Recently, for Christmas and birthday presents, we’ve been getting Lily days out or experiences.
After how excited she was doing the giraffe feeding experience and Explorer Glamping at Chessington World of Adventures for her birthday this year, she has not stopped asking to go back, so for this year’s (2021) Christmas present, we booked her onto the Santa Sleepover and Winter’s Tail experience.
Spoiler alert: It was absolutely brilliant, and we can’t recommend it enough. Here’s why.
What is the Father Christmas Sleepover?
Our tickets for the Santa Sleepover at Chessington World of Adventures allowed us two days in the theme park to the Winter’s Tail festive event, as well as access to the Sea Life Centre, Chessington Zoo, breakfast and a night in the Safari Resort Hotel.
Review: Safari Resort Hotel
The hotel was even better than we could have imagined. We are used to camping and glamping, so any hotel would seem luxury for us, but WOW, we were just blown away.
Our room was meant to be ready by 3pm, but we had a text after virtually checking in, saying our room was ready for us at about 1pm – it was busier in the reception area at 4.30pm when we returned, so we were happy we could pick up our keys a bit earlier too.
The themed decorations across the hotel were just beautiful, every little detail had been thought of.
From the hot air balloon and giraffe in the lift to the stunning festive decorations around the entrance, it was stunning!
We had a basic room package rather than the themed rooms (you can get Gruffalo or Room on the Broom themed rooms too), but even that was just stunning and everything was so clean too.
There were bunk beds and a double bed, chairs, tea making facilities, hairdryer, iron (if needed!) and more.
Lily was in her element and was so excited to sleep in the top bunk, with the bottom bunk being a toy den!
We were in a room near the front of the hotel, but rooms at the back of the hotel as well as views from the corridor were across the beautiful animals outside – it was like you were on safari!
What’s more, the staff were just so friendly and always so welcoming.
Entertainment in the hotel
In the entrance to the hotel, there was a small comfy area to watch a movie, and there are animal meetings for those staying in the hotel too.
You can book timeslots in the Savannah Splash Pool during your stay (some packages have this as an extra cost), and enjoy evening entertainment – Lily loved the pyjama party, where they met a mascot bushbaby and played games.
They also wrote a letter to Santa, before receiving a reply the next morning through the room door, which was very special too.
If that’s not enough, there’s also games areas in the hotels too and other evening entertainment.
The team were always fantastic and really made the stay special.
As it was Lily’s Christmas present, we booked some add-ons.
We booked the festive upgrade, so she was greeted in the room with a beautiful Chessington sloth cuddly toy, a walking balloon, stocking and stick of rock. It was lovely!
We also gave in to the Elf Wake Up Call upgrade, where an elf came and knocked on her door at a set time, and had a fun, personalised 1-2-1 doorstep visit with her, singing Christmas songs and bringing her a little gift.
The elf was brilliant and she was amazed he knew some fun facts about her – the little bush baby toy was really cute too!
Food & drink in the hotel
We did the dinner add-on when we booked, so were able to eat in the restaurant in the Azteca hotel. The food was fabulous! It was an unlimited carvery buffet, complete with hot and cold options, vegetarian options and desserts.
The food was freshly cooked and was absolutely delicious.
During dinner in the themed restaurant, which was beautifully decorated, there were sound and light shows ever 10/15mins around the centre temple. Lily was absolutely mesmerised – though I would warn small children in advance or those who are sensitive to sound or light.
We also had breakfast as part of the package. Again, it was a buffet, with choice of hot or cold options, pastries, fruit, cereal and more. Everything was fresh and very delicious.
If you want to relax with a drink, you can also enjoy the various themed bar areas.
I can’t comment on how they are with allergies, but the first thing they asked about was if either of us had allergies, so I hope these would be catered for.
What can you expect at the Chessington World of Adventures Winter’s Tail?
The Winter’s Tail festive event at Chessington World of Adventures is a reduced offering of the usual fun at Chessington, with an added festive touch!
Even with just 10 rides operating, there was more than enough to do over the two days.
Rides were really easy to walk straight on, with queues mostly of about 5 minutes each (we lapped her favourite Vampire Ride three times before other people came on!), and there was a variety of fast and slow rides to enjoy, including Gruffalo Ride, Elmer, Treetop Hoppers and Blue Barnacle.
Our favourite is definitely the Vampire Ride – I’m reliving the fun too, 30 years after first going on it!
There is Mrs Claus’ kitchen where you follow a few little spells along the way through the decorated area, and kids get a cookie at the end – I was also amazed that adults received a free hot drink (£1 upgrade for a Costa!) and mince pie too, available at different areas around the park.
You also have a timeslot to meet Father Christmas. The queue took about 25minutes, around a dedicated area, so I’d suggest popping to the toilet first with small kids, or taking a hot drink with you!
The decorations along the way were lovely and you’re greeted by an elf at your turn, who leads you through the twinkly snow-covered trees to a wooden cabin to meet Father Christmas.
The Father Christmas himself wasn’t as great as the elf who took us there was, but he was friendly and you were able to get a professional photo if you wanted, before taking the golden ticket to the Toy Workshop.
We had a 3.15pm timeslot and there were no people queuing for the Toy Workshop when we arrived, although there seemed to be the next day, so if you have an earlier timeslot, you may want to visit the Toy Workshop a bit later.
You had the chance here to choose a cuddly penguin or husky, both which were beautiful eco-friendly soft toys, the Keel brand, one of Lily’s favourite brand of soft toys made of recycled plastic!
All through the park, there were lovely seasonal decorations, areas to eat some festive treats from market cabins, such as brownies, hot chocolate and Bratwurst, as well as a few shops and cafes.
There were stages throughout too, so you could also enjoy the panto on the Mane Stage as well as carols and singing, and a meet-and-greet with Elmer.
As if that wasn’t enough, we were able to explore the zoo, including penguins, seals, reindeer, tigers, lions and more, and the Sea Life area too.
You can enjoy animal talks at various times through the day, including the reindeer – even the sea lions had their own stocking!
There really was so much included in the tickets.
Will we be back? YES! We could have easily done another day there, and I really can’t recommend the whole experience enough, it was just brilliant.
Every little detail was thought of, and even with the reduced offering for the event, there was more than enough to do and we enjoyed it even more than the summer, with less queues and so much entertainment.
The time in the zoo and Sea Life was just the cherry on the top of an already great stay, not to mention the incredible hotel experience too – it really was so special.
Lily said this was the BEST CHRISTMAS PRESENT EVER and how much she loved being there together, so for me to see the joy and awe on her face, it meant so much – that’s what Christmas is all about.