I love the build up to Christmas, the anticipation, the countdown and all the festive activities. So what better way to celebrate the first day of the school holidays than with a trip to the Rainforest Cafe Grotto!
We had been excited about it for weeks and when I say we, I mainly mean me! We had visited the Rainforest Cafe before for J’s birthday and we were blown away by the whole experience, including their allergy awareness, and I was looking forward to seeing what they had created for Christmas.
When we were arrived, J and Miss A were greeted by a very vivacious elf who fuelled their excitement and set the magical tone. A second sprightly elf guided us down to the grotto, led us through a snowy walkway and into see Santa himself.
It was a wonderfully warm and authentic atmosphere and this Santa was definitely the real one! He weaved in facts we had supplied about the children and J’s eyes lit up when he mentioned his school teacher.
The children had a good chat with Santa and plenty of time to enjoy the experience without being rushed out. It was also nice that we were allowed to take our own photos throughout, although they did take professional ones too and we ended up buying a lovely one of the four of us.
At the end, Santa gave both children a bag with two gifts in it – a plush cuddly toy and a big book of Christmas stories. They were great gifts although I would have appreciated siblings getting slightly different ones as we ended up with two of the same book.
We were then said our goodbyes and were escorted back to the restaurant for our meal. The restaurant itself is a sensory experience, with animatronic animals around every corner, sound effects and a half hourly lightening display. The animals were even in the festive spirit and dressed up with Christmas accessories!
One thing I love about Rainforest Cafe is that they never make your food allergies seem like an inconvenience. In fact, they actively ask you if you have any and note them all down on your table slip. This is not only reassuring but very welcoming for a family like us who are used to having to start that conversation.
Their menu is clearly labelled but as we have allergies outside the top 14 we always have to ask more questions. The waitress happily went away and double checked all the details with the chef. Unfortunately, when it came to dessert, she did bring us jelly with ice cream on top but I had not reiterated our allergies before ordering this course and she very quickly rectified it with fresh servings.
Rainforest Cafe Grotto – our verdict
The Rainforest Cafe Grotto is expensive at £40 per child but this does include a two course meal with a drink and two generous presents. As the children are eating, you will probably also want to purchase a meal and these are around £15-20. Overall, our trip would have cost about £130 which is a lot of money but not something you are going to do everyday and is certainly an experience you won’t forget.
We had a wonderful time and it truly got us in the Christmas spirit. Plus, as an allergy parent you have the extra reassurance of the children being in safe and understanding hands which makes any experience more enjoyable.
Now we’re just hanging up our stockings and waiting for Santa leave the rainforest for balmy Bedfordshire!
Disclosure: Rainforest Cafe invited us along to visit Santa’s Grotto so we could share our honest experience.