How to survive Winter Wonderland with kids

The last time I've been to Hyde Park Winter Wonderland was in 2017 and my, it seems to grow bigger and bigger each year! This year we were invited to attend Winter Wonderland press day to review the experience and got some free tickets to shows and rides to be able to do this. We went as a family - mum, dad, a six year old and a toddler - and on this post I wanted to share a few tips on what to expect and how to make the most out of Winter Wonderland if you have kids. I've also written a quick guide to best Winter Wonderland things to do you might want to check out!

Overall, Hyde Park Winter Wonderland is a great family day out. It is big, and hectic, and truth be told, rather expensive, but the kids loved it. Us parents, well, we had fun too.

winter wonderland big wheel

We spent the whole day at Winter Wonderland, from around 10.30AM to 5-6PM.  I'd recommend starting your day early, especially if you are bringing a pram! There were hardly any queues in the morning and early afternoon. Late afternoon and especially after sunset it started to get extremely busy and you could hardly walk around without bumping into lots of people. By 5PM the kids were knackered so it was time to go. 

What attractions are there?

There were plenty of things to see. My personal favourites were the Magical Ice Kingdom and the Giant Wheel.

Magical Ice Kingdom is an incredible collection of ice sculptures, this year in the theme of A Christmas Carol by Dickens. It is just amazing. Beautiful, mesmerising and filled with great photo opportunities. There was an ice slide, which was great fun, and ice thrones to take photos on. It was -10C inside, so wrap up extra warm and bring a hat so you won't have to rush through.

Giant Wheel is the big ferris wheel right in the middle of Winter Wonderland. Great views, and in the morning  and midday you didn't have to queue long longer than five minutes, got your own booth, and the wheel went round four times. In the evening, while the lights are truly mesmerising, it gets so busy you will be waiting forever and I hear it goes round just twice. So, earlier you go the better it is with kids.

view from feeris wheel

ferris wheel cabin

view from the giant wheel

family selfie

Other than that there is ice skating, rides and Christmas Grotto and a Christmas market. Grotto has a long queue, so if you want to do it, it might be worth going there as early in the day as possible. We didn't do this as I didn't want to queue. The Christmas market is fun to walk through, lots of traditional looking booths and crafts, and other products too.

We also went into the Upside Down House - don't take your babies or toddlers though as it is awkward to walk around on tilted floors. It was quite uncomfortable for us with a one year old, and while we got some fun photos, it was difficult to wrangle a toddler there.

In addition to these attractions, there are also shows...

ice door

ice sculptures

woman ice sculpture

ice fox

ice sulctures and ice bridge

shops made of ice

icy shop front

ice thrones

What shows to see?

This year (2019) there are several shows too see - Mr Men & Little Miss, Zippos Circus, Paddington on Ice, Cirque Berserk and Comedy Club. The first three are suitable for young children, and are during the morning or day time. 

We went to see Mr Men & Little Miss show as it seemed to be perfect for the age bracket our kids are in. While the kids were mesmerised at first, the show did go so long the younger one became restless. I know I'm not the target audience at 36 years of age, but there didn't seem to be much of a story and it was difficult to hear what was going on as the circus tent could be a bit noisy. I'd have preferred a shorter show, with a bit more volume.

As the kids (and the third big kid...) were so restless after the show and wanted to explore the Winter Wonderland area, we skipped the next show from Zippos Circus. That said, this show was well received by other reviewers on the day so do keep it in mind when you visit. I feel confident in recommending Zippos Circus as well - we had a fantastic time at their show earlier this year. 

two girls watching the show

mr men show

zippos circus performers

What were the best rides for kids?

Lots of variety depending on the ages of the kids - big scary ones for the teens and your traditional merry-go-rounds for the little ones for example. As for my personal favourite... I would recommend Ice Slide as long as your kids are tall enough. My six year old was just tall enough. So much fun sliding down a 45m ice slide on a rubber ring - strangely scary too! You get two goes, and there can be a bit of a queue, but it is worth it.

The cost for the rides is usually from £2-5, although you will have to exchange your cash for tokens. Slightly annoyingly, there were several rides where you can't let the little little ones go on their own, but you still have to pay for the privilege of accompanying them. Some rides (Teacup, Bumper cars) on the other hand parents could accompany kids for free.

Near the rides there are plenty of games too - keep an eye out for the ones where everyone will win if you've got kids that want to try get a prize!

ice slide ride

tea cup ride

bumper cars

merry go around

merry go around

Where to eat?

With kids the Street Food area is probably the easiest, as you can grab and go, and there is plenty of variety for all kids of tastes. Lots of good booths to eat from - burgers, chicken, fish and chips, hot dogs, toasted sandwiches, pizza, and so on, but with a very upmarket quality to them. The prices were upmarket too of course. You can expect to pay £7 for a kids fish and chips for example. We got two burgers, chips, fish and chips, and some drinks, and our lunch cost around £40.

For dessert, try some churros or fresh donuts! My older child is always going on about these how amazing they are, and they are very nice Imust admit!

If you have a packed lunch, or prefer to eat at a calmer place, go to Kakao Kids Family Chill Area close to the Christmas Grotto. Relaxed place for families to sit down.

upside down house posing

upside down house

decorating upside down christmas tree


Top tips for families with kids:

  • Go early - morning there were no queues for anything. From midday there starts to be more people, and by dark it is getting so busy it stops being much fun with the kids. 
  • Try something unusual and wintery - Magical Ice Kingdom and the Ice Slide ride for example. Both great fun! Ice-skating might be fun with older kids too. 
  • Giant Wheel gives you amazing views over London, but do visit it in the morning or midday to avoid long queues. 
  • If you need to chill out with the kids a bit, or eat a packed lunch, Kakao Kids has a nice Family Chill Area at Santaland area. You can also warm up bottles and food for the little ones there. 
  • If you buy food at location, Street Food area has many booths located right next to each other so you can have a good variety. 
  • Santas Grotto is free, but queues can be long. Best go early. 
  • If you see shows, you will have to contend with leaving the buggies outside, and wrangling bags and kids and jackets inside. Not the easiest prospect, and you can make it easier for yourself by bringing as small a bag as possible. 
  • It is an outdoor location, so dress sensibly and bring warm clothes especially if you are going to the Magical Ice Kingdom. 
  • It is quite hectic, so beware and prepare I guess ha ha! It can be overwhelming for kids (I know it was a bit for me) so just try have a relaxed approach to the day. 
  • Family entrance is the Red Gate - this is closest to all the favourite family activities of Winter Wonderland, like Santaland, the kids rides, circus tent, Magical Ice Kingdom and so on. Closest tube station is the Marble Arch Station. Gold Gate is a convenient entry point too. 

winter wonderland at night

nighlights at winter wonderland

All in all, a fun hectic day. You can easily spend all day at Hyde Park Winter Wonderland, seeing shows and going on rides, but you also need deep pockets for all the entertainment!

And, don't forget to check out my quick guide to best Winter Wonderland things to do!

Have you ever been to Hyde Park Winter Wonderland? 

Top tips on how to have fun and survive a hectic day out with kids at Hyde Park Winter Wonderland.

Top tips on how to have fun and survive a hectic day out with kids at Hyde Park Winter Wonderland. Ideas for food, shows, attractions and rides.

Top tips on how to have fun and survive a hectic day out with kids at Hyde Park Winter Wonderland. Ideas for food and fun activities.

You might also like: Our amazingly fun first visit to Zippos Circus and Strolling through Winter Wonderland


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