Yeah, we did that Brit thing and went to Winter Wonderland because we enjoy getting drunk on over priced alcohol in a forced fun atmosphere.
Ok, so it was only a little over priced and the fun wasn’t forced, that was genuine. It was a beautifully festive day, surrounded by happiness and friendship, with sunshine and a crisp chill in the air (which allowed for my tartan scarf and big, square, tortoise shell sunnies for extra sass).
The three essential things I found to make your trip to Winter Wonderland as stress free as possible are:
A) leave enough time to get about and explore.
B) go with good company.
C) go in the mind that you will end up spending, so budget accordingly.
We got into town at about 3pm, which left us plenty of time to wander about and adventure through China Town in search of bubble tea. We didn’t find the bubble tea but got lost instead. After accepting the plight of panicked giggles, we found the last few friends we were meeting and went for a classy little Pizza Hut (because free salad wins). Then it was to circumnavigate the tubes, avoiding the delays on the Piccadilly line (the line that takes us directly to Hyde Park). Luckily, one of the guys was like a tube bible, so we were safe in the transport department.
Top Tip #1: TIMING AND TRANSPORT. Head out earlier in the day and on a week day if possible. When we finally arrived at around 4.30pm, it was already dark (thanks daylight savings), so all the lights were on and there were few queues. I downloaded a couple of train apps too: ‘London Underground Free…’ and ‘Trainline’. This definitely came in handy when trying to co-ordiante eight people getting on a train at different stops and alerted me to the Underground delays and hold ups.
There were ten of us in total. Yup, a big, ole group of friends, some I haven’t seen in a long time and some I haven’t even been out with socially before! I was so glad everyone came along. I loved being able to spend some actual, quality time with them all, just chillin’ out maxin’, relaxi’ all cool… if you don’t know that reference you can’t sit with us (and if you don’t know that one, we can’t be friends.)
Honestly, we had a freakin’ ball. There was something for everyone. We didn’t book any of the bigger attractions, instead we went on a couple of the rides and had a go at the side shows. We paired up on the Dodgems, so we paid £3 each, as it was £6 per car and we laughed all the way round. Each round on the bumper cars was quite long too, so we all came off smiling, sporting a little whiplash and feeling like we got our monies worth of fun. We also went on the neon ‘Fun House’.
There are 3 ‘Fun House’ attractions in the park: the bavarian one (the biggest), a pirate one and the neon one. It was a spur of the moment thing and not everyone went in, but for the six of us that did, it was well worth the fiver we paid. We laughed so hard we came out staggering. It’s slightly dangerous and if you care a lot about looking cool, suave or like you have your shit together then don’t bother with it. All poise goes out of the window when you have to run through a motorised hamster wheel spinning in the opposite direction to the way you need to go or attempt to climb stairs that move in opposite directions to one another. We all grew closer as people after than encounter.
Top Tip #2: CONTACT. Swap numbers with everyone in your group and have an active group message going. That way if you get split up or want to do different things, you can find each other again. Also, download the Winter Wonderland app. It’s free and called ‘HPWW’. It has a map of the attraction on it and is so freakin’ handy.
– AND –
Top Tip #3: PRICING. If you plan on buying your food and drink there, buy it from the bog standard vendors. They price it up on the fancy bars, such as the carousel bars. Only by 50p or so, but still. Also, if you pre-book attractions, it doesn’t seem to make them any cheaper, it just makes it easier to access them when it’s busy. A lot of the stalls are set at “London prices” so buy what’s necessary. I had to tell myself that a Llama pillow, no matter how cute, was not necessary.
A few people went home and the few of us that remained continued to have a blast. That was until about 9pm, when it turned arctic. A few of us bundled up in layers, a few of us began to freeze, so we went on a hunt for hot drinks. Their speciality seemed to be mulled wine and hot, spiced, toffee apple cider. I didn’t try the wine, but the cider was scrummy. It was very sweet, but the portions were small and it did the trick. They do have lids too, so you can watch where you’re walking and not where you’re spilling your drink.
It was then a trip to the fire pits to toast some marshmallows. One of the guys had never toasted one before, so we insisted he went first… he promptly set fire to it much to some of the onlookers dismay. Well, it gave everyone a giggle. He wasn’t keen on the taste of burnt, sugary goop, just FYI.
Top Tip #4: CLOTHING. Layer up. As the night goes on the temperature WILL suddenly drop. Whilst there was a few bars with heating and the fire pits, it’s better to have layers you can throw on to battle the rapidly falling temperatures. I mean, it is England after all. What do you expect? Also, they lay down a hard flooring under the whole attraction, so it shouldn’t be muddy, even though it is in a park.
Then, a week later I was laid up in bed with a cold, wishing I was back there with my pals, rather than coughing up a lung and stagnating in my own germs because I could barely lift my head from the pillow. You win some, you lose some I guess.