Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Keeping little ones amused in Summer

Wonderful Wonderland Telford Review
Disclaimer: This review is based on a trip we took to Wonderland in August 2014. This review is not endorsed and I paid for the tickets from my own pocket.
Fairytales; a place you escaped to as a child. A place that was not only magical but a safe haven from the harsh world of being a child with strict parents who wouldn’t let you stay out late, you weren’t allowed unlimited amounts of fizzy pop like your friends. It was a place you wanted to go. You wanted to climb into the book and sit and watch the dwarfs sing their way to the mines. But as you grew up that world was pushed to the back of your mind as other thoughts started to develop. Nursery rhymes no longer appeal as your musical tastes morph quickly.
Your world became cluttered with make up, boy bands, latest fashion trends and gossip from the playground and later college canteen. Sometimes though when the world became a daunting place some of us wanted to escape to that place in the Fairytales. The place where the woodlands were full of small cottages, Rapunzel lived up a tower and Snow White spent her days cleaning and cooking for her 7 little friends. As I became an adult my love of Fairytales never faded.
I still love Disney movies and believe it or not I believe in the type of love Rapunzel shares with Eugene in Tangled. The love that makes you fuzzy. I also believe in a love that is pure-the love that a Mother feels for her newborn; the feeling that never ever goes away.
So fast forward to be being a parent of a 3 year old. A three year old that owns a lot of glittery pink princess like stuff-dolls, books, fancy dress costumes...crowns everything. Little one happily lives in a world where Mother Gothel lives in the castle near us (the castle being a church). Her dresses come from the same shop as where the princesses would shop-in her world she is a Princess in training. So what would be the best thing ever for a child who loves Princesses and Fairytales? Well that was the question and we decided to look into a place called Wonderland.
Which way; this way. That way.
Wonderland Telford is a place where Snow white lives in the woods and you can pan for gold. The Mad Hatter can be seen wondering around. Alice can be seen wondering around in between tea parties. It’s a place where Fairytales are brought to life. Yes you read that correctly-Fairytales come to life.
After a bit of research I came across a Groupon offer for Wonderland and started planning our visit. The idea of brushing shoulders with fairies and characters out of world famous Fairytales had me giddy; and when I explained to little one where we were going I no longer had a child I could persuade to calm down. We planned the trip as I always do; packed the bags, bought the snacks/food supplies and we got the car ready to make the hour long journey to Telford.
After reading varying reviews I was hoping that the magical appeal would outweigh the old, battered and tired venue I was picturing. I hoped my 3 and a half year old would run into enough of her Fairytale friends to be excited about being at Wonderland.
When we got to Wonderland we found the car park which is currently experiencing some work. It was quite packed to say the least; possibly because it was free parking on the day and Telford Town park is also quite close by. After five minutes we managed to find a slot. We parked up, got the pushchair in order and loaded on the supplies for the day.
The first member of staff we came across was a young man at the main who was very cheerful and friendly. Clearly he liked his job; he chatted away to little one who explained she was here to see the fairies. We exchanged our voucher for our admission stickers and away we went. The first thing I noticed was the venue wasn’t noisy; there was a genuine happy buzz of children laughing in the air.
The park was clean with ample bins dotted about to help keep Wonderland clean. Little one became memorised instantly as we walked around.
She came across the Giant who she wanted to ask if he’d seen Jack lately. Quickly she joined a queue to go on the white rabbit ride and became excited at having a cart to herself. Queuing time was less than five minutes and soon we were walking around Wonderland discovering the world of Fairytales through the eyes of a child. There wasn’t just exploring to do and cottages and houses to find; there were also rides (yes rides) to experience. And like any good attraction aimed at families of young ones these rides were suitable for little one.
The idea of being in the woods and seeing Snow Whites house for the first time was magical. Little one was not aware of the fact that Mama found the robotic movements of Snow White extremely scary; she was more concerned about the fact the dwarfs were not opening the door. And as we manoeuvred around Wonderland we came across:
  • The Gingerbread Mans House
  • Humpty Dumpty & the Kings Soldiers
  • The Mat Hatter
  •  Alice (from Alice in Wonderland)
  •  Woodland Fairy (we kept calling her Tinkerbell)
  •  Snow White-who in my opinion suited the role so well
  •  The Gold Mine where the dwarfs work (and you can pan for gold and even buy gems for a couple of quid. But you will need to find a couple of white pieces of *gold* whilst panning for gold too).
