Santa’s Cove – Liffey Valley… Worth €25 A Child?

On Friday we were invited to the preview of Santa’s Cove – located in Pirate’s Cove, Liffey Valley. 

They open to the public today, Sunday 19th. 

We do a Santa Experience every year so we were excited to go along to this new one and see what it was like. 

First impressions? The first sentence out of my 6 year old’s mouth was “It doesn’t look very Christmassy.” 

This was as we were lead in to the waiting area – you know where all the bouncy castles and big bouncy slide is in Pirate’s Cove.. You wait in there for your slot. (Well, that was the idea but it ended up being a free for all time wise.. I’ll explain in a minute). Other than Christmas music blasting, it was just Pirate’s Cove.

It was freezing cold – always is in Pirate’s Cove I think. I know the kids are warm bouncing around but give a little thought to us parents.. Anyway, there was just benches and tables sort of squished in to one corner all over the place for parents to sit while the kids bounced away. Not very Christmassy. 

I had booked a 7.45pm slot and the previous night, had filled out their online form giving some details about the kids for Santa. The usual – their names, ages, something personal about them, what they wanted for Christmas etc.. however, the slots all went out the window – the reason being I have no idea – and it was a free for all. Everyone just started queueing for the Santa Experience and nobody at any stage asked for my booking reference or kids details. 

You go over to the other section of Pirate’s Cove to queue. There’s a series of domes (all on top of each other) with all the separate experiences. The first is a ball pit that the kids go through. I was left a little confused about where or how I meet the kids at the other side of it so sort of squished through 2 domes to meet them. 

The second is the sleigh ride. It’s right up beside the ball pit and there’s not much room to queue or any indication really of where you’re supposed to queue, so it was a bit squished and confusing and meanwhile the kids were jumping back in to the ball pit and getting in to trouble (from me not staff now!) for throwing balls out. 

We were put on to the sleigh ride with another family sitting in front of us which means we didn’t particularly get a great view of the screen in the front showing the reindeers flying. There was no story from the Elf in the lead up to the sleigh ride or anything, it was just sit on, belt up and it swings left and right in the air, and then get off. 

The next dome was for scooping reindeer food into a little Reindeer food box. The kids enjoyed scooping it in although I found the boxes hard to close and one ended up falling through all over the floor a while later. (That might seem like picking at details a bit I know, but it all adds up) 

Next was probably the kids favourite bit. Making decorations. There was tubs of – moon dough type stuff?- I don’t know exactly.. and little decorations to stick it on to. The kids loved it and the elves there were extremely helpful, kind and patient with the kids. They were at that part for a while. 

Next there was a little section with hot chocolate and pies on offer and a little section to sit down. The boys got a hot chocolate each with the option of marshmallows. I’ve read from other reviews that this is where Mrs. Claus is and chats to the kids. I didn’t notice a Mrs. Claus and there was no chatting.

The next dome had the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen at a Santa Experience. Naughty and Nice machines. The room was sort of smoky, it was fairly full and a bit claustraphobic, and the machines had loud, robot type voices. I wasn’t sure what we were supposed to do. An Elf was explaining to me but honestly I couldn’t hear her. The kids eventually sat on a chair. The machine didn’t do anything that I or the kids noticed, but the Elf told them they made the nice list and handed them a lolly and certificate. (The certificates have a blank line for the childs name but nothing was filled in so it was just a blank certificate.) 

Lastly was the wait for Santa. At this point, in all honesty, me and my Husband were dying to finish up. It was a cold dome, the noise of the naughty and nice machines was going through my head, christmas music was blasting loudly aswel over that, and in all honesty the kids – while they were having fun – weren’t blown away by anything so far. 

There was 2 or 3 domes all with a Santa. We, thankfully, didn’t have to wait long and in we went. 

Now, the Santa was a lovely man. 

However, he kept pulling his beard down dangerously close to his mouth so he could talk properly. I was watching and thinking to myself “Oh God please don’t let that beard slip down leave it alone!!!) Honestly, I was petrified it was going to fall down. 

Having filled out all those details that nobody took, Santa didn’t know anything about the kids so I sort of had to prompt. He was very quiet and the kids couldn’t really hear him, and likewise he couldn’t hear my kids well and I had to repeat what they said every time. It was just a bit off. Like I said though, he was nice and friendly, but certainly not jolly. 

The kids got their gift (A fidget spinner, pack of jumbo minion playing cards and an INSANELY LOUD police car) and we left, picking up a family photo on the way out. Again, I know it might sound like picking when I say the police cars are insanely loud but I mean, consider my sanity at home PLEASE.

I asked my kids if they enjoyed it and they said yes but again, nobody was jumping up and down about anything. I asked if they enjoyed seeing Santa and this is the responses I got – 

My 6 year old said “I don’t think that was the real Santa.” I asked why and he said his beard didn’t look real. 

I asked the 8 year old the same question and he said “I knew it wasn’t the real Santa because every time he tried to talk he pulled his beard down.”  FFS Santa come on! 

I explained that sometimes when Santa is very busy that they send ‘helpers’ to these type of things to see the kids and report back. They both seemed ok with that but I shouldn’t have had to have that conversation coming out of a Santa Experience.

There was no magical warm fuzzy feeling leaving the place at all.

It’s €25 per child and €12.50 per adult. 

For a family of 4 that’s €75. 

Is it worth €75? 

No. 

There are so many established Santa Experiences out there that cost the same amount or less. 

We are doing our third year at Christmas Island this year. For a family of 4 it’s costing us €67.50 and it’s a lovely, fun, magical experience that we all enjoy as a family. We’ve done Causey Farm before aswel which was lovely, and I watched a lot of snapchats yesterday from bloggers who were invited to Luggwoods and it looked amazing.

I understand it’s their first year and that their will be hiccups and adjustments, but I feel they’re looking for the same money as other experiences without as much to offer. 

I wasn’t going to write about it at all considering I don’t recommend it. I felt guilty, but then realised If I was looking to book something this year, the first thing I would do is search reviews. 

Obviously that was just my experience and doesn’t mean other people won’t like it. 

The staff / elves were all lovely and I’m sorry that I didn’t have better things to say about the overall experience but maybe reviews like this will help improvements to it and I wish them all the best. 

Sorry!!