THE smell of deep-fat fried batter wafts through the air, and bright, sometimes flashing, lights can be seen in every direction.
A mixture of pop songs and Christmas jingles also compete for some attention, which means I can only be in one place – London’sWonderland.
The London attraction, which opened to the public today, can be found at Hyde Park in Central London.
It’s a sprawling maze of high-octane rollercoasters, funfair rides, wooden stalls, food vans, and other activities.
Because there’s no “real” way to explore Winter Wonderland, me and my friend walked around the venue before we decided on our choice of rides.
One attraction we made a beeline for was Winter Wonderland’s Magical Ice Kingdom.
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The Ice Kingdom is back for another year, but this time with a brand-new theme: the Nine Realms of Norse Mythology.
Inside the Viking Ice Village, which is a temperature-controlled building, more than 500 tonnes of snow and ice have been used to build mythical ice sculptures.
There are more than 250 ice sculptures on display, with some taller than five metres.
In addition to admiring the ice sculptures, there’s also an ice slide hidden away towards the end of the icy exhibition.
The slide is only small, but I whooshed down in seconds thanks to my satin skirt – but it can get very cold inside the Magical Ice Kingdom, so make sure to wear plenty of warm layers.
After we exited the Magical Ice Kingdom, my friend and I were led into a giant white marquee, which is home to Winter Wonderland’s Ice Sculpting Workshops.
At the front of the room, an ice sculptor was giving a demonstration in front of a captivated audience of young children.
For me, another one of Winter Wonderland’s highlights was the Real Ice Slide – a 35m slope.
On the Real Ice Slide, visitors are required to climb up to the top of the icy slope before heading down the slide on a rubber ring.
Donning a rather fetching helmet, I was helped into the rubber ring before being given a huge push down the slope.
Despite being over in seconds, the Real Ice Slide was a true rush of fun.
Everyone is allowed to take two turns on the Real Ice Slide before moving on to theattraction.
Another one of Winter Wonderland’s highlights is the Giant Ferris Wheel, where parkgoers are treated to spectacular views of both the park and the London Skyline.
Journeys on the Ferris Wheel last around 15 minutes, making it well worth the wait.
No trip to Winter Wonderland is complete without riding at least one rollercoaster.
That being said, I’m not a huge adrenaline junkie, so I don’t naturally gravitate toward rollercoasters and other high-octane rides.
I opted for one of the park’s highlights, Munich Looping – the world’s largest transportable rollercoaster.
With several loops, Munich Looping is a dizzying rollercoaster that stretches into the London.
I only opened my eyes once on the ride, and that was to take in the views at the ride’s highest point.
Despite my sea legs, I gave several other rides a go, including the Haunted Mansion and the Traditional Wave Swinger.
I also had a good wander through the wooden market stalls, and I watched as other parkgoers won prizes on one of the many funfair games.
Despite an evening of festive fun, I couldn’t help but notice the price of the rides and attractions.
While entry is free into Winter Wonderland in the morning and early afternoons on certain days, prices for peak times range from £5-£7.50 – and that’s just to get inside.
Visitors to Winter Wonderland will need to pay extra for rides and attractions.
For example, peak-time tickets to the Magical Ice Kingdom cost £5 per person, the Giant Ferris Wheel costs £7.50 per person, and the Real Ice Slide costs £7.50.
This appears to be the ballpark figure for rides and attractions, with many starting at around the £5 mark.
If you’re clever and book activities in advance online, you can get free entry into the park when you spend over £25.
Visitors can also purchase the Santaland Unlimited Ride Pass, which gives parkgoers unrestricted access to over 15 family-friendly rides, including Race-O-Rama, Santaland Express Train, Winter Spinner, and Racing Coaster.
The pass costs £25, and it includes free entry to Winter Wonderland.
But it’s not the price of rides and attractions that are most alarming, it’s the cost of all the additional extras.
For example, penguin aids on the ice rink cost £5 per person, and ride photos cost around £6.
These extras can all add up, especially when you’re going around the park with a group of young children.
Food and drink aren’t cheap either, with pints costing £7.25 in the Bavarian Village, while a Bratwurst and a soft drink meal deal is priced at £11.50.
Londoners will know that these prices aren’t unreasonable, they’re another purse-stinging cost to think about on a festive day out.
Despite these additional extras, Winter Wonderland is still a truly wonderful festive day out with plenty of entertainment for the entire family.
Winter Wonderland will run for six weeks from today opened today (November 17, 2023), and will last until January 1, 2024.
It will be open from 10am until 10pm every day between those two dates, excluding Christmas Day.
The nearest London Underground stations to Hyde Park are Bond Street, Green Park, Knightsbridge, Marble Arch, Hyde Park Corner, Paddington, and Victoria.
Several bus routes will also get you there, and Paddington, Victoria, and Marylebone train stations are also nearby.
Here are the best Christmas markets to visit in the UK this winter.
Later this month, Christmas by the Sea will also be returning to Blackpool.
Among several rides and Christmas activities, there will also be festive chalets, simulated snowfalls, and a snow slide.