Dobbies Wendover Winter Wonderland Walk-through

I wasn’t sure if I would get to do a review of the Winter Wonderland walk-through at Dobbies in Wendover / Aylesbury as there was a question mark if it was happening or not. Not just because of covid and lockdown 2, but also because it seems their staff didn’t seem very sure! I can now confirm it is happening, because we were there today!

Dobbies Wendover Winter wonderland walk-through | Santa's Grotto | Free Time with the Kids
Click for the Buckinghamshire Christmas what’s on guide

Since Dobbies took over the former Wyevale site at World’s End Nursery no-one was sure if they’d carry on the Winter Wonderland walk-through tradition. Previous years have been very popular and it’s part of the Christmas tradition locally. Whilst it is back, it has been run by a different company for the past two years. You can see what it was like under the previous management here and there were a lot of people who were worried it wouldn’t be as good.

Christmas at World’s End Nursery 2020

In previous years there’s been a giant sleigh that you can have your photo taken on which is pretty cool. Sadly they haven’t been able to do it this year, but hopefully it will be back next year!. In order to get to the winter wonderland walk-through you have to walk through an avenue of real Christmas trees which is very festive! There’s also a lovely little Christmas decorations section in the shop which the kids always like exploring!

The Santa sleigh photo booth from 2020

When we first arrived there was some confusion about what direction we were supposed to walk around in. We paid and were then sent back on ourselves and directed towards the Grotto end of the winter wonderland by the Dobbies staff. As we were walking around we found lots of people walking in the opposite direction to us. No-one was quite sure which of us was going the wrong way!

The winter wonderland walk-through at Dobbies Wendover

The winter wonderland walk-through is separated into different areas and rooms. There’s one area that’s supposed to represent Narnia, Santa’s stables, a stables with nodding donkeys and dancing chickens and lots of little houses. There’s lots of animals of all kinds and sizes all over the place. Some of these move and Smallest Child was a little bit scared by them so we skipped some of them quite quickly. There’s a pretty little mountain and stream with a slightly random collection of seal pups and arctic foxes.

There are lots of elements of the winter wonderland walk-through at Dobbies that are exactly the same as previous years. There are a few small changes though. The reindeer stables from last year has gone which is a shame as I really liked that one! Overall it will feel very familiar if you’ve been in the past few years, but it’s all lovely and sparkly and Christmass-y so does that matter??

In the middle there is a dark tunnel with glow in the dark sea creatures. This has nothing to do with Christmas but it does help to break up the snowy scenes. It’s the same set up as the past three years and the otters (or are they seals??) are now a bit creaky which made me laugh!

Dobbies Wendover Winter wonderland walk-through | Santa's Grotto | Free Time with the Kids

Club Peng

I really like the Penguin night club. This is almost identical to last year. Smallest Child found it a bit difficult to see into the main part of the “club” so I had to pick her up. Something to bear in mind if you have several children or a bad back. Slightly randomly in the top back corner there is a polar bear with Penguin’s wing hanging out of it’s mouth. Nothing says Happy Christmas like a reminder of the food chain!! Despite this it is all cute and sparkly and Smallest Child really loved it.

Dobbies Wendover Winter wonderland walk-through | Santa's Grotto | Free Time with the Kids
Dobbies Wendover Winter wonderland walk-through | Santa's Grotto | Free Time with the Kids

Then you’re through to the woodland area. Again, this is remarkably similar (if not identical) to what was here last year. There’s moving bears, a Beavers Creek, swan and deer. There’s some cute little jokes for the adults as well. Obviously Beavers Creek isn’t a joke but there’s a reference to going on a bear hunt.

Dobbies Wendover Winter wonderland walk-through | Santa's Grotto | Free Time with the Kids

Some of the photos from previous years

One big thing that is missing from last year was Santa’s workshop (which was run by what I think is a Walrus??), Santa’s cottage (complete with sleeping Toad) and sleigh surrounded by trees. You’ll find a couple of elves on the shelves dotted around too. There’s a lovely big penguin sat in the sleigh. I’m definitely not going to focus on the fact that there are no penguins at the north pole. Nope, it doesn’t bother me at all. Definitely not.

