Yesterday afternoon we took a trip to Thursford with a large group of famiends. It was my wife and I’s first trip to the Thursford Santa’s Magical Journey into Christmas and from the moment we arrived it was an amazing experience. As we pulled into the car park I had my blue badge on display in our windscreen and we were directed down an aisle ( the parking attendant had already done some funky arm waving to show that we were disabled ) to a parking space right by the entrance/exit to the experience. This was made even more special by the final volunteer car parking attendant being Mr Pete Sadler who was a former colleague of mine who took early retirement a few years back and whom I had not been fortunate enough to bump into since. This was a lovely added bonus to the day.
From the minute we parked our LG started going crazy in her car seat. She had no idea why we were there but could see the vast array of Christmas Lights in the trees. We got my wheelchair out and as we entered the winter wonderland there was this magical feeling. Our LG was buzzing and we were greeted immediately by an elf band singing which of course we had to sing along to;
I do not want to give too much away for others who have not gone as I do not want to spoil the experience but I cannot speak highly enough about it. As we approached the entrance everywhere you looked there was something sparkly or twinkly to look at and it was a wide paved walkway (downhill which always helps). Outside the entrance were a number of different characters that you saw throughout the day, all of which interacted with the children. The experience is timed to the second with you filtered into the Journey in your groups so waiting time is minimal. The plus side to the waiting is that there is so much to see from the minute you enter that you do not really notice the standing around, from elves climbing ropes to the ceiling, flying geese and more lights than I have ever seen in one place. I’d called ahead on the day to ask whether my wheelchair or mobility scooter would be best and was advised that a wheelchair would be best for Santa’s Grotto as the turning circle in there was much smaller.
I have to say the whole way around the magical journey there was so much to see, animatronics, lights, furry polar bears, penguins, more lights, giant teddy bears, even more lights, dwarfs playing, a cheeky snowman throwing snowballs, more lights and you guessed it even more lights and finally some entertainers and jugglers. Honestly everywhere we looked there was something to see and love, now it helps to be a big kid like I am but my LG’s face was just full of smiles and it was worth every penny. We arrived at Santa’s grotto and had to wait maybe 5-10 minutes tops to see the big man. The whole way round there was masses of room for my wheelchair, I could get up close and personal to all the attractions and Father Christmas himself. For the first time this Christmas I got to see the excitement on her face as she spoke to father Christmas, receive a gift and told her what she wanted. There was plenty of space for us in with FC and we were able to position ourselves so we were all in the photograph. This said, if you wanted the freedom of going in a mobility scooter you would be ale to, it would just be cosy in the grotto, I was fortunate enough to be in a large group and have an array of pushers available.
There was plenty of room to maneuver around the cafe and into the 4D screening for the show. As if by magic as I arrived at the disabled toilet a member of staff appeared to open the door for me (although I suspect they may have come out of the door that said private just at the right time, but I’m still going for magic) to get in. As is the case with most disabled toilets it doubled as the baby change so there was the horrible smell of nappies I am getting accustomed to when using the toilet but if that was my only fault of the day you know it was brilliant.
So Thursford a massive thumbs up and well done from me. Super staff, lovely place, very disabled friendly and one very happy family. Thanks to all involved in creating this piece of magic.