Christmas at Paultons Park is the perfect treat at the festive time of year! Combine a trip to Santa’s grotto with theme park rides, and cheer up a cold December in the UK.
We went very close to Christmas 2018. It’s only open during December, and costs roughly the same price as the summer season, around £30 for adults and £33 for kids. While some of the rides are closed, a visit to Santa’s Grotto and a gift are included, which makes up the extra cost. Adults pay slightly less than children, and there are individual tickets only, no family rates.
When you book your ticket you specify the child/children’s age range. Under 12 months with gift is the cheapest, unsurprisingly; then 12 – 23 months and 24 – 25 months at a higher rate. The 3 – 5, 6 – 7, 8 – 10, and 11 – 13 are all the same higher rate. They all include a gift.
Adults don’t get a gift, but you do get a ‘festive treat’!
When you book your ticket you choose a time-slot for your visit to Santa.
Personally I think it’s best to book early and get it done first. Otherwise you run the risk of the kids whining ‘is it time to see Santa yet?’ every five minutes.
Parking is free. Which is nice.
Once thing to remember. It’s December, dress for the weather. It rained on and off the day we visited, and there’s quite a lot of walking around, so unless you have a gorgeous clear day, wellies are essential. You will be waiting in line for rides, so wrap up warm.
Also, bring food. Like Legoland, and no doubt every other theme park, buying food on site is expensive. So bring your own. And don’t forget a water bottle.
So, on to our visit.
Please note there are no fancy pictures, they were mostly taken on the fly, with my phone, while wrangling an eight-year-old, so don’t expect professional-level photography. Also it was bloody chilly and damp, and no one wants to spend forever posing for the camera. But they are as we saw everything, so no no PR-type shots. They’re the real thing.
Through the barriers and into the main entrance square.
This tree lights up and plays music every 15 minutes, which adds to the festive jollity!
We booked our Santa visit quite early on, and timed our arrival to be able to use the loo, go for a quick stroll, and get our bearings first.
Off to the grotto!
The first place you wait is in a tent-type tunnel, but line moves pretty quickly.
There’s a couple of minutes to admire the singing elf models you see there, and figure out your elf name, before heading into the actual building.
The line kept moving moved quite quickly at this stage, so there was no opportunity to get restless.
On through a fairylight tunnel.
The next section had more animatronic creatures of various kinds. A polar scene, a pine forest scene, with lots more singing animals. There was even something that looked rather like a Tauntaun. All these displays were fenced in, but they were very low so even very little children could see and enjoy them.
The path was a kind of switchback, winding back and forth in a relatively small space.
I was impressed at how fast the line moved, which is why I didn’t get much of a chance to take good pictures. Everyone was moving at a sort of slow shuffle, so stopping for any length of time cased the line to buckle somewhat. Plus the light was pretty low.
Once we got to the end of this section, we reached the North Pole, and Santa’s Workshop. There were some excellent models of elves, wrapping parcels, getting the Santa mail ready.
They were very impressive, but we actually whizzed though this part so fast we didn’t get that much chance to look properly, let alone take pictures!
But hey, better to move fast than to get bored waiting in one place, right?
Finally, we got to the door where an elf (a real person this time) showed us to a door behind which was Santa.
And there he was, sitting on a rather impressive chair. (You can see the elf in the background.)
He was very nice, asked Little C’s name, and gave her a badge. He also asked a couple of standard questions about what she wanted for Christmas. Very pleasant.
Now, unlike my childhood, there’s no sitting on Santa’s knee, because that’s not allowed any more, so we stood next to him for a picture.
An elf will take and an official picture, but they will also take one for you with your camera or phone or whatever.
Here is the picture taken by the elf, not bad eh?
As for the official one, the photographer elf told us to say ‘mince pies’ as he took the picture.
I have to say that they were a poor choice of words, given that it meant our mouths were open for the word ‘pies’. They only take one, and you don’t get to see it until you get outside.
So, this was the official picture, and yes, we did buy a copy for £10, basically because it came in the frame and we had an official souvenir of our trip.
It also acts as a reminder to ignore a photographer when he tells you to say something, and simply smile nicely for the camera.
I mentioned that the tickets include a gift. Well, Santa doesn’t actually give you the gift, you collect it outside in the same place you pick up your picture.
Anyway, after our audience with Santa, we were shown out, and went into the tent for the gift.
I need to add a little note here. We went the previous year (2017) and Little C was most put out to discover that the gifts were divided into boys’ and girls’. She got a pink unicorn picture thing, and was not impressed. I’ve taught her that toys are just toys, and should not be divided into toys for girls and toys for boys.
But this year, we were both very happy to see that the gifts were simply divided by age group. As she had just turned 8, she got the 8 – 10 gift.
And here it is. A Secret Decoder Activity Set. And my goodness, she was thrilled.
