Last Friday, the kids and I were kindly invited to check out Santa's Cove (Pirates Cove) in Liffey Valley shopping centre. Christmas is my favourite time of the year. No question. So I was thrilled to go and excited to take the children to see Santa. Santa's Cove is €12.50 per adult (adults go free at non peak times) €25 per child, Little ones under 12 months are free. Your Santa photo is included.
As you all know Milla is 5 weeks old. So I was sure to book the earliest slot available before hand 7.15pm! I also spent about 15mins filling out a form with all the kids details, likes and dislikes. Their hobbies, teachers names etc.. I was happy to fill this all out because I knew the kids would absolutely love this personal touch. Two things that ended up being a complete waste of time.
Patting myself on the back (4 kids in tow) I arrived at 6.45pm.... But I was told they were running late and wouldn't be open until 7.15. Not a big deal I thought as I had my time slot booked already so I wasn't too bothered. It was their first night so I know there is bound to be a teething problem or two!
At 7.15 we all went in to pirates cove.. I say pirates cove because there was no difference at this point between pirates cove and Santa's cove. There was no Christmas decorations anywhere nor was there any Christmas warm feeling. Actually it was the complete opposite- it was freezing, I actually had to put the kids coats back on in there.
They had a play on the bouncy castles which they loved.... But the music was blaring and it was hard for any of them to hear me which was stressful!
Then it came time to see Santa and I was more than ready to leave the room and hear myself think again! At this point I realised all the slots were forgotten about and it was a free for all. There was a massive que to go into the experience and there's me with 3 kids 3 and under including a 5 week old baby, about to wait an hour in a freezing que. I ended up going up to one of the organisers and explaining I had booked the earliest slot and had a newborn with me. She let me skip the que and I was very grateful. To be honest if she hadn't, I would have just left.
Firstly there is a ball pit and a slide to go through to enter the experience. There was a few male elves at the beginning but none of which encouraged the kids where to go or said a word to them actually.
Next was a ride on Santa's sleigh... A very friendly elf helped us on. But Noa (3) had no idea what we were on or why? It would have been nice for there to be a little story from the elf about the sleigh and what they're about to experience but it was a bit flat.
Next we went into a room and the kids made reindeer food got Christmas Eve. The kids really enjoyed this part... The elves were great with them and the loved to hear the story. I've heard from friends these elves lost their mojo by the end so bear in mind we were first in... The boxes were awful that the food is kept in and noas spilled everywhere!
Next they got to make decorations which again they loved... This male elf was amazing with the kids... Didn't rush them at all!
Next was a stop for hot chocolate and mince pies with a woman I can only assume was Mrs.Claus because she didn't say much and didn't interact at all with the kids. She actually looked quite grumpy in my opinion. Bear in mind again, we were one of the first in!!
The next two bits were the most disappointing bits for me...
The naught or nice machine.
I got this... I like the concept but the machines were extremely loud and way too long. I think the naughty or nice "deliberation" needs to be cut in half. And most disappointing was they all got a "nice certificate" but there names weren't on it?!! The name part was blank!
Next was the last stop... Santa..
Our Santa had a real beard which I think is extremely important. But for me he wasn't warm or welcoming and the whole form I spent 15 mins filling out the night before was no where to be seen. I had to prompt Santa with everything. The picture was very rushed and to be honest I felt anxious leaving. When the picture was printed it looked like it had been taken on a phone and not one of my kids were near Santa. We hadn't been helped or given a second to position the kids for a lovely pic. For me the picture is always my highlight!
For me the experience wasn't very warm. It wasn't very Christmassy and none of the staff were very enthusiastic. Most of the elves were great but for me the most important is Mrs Claus and Santa. And both were very flat in my opinion.
Is it worth the €125 it would have cost for my family of 6.
€125 is a lot of money for my family. It is money I want to spend on an experience that will stay in my kids memory's for years. One that my kids will say "remember we went to..." An experience you leave feel warm and happy and for me this isn't Santa's Cove. Unfortunately I left Santa's cove feeling stressed and cold.
It seems to me the organisers have put in the work and gotten all the big bits... But have forgotten it's all the little bits that make it magical!
We were kindly invited to a press preview of Santa’s Cove in Liffey Valley free of charge. But as always all thoughts and opinions are my own.