Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Visit Santa at His Highest Point This Christmas

Today we took a field trip into Sydney to visit Santa. This is most definitely a change from our usual freebie at one of the local mega-chains, (which we still need to do since Maddy had to miss out on today), but when the invitation came to visit Santa at The Tower Eye, I couldn't resist.

Whether you call it Centrepoint Tower, AMP Tower, Westfield Tower, or The Tower Eye, it's definitely a excursion of legendary proportions for a Western Sydney girl like me.

These days, The Tower Eye has been undergoing some modernisation. It's now part of the Merlin group, who have been steadily bringing some great Australian attractions into their fold.

We started our visit in a waiting area, viewing all kinds of interesting trivia and displays. While The Tower Eye was the 4th biggest building in the world when it was first opened, there are many that eclipse it these days!

From there we headed in to watch a 4D movie about Sydney's attractions, from the birds eye view of a friendly Lorakeet. There was water, bubbles and vibrations, which worried a few kids in the room, although the Mummy Hearts kids thought it was a great adventure!

Once the movie was over, it was time to take the elevator to the sky. The littlest kids clamped their hands over their ears when the weird sensation of ears popping and blocking came upon them, but quickly enough we were in the sky!

The view was as amazing as I remembered from years ago. It's incredible to be so high up in such an iconic city. The water stretches in one direction, traffic is a million miles below, and all the landmarks are there before you.

Can you imagine meeting Santa in such a special setting?

From today till Christmas Eve, Santa will be spending time in the tallest grotto in Australia on the Observation Deck in The Tower Eye. Every child visitor will receive a free photo with Santa as a souvenir of their visit, taken by a professional photographer.

My kids were thrilled with the view, Seb in particular loved pointing out all the trucks and cars way down below, whereas Lolly was more interested in the boats she could see in the Harbour. I had my fingers crossed that with such an exciting build up, and after a couple of weeks of her telling me all about how Santa would be visiting our home for Christmas, that this would be the year that her shyness would break and she would have a chat and a nice photo with Santa.

Alas it was not to be. She was hopping from foot to foot in our little line, eager and enthusiastic, but when the moment came to step forward she panicked and clung to me. There was no way she was going near the big man, no promises or bribes could get her to so much as look at him, even though Seb was happy to give some high fives.

I sat with Santa for a few minutes to take a photo with Sebastian, and given Lorelei's interest we thought we might try a super quick snuggle on Mum's lap as far from Santa as possible. A world of no.

To his credit Santa was a trooper. He happily wandered away for another cherub to have a turn at sitting on his chair and taking a photo without him, and didn't flinch when Lorelei screamed and wrestled herself in the opposite direction. The photographer is pretty matter of fact about it as well, it's a memory worth capturing!

What does this free photo cost?

Even though the photo is free, entry is not. A single adult visit to the Observation Deck to see the view and meet Santa is $18.55 and kids over 4 are $11.20 (prices are the discounted online price). Family packages are available, but the people who really get some value here at those with Annual Merlin passes. The Annual Pass gives entry to 11 Sydney attractions (among others) so a regular tourist could head in for the day to see the view and meet Santa without paying anything at all.

Parking was available nearby on Sussex St for $10 all day (weekend rate) once we had our ticket validated at the Sky Deck reception. It's always worth checking the website of any attraction before heading in to see if there are parking options available.

If you're a Sydney local or a regular visitor, this was definitely a magical way to meet Santa. A little bit special, it makes a wonderful memory. Even if that memory includes a 3 year olds armpit.

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