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. I can now confirm it is happening, because we were there today!
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 is now run by a different company. You can see what it was like last year by clicking here and there were a lot of people who were worried it wouldn’t be as good.
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Christmas at World’s End Nursery 2019
You’re greeted by a massive inflatable Santa at the entrance which Smallest Child had to shout at! There’s also a giant sleigh that you can have your photo taken on which is pretty cool. I saw a sign for a Christmas trail but we didn’t actually do it. 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! This year there is no Christmas market and there are no overpriced fairground rides – which is no bad thing.
There are a couple of special events such as breakfast with Santa that you can pre-book. Click on the website link further down this page, but a lot of these will now be sold out.
The winter wonderland walk-through at Dobbies Wendover
The first thing I noticed is that the layout has changed; you go backwards in comparison to previous years. If you have been before then you’ll recognise quite a few of the decorations which surprised me. I’d assumed it was going to be completely different.
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.
Next up 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. If you went last year this is exactly the same.
After this there is the Penguin night club. This is almost exactly the same as last year but there’s a slightly different setting inside. 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.
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.
What’s actually different from last year?
From this point on everything is completely new. There’s Santa’s workshop (which is 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.
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
This is where the entrance to Santa’s Grotto is. The big guy wasn’t around when I went to visit but it all seems very open. Unless I missed it completely (which is possible) it seemed as if he would just be sitting in the middle of this section. If anyone has actually been to the grotto I’d appreciate it if you’d let me know what the deal is. It’s £11.99 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). 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. You really should book online to guarantee entry. Here’s the link to their website.
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.
WARNING – During the weekends and school holidays there can be VERY long queues. If you are able to go out of peak times then I’d recommend you do. When we went (mid week, during the day) there was no queue at all. After school can be a bit better but there are still some queues.
Our review of the winter wonderland walk-through at Dobbies Wendover
4 / 5 – After all the hype and uncertainty about its return post Dobbies take-over I really wasn’t sure what to expect. 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.
For the walk-though alone it’s £3 per person (including adults). For the Santa’s Grotto it’s £11.99.
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.
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!!
There’s a cafe on-site. It’s nice enough, although quite expensive. It gets very busy, and will be even more so over the Christmas period. Try to avoid peak times if possible.
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