I’m not sure if I got ahead of myself but after such a good experience at the Meadowhall Wish Upon a Star with Santa, I booked the Peter Rabbit santas grotto at Trafford Centre in Manchester. I expected a similar sort of experience and we all love Peter Rabbit, don’t we?!
Watch this video for behind the scenes footage:
We stayed overnight in Manchester and this was our Christmas trip. On the first day it was Legoland and the grotto, second day Manchester museum, markets and Ice village. This grotto visit was booked for after Legoland at around 4pm. By this time Eric was tired as we had left Sheffield earlier that morning, been playing in Legoland all day, and he doesn’t seem to nap anymore. But at £20 for tickets we still went ahead with it.
Where to find the grotto + price
It was me, Ollie and Eric… Eric is 3. The tickets cost £8.50 child, and £5.50 adult. The grotto is outside the Great Hall (where the bigggg staircase is and the food court!). It’s a bit confusing to find as there’s a sign not really explaining where it is, but the marquee for the grotto is just behind the big wheel in the Alpine Village.
How it started
We were greeted by an elf who checked our tickets, etc., it wasn’t busy and we were first in line. The elf took a photo of us but didn’t really interact with Eric at all and so we just waited for about 15 minutes which was boring. The door we were stood by, though, was really pretty and Peter rabbit-esque so it’s lovely for photos.
Meeting Peter Rabbit
When it was our time to go in the elf asked Eric to knock on the door but he was too scared, another little girl did and Peter Rabbit opened it, welcoming us inside. I honestly was not sure what to expect in terms of costumes, characters, etc., but the first room with Peter Rabbit inside was really magical. I would have loved more time to look around in it in general; perhaps you could have stayed behind at the end, I’m not sure. But it was well thought out and really cute.
All the kids sat down in front of Peter Rabbit whilst he told us about what he’d been doing. I didn’t find him to be overly enthusiastic… Eric was sat right at the front, on my knee, next to two older children and Peter seemed to pay them a lot more attention and eye contact than Eric; I did feel we were ignored a little. It was a bit awkward and felt like he was following a script… not very spontaneous or overly “wow”, Eric lost attention and started to fidget even though it was only about 5 minutes in there. At the end of his bit, Peter opened a magical secret tunnel to the next room. The tunnel had been there the entire time, but was hidden by suitcases and a bookcase! That was pretty good and even I wasn’t expecting that.
The kids loved climbing through the tunnels which were made from real wood. The tunnels went through Ito Jemima Puddleducks kitchen. This was the last room and it also had a den for Mr Tod. All the parents and children sat around a bit table whilst Jemima spoke to us, chatted with Mr Tod and got decorations for the little ones to decorate. It was a Christmas tree biscuit but if your child can’t have egg there is a little wooden decoration as an alternative (we did this one and it was really nice quality).
I did find that during this time it was a bit bland and confusing at times, Jemima was chatting away to Mr Tod which is, of course, part of the acting but they were talking too quietly amongst themselves for anyone to really understand what was going on. At 3, Eric didn’t have a clue that they were acting and so ignored them thinking they were just chatting. I do think Jemima and Mr. Tod should have really used this time to engage with everyone and excite us all.
Once everyone had finished their decorations we all went and sat in Mr. Tod’s den. It was really nice in there with a pretend fire stove, squirrels on the roof and fairy lights; very cosy… but it was a big group so a bit of a squish. It all got a bit awkward, really, because it felt as if we were forgotten about. Whilst our group was sat in this den, more people came through the tunnel to sit and decorate biscuits/decorations… so Jemima and Mr. Tod did their part with that group again, leaving us in the den. I’m not sure if something went wrong or it is always that way but it felt like our group had been pushed out of the way to the side in the den to make room for another group.
Mr. Tod was probably the best actor of them all, funny, believable and improvising (or at least he made it seem that way), he got the adults involved as well as the kids. He didn’t speak to us for long before it was time to walk through “the forest” to see Santa. This took maybe a few seconds then we all waited in line in front of a door to see Santa.
We were second in line, the first family went straight through… as we waited the elf tried to chat to us but was really awkward and asked if Eric was shy then didn’t say anything else. A few seconds later the door opened again with another elf ready to take us to Santa. I was a bit like, ‘hang on a minute, the other family just went to see Santa…?” then it clicked they must have about 5 santas or more all in individual rooms… it really took the magic away and at that point I felt really disappointed. I know it’s probably good in terms of queuing times but I just felt like I was in a production line.
Santa was meh. Eric was scared as soon as we went in and I sat next to Santa. Santa encouraged Eric to sit with him but it just felt like he was pressuring Eric… it was awkward because the elf didn’t get involved, she stood in the corner by the camera just waiting for him to go to Santa so they could take a photo and move on. He asked if Eric had been good for Christmas (yawn) and what he wanted then gave him a wrapped gift… then we left. I was glad that part was over as it wasn’t to our tastes at all and I much preferred the experience at Meadowhall where they really encouraged Eric and didn’t pressure him at all but oh well, I’m sure many other kids loved it.
We didn’t get a photo but you do have to pay extra for them.
- The first room (Peter Rabbit) decor
- The hidden tunnel and doorway, really cute and such a good idea to get play involved
- Good alternative to a biscuit for the craft part
- Gift was nice; a Peter rabbit book.
Not so good:
- Not super enthusiastic acting
- Peter Rabbit could have been better
- I felt rushed after crafts and sat in Mr. Tod den not knowing what was going on
- Santa part was strange and didn’t like it
- Price is expensive for 3 it was £20
I expected a lot more for the price and because, I think, with such a famous theme of Peter Rabbit I had high hopes of it being really amazing. It wasn’t bad, I’m very picky but I think that there were parts that could have been a lot better. I wouldn’t recommend it as a special trip from Sheffield and think you could save your money, although it is a unique experience in general.
I could have completely removed the grotto part of it with Santa, though, personally (but still with the gift, haha). I’m glad we went as it’s not every day you meet Peter Rabbit; but Eric hasn’t mentioned it since.
Have you been? If you have, what did you think??
Thank you for reading <3