Dobbies Wendover Winter wonderland walk-through | Santa's Grotto | Free Time with the Kids
Dobbies Wendover Winter wonderland walk-through | Santa's Grotto | Free Time with the Kids

Finally you come to the Polar Bear section. There’s loads of them dotted around, including some that move. There’s two really cute ones by the Santa sign – a mum and a baby having a cuddle. Awwwww. It’s a nice way to end the winter wonderland walk-through at Dobbies in Wendover.

Santa’s Grotto at Dobbies Wendover

I’ve never actually done the Santa’s Grotto at Dobbies Wendover BUT I can tell you some bits about it and it seems to have changed from previous years. In previous years the Grotto seemed to be really open and Santa was just sat in the middle. This year everyone seemed to have their own shed to chat with Santa in. There are also two or three sheds. Does that mean there are two or three Santas?? That could just be a one-off to try and catch up on all the bookings during lockdown 2 but I was genuinely worried that kids might figure it out.

It’s £12 per child for the Grotto (at Dobbies Wendover that includes the winder wonderland walk-through but I don’t know if they have them one other branches). Slots must be pre-booked online. You can also buy various photo packages. It looks like you get fairly decent presents. Again, if anyone has been I’d really appreciate your opinion on the quality of the present.

Do you have to pre-book the winter wonderland walk-through at Dobbies Wendover?

I have seen loads of people asking if you have to pre-book the winter wonderland walk-through at Dobbies Wendover. No you don’t. In fact, you actually cannot pre-book the walk-through. Admission is on a first-come-first-served basis. It has always been absolutely heaving at weekends and during the school holidays in previous years. This year they said they will be limiting numbers. We went at just after 10 (shortly after opening) on a term-time weekday and there was quite a long queue behind me. It was quite busy inside, especially as we were walking around in both directions, and the paths are quite narrow. If you are going at peak times I would expect quite a long wait, or even to be turned away.

How long was our visit?

In total we were in there for just under half an hour. I think the length of visit really is going to depend on the child though. There were a couple of bits where Smallest Child wasn’t sure about the moving animals (she particularly didn’t like the dog) and so we moved very quickly through those bits. If you’ve got a child who wants to look at everything then you’ll be there for quite a while!

If you want to bulk out your time at the World’s End garden centre then don’t forget they have a cafe and soft play. You can find my review of that here.

Our review of the winter wonderland walk-through at Dobbies Wendover

Locally people love the winter wonderland walk-through at Dobbies Wendover. From all the comments I’d seen on Facebook I know that it’s a HUGE part of some people’s family traditions and so I’m really glad they’re still doing it. It’s a lovely little festive thing to do with the kids, but I think it’s only really going to be of interest to younger kids. I cannot see Biggest (or possibly even Middle) Child enjoying it unless they were just playing along for their sister. For 4-6 years old in particular I think this must be magical.


Admission Cost

For the walk-though alone it’s £3 per person (including adults). For the Santa’s Grotto it’s £12.


Parking / How to get there

There is free parking on site, but even today it was very busy and I struggled to get a space. I think they have an overflow car park though.

The official address is Aylesbury Road, Weston Turville, Aylesbury HP22 6BD but it’s very much on the border with Wendover.


Toilets

If you’ve read my review of the soft play then you’ll know I’m not a huge fan of the toilets. Until today I’d only been in the baby change. Today I went into the ladies and it is just as bad. There was water all over the floors behind several of the toilets, the toilet seat was broken and there’s clearly been something large on the wall that’s been removed. It’s so shabby it’s shocking!! SERIOUSLY DOBBIES – SORT IT OUT!!


Food

There’s a cafe on-site. It’s nice enough, although quite expensive. Covid restrictions will be in place so there might be a limited menu and capacity etc.