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“Queues, emus and muddy shoes” 2 of 5 stars
Review of The Reindeer Centre

The Reindeer Centre
Capralama Farm | Pluckley Road, Bethersden TN26 3EQ, England
01233 820545
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Ranked #2 of 4 Attractions in Bethersden
Type: Amusement/ Theme Parks, Amusement Parks
Attraction details
Lydd, United Kingdom
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
“Queues, emus and muddy shoes”
2 of 5 stars Reviewed December 9, 2012

We arrived at about 11am this morning only to be turned away before we reached the car park - it was full up and maybe we'd like to return a bit later and try our luck then. Not a great start to the day - maybe some form of online booking would be worth considering in future years?

If it weren't for the 3 expectant children sitting in the back of the car we'd have given up there and then - which in retrospect would have probably been for the best. But we did return after an early lunch and did manage to squeeze into the car park after a relatively short wait. Relative, that is, to the waiting that was to follow thereafter!

So we parked the car and set off across the horribly muddy car park towards the ticket office. Another queue followed - we waited the best part of half an hour to buy our entrance tickets from the one person available to serve the long line of increasingly impatient visitors. Surely on a busy Sunday they could have a few more staff allocated to this task?

Finally, tickets in hand we could actually go in to see the animals. At this point we noticed that there was a huge queue for Santa's Grotto, so decided we'd return to that a bit later. As for the animals - as somebody else has mentioned it's rather a bizarre mix - as well as the reindeer there are llamas, pigs, donkeys, meerkats, rabbits, wallabies, goats, guinea pigs, chickens and even a couple of emus. It all felt strangely unfestive. The animal pens weren't exactly spacious or interesting for the animals - left me feeling rather sorry for them to be honest, though apparently those aren't their permanent homes.

The enclosures were interspersed with play activity areas - a fake snow area, a large straw bale ball pit, a small bouncy castle and a smaller ball pit. All these were very busy, largely unsupervised, and dominated by out-of-control older kids, which made them unsuitable and even dangerous for the younger children for whom they were actually intended. Our 3-year-old would have been knocked over in no time flat if we'd let her loose in any of these play areas, but would have thoroughly enjoyed them under less hazardous conditions.

We then decided to have a break and get our 'free' mince pies and drink. Guess what? Yes - long queues even for this - about another 20 minutes. And they'd run out of hot chocolate. And the 'free' Christmas mugs mentioned on the website weren't free with tea or coffee option - which were £1.50!!! No thank you!

So back to Santa's grotto - the supposed highlight of the day for the kids - and the queue was even longer than before! Reluctantly we joined the end of the queue - which, incidentally, was outside in the freezing cold - and progress was painfully slow. We enquired how long the wait was likely to be - well over an hour was the reply. By this stage we had 3 cold, tired children who frankly couldn't bear to wait in that line a minute longer. When we finally gave up long, long before we were anywhere near Santa they were more relieved than disappointed - but it was still a gutting decision to have to make on their behalf. We asked a member of staff if we could just have the presents and go (without seeing the big man) and she helpfully sorted some out for us. The presents themselves were surprisingly good and rescued an extra rating point over and above the minimum our day actually deserved.

Not an experience we'll be repeating next year - or ever!

Visited December 2012
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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116 reviews from our community

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Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Ashford, United Kingdom
1 review
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
“Avoid at all costs”
1 of 5 stars Reviewed December 9, 2012


I assume the good reviews on here are from the people who work there, there is no other explanation, as it is a truly terrible place resembling Santa's village of the dammed.

We went yesterday with some friends and their daughter. Firstly its £10 each to gain entry, so you expect something special. But it just a tacky badly decorated barn with a variety of animals. Not even worth £1 per person let alone the £10 fee. It's obviously something cobbled together by the owners to cash in on people who want to enjoy Christmas. Food is provided by an on-site burger van, which we didn't stay long enough to sample.

Their website has video of a herd of Reindeer but all the good ones have obviously been loaned out to various places and only 4 were left, and sadly none of them had both antlers so looked a bit sorry for themselves. There's loud music in the barn and a grubby little bouncy castle, that environment can't be good for the animals. The little girl we were with hated it as well as us and we left after 20mins. £40 worse off. There are so many better things you can do with that money at Christmas with children.

We came away very concerned about the animals welfare who were all in the same noisy cold barn, with loud music playing. 8 lamas in a tiny pen, mearcats huddling together; guinea pigs, rabbits and hens all in the same pen together, and other farm animals...I could go on.

A bit of my Christmas spirit died in there yesterday. Save the money and take the kids somewhere anywhere else.

Visited December 2012
Was this review helpful? Yes 6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, England, United Kingdom
Top Contributor
59 reviews 59 reviews
25 attraction reviews
Reviews in 26 cities Reviews in 26 cities
41 helpful votes 41 helpful votes
1 of 5 stars Reviewed December 8, 2012

Sucks the Christmas spirit out of you like opening a present to find a dead puppy on Christmas Day. Or as the two year old we took said about ten times, on seeing a total of 3 reindeer and various rather shell shocked looking animals such as meerkats, an emu and wallaby, 'I don't like it'.
Expensive, tacky and quite staggering that people would like it. Left feeling distressed and ripped off. Merry Christmas one and all.

(It's interesting that people either love it or loathe it on here with nothing in between)

Visited December 2012
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
1 review
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
“A dangerous place for you and your family. Avoid”
1 of 5 stars Reviewed December 2, 2012 via mobile

We visited in December 2011 with a 1, 6 and 9 year old. I had read a review on long queues so we got there early, paid our £50! And joined the queue for Santa. The Santa part of the farm was quite good with different snow scenes etc. we were with Santa for of 30 seconds and I managed to take a better photo of the experience on my phone than they did. The kids all got presents that we didn't open until we got home- big mistake. We then moved on to the next part of the "farm" a shed with a few animals in it, some play horses in wheels that had seen better days and a play pit filled with polystyrene. Considering the money paid we expected a whole day out but after a long hour the kids were bored. There was no hot water for them to wash hands, we saw some children nearly get run over because once you paid at the kiosk you had to cross the drive into the farm to get to santas grotto and the staff looked more like bouncers than friendly, approachable elfs. Once home the kids opened their presents. The elder two were poor quality tat but were age appropriate. The 1 year old was given a toy for 3 plus and immediately put the toy in his mouth luckily not choking. I had told them twice he was only 1 but still the present was not appropriate. After speaking to a friend abouts concerns she suggested I phone Ashford borough council. I spoke to them and they knew of the farm having already visited it the week before due to complaints about danger. They did am emergency visit again the monday after our trip and said that various health and safety regulations were in breech including hand washing facilities, no signs about animals biting, the polystyrene pit, toys not being appropriate etc. I also spoke to the "manager" at the farm about the age inappropriate toy and other issues and was assured I would recieve a full refund by cheque. A year on an nothing. This year we are going to the rare breeds centre-cheaper and you can spend a whole day there without risking your health.

Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
east sussex
Top Contributor
98 reviews 98 reviews
19 attraction reviews
Reviews in 57 cities Reviews in 57 cities
37 helpful votes 37 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed November 28, 2012

We took our grandchildren - it was November and so not too crowded unlike people it appears who went in late December. It's a pretty random experience with elves, animals, bouncy castle etc. I think my grand kids must be getting blasé about animals and zoos etc as they spent most of the time in the fake snow area and charging about on play horse things. The Father Christmas experience was good with quite good presents and no queue but it was November. Not really worth the money, if they want more people to visit - lower the prices and make it a bit more organised.

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