Now, the whole point of the 12 Dates of Christmas is to remind you guys that dating isn’t simply a summer activity! The First Date focussed on the London aspect of the Challenge, and so the Second Date focusses on the Christmas aspect – with a date venue you can only visit a few weeks of the year – Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland.
Observant Twitter followers will know I actually visited Winter Wonderland a few weeks ago on my date with The Legal Eagle. Having visited London Dungeons with the Eagle, I had actually planned Winter Wonderland as a separate, second date that day, but when Guy Fawkes cancelled at the last minute due to car problems, The Eagle chivalrously changed his plans for the evening to escort me to Winter Wonderland.
As a non-Londoner, I’d actually never heard of Winter Wonderland before – though in the weeks running up to December, whilst planning the 12 Dates of Christmas, it was a date venue suggested time and time again.
I’d heard mixed reviews of the sprawling Winter fair, and if I’m honest my enjoyment of Winter Wonderland was largely thanks to The Eagle and how well I had got on with him that day. By the time we walked to Hyde Park (from Trafalgar Square, where we’d eaten late lunch), we’d been on our date for around four hours, and thanks to the fear-factor of the London Dungeons, were comfortable in each other’s company.
As we entered Winter Wonderland (passing statues of ogres, and oddly sexual paintings and models of Christmas nymphs) we teased one another, and I continue to banter with the Eagle about his hideous Movember tache. He posed by an odd sign requesting we ‘Feel this!’ (pointing at the aforementioned tache), and we laughed at the tacky stalls, selling every stocking filler imaginable.
Entry to Winter Wonderland is free, however it is NOT a cheap date!
Once you’ve navigated your way through the colourful German Christmas market-like tat stalls, you are surrounded by fairground games, the average price of which is £5 per person. With the average game time barely scraping five minutes, it’s not hard to see how keeping entertained inside the fairground quickly adds up.
As Winter Wonderland was only the second part of our date, and not the full focus of our entertainment for the day, The Eagle and I were happy simply walking around and chatting for the majority of the date. (And because we were so engrossed in conversation, I have to apologise for not taking more pictures!)
We did try an archery stall – where Eagle popped three of the five target balloons, only to wait nervously to see if I could out Robin-Hood him! (I also popped three, leaving his masculinity intact!)
The fair is carefully laid out, twisting and turning into various dead ends, so it’s hard to find your way out … yet another way of spending more money! As we wound our way through Hyde Park, we stumbled upon a tacky-looking Fun House – similar to the one in the final scenes of the film Grease. It had an Alpine Haus theme. At first we made our way up the front of the house, walking along balance beams, across stepping stones, on spinning platforms, and through punch bags.
The house itself wasn’t overly challenging (The Eagle spent most of his time adding extra challenges to himself, like running through backwards, or skipping!) but it proved hilarious. It was filled by odd paintings of women with boobs popping out of their clothing, and odd men blowing impotent bubbles out of their mouths. Genuinely, words can’t do justice to just how odd the Fun House was.
Once we were through the various levels, we ended up in a section where we were ushered into a room with a group of tourists. They closed the door on us, and we were in what felt like a caravan, decorated to look like an alpine bar. There were safety rails all around, suggesting the caravan might move. A statue with a mechanical moving jaw ‘spoke’ to us – the barman. And then the window flew open because of an ‘alpine storm’ and the radio went crazy. The whole time, behind the bar, a stuffed squirrel brandished a shot gun. The apprehension of what was about to happen was probably the scariest part of our day (scarier than the Dungeon!) because it all seemed so odd and dodgy! I thought the caravan was about to drive off and we’d end up with our organs being harvested!
We made it out of the alpine bar alive and then into various rooms which were meant to make us feel like the roof was falling down, or that we were moving up and down. The whole experience was one of the oddest of my life! And in an odd way, probably the only entertainment in the park worth a fiver (for pure comedy value!).
After the fun house we decided to go on a mini rollercoaster, getting so involved in our conversation that we forgot to follow the park Token etiquette (you buy vouchers, then exchange the vouchers for different ride tokens, then go on the ride). We got to the front of the queue still clutching our vouchers (and luckily were shown mercy so we didn’t have to queue up again!).
After the rollercoaster (not exactly a white-knuckle ride but a bit of fun in the city), we headed to the German bar for a glass of mulled wine.
With so many different things to do, there’s something for everyone at Winter Wonderland (just ask Liam from One Direction, who was spotted on a date there this week). If I’m honest, I thought it was pretty tacky. Which is fine, as long as you embrace that, and that’s what you want out of an afternoon or evening there.
It is tack central! Cheapo giant soft toy prizes, on games you don’t have a chance in winning! And it is overpriced – if Eagle and I hadn’t been on the second half of a date, I don’t think our four ‘activities’ would have made for an fulfilling date. We’d obviously already eaten too – so our three activities and one glass of mulled wine cost £40.
I would probably go back at some point, and there are other aspects we didn’t investigate – like the ice rink and circus – but I wasn’t hugely impressed, and think there are better things you could spend your money on for a London winter-themed date.
I know a number of the other EDs are thinking of heading to Winter Wonderland this Christmas, so they might try out some of the other activities, and have different experiences (which will obviously also be written up on the blog!). But as far as I’m concerned I don’t think Winter Wonderland is London’s best winter date location by any stretch!
Miss Twenty-Nine xxx