I’d drafted up a post about how magical Christmas is and how excited children get when they visit a Santa’s Grotto in the lead up to Christmas, but quite frankly I’m so annoyed at one of the local Grottos that has just released their tickets for this year, Ruxley Manor, that I’m just going to vent.
Normally, each year my Grandad treats P1 to a visit to see Santa at his local garden centre, it’s simple but still quite magical and she always has a lovely time. I was also taken there by Nan and Grandad as a child. She’s been collecting the free Christmas tree she gets each year and P2 received her first one last year too. They charge just £6 per child who will receive a present and tree. No fee for the adult attending.
Ruxley Manor takes a drastically different approach. They charge £4 per adult going through the grotto, £9.99 for the over 3s and £6.99 for under 3s! The slot is for an hour and there’s plenty to do on the way round the grotto. Visiting Santa for us (2 adults, 1 over 3 and 1 under 3, plus 1 newborn) this year would cost nearly £27 or so I thought…
When you dig a little bit deeper into the whole thing, and I give my thanks to the lovely lady who posted about it on the local Mums Network Facebook group, it comes to light that there’s some very strict rules regarding admission. The under 3s rule is valid for all children from the very first breath of life right up until their third birthday. This shocked me and has left me so angry. How can they warrant charging £6.99 for, in our case, an 8 week old baby who will most likely be asleep the whole time and even if awake have zero memories of the event. Even by charging a £1 would be ridiculous for any aged baby in arms. I could understand being asked to leave a buggy outside or whatever but £6.99!!!!!!
Not only that, admission is on a pre-book basis only which isn’t necessarily a bad thing as it means your slot is your slot, no queuing. With said issue above it means that if you were to turn up to the event with your precious bundle, in our case after paying nearly £27, an adult would be asked to stay outside with the baby as they do not allow you to buy extra tickets on the door on the day. Nowhere on the site explains all of this so I can imagine plenty of frustrated, angry parents with tiny babies being left outside for an hour missing out on seeing their older children’s little faces light up when they see Santa. Not to mention the situation of a single parent, what will happen then? Be turned away after promising and paying for their child to see Santa. Oh and by the way, you only have 48hours to make any amendments on your tickets, despite booking months in advance.
It’s apparently all due to insurance purposes. I don’t quite understand how an insurance company would need a newborn to pay to be there?! I do understand there being a list of children or visitors being marked down for insurance purposes but not charging, not even a penny. I can’t be the only one to think that Ruxley Manor have got this whole thing wrong and have lost the whole meaning and magic of Christmas.
Money grabbing and completely inconsiderate event at Ruxley Manor that we’ll be staying well clear of. We’ll be travelling back to Essex to see Santa at a more family orientated venue. All for £12. Then visiting our local nature trail with family who have also been rather upset by Ruxley.
(I personally spoke to someone on the phone at Ruxley Manor who confirmed the above to being true. I’m completely disgusted)