First because she didn’t get some girly pink thing, and second because she adores all things spy-related. So this gift was a huge hit. I was pretty bloody impressed as well, it’s a proper fun toy, something creative that can be used and enjoyed rather than just cheap plastic crap.
In case you’re curious, this set retails for £9.99, and gets deservedly excellent reviews on Amazon.
One other tip: the gifts are of a reasonable size, and you’ll be carrying it around with you. Make sure you bring a decent-size bag!
So, Santa was done, time to explore the rest of the park.
It’s worth noting that not all rides are open at this time of year. There’s a list on the Paultons website so you can check them out.
The grotto comes out onto Snow Street, which has a snow machine, Christmas music playing, and festive characters wandering around.
At the end of the street is the 3D cinema, and as it was a bit damp and chilly we decided to go in a catch a show.
It’s a short cartoon, about 15 minutes, but it’s splendid. The 3D works incredibly well, and the effect is very impressive.
The 3D glasses even fit over regular specs, which is good for four-eyes like me.
The seats are on hydraulics, so there are a few jump scare moments where the seats jerk and move, which is quite startling!
We thought it was great fun, but it may not be ideal for very young or nervous children, we definitely heard a few whimpers.
We love the carousel!
We had a wander round Peppa Pig World, which is of course a magnet for littler ones.
Even though not all the rides are open, there is still plenty to do and see, including meet-and-greets with Peppa and George in their festive outfits for pictures with children.
Little C is rather beyond the Peppa stage, so we didn’t go on any rides.
However the major win here was the ice cream stand.
I mean, who doesn’t want an ice cream in the cold and drizzle?
This ride, the Flight of the Pterosaur, is by far the best. It’s a rollercoaster, the kind where you sit and your feet dangle down. If you have any thrill-seekers in your group, this is the place to go.
I believe we went on it five times together, and then Little C went twice more alone, because she was tall enough and didn’t need Mummy to ride with her again, thank you.
Now, ice cream notwithstanding, you’re definitely going to get hungry.
Always bring food on a day out!
First, you don’t have to wait to eat, and second, prices at theme parks are prohibitive, as you’ll see.
Remember how I mentioned at the beginning that adults got a ‘Festive Treat’?
Here is my token. You swap it at one of the food concessions, in this case the Station Restaurant and Coffee Station. They sell pastries, sandwiches, hot & cold drinks etc.
There are other places to get food, but we were closest to this one.
This was my treat. A mini brownie bite thing and a little cup of what I think was warmish apple juice.
Because I had something, Little C had to have something too. A drink was the easiest thing, as all the other choices were cake-based, and she’d already eaten most of my brownie bite.
Holy crap, the prices! Like at Legoland, the markups are considerable.
Foolishly I hadn’t set any parameters, so she chose a can of Innocent Bubbles, which she loves and is a big treat, because I’m that kind of mother who doesn’t allow fizzy drinks.
And yes, that can of drink, that sells for less than £1.50 in a supermarket, cost me £3.50.
Oh well. Just this once.
After wandering around a little more, and going on a few rather tamer rides, we decided it was time to head home.
Of course, you can’t leave without going past the gift shop!
As well as endless Peppa toys, they do sell some pretty useful stuff, along with all the usual tat.
I bet they do very well with people who forget to bring hats and coats for their kids!
The one thing that’s missing is a Christmas ornament.
We have a family tradition that we buy an ornament whenever we go on a special trip. Legoland sells ornaments, but Paultons doesn’t, which I think is a shame.
But never mind, I managed to escape without spending any money!
All in all, visiting Paultons at Christmas is a pretty nice day out.
It’s not cheap, especially if you have multiple kids, but the Santa part of it is really rather impressive.
You don’t have to wait for too long, and the North Pole exhibits are excellent, and great to distract little impatient ones while you wait in line. Santa himself hits all the right notes, and is friendly and warm.
Kids get a badge, and a pretty good present, no cheap plastic garbage.
Then there are enough rides open to be able to spend some time in the park making sure you get your money’s worth! The lines probably won’t be too long, it’s not crazy busy like in the summer.
I would say that Paultons is definitely for the under 12s, and it’s at it’s best for the under 9s. Lots of the rides are of the fairly gentle variety, even outside the Peppa Pig World, and I can see older children getting restless. But for little ones it’s lovely.
There are enough loos, and you can get water bottles filled at any of the concessions.
Like I said above, bring your own food. If you have to feed the kids on site it’s going to get pricey real fast.
Of course it’s likely the weather will be a bit rubbish, being December in the UK, but wrap up warm and you’ll be fine.
You will definitely create a lot of lovely festive memories with Christmas at Paultons Park!
Thanks for reading! Feel free to pin this for later. Leave me a comment if you’ve been to Paultons, or if you’re planning to!
Feeling festive? Get your craft on and have a go at making this DIY Advent Calendar!
Read about our trip to Legoland here.
Some Christmas fun here.
You can read more reviews of stuff, like kids’ subscription boxes, here.
There’s some parenting stuff here.