Well we dug out our Christmas jumpers and wrapped up warm ready for our adventure to Enchanted Christmas at Whitworth Hall. We had been given tickets and were all excited to get in to the festive spirit together.
We arrived and after a bit of confusion as to where the entrance to event was, we met the Elves who were going to be our guides for the morning. Our session started at 9am and once registered we were taken into the deer enclosure and given reindeer food. Teddy was in his element and was running around trying to hug the reindeer. If you are planning on going, I would strongly advise keeping hold of young children as some of the reindeer were a little ‘excitable’, especially once they realised that people had bags of food.
What surprised me the most was how well Toby took to the reindeer. We have visited Whitworth before but Toby had been more interested in playing in the playground, however today he was flapping and trying to climb out of his pushchair to stroke the reindeer. After a while he became a little over whelmed and we left the enclosure.
The event was set out around the country park and hotel in lots of different teepees which were decorated with lights and Christmas decorations. It felt magical (despite the wet weather) and the Elves led our group around the different teepees to meet the Christmas characters who each lead a session for about 30minutes. Our first appointment was at 9:30am. Our group headed off to our first teepee which was the home of the Fairy tree-topper. On the way, Toby started becoming very distressed he did not know what was happening and his hands were freezing. However once inside the teepee (and with the help of his iPad) he calmed down. The teepee must have felt safe and enclosed for him and it was warmer than being outside! The Fairy tree-topper led the group in some Christmas songs and games (such as dressing up the grown-ups, so be warned if you are planning on attending!) Teddy was totally engrossed and loved all of the singing and activities. It was lovely to see him becoming more confident and joining in with a group of children (something that Toby has never done)
Once we had finished with Fairy tree-topper, we were led by our Elves across the deer park to second teepee which was the home of Mrs Clause. We were greeted with hot chocolate and cookies and there were also blankets to snuggle up in. Toby was impressed with the cookies and blankets! Mrs Clause told the children a story about how Santa had been stuck up the chimney one year and needed the help of some children to rescue him as his reindeer had fallen asleep on the roof. At this point Teddy took some of the blankets and made a bed on the floor and pretended to go to sleep himself – it was lovely to see him enjoying the experience and engaging with the stories. We then all sang when ‘Santa got stuck with the chimney’ and were then led on to the Santa Train and were taken to meet the big man himself.
The boys both loved the choo choo – we even managed to take Toby’s iPad off him because he was enjoying the ride so much, which is an achievement in itself! The train had to make two trips to fit everyone on and so once we arrived at Santa’s teepee grotto we sang jingle bells a couple of times (I lost track of how many times we sang it this morning!!) The Elves then helped us to open the magic door which led to the teepee. Inside was a lovely fire pit which was a very welcoming sight after being stood outside in the cold and Santa was snoozing in his chair at the back holding his big black book. We sat on the bean bags at the front, however the top of the teepee was open (due to the fire pit!) and as it was raining so we got a little wet! Santa was magical and it was lovely to see the excitement on the children’s faces as Santa addressed each child. He used facts about their family, pets or hobbies and thanks to some emails before hand from their parents, Santa knew exactly what each child had asked for. Toby briefly looked up from his iPad and gave Santa some good eye contact when Santa said his name and talked about Toby going to Centre Parcs for Christmas. Although I would have preferred him not to be on it, there is no way he would have managed to sit or engage at all without the iPad.
After Santa had been through each child, the children lined up and each received a certificate to say that they were on the nice list and a lovely gift which included a cuddly reindeer, some reindeer poo, snowman soup and some magic reindeer dust. They also all had the opportunity to meet Santa and get their photo taken (this bit was more for the grown ups!) Toby took his iPad over and cuddled in to Santa’s leg – it was lovely to see him engaging at his own level.
Although the train was only meant to take us to Santa, Mrs Clause had asked the train driver if he could drive us back too as we had left Toby’s pushchair in her teepee as it was too big to fit on the train. The boys (and the rest of our group) really appreciated a second train ride! All of the staff were very helpful and accommodating of Toby’s needs; they helped to lift the pushchair up steps, tried to engage him in activities and even pushed the pushchair and helped Joel with Toby while I nipped to the toilet. I had written in my email that he was autistic and non-verbal and right at the start of the day one of the Elves came and asked if there was anything else Santa could talk to him about and offered to let him go first incase he became overwhelmed and needed to leave whist we were in Santa’s teepee.
Once reunited with Toby’s buggy we headed off to meet our next character who was a very camp Jack Frost! Jack Frost told the children a story about how he had tried to spoil Christmas and then taught the children a song and some dance moves. Again Toby sat in his pushchair but it was lovely to see Teddy enjoying the stories and joining in with the dance moves.
After this, we headed to the workshop and the children made some lovely snow globes to take home. The workshop was in the same teepee as the cafe and gift shop and Joel enjoyed a hot beef sandwich and we shared some lovely white chocolate tiffin – mmmm!
Our final stop was the teepee of Chief Elf Pooper-Scooper who’s job it is (yes you guessed it!) is to clear up all of the reindeer poo.
The children loved his story about how he had managed to turn the reindeer poo in to food and he then taught everyone an interesting version of jingle bells which went along the lines of, “jingle bells, reindeer smell, they make a lot of poo!” The children thought this was great, however by this point there were lots of little tired faces as by now they had been there nearly four hours.
We headed back to the car with two very tired little boys who had enjoyed their Christmas adventure. For me the event was well thought-out and was a magical experience for all of the children and despite the weather, we had a great time. If you are planning on going, I would suggest wearing warm clothes and wellies or walking boots as the ground was very muddy from all of the rain.
More details, pictures and online booking can be found at – Enchanted Christmas and I would highly recommend the experience if you are looking for something a bit special this year which is much more than just a visit to see Santa!
What a busy weekend – think I need another one to recover! Check out our ASD friendly visit to the Discovery Museum from yesterday incase you missed it!