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“A bit of a washout!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Blithbury Reindeer Lodge
Ranked #2 of 12 things to do in Rugeley
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Attraction details
Owner description: Blithbury Reindeer Lodge, nestled in the heart of Staffordshire, is home to England's largest working Reindeer herd. Over 150 Reindeer roam freely across our beautiful 30-acre site, which opens to the public for special events throughout the year. We are the only place in the country where visitors can see, fuss and even feed so many Reindeer of varying ages and types; from babies and young calves, to sleigh-pullers and our incredibly tame show Reindeer, many of whom are stars of the small and big screen. Christmas at Blithbury Reindeer Lodge is a unique and magical experience. With hot chocolate, mince pies, an authentic sleigh ride pulled by our specially trained Reindeer and, of course, a visit to Santa, where else would you want to visit at Christmas time? We're not just for Christmas though as we open our gates for special events throughout the year. From meet the babies events to Reindeer handling and family fun days, we offer something completely different to traditional farms and zoos.
Reviewed January 3, 2013

We went as a family group of 6 including 2 young children on Christmas Eve, designed as a treat to show our grandchildren the reindeer ready to go off with Santa on his trip around the world. We had been recommended by a friend that had visited last year. Unfortunately the day was characterised by cold sheeting rain, mist and miserable low cloud.
We paid a total of £65.00 for admission; visit to Santa, present, 2 sleigh rides and family photograph added to by £15 for refreshments.
I had visited the website prior to our visit to get directions – they turned out to be incorrect (the last 2 manoeuvres did not exist!!!) – and was impressed by the photographs of herds of reindeer. I now realise this is a working reindeer farm and these ‘christmas visits’ are a limited period money-making addition – not that is wrong in itself but the result is a rather poor offering. There were attempts at creating an atmosphere - a bedraggled washing line with santa's clothes pegged on, a group of minature xmas trees, some fairy lights, and xmas songs played over a tannoy. They didn’t work… and looked incongruous against the displays of canalboat art. We were left to wander around for ourselves, though we did come across one group being shown around by a lady who was clearly the owner/operator – not sure if that was organised or a chance encounter, she didn’t offer to extend her commentary to us…..
I do need to say, both of my grandchildren enjoyed the visit – they got to get close to real reindeer, saw Santa and believed that these were the real thing – the problem with this attraction is all about adult perceptions.
After we eventually arrived, parking was fine, we were pleasantly received, though the activity area was barren and empty. On entering the yard, running with water from the rain, we encountered a miniature pony in an enclosure whose hair was plastered with rain and had a most forlorn expression. We then went to meet Santa, and despite a most pleasant ‘elf’ taking our grandchildren’s names and introducing them to Santa, he failed to remember the names, moved little, did not really engage them in conversation and was most ‘un-jolly’. Not even a ‘ho, ho, ho’!! They in return were dumbstruck and very quiet (most unusual for them – they are 3 and nearly 6). We were then ushered out to choose the childrens present. No one here to help us or guide us… The choice was ok, but very varied from a ladybird book to a set of 3 plastic cars. The activity area was unoccupied.
We then went around to look at the reindeer, all of whom were penned. In general they looked well fed and comfortable. The children got to look at them over the pen walls and gates.
We then went to have the sleigh ride. 2 of our party demurred, the rain and cold getting the better of them and the other 4 of us crammed onto one sled. We did have a good group photograph taken which was presented to us at the end of the ride and the staff were cheerful and helpful to us (they loaned us big umberellas), but the ride was over rutted concrete and lasted barely 2 minutes.
We then tried the refreshments. They were not expensive but the choice was very limited, hot drinks and cake – my ‘hot’ chocolate was okay, but not hot. There is only one toilet on the whole site.
I really do not think this was value for money. The total visit took 50 minutes.

2  Thank Topkoppite
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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290 - 294 of 298 reviews

Reviewed January 1, 2013

I went to Blithbury reindeer lodge with our toddler group. It was nothing like the website. All the reindeers were in barns so we had to lift the children up to look. Only 2 members of staff to be seen and both so miserable. We paid £5 for a 2 minute sleigh ride. We asked a friend to take a photo but the staff member snapped at us to 'just get on with the ride' . No child or people skills! It was a very cold day so we went to the heated barn for a hot drink. The same woman fron the sleigh ride stood there with a kettle. Took at least 8 mins to make one hot chocolate so we didnt bother. There were no roast chestnuts and no craft activities on offer as advertised. We done the whole place in about 20 mins. It could be so lovely but with the miserable staff and lack of facilities it really isnt worth going to.