  •  Little Red Riding Hood
  •  Goldilocks and the Three Bears  
  • The Three Little Pigs-plus Mr Fox who was preparing to cook the pigs
  • The Shoe House-complete with lots of children
  • The crooked house-with the little old man having a cup of tea 
  • Ben 10 (yes I accept that is fairly random. What is intriguing is he was hanging out with Alice)
  • Santa's Cottage-but he was on Holiday
  • Dinosaurs
Before anyone points out that Humpty Dumpty is from a Nursery Rhyme I know. Wonderland also features Nursery Rhyme characters but they didn't really appeal to a 3 year old obsessed with Fairytales.
We also noticed a Maze but didn’t get the chance to try it as oldest became very tired.
And there was also Crazy Golf-again we didn’t get the chance to try this although my two don’t really understand the concept of golf; yet.
Indoor soft play-which I think was enjoyed more by the youngest. It was a small-ish area however was well maintained and clean.
And the excitement didn’t stop there. Oh no. There were rides to try.
Our favourites included:
  • The Mad Hatters Tea Party (both bambinos loved this ride) 
  • White Rabbit Ride
  • Santa’s Sleigh (both children went on with an adult)
  • The carousel (which both children loved)
  • Alice’s Bouncy Castle-not sure if there are many 3 year olds who don’t like bouncy castles?
  • The Fairy Disco-yes it's not a ride but it kept little ones amused with games for around 30 minutes!
So as you can see there was plenty to keep little ones amused. Then at PM a disco started. Yes a disco with games. And the children were more than willing to dance and sing along.
We bought our picnic from a Supermarket as I was pushed for time. We noticed plenty of clean places to enjoy our picnic. If the weather is good and you can fit a picnic blanket in the grassy area which hosts the stage and maypole would be a great place to enjoy your food. You may find insects hovering about as there are trees dotted about.
We didn’t use the food facilities so in all honesty cannot review them.
First Aid:
We didn’t need to use this facility but as always I was carrying a small First Aid kit.
Little one was so tired that we didn’t actually get to go in the gift shop.
The toilets were actually clean. No horrid smells. No puddles of mysterious liquids. Plenty of soap and taps that work-hooray! I like the idea that there are signs promoting hygiene in the baby changing facilities. You are asked to spray the changing mat and wipe it after use-great stuff. I did notice that they had run out of blue towels by PM.
Ticket pricing:
I used a Groupon voucher which we purchased for £12.00 for a family of four. Considering that I found this day out as a bargain as both children enjoyed it. There were plenty of photo opportunities as the characters were more than happy to stop and pose for a photo or two.
Under two’s are free to enter Wonderland.
Standard prices are:
Adults £7.45
Children £7.95
OAP: £6.45
Now I know a lot of parents will be up in arms about the price but please keep in mind that you are getting an outdoor adventure, rides, soft play and even a disco for the price. If you look at it like that the price is fabulous. I pay around £4.00 for just soft play so an extra £3.95 seems a bargain to me. So even at full price Wonderland is simply wonderful.
What to pack:
The usual really.
  • Food if you plan to take your own picnic.
  • Picnic blanket
  • Nappy changing bag-with supplies
  • Bottles/formula/baby food  
  • Mini first aid kit 
  • Spare clothes
  • Raincoats, wellies and other weather appropriate clothing
  • Camera
Would I go again?
It’s about the little ones-and they loved it. Yes the park does look a bit dated and some of the paths seem to have seen better days. However finding an attraction that is stroller friendly and caters for the needs of little ones can sometimes prove impossible. Plus the park wasn’t full bursting at the seems-even in summer holidays which is a blessing. The staff were friendly, the park was clean. There was more than enough to keep little ones amused.
There’s a Pirates and Princesses event on the August Bank Holiday Monday (25th). I may go back-you never know. Maybe Wonderland will want us to come back and try the Maze and Crazy Golf?! We will return to the enchanted woodland of Wonderland.

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