Last weekend we were really lucky to be invited to the press launch of Shrek’s Grotto at Shrek’s Adventure! London. Combining the fun of Far Far Away with the classic December jolly of a visit to see Santa.
We had never visited Shrek’s Adventure! Before, so really didn’t know what to expect of the day. I was probably the most excited, with L only coming along as I mentioned some of the crew from Madagascar making an appearance. I was genuinely starting to get a bit concerned that he was going to hate his day. There was every chance this could be too overwhelming for him.
As we arrived at 8.30am before it was officially open we didn’t have to worry about queues or anything like that, I did love that the ticket area had plenty to see, including Donkey!
We were then directed into a lift and asked to look up. Much to L’s delight and mine, though I think I hid it well (I did not hide it at all, not one bit) Gingy snuck into the lift to say hello.
We then got to enjoy a delicious breakfast and explore a couple of rooms filled with other Dreamworks characters. There was Kung Fu with Po, karaoke with Poppy and some other Troll friends and plenty of mischief with several of the Madagascar crew.
You would normally get to explore this area at your leisure after the full Shrek experience, but this wasn’t a normal day for us.
A massive part of our day was getting to meet Santa himself. We were escorted to Shrek’s Grotto through arrivals by a delightful elf, who was absolutely amazing with L and every other child I saw him with.
The Grotto itself is small but perfectly formed. Gingy was hanging out at his Gingerbread House, the Three Blind Mice were ice skating and someone had built a suspiciously Ogre like snowman.
There were more elves hanging out in the Grotto who were quick to chat and entertain, they did enjoy a song and had excellent rap skills. Everything added to the magic and was designed to keep kids happy and occupied as they waited to see Santa.
When we were taken round to meet the big guy L was a little nervous but Santa soon put him at ease and there was plenty of space for L to sit with him without being too close, which is something I’m sure a lot of parents will appreciate if they also have nervous children.
They had a lovely chat and it didn’t feel at all rushed before there was the giving of a gift and a photo opportunity. We absolutely loved the festive Shrek gift wrap, it just went to show that everything had been thought about, down to the last detail.
After a bit more playing it was time to head off for our tour of Far Far Away.
I didn’t know much about the tour, there are a couple of video adverts on the website and a little bit to say how long it would last. So other than knowing there would be a 4D Bus Ride and then a tour through different areas with live actors, the rest was a complete surprise to us.
It was this unknown element that actually made the whole experience amazing, so I’m not actually going to talk much about what happened in the tour, I wouldn’t want to ruin the story. So there will be no spoilers here!
The bus journey is amazing, there is movement, a bit of water and a lot of giggles. When it came to the 3D element, I don’t think I’ve been to a better experience. You could look all around you and it was genuinely amazing. I think all three of us were just in awe. It was truly wonderful.
Every single actor we came across was brilliant, the parts were perfectly played and the story unfolded nicely. The audience participation was kept fun and easy and that is coming from someone who hates to participate in these things!
There are plenty of twists and turns, different things to do and see and a really nice mix between live actors, static models, projected animations and activities for us to do. The whole tour lasts about 75 minutes, but at no point does it drag or feel rushed. It has been very nicely put together.
I was worried L wouldn’t like it as the Shrek tales can be a bit dark. I mean I think they are hilarious, but when you’re five I think the humour can be a bit lost. Whilst there is certainly an element of peril, the actual tour is handled with a lot of humour.
We were also worried it may be too noisy, it’s not, not at all. Or that it would be too crowded, which again it isn’t. There were about 20 or so people on our tour and you weren’t crowded and we could always see.
The way Shrek’s Adventure has been put together meant I had never done anything like it before and the whole thing was just a delightful surprise. We all loved it, young and old, it’s just brilliant.
Shrek’s Adventure couldn’t be easier to find. It’s next to the London Eye and has a giant green ogre above the door.
Less than a five minute walk from Westminster Tube station it was one of the least stressful attractions I’ve ever had to find.
It also means there are plenty of other things to do in the immediate vicinity. See the houses of Parliament and Big Ben. Visit some of the other Merlin attractions, the London Dungeons, Sea Life and the London Eye are all right there. Last year we went on a boat tour that started next to the London Eye which was fabulous, so I know that’s an option too.
There are plenty of places to eat and all of the Southbank to enjoy. There are some delightful Christmas Markets on the Southbank at the moment, as well as the usual shops and restaurants.
My choice would always be a visit to The Hayward Gallery, it’s my favourite London gallery, I have a real soft spot for it. What we actually did was enjoy brunch at Giraffe and watch some street performers before hopping on the tube back to our car.
There is a locker room for coats and buggies so you don’t have to worry about them during your tour.
Plenty of booths to buy photos from your experience, either from meeting Santa or meeting Shrek at the end of your tour. These are your usual prices, £15 for a photo with Shrek. Expensive, but the same as most other places.
The gift shop is epic and actually not too badly priced, you can also grab bottled drinks here in case you need one.
The toilets were clean and well kept.
We all absolutely loved our day.
The only thing missing for L was an appearance from King Julien, but he was quite content to have met the Penguins of Madagascar.
He loved his tour of Far Far Away and getting to meet Shrek, who is a good monster. He joined in with everything and sang and danced with glee.
For all of us I think the bus ride was a highlight and being a big fan of the films I loved the attention to detail and all the little extras that were hidden about if you had time to look.
I thought it lasted a nice length of time. Just right for little kids and long enough for adults to feel like it was worthwhile.
I’m really glad we went and would certainly go again. It’s not a cheap day out and I’ll be honest I’m struggling with whether it’s good value or not.
My gut says it is. Everything is well done and you can clearly see throughout your visit what you are paying for. The tour is a good length of time and everyone left with a smile on their face.
I guess what I’m struggling with is that usually I would want that level of ticket price to be a day out, not a morning out. Not that they could have made this last longer as then I think the kids would struggle and the whole story would feel forced.
Aargh I am conflicted. I’m going to stick with my gut feeling an say yes it’s good value overall, I’m just trying to be honest here. At the end of the day I would certainly recommend it to anyone asking for a fun day out and I like that you can then have some time to spend exploring London.
The Grotto makes a brilliant Festive add on and is well worth doing, plus we thought the gift itself was brilliant. L got a massive sticker set that will keep him going for ages.
Tickets can be purchased in advance online or on the day. It is cheaper to buy them online. They start at £18.05 each.
You have to have tickets to the Far Far Away tour booked for the same time as your Grotto experience. Shrek’s Grotto tickets are £7.50.
It’s not often you’ll here me say this but I would strongly consider the Fast Track option, for an additional £10 per ticket you can beat the queues. With L at the age he is I would say that’s money well spent. If you’ve got older children who are better with queues then that’s obviously not an option.
You can find all the ticket information on the Shrek’s Adventure website.
I would also say make sure you’ve popped to the toilet before your Shrek Adventure starts, this goes for children and adults! No one wants to be 30 minutes into a tour that lasts over an hour and need a wee, no one.
Go ready to join in and sing along. Go and have a brilliant time.
Disclosure – we were gifted our tickets to Shrek’s Adventure and Shrek’s Grotto in return for an honest review. All thoughts, opinions and images are my own.