For the last two years we have taken Monkey to see Father Christmas at Harrods. We buy a photo each year and its become one of our family traditions. Its amazing value for money and you need to book well in advance. Normally the booking opens at the beginning of September, you can register for an reminder by email. You also need to be a Harrods Rewards Member, which you can apply for online.
Even then when it opens it fills up fast which is why we tend to end up with a date in November. They also offer a pre-school version during the week in November as well. This time we opted for the standard experience. To book it costs £10, however you get the money back on your reward card to spend in store (anywhere but the grotto). In past years we have spent it in the food hall – the cheese is amazing, on Christmas decorations or like this year in the bookstore. There are some lovely children’s books and special editions which I have not seen elsewhere, ideal for Christmas presents.
The Christmas Grotto is located on the fourth floor within the Disney store. Each year the set up is different this year we were welcomed by Peter and Polly mouse and went through into a room full of activities. This is so much better than the queuing we use to have to endure when we were kids! It keeps them entertained but at the same time controls the number of children through the experience. Initially there is a photo opportunity with some giant toys and blocks, before coming across the first game. Present throwing. Monkey loved this and he was surprisingly good.
There are helpers all around to speak to the children and keep them engrossed in the activities. Our next stop was the naughty or nice machine:
The participant stands on a scale and then the arrow points in one direction or another. Of course Monkey was on the nice side which we haven’t heard the end of since…. He wanted us to have a go too, Hubby ended up on the naughty side and I of course on the nice side. He loved it. They also had a giant piano which they could run up and down on.
Excuse the blurred photo but Monkey enjoyed it so much he was running back and forth so it was very difficult to catch him motionless. The area is a good size and although each booked session was a sell out (as normal) this year, it did not feel as though there were too many children in the area. Monkey could try everything out easily. When we decided to go through and see Father Christmas we only needed to wait a couple of minutes.
Monkey visited Father Christmas in the West Wing. There are four doors so I assume this gives multiple opportunities during the busy periods and reduces the waiting times. Monkey had a lovely conversation with Father Christmas about his recent holiday to Canada and the fact that he wanted to see the bears. The reason we come back year after year is that it is so much more than just a photo. We were in with Father Christmas for a good 15 minutes. Monkey enjoyed the conversation immensely, he was given a little green bag which contained a giant chocolate button (limited edition), some playing cards and a booklet of games as well as a badge. He was very proud of his little bag. They also captured some lovely photos.
You can purchase various photo options, we opted for three different A4 size mounted photos which cost £29.50. You could buy one for £13.50.
From visiting Father Christmas we went to the Disney Christmas Cafe for lunch. They offer a buffet menu, which you can find here the adult price is £37.50 and includes a soft drink or glass of wine, for the children it is £25 each. There was a good selection of food for all of us, especially the desserts which were delicious. The only thing I would say is that they have disney films playing which caused us a few issues in getting Monkey to actually eat his lunch, as he was more interested in the film!
As far as Grottos go its no surprise that this one is a sell out every year. We will be back in 2016 with Monkey and our new edition…assuming we can get tickets of course!
What are your favourite memories of visiting Father Christmas as a child?