Last year our visit to see Father Christmas at Hamleys was amazing. So much so I blogged about the whole experience here. I know it is hard to find somewhere so magical that when I found somewhere I wanted to shout it to the rooftops. This year we returned again expecting the same standard. How disappointed was I?
It was the same set up of the elves meeting us, taking us upstairs, dinner, Christmas list writing, stories with the big guy, and then 1:1 time but the magic just wasn't there. This is what happened this year, compared to last year.
This year the children weren't given the special stickers with the adults showing the tickets, they all got them at the front of the crowd so more kids (then booked) got stickers, which meant some could have gone in to the room without paying, thankfully they slipped off before even being acknowledged by an elf, but still more stickers were given out then the 15 they had planned. They then proceeded to take all the kids through the shop on a "treasure hunt", this again on a busy weekend before Christmas I don't think is a good idea as they could wander off as the parents were following behind.
We were then able to go into the room where the magic happens. The décor was the same as last year with the luxury wreaths and garlands but the lighting was very dim making photos very hard or shadowy. They also had a tom and Jerry DVD on a menu screen on the TV, what's that all about? It was later switched off near the end of the experience.
After the "elf and safety" was given the food soon arrived. This is where the initial disappointment came. The girls were given 2 cocktail sausages, 2 and a bit potatoes and some peas and broccoli. A small boat of gravy was then placed on the table for the entire table of 8 children. This portion was given to everyone, even the older children of approx. 12 years received this tiny portion.
Last years meal consisted of a full plate of variety so if a child didn't like one thing they could have something else...
I brought this up with the elves as it was dished out as my girls are not "green veg" lovers nor potatoes lovers really and if I was informed it would be this I would have booked a breakfast or the afternoon tea. (On booking I was given last years menu). The elves mentioned, "oh that was last years menu" on showing them the booking page on the live Hamleys website. After a little while I was called outside to be given a toy gift to say sorry, and that we should have been informed, so I let the food disappointment go and kept a smile on my face for the girls to see.
Santa arrived after a loud
shout sing-a-long and the children were soon sat on the mat listening to the story.
It was then time to write the list for Santa so he knows exactly what they would like...
Once the lists were written it was then time to line up and see Father Christmas 1:1. Last year S was petrified of him, this year she went running up to him. Its amazing to see the difference in her.
She has asked him for an "elf" which prompted some banter, and a photo with the elf too.
J was the last of the children to see him, but he still provided fun banter for her too.
before posing for THE photo...
S wanted to see Santa again too, so we managed to get a photo of both girls together with him. Its such a shame the spot light was right over the top causing lots of shadows.
It was then time to go home with their bag of treats and surprises, which was very similar to last year again, only smaller. The colouring in book consists of six pages compared to the full sized last year, and the teddy a little smaller and not the traditional "Hamleys bear".
Both Daddy and myself walked away feeling disappointed. The enthusiasm of the elves just wasn't there. The high energy and excitement of seeing Santa had vanished with Papa elf last year, instead it was like it was just rolling through the motions. Thankfully Father Christmas was on top form to keep the girls excitement as I felt it lacked everywhere else.
Sorry Hamleys we wont be returning next year after the changes this year, which is a real shame as last year you ticked all the boxes!