Leaving Rudolph and the other reindeer to rest, Santa reportedly hitched a lift and was helicoptered into Conifox adventure park this weekend.
Two pre-teens and the whole Christmas experience is a very fine balancing act: you’re never quite sure whether their cynical or spellbound sides will emerge. Events at Conifox have previously been a hit, so this was approached with anticipation.
The arrival is well-signposted and it’s easy to check in at North Pole Passport Control, with clear directions through the Magic Gateway. There’s no messing about because for us, the first port of call was the Naughty or Nice Scanner, and hilarity ensued when both boys found themselves on the Naughty List.
On to the winter wonderland of the Magic Forest, with everything from Frosty the Snowman to a laser light show, and a snowball fight room, well-designed to blow off any hyper-energy before settling down to listen to a fireside story in Mrs Claus’ kitchen. Then coming face to face with the Grinch was a definite highlight.
The big meeting with Santa himself is in a separate sitting room – no sitting on knees; each child has a separate seat – and visitors leave with a Golden Coin to spend in the Toy Workshop. The boys approved of being able to choose their own gifts, and especially the ‘one large present’ or ‘three small ones’ option. After all, quantity wins out every time!
The pathway towards the elves’ house was very muddy (fair enough, this is Scotland, but it would be no fun on a wet day) but then again the elves with Rudolph were super high energy and friendly, and the cookie decorating was well-organised.
After that it got a bit unclear where to go and what to do. Maybe it was us, but we could not find the maze nor the Reindeer Flying School. Finally turning the corner, retracing our steps we did find the shop with the all-important gifts.
It’s true to say that the best bit by far for our tweens was the Funfair at the end of experience. A spot of bungee-jumping and being thrown in circles through the air in some other machine, made the evening for them.
Without wanting to be a Scrooge, it is an expensive outing, at £26 for children and £16 for accompanying adults – and that does not include the funfair attractions. But in spirit, definitely a family-friendly event, and recommended particularly for the under-twelves.
Selected seasonal dates: Conifox Shop (merlintickets.co.uk)
Photographs courtesy of Alex Marsh