Georgiana was quite excited to get on the coach and spent the journey on our laps, as well as making a break for it through the seats to the row in front to go sit with S, a toddler she is ‘friends’ with at our Thursday morning toddler group. Once there she helped herself to S’s drink and snack, as you do, and sat on all their belongings.
I was incredibly surprised when we got to the four mile drive around the safari park and Georgie was really into the whole thing. Most of the other toddlers ignored the animals outside the coach but our little madam was up against the windows, standing on our laps, clambering across the aisle onto the neighbouring woman’s lap (who I have never met before in my life!), and generally trying her best to spot all the animals we trundled past. Whenever she spotted an animal there were triumphant grins, happy growls and lots of pointing.
Once we were let off the coach we collected our complimentary hot drinks and mince pies, had a potter around the “Discovery Trail” and then joined the queue to visit Santa in his grotto. Georgie had (and loved!) her first taste of mince-pie; as I don’t like them James donated half of mine to her and scoffed one and a half himself.
After being greeted by an elf who must have been around 6 foot 4, we headed into the magical grotto. The walk/queue began with a “magical sleigh ride” to the North Pole, which basically consisted of a few benches on a slightly wiggling platform with two stuffed reindeer attached to the front, and Christmassy scenery scrolling past us on either side. Needless to say, the kids LOVED it. The adults tried very hard not to laugh.
Once the sleigh had arrived at the North Pole, we dismounted the sleigh and entered a polystyrene filled wonderland which had Georgie staring in wonder at animatronic polar bears and penguins. Of course, the gigantic polar bear standing underneath the “please do not touch display” sign was too much of a temptation for our little girl to resist, and so she gave him a loving stroke and popped her hand into his mouth before moving past, typical scamp!
Santa was meeting with the kids in groups of four, so we all filed in and had our little chats with the man in the red suit. Georgie went completely silent and just stared around in wonder. I was really impressed with the elf on duty who remembered all the kids names and introduced each one to Santa, called their names to get them to look in the right direction for the photo, and then wished each one a Happy Christmas by name, as we left.
Georgie’s facial expression in her photo with Santa is somewhat hilarious because the aforementioned elf was dancing about calling “Georgie, Georgie, look at the pretty star!” to make her look in the right direction for the photo. Most of the kids photos looked either amused or confused because of this tactic – but at least they all ended up looking in the right place! I think Georgiana’s pic definitely leans towards the confused side of things though.
After talking to Santa we picked up our photo & chose a toy for Georgie to take home – she is incredibly pleased with her plastic tea set and has had several tea parties since our day out. Next up was lunch, then a quick wander up to visit the meerkats before picking up a souvenir soft toy White Tiger for Georgie and clambering on the coach for the trip home.
She was really tired out after her exciting day and fell asleep in the pushchair on the walk home from the children’s centre, and actually stayed sleeping for a good 45 minutes or so whilst parked up in the front room.
I suffered a bit during the evening and next few days with an aching pelvis and hips after such an active day, but it was totally worth it to see Georgie enjoy herself so much. Her little tiger has been getting massive cuddles every day since!
This was our second trip to visit Santa at the park (the children’s centre organised a trip last year too) and I would recommend it to anyone in the area with animal loving kids. After seeing how much Georgie enjoyed the park this year I think James and I will definitely take her around again next spring after the baby is born.