Intro to me
I went to Winter Wonderland with my 7-year-old daughter on a very cold winter’s day.
When did you visit?
A chilly but dry Sunday at the end of November. It was the first weekend Winter Wonderland was open.
It usually runs from around 22 November 2018 until 6 January 2019 and is open every day except Christmas Day.
What age is Winter Wonderland best for?
There really is something here for pretty much everyone: if you have toddlers they’ll enjoy the Teletubbies show, and some of the small rides.
There are middle-sized rides too for the 6, 7 and 8 year olds as well as fun houses, and huge rides for much older kids and parents (if you fancy them!).
Everyone in the family will enjoy the shows like Zippo’s Circus and the Backyard Cinema presentations (this year is The Snowman), along with the Magical Ice Palace which has some amazing ice sculptures in it.
How much does Winter Wonderland cost?
It’s free to get in but there are no free activities once you’re through the gates.
Shows like Zippo’s Circus, The Snowman cinema experience and the Teletbubbies, plus a visit to the Magical Ice Palace (above) or ice skating are between £27 and £30 for a family ticket (see exact prices here). It’s a very good idea to book in advance.
Rides cost around £3 each (you buy tokens inside and use those).
We’ve not seen discount offers, either, unfortunately. Careful planning is probably the only way to keep track of how you’re spending here: if you’re on a budget we reckon you need to decide how many shows you’re going to, and how many rides each of your children can go on and stick to it.
If you’re planning to go to, say, 2 shows, you might want to time them fairly close together as, basically, the longer you’re here the more you’re likely to spend. A full day at Winter Wonderland could cost hundreds of pounds if you don’t watch it.
How long will we spend at Winter Wonderland?
We arrived at 10am and left at around 2.15pm – our day included the Snowman cinema experience, Zippo’s Circus, and the Magical Ice Kingdom plus 4 rides and a sit for hot chocolate and coffee.
As we’ve already said, the longer you’re here, the more money you’ll probably spend – though if budget were no issue my daughter would have happily stayed another few hours going on all the rides and in the fun houses over and over again.
As well as the fact you’ll spend big, you’ll get chilly too. It’s warm inside the show domes so it’s a good idea to break the day up with 1 or 2 of those if you can if only to warm your feet a bit.
But it’s pretty much all outdoors and the cold does seep in as the day goes on which might mean you don’t want too long there.
In addition, we noticed that the queue was HUGE at around 4pm. This is roughly when Winter Wonderland ‘turns’. There are 2 phases to a day there: the family fun and then, when it starts to get dark, you tend to get big groups of adults who are there for a knees up and possibly a fair few drinks.
We reckon it’s a good idea to be out of there by 3.30pm if you want to avoid the less family friendly part of the day.
What should we bring to Winter Wonderland?
As many warm things as possible – but also layer-up, as shows like Zippo’s Circus can be quite warm.
But as you’ll be out in the open for the most part, hats, gloves and scarves are a very good idea.
You’ll also want to make sure you’ve got plenty of money on you: again, if you’re on a budget, maybe bring cash and decide that once it’s gone, it’s gone.
There are ATM machines around if you run out – but, on the other hand, leaving your card at home could be a godsend and might just stop you overspending.
There are plenty of food stalls but nothing says you can’t bring your own food in to eat when you’re in the park (not necessarily the shows) – and there are tables and benches around. So, it might be worth bringing some snacks.
We’d recommend having a good full, hot breakfast at home before you come so you might get away without having to buy proper cooked food there (which looked good but again, was pricey).
We saw plenty of people with buggies and they’re fine to get around with – we saw a few baby carriers, too, but as you’ll probably be walking a lot and they can hurt your back after a while a pram might be a better option.
And if you’re bringing a small child they’re bound to get tired as there’s lots of ground to cover, so – unless your little one is a solid, sturdy walker – a buggy’s a really good idea.
What should we watch out for at Winter Wonderland?
