Yesterday we took a Christmas trip into the City centre, with a visit to Arnotts firmly at the top of the list.
This is the first year we got to bring the girls into town and strolling through the streets, taking in all of the atmosphere, looking around at all the lights and decorations was a joy in itself.
But they real joy was the trip to Arnotts, first stop being F•A•O Schwarz on the lower floor. What a wonderful toystore, not only has it got all of your toy needs covered, but it's quite interactive for the kids, they absolutely loved the place. Lots of things to 'play with' like a Fairy Door, racecar and of course THAT piano. We'd visited New York a long time ago and like any grown kid, jumped on just like they did in the movie 'Big', so seeing our kids get their turn was pretty damn cool, and it didn't involve jetlag!
Anyway, after checking out the toystore we headed upstairs to the Christmas Experience. Lots of lovely festive pieces up there in the Christmas Store, and a photo opportunity with statue of Santa Claus. This is a really nice addition, there's a bench set up with Toy Soldiers standing each side if it, Santa perched at the end, leaving room for you to sit in and take a festive snap. There's a Tablet set up just next to it, where you're not obliged to, but encouraged to make a little donation to The St Vincent de Paul Charity. A fantastic gesture for a fantastic cause.
We then headed in to the Santa Experience, a different set up this year with all the Health Scare restrictions. Nonetheless, this is a fantastic experience, and it's free!
We were lucky enough that we were in there on a Monday afternoon, so it wasn't entirely busy, meaning there wasn't much of a queue. How it works this year is very simple, the Staff/Elf at the door takes your name and number, and will drop you a text as soon as your slot is available. For us, there was only 1 Family ahead of us so we only had to potter around the store for a few mins before being called back via text.
Inside it's all set up for a stroll around at your leisure, with plenty of photo opportunities in the likes of Santa's Sleigh etc.
Once your finished, you can join the line for a picture 'with' Santa if you wish. This is the best part of the experience. You get brought in, and are sat beside a green throne (think green screen) on which Santa would usually sit. Obviously this year with all the physical contact stuff cancelled, no Santa can actually be there for you to sit beside, or have the kids sit on his knee. A really pity, but this way has a little magic to it.. The Staff/Elf takes your picture, the kids are told to make a wish that Santa might appear prior to it, and he then appears on screen with a video message. A gift of some badges are given before you head out to purchase these optional photos.
Here is where you'll see Santa was 'actually' sitting with you (with a bit of photo shop magic.. remember that green chair!). I guess when the camera flashed, he must have flashed into the chair behind us using magic and then went back to appear on TV.. something along those lines will generally work ;) This is a great spot for people with babies or very young children who's Children don't really grasp what's going on, but still want to get the Family Photo with the big man himself. For older kids, the line about him really being magic works in this instance, unless they understand photoshop.. then you can make your own line up ha!
If you have time to pop in to yhis experience before Christmas, I'd definitely recommend it!
Slán go fóill,