We looked up a few places to go with our 1.5 yr old daughter to see Santa. They are all expensive enough but this is Ireland and that's what we are used to here, you either pay the price or go nowhere. Anyway, we decided on Loughwell Farm Park, mainly because I read a review here saying that there was plenty for children of any age. I tried ringing to find out if we needed to book or if they had a professional photographer for photos with Santa but only got through to an answerphone where they said to leave details and they would ring back. We headed off anyway and got there without any return call.
We went to the entrance and were asked did we have a booking. We said no, but could we not just pay now. The girl said "Of course, no problem, that's €10". I said ok and then asked did that include the child getting to see Santa. To which she replied "Oh no, if you want to see Santa, it is €36". Seeing the half confused, half annoyed face I now had, she immediately added that any child going to see Santa was €20. So after travelling about an hour to get there we paid up and went through hoping it would be worth it. It wasn't.
We hadn't stopped on the way to get dinner because the website said they had a restaurant and tea rooms with full menu. They don't. They have tables and chairs in a large shed which also has the indoor play facilities. It being a damp day the place was packed and very noisy. The only thing that a child under 5 could go on was a small partitioned off corner with a few sponge filled toys in it. There were 3 boys in there, about 7 or 8 years old jumping around so we couldn't take our 1.5 yr old in. The 'menu' was fish, goujons or nuggets with chips, or curry or strogonoff with rice at €9 for an adult or €6 for a child's. What we got was eatable, what we didn't get didn't even look that.
After eating we went over to the other shed where Santa was. We had been given a ticket and a time when we paid. We gave the ticket to an elf in the Santa shed and she gave us a number ticket so we would know when to go in. The only problem was there was nothing to tell you what number they were up to. We had to go up to the next elf and ask her was it our turn and we had to do that about 5 times. Anyone could see that a simple chalkboard or something similar could have been used to let people know what number was next. Anyway, there was a nice nativity crib, some elf things for photos and a Christmas shop. There was also another corner for small children here but once again it was full of big children. I was given a cup of tea but no mince pie which I only realised were there on the way out. Assuming that this is what the extra €3 charge on an adult is for I would have thought they should be a bit more forthcoming with this. Anyway, not the end of the world.
So we got in to see Santa and he was very good. The wee one was frightened of him at first but soon came round and he chatted to her and shook her hand and was very good with her. We got a ticket for her to pick a toy from a selection which is a good idea only that it was basically all toys for older children. Anyway, she got a wooden moose and we went outside. Nearly all the outside activities are for older children and they are all on sand which on a damp day means the child will get covered in sand, the car will get destroyed with it and everything is wet anyway, so we went to look at the animals.
After seeing the animals we headed home. I'd say including eating we weren't there much more than an hour. The original €10 would be about the value I would put on it, including seeing Santa. €20 would have been a lot. €36 was just extortionate.
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