3  Thank Julie W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 16, 2012 via mobile

My partner came across this place on the internet while looking for somewhere to take our 5 year old for a christmassy day out. The website made comparisons to Lapland, claiming to be one of the UK's top christmas attractions, with 200+ reindeer. This wasn't the case.
We contacted the park prior to visiting mentioning the reviews on TripAdvisor. The management claimed they recieve over 1000 satisfied customers each year, and were surprised at the comments. We were assured we wouldn't be wasting our time or money.
On arrival we were given a polite (although not friendly) welcome. We paid around £23 for a family of 3, this included a trip on the reindeer sleigh. In hindsight this was well over priced.
We began by looking around the 'herd' of reindeer. I use this term loosely, there were around 30 all in all, certainly not the 200 as advertised. This took no longer than 5mins, so we took several laps round just to kill a bit of time. All deer were penned in, not running free in the fields. Some were visibly poorly, with others disinterested or outwardly aggressive. Our son has had plenty of contact with animals in the past, and never been nervous. However after being barged at twice, simply for going near to the stable, he lost his bottle and so lost his interest in the reindeer.
We then went on to have a ride on the sleigh, which again was a waste of £5. At first the reindeer didnt want to go, and a farm worker said it'd probably had enough, as it'd been pulling the sled all day. This wouldn't have been a problem as we wouldn't want to stress the animal, and would have left the ride. However that idea was put to rest when a member of staff started pulling at the deer's neck repeatedly and aggressively to make it start walking. This was distressing for all of us to watch, and made us question whether the welfare of the animals was on the list of priorities of the business. The sleigh ride lasted no longer than 2mins and wasn't worth the money, or the stress on the deer.
Finally we entered the Santa's grotto, which to be fair was a standard experience. In addition staff were generally friendly and accomodating, and made an effort with the little one. There were a few interesting features, the washing line with santa's clothes pegged on, the xmas tree garden, a few fairy lights, and xmas songs played over a tanoy. These all helped change a working farm into a vaguely christmassy armosphere.
Overall, we managed to spend just over an hour here, and that was dragging it out. Could easily see and do everything in 20mins.
We found it overpriced and would expect a lot more for the entry fee (which the website would lead you to believe). We were left feeling a bit mugged really, and also slightly worried for the welfare of the animals.
Wouldn't recommend to anyone, and certainly would never take the 3hr round trip to return!

3  Thank michaelc8888
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 12, 2012

A shame the experience here doesn't live up to the website's promise!
We turned up to just 2 staff working - can't say they were "massively child friendly" as advertised as hardly spoke & never smiled.
No chance of a cup of tea, let alone "Roast Chestnuts & Hot Chocolate" as the cafe was closed, and never offered to open.
Then were told our children were "too young" to do the craft at age 3 and 4 - never offered us the chance to have a try, despite each child having an adult with them who could have helped.
We did see Santa and got a choice of a (cheap) toy and a very short ride on a Sleigh on Castors along a concrete track.
Poor Setup all round - don't waste your time :( It's a good job small children find the best in everything so the day wasn't spoiled, rather a blessing-in-disguise that the woman said she was shutting at 12.30 so we only stayed an hour!
All this after it had been pre-booked for a Nursery Trip at £15 per child.

2  Thank Sharon T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed December 12, 2012

We went as an organised nursery group of 2-4 year olds paying £15 per child. When we arrived the unfriendly lady advised she was leaving in 1hour 15mins so we could go and see Santa, do the sleigh ride and then just wander around on our own. The craft session we had paid for was closed and she said the children were too young to do it despite knowing their ages when we booked. 3 mins with Santa and a crappy cheap toy after, 15mins left waiting around in a freezing cafe which was closed so we couldn't even get a hot drink. Then the 1 min sleigh ride on a clapped out rickety old sleigh on Tarmac. No tour of the reindeers or info about them at all. A complete waste of time and money and very disappointing for all. Don't bother, go to birches valley or the snow dome both of which have reindeers to see. Disgusting really.

3  Thank Kws2605
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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