Reviews for Hyde Park
Hyde Park Winter Wonderland
By Claire Paye, dated 4th December, 2017
Review by Andy, Claire, Amelia (11) and Charlie (9) Paye
A day at Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland is not cheap, which is why we are about to start saving to go again next year. The phrase, ‘all your Christmases come at once’ could very well be applied to a day out with the family at Winter Wonderland. There really is something for everyone, for all ages and for all budgets, particularly larger ones. You can go and spend no money at all, just take in the atmosphere, watch the people staggering off the rides, browse through the Christmas market stalls and head off invigorated yet with all your cash intact. However, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to do this as there is so much fun to be had on the incredible rides, so much delicious food to eat (largely of the German sausage in a roll and Spanish churros variety, with a hefty vegetarian stall available) and such great shows to see and activities to participate in.
One of the particular highlights of an amazing day for us was Zippos Christmas Circus. I can honestly say that I had never seen a man running around the equivalent of a giant hamster wheel while it rotates in the centre of the circus until today. It was incredible. At the other end of the scale, we all loved the dancing giant polar bears, which had us in hysterics. The Cuban acrobats were amazing and the modern ‘clown’ was delightful. And at £36 for a standard family ticket for a 45 minute show, it is excellent value, not least because it saves you spending a fortune on rides in that time. And you can sit down. And it’s warm. We even got a warm welcome from Mrs Zippo herself as we arrived.
Moving onto the thorny question of the rides, some are eye-wateringly expensive (£9 per person), others are a more reasonable £4 (they start at £2). However, scrooge that I am, I think they are actually worth it, not least because they go on a long time.
We haven’t been to Disneyland or Thorpe Park, but as veterans of Legoland and Chessington, with one child over 140cm, we were amazed at how exciting the rides were. Our highlights included the Munich Looping, the world’s largest transportable roller coaster, which had approximately a million full loop the loops (well, it felt like that to me), and which had the massive advantage of being available to children over 120cm so Charlie could go on it.
Unfortunately, at apparently about 138cm, Charlie couldn’t go on a few of the other amazing rides, such as a personal favourite of mine and Amelia’s, the Blizzard, which isn’t even mentioned on the website, which lifts you about 67m in the air then thrusts you down at over 100kmh upside down. It finally keeps you up in the air for about 5 minutes while people get on at the other end, giving you a fantastic view over London. Incredible! (There are several gentler rides for younger children and Charlie really enjoyed the Ice Mountain Coaster, but he still had Younger Sibling Envy). Another advantage of the cost of the rides is that the queues were largely non-existent when we went, we could walk straight on. And you can buy just the number of tokens needed for a ride, whereas some rides take contactless payment as you enter, making it really easy to spend your money on them! So, yes, expensive but worth it.
We were relieved to find that the food was relatively cheap. There are plenty of stalls selling sausages, burgers, waffles etc. at only about £5 a go. You can sit in one of the many (heated, dry) huts around the place, sampling the continental atmosphere and musing about a trip to Oktoberfest or one of the continental European Christmas markets which Winter Wonderland seems to be modelled on. It is also a great place to pick up some unique gifts in the Christmas markets.
We also had the opportunity to see the Sooty show which provided, according to Charlie, ‘a laugh for all the family’. Well aware of the mixed audience age range, the frontman, Richard Cadell, kept all the audience happy with his jokes, singing and magic (he also popped up in the circus, attempting to get out of a tank of water which he was unfortunately chained down in). Amelia and Charlie really enjoyed it (as did Andy and I), chortling away and even getting some of the naughtier jokes (unfortunately) whilst the toddlers around us were entranced, glued to the action with serious faces, frequently laughing and, most importantly, not crying.
We only just dipped our toes in the delight that is the Hyde Park Winter Wonderland. We didn’t go ice skating, visit the Magical Ice Kingdom or, for example, settle down in comfortable seats with some cocktails in any of the many bars on site and watch live music. We also didn’t see Cinderella on Ice although last year we saw the Nutcracker on Ice at the Winter Wonderland and loved it. Unless you’re going to visit over a whole weekend, or several times, (and, why not?), it’s impossible to do everything on offer. But that doesn’t matter. We had a wonderful day out and are already talking about next year, when Charlie will be over 140cm and can discover for himself why younger children shouldn’t go on the rides. I think we might even book some karaoke in Bar Hütte. It is just a brilliant way to start (opened 17th November) or end (last day 1st January) your Christmas.
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