I’m all about creating memories as a family which means I do like visiting a Christmas Experience at this time of year. Last year we visited Center Parcs for Winter Wonderland and the years before that we had visited Lapland UK on the Superstar days they hold. This year with our preparations for Disney World and the fact that my husband might have been moaning about the distance we booked the Father Christmas Experience at Marsh Farm.
Marsh Farm is in Essex and not such a long drive from us but it is actually a place we have never visited. Our friends had visited the Father Christmas experience last year but to be honest I wasn’t sure what to expect. Being that we have visited Lapland UK twice I wondered if Marsh Farm had a lot to live up to.
The Marsh Farm Father Christmas Experience does actually follow a similar pattern to Lapland UK. Every child receives an Elf Passport on arrival. When each activity is complete the Elf’s stamp your passport. This passport turned out to be a really good tool for Ethan. He used it as a social story to know what was coming next. Ethan only had to look at his passport once to memorise all of the activities for the day.
The first stop on the Father Christmas experience is a visit to Elf Academy. From there you will walk through the magic wardrobe into the Snow Show.
A trip to visit Father Christmas wouldn’t be complete without a stop at Mother Christmas’s Kitchen to decorate gingerbread men.
Our First Impressions of The Father Christmas Experience at Marsh Farm
Remembering that the Father Christmas Experience takes place on a farm the first destination is in a barn. Being used to Lapland UK we wondered if this is what the whole area would look like. I was expecting a snow-covered destination and that isn’t where we arrived. We didn’t need to worry though we arrived in a snowy village after visiting the Snow Show.
The Elf Academy was like a panto performance. It was very funny but make sure you get involved as a parent otherwise you will get picked on. I could feel Darren’s squirming in his seat as he doesn’t like anything like that.
The Snow Show and Elf Village
I really loved the Snow Show, the fact that you had to walk through a wardrobe to enter this area really added to the theming. Snow is magical for all ages and this really set the right tone to head out and meet Mother Christmas.
You arrive at Elf Village after your visit with Father Christmas. This is where you can choose your gift from Father Christmas, buy and collect your photos and also write and post him a letter.
Our Visit With Father Christmas
Ethan gets very excited when he meets Father Christmas. This means he can start to stim. This overwhelmed the Father Christmas we visited last year but this Father Christmas took it all in his stride. He was so good with the children. Even when we couldn’t understand what Little E was saying to him he answered her brilliantly. The best thing about meeting this Father Christmas is that you are allowed to take photos and video of your interaction with him.
What we didn’t expect from The Father Christmas Experience
Gifts! The children received so many items to keep during the Father Christmas Experience. They were given certificates, magic wands, gingerbread men, a build a bear and the chance to pick what gift they wanted from Father Christmas at the toy shop. The adults also received a gift, a box of toffee.
Our Thoughts On Our Father Christmas Experience
The children loved every minute of our day. When we booked our experience it advised us that we would be there for two and a half hours. We were there for longer than that. At no point during our visit did we feel rushed in any way. We advised them at the time of booking that Ethan had autism. I was told to make the Elves aware of this on our tour and we could reduce any waiting if required. We didn’t need to worry about this as Ethan loved every minute of it.
Although we didn’t arrive in an Elf Village right away, when the tour did take us there it was done very well. It was very snowy and picturesque.
The Father Christmas Experience costs considerably less than a visit to Lapland UK. Children cost more than adults which I think is fair. Children are the ones taking part in the activities and receiving all of the gifts. This isn’t the case for Lapland UK tickets.
I don’t think that you can compare the settings of both experiences as Lapland UK is set in the middle of a forest. This makes is magical from the start. With the price of the tickets they also have more money to spend. Lapland UK is more of a theatrical experience. This is something you pay for.
We feel that Marsh Farm is a more affordable day out. The Elf Village is made very well and you do forget you are in a farm. We also feel the flow of the day is better. Everything is included in the price, apart from the photo with Santa. It also doesn’t feel like you have to pay more money for anything else. They do offer costumes for the build-a-bear which is an extra charge but these are not forced on you.