As Nip#1 is 4 (& a half!) now, Santa is a big thing this year so when I was invited into The Santa Experience in the Ilac Centre (above Dunnes Stores), I jumped at the opportunity!
Living in Dublin, we didn’t have too far to travel in fairness but we still managed to be 10 mins late – getting out the door with two youngins is a tough ask sometimes!!
When we got there, we met Tara immediately. We had a good chat, and Tara asked me to complete a short questionnaire with details about my girls – Name/Age/Teachers Name/Present for Christmas etc so Santa would know these when he speaks with the girls. Only issue was Nip#1 wants everything from Nick Jr ad’s and in particular, she wants a skate board. But she’s not getting that as she’s not ready for one (or maybe we’re not!) so I was kind of stumped for what to say. I ended up writing Real Construction & anything from Frozen which she loves).
Santa Experience – the reception area.
So in we went where we were greeted by a number of elves. They were busy getting us tea & coffee and there was a great selection of sandwiches & cakes to choose from. When I walked in, an elf was sitting beside Nip#1 chatting away asking questions while Nip#1 coloured in a picture. That elf – whose name I asked but have since forgotten – was excellent with our two nips.
Our Elf Names.
Our elf told us our ‘Elf Names‘ which was great fun – so for the next 35 days or so, The Goods will officially be known as:
- Me = Jolly Toe-Bells
- The Missus = Twinkle Angel-Pants
- Nip#1 = Twinkle Peppermint
- Nip#2 = Squeezy Superplum
Can you figure out your elf name? Have a look below and please please leave a comment below including it 🙂
First stop – Santa’s Post Office.
We were brought through very fast it has to be said. Let the excitement begin! Nip#1 was a bit shy going in but bit by bit she got into the spirit. The first room we where brought to was ‘Santa’s Post Office‘. Here we could see letters to Santa from children all over the world. There was a map of the world with lights to show us the route Santa would take on Christmas Eve. On the other wall, there was a list of countries with lights beside their name. The light would go on when a letter from that country arrived from a child there. There were loads of letters in little cubby-holes for Santa (each cubby-hole represented a country & they were all in alphabetical order too).
I have to say, the elf behind the counter was absolutely brilliant. Full of energy with great acting, she was really really entertaining and she set the tone for me.
The Reindeer’s Stable.
Nip#1 loved this part and even rubbed the reindeers nose. We saw Comet & Blizten and Dancer & Rudolph (& a baby Cupid) and the elf had us laughing with his stories about them and everything that happenes in the stables.
The Sleigh Room
This was the most entertaining part for me. The two elves here where deadly – especially the guy from Cork, he was excellent. Flashing lights, great stories from both elves, an energy ball which when touched by hand, produces the ‘Neo-cooley-ulium‘! Yep, that’s right, the ‘Neo-cooley-ulium‘ – brilliant!! (Basically this is what powers Santa’s sleigh in case you were wondering!!), a phone call from Santa & a check list by the elves prior to leaving for the North Pole. Nip#1 jumped into the sleigh with The Missus and she was ready to go & see Santa.
The North Pole
Greeted with a snow blizzard while still in the sleigh, we were brought into see an amazing North Pole. Christmas trees, Santa’s skies (which he uses in his spare time and to come and see us), Polar Bears, Penguins & even Squirrels were waiting for us. Thanks to the snow and polar bears, this room in particular made the whole Christmas feeling come alive for Nip#1. She knew what was next – the man himself!
Nip#1 eye’s nearly popped out of her head when she walked in and saw Santa sitting in the corner! Then went shy. It was very funny. She has also drawn a picture of Santa which the elves gave to him.
He spoke to the girls first (there was another family sitting to the left of us). He knew the girls names, & favourite shows etc from the form I’d completed earlier. All of which was mind blowing for her. Such innocence!
Santa’s room was dam impressive. Had a really warm effect. If you aren’t feeling the Christmas vibe just yet, you will after you leave this room! Fire burning, tree in the corner, a double bed and a big comfy couch directly opposite my long lost brother, Er, I mean Santa of course!!
Both the girls got a great, age appropriate present which was brilliant. The Missus also got a present of make up from Paese Cosmetics which was a lovely touch. Jokingly I said to Santa ‘Where’s mine?!’ to which he replied ‘Don’t you worry, you’re getting a trip to the barbers!‘ – it’s fair to say he was pretty impressed with my beard….. if not a little bit intimidated !!!
The last room before you leave is where you can purchase the high quality large photo of you & your family with Santa. They cost €10 and are well worth it. The Nips were also given ‘Reindeer Food‘ to hang on the tree until Christmas Eve and then leave out for Santa to give to them. It’s a lovely way to leave and the kids were over the moon holding onto the presents Santa just gave them like their life depended on it!
Hit or Miss?
Absolute Hit. As a parent, leaving I felt amazing. Warm, content and so happy for the girls. Nip#2 was just too young to understand what was happening but she was a happy camper all morning. Nip#1 really loved it albeit after a little ‘I’m too shy‘ moment at the very start. (She isn’t one bit shy normally – she does however play up to it when it suits her!). This however soon faded thankfully – cause it didn’t the year before!
Bookings & Parking.
Simply go to The Santa Experience website to book. Children are €10 and it’s €3 for the grown ups. To see the smile on your little ones faces during & when leaving, that’s chump-change!
As for parking, we parked in the Jervis Shopping Centre and strolled across Henry Street into the Ilac Centre and it’s above Dunnes Stores. You can also park in the Ilac Car Park which you can access from Parnell Street.
BTW – You don’t have to come to Dublin to enjoy this experience as it is also open in Cork & Limerick too.
Disclaimer – I did not receive any payment for this review nor was I asked to write one. However, all cost for entry & photos etc were waived & I’D LIKE TO SAY A MASSIVE THANK YOU TO TARA for the invite & to SAMANTHA FOR the intro.
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