In 2015, 65,000 excited visitors saw the big man himself in Wish at Fota Island Resort and this year with “Discover” they hope to welcome 75,000 visitors. Even though it is one of the most successful and largest experience for Santa in Cork if not Ireland you do not feel these crowds, that you are being herded through or better still that you are not the most important guest to see Santa! Fota Island have stuck to their principles and at all times provides a five star experience for each and every guest no matter how big or small!
In previous years it has been voted the Best Santa Experience by readers of Primary Times, and it also came out on top in a vote by listeners of The Ray D’Arcy Show. It is easy to see why because rather than becoming complacent in their success or dolling out the same as last year they have turned the whole thing on its head and offers an exciting and enchanting new experience to delight returning and new visitors alike.
So last Sunday we checked in at the Alpine Lodge and then ventured into to see Santa first which was perfect as we had very little delay (not that a delay would have mattered as the kids were very well entertained by Santa’s Elves to get us in the festive mood). After a magical stroll to Santa’s house we were greeted by a warm fire, an elf on hand to help with the photos, and Santa himself in the jolliest of moods displaying his usual encyclopaedic knowledge of what all children want for Christmas and their hobbies.
Santa knew Saoirse and Shanea love Irish dancing while Thomas is a keen hurler. The children were star struck and even our little 7 month old who is often strange with others sat on his lap in wonder and Santa seemed to be an old pro with babies… These are the most magical moments you will remember forever as a family.
Santa joyfully instructed his friendly elf, Pudding, to take a photo and hand over some presents but before we were off he whispered to the children not to open the presents till they get to the car as they were magic and may disappear…..
It was great to see Santa so early because after that we travelled around at our own pace. No one’s calling you on or holding you back. In our own time we skipped down Candy Lane as instructed by an eager elf and when I say we skipped oh boy did we skip as my eight year old daughter full of the joys of Christmas ensured we did so. Now for the adventure!
We drank some shrinking juice and entered a teleporter which was no amateur model. The teleporter had a lot of buttons to push and switches to be turned on before we arrived at our final destination, The North Pole, which was by far the greatest surprise of all. For those of you who have only dreamed about the North Pole, it is just as you would imagine, quaint and colourful little houses with interesting Christmassy places to visit. A Christmas helter skelter takes centre stage of this enchanting wonder land of fun. We received snow cones and hot chocolate while we were entertained by all the elves busy at work but eager for us to join them. There is a reason why Fota Island carry out auditions with such high standards for their elves as they must be the bubbliest and happiest creatures who seem love their roles.
We finally dragged the children away from the magic of the North Pole by coaxing them with some promises of more fun in the market but in order to get back to Cork we had to venture through a special tunnel which created enormous excitement and shrieks of delight as our teeth and skin changed colour, we presume we were just returning to normal size…
After about two hours since the start of our journey we are finally greeted by the fresh air and dark skies of Fota Island golf course in order to end the evening with the Christmas markets, ready for more hot chocolate and a go on the merry-go-round. There is also an opportunity for hot food or a chance to pick up some Christmas gifts if they are not too tired after all that excitement.
A friend of mine recently informed me that she loved Discover at Fota Island because with one older child and two teenagers Discover is a rare experience for Santa in Cork that they will all enjoy and she does not want to give up these moments. I think that’s why it stands out the most as it is truly a place for both young and old. Discover will wrap around you like a soft fleece blanket and protect you against these cold winter days filling you with a warm fuzzy feeling inside. It is a place where for a brief few hours’ adults can be children again and together with their little ones discover all the joys of this magical time and beautiful moments that will last a lifetime….
Discover continues at Fota Island Resort until December 23 – checkout https://www.fotadiscover.ie/santabooking for booking opportunities and to see Santa in Cork!
PS. It is perfectly suitable for buggy’s which come in handy if not just to carry the presents(which were as always top quality)!