Well, we’ve already mentioned a few times that if you’re on a budget you’ll need to make sure you don’t overspend at Winter Wonderland. It’s so easy to do.
We would also say make sure you wrap up very warm – even if the day doesn’t seem too cold when you first leave the house, you’ll be outside for most of the time and the longer you’re there the more you’ll feel the cold.
Another thing to say is to know your route there, and the alternative routes. We had no trouble going to and from Marble Arch tube but we know it can get packed which means you might need to get off at a tube much further off like Hyde Park Corner or even Green Park.
We reckon getting jn early and leaving early might just solve your problems with this one – though we did go on opening weekend so it might well get busier nearer Christmas.
Listen out for Tube announcements on your way there so you know to jump off a stop earlier if necessary,
Finally, if you think it’s a nice idea to take your snacks into the cinema experience, think again. You’re not allowed food in there (which we found a bit strange).
I had to wolf my burger down before the viewing and hide the popcorn I’d just bought my daughter especially for it in my rucksack…
What are the drinks and food facilities like at Winter Wonderland?
Refreshments at Winter Wonderland are plentiful and pricey: there are loads of coffee and hot chocolate stands, and, as for food, think of it as a mini festival.
You can get curry, pizza slices, halloumi fries, burgers and more. A cheeseburger cost £8 – it was tasty but not massive.
Hot chocolate and coffee costs around £4 to £4.50 for a small cup and you probably will want a round just to keep you warm.
Beware the sugar overload! You can buy popcorn and HUGE candy floss sticks in Zippo’s Circus and sweet treats are everywhere, so keep tabs on what your child has or you could find you’re dealing with a major crash at some point in the day.
What are the toilets like?
Every time we needed the loo they were a bit of a walk away but once we found them they were fine – clean enough, plenty of them and we never had to queue.
They do have spacious baby changing rooms too.
Think festival-style Portaloos – simple but functional and, we felt, enough of them.
Is there pushchair access/wheelchair access?
We saw plenty of pushchairs around and there was no issue getting through Winter Wonderland in them. We imagine it’s the same for wheelchairs users.
The Winter Wonderland website advises it can accommodate wheelchair users at all shows but it’s well worth letting them know in advance that you need a wheelchair space as some of the venues can only hold a certain amount of them.
MadeForMums verdict on Winter Wonderland
Despite the fact we’ve gone on a fair bit about the cost of a day at Winter Wonderland, we have to say it was a BRILLIANT day out, so at least it was money well spent.
Our daughter loved everything about it. There were quite a few rides that we were absolutely perfect for her – beyond being babyish, and enough to be quite grown up without being full-on terrifying rollercoasters.
We loved the circus show too, and there were some amazing acts in it including one we had to watch behind our hands as it was truly death-defying.
And watching The Snowman gave us a really nice chance to chill out, warm up and have some quiet time before we went out and about again.
The Magical Ice Palace was pretty magical but FREEZING – another good reason to make sure you’ve got lots of winter woollies with you.
Our daughter really wants to go to Winter Wonderland again, but we need to work out how much to spend. If you only do one show, we recommend the circus.
I think we’ll also have to agree with our child that she can go on x amount of rides and that’s all as we really don’t want to splash out on infinite entertainments.
But, overall, it’s Christmas – and if you’re up for splashing out we think this is a really fun day and there’s definitely something for everyone.
The only time you might want to avoid it is if you have a really young baby as there’s not much for them, you’ll be doing quite a lot of walking and it will get chilly.
But from toddler age (with a pram) onwards, we think this is a great day out.
The best advice we can give (as well as to watch your cash) is to go early and get out early.
We didn’t experience queues or busyness and it was really pleasant walking around when it wasn’t too crowded.
Tips for getting to Winter Wonderland
Once you’re in London, the nearest tube is Marble Arch, but if this gets too busy you might be advised to go to Hyde Park Corner or even Green Park – which is a fair walk.
We strongly advise listening to announcements when you’re en route as this will give you an indication of where you might need to get off and either walk or get a bus or cab.