and drink on offer around the park including Fish & Chips, Hog Roast, Chinese and Fast Food.
We also visited the family show at Zippo’s circus which was great! As the sign on the door says it’s warm inside the circus tent so a perfect break from outside if you visit on a particularly cold day! There were some really stomach turning acts that had me watching through my fingers at one point! Our boys really enjoyed it, describing the acts as ‘awesome’.
Tickets for the circus need to be bought in advance and whilst the 45 minute show made a great addition to our visit and it was very entertaining, there is so much on offer at Winter Wonderland that I wouldn’t say it’s a necessity to go. Tickets are priced from £9.50 for adults and from £6.00 for children.
We didn’t visit Santa’s Grotto on our visit but we did bump into the man himself and he kindly stopped for a photograph with our two sons. I’ve seen many Father Christmas’ and he was definitely one of the better ones so I would highly recommend going to see him if you’re taking young children with you.
Away from fun fair rides are the traditional Christmas markets which are charming and relaxing, a stark contrast to the bright lights and noise of the rides. There are a huge variety of stalls selling jewellery, clothing and unusual gifts. Great for Christmas shopping!
There’s also the Great Wheel, Magical Ice Kingdom and Bar Ice which unfortunately we just didn’t have time to explore but I could imagine coupled with the Christmas markets these would make a nice – perhaps romantic – visit for a couple. These attractions also need to be pre-booked in advance of your visit and there is a charge for these.
Before leaving Winter Wonderland we had a go at Ice Skating on the Lycamobile Ice Rink which was really magical looking. Fairy lights lined the sky directly above it and it looked really pretty. I haven’t skated for years and it was a first time for my children. We had great fun and there were plenty of staff on hand to help if need be. It would have been good to see some child friendly skating aids to help the younger children but having said that mine still really enjoyed the experience. Tickets for the Ice Skating are from £10.50 for adults and £8.50 for children.
We spent 3 hours in total at Winter Wonderland and all I can say is we could have spent much longer! The park is huge and offers so much, for all ages and tastes. It’s a mix of traditional fun fair and authentic Christmas markets with some really impressive attractions and activities. It really is a great day out for friends, couples or for all the family, from toddlers to grandparents. It’s a perfect day out over the festive period where you can do as little or as much as you chose.
Winter Wonderland is open from 10am until 10pm until 4th January (excluding Christmas Day).
For more information or to book tickets visit www.hydeparkwinterwonderland.com.