Disney’s latest movie, The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, opened at the beginning of November, so chances are that you (and your children) will already have seen it. Even if you haven’t, you should check out Westfield London’s latest festive family-friendly attraction – The Four Realms at Christmas, inspired by the movie. For those who haven’t yet seen the film, it features Clara, a young girl, who goes on a quest through four different realms to find an all-important key.
Westfield’s take on The Nutcracker, created by culinary artists Bompas & Parr, invites you on a similar journey to Clara’s through four realms, which you literally get to taste, touch and smell. We (including my kids aged 8 and 10) started with a fun introduction to the quest from a toy soldier, our guide for the journey, before entering the ‘heart of the realm’, a darkened room featuring a magical ‘golden box’. There was more storytelling played out against a soundtrack of menacing, marching tin soldiers. Once the box was unlocked, we uncovered the Land of Snowflakes, entering through an icy mirror maze, with penguins dotted around. Navigating the maze proved good fun – all that was missing was a chill in the air to convey the icy atmosphere to maximum effect.
Our next adventure took us to the stunning Land of Flowers – a lush, green oasis beautifully decked out with flowers, scented by Glade. The brand has crafted four limited edition fragrances inspired by the movie, including Sugarplum Fantasies, Nutcracker Delight, Magical Forest and Dancing Flowers. You get to smell all of these by pressing several buttons, each of which releases the scent from the flowers. I’m not a huge fan of air fresheners/fragrances but even I was converted! It was here, in the Land of the Flowers, where we also encountered a real-life sugar plum fairy, whose voice was as squeaky as that of Keira Knightley’s, who plays the role in the film.
Kids will love jumping on two trampolines complete with scented petals scattered all over – the idea being that the scent is also released as you jump. The highlight of this part though was a bubble fountain with edible bubbles, flavoured with sugar syrup, wild strawberry and blackberry. It was quite challenging catching the bubbles on your tongue as they flew out but that was all part of the fun!
Our next stop was the Land of Sweets, where we made our way through a candy-themed obstacle course, including a hunt for a giant Christmas bauble hidden in two ball pits. The journey ended in the Fourth Realm, a circus-themed land where we had to outwit a tin soldier by standing perfectly still and – at the suggestion of our guide, by pulling silly faces.
There is lots to keep visitors – both young and old – entertained and it provided just the right balance of story and interaction for my eight and ten-year-old children. With groups of up to ten only admitted for each session, you do get the time and space to wander around and try the different elements. You also get the chance to have a photo taken in the Land of Flowers, which you can pick up for free at the end.
The Four Realms at Christmas opened on 10 December at The Atrium at Westfield London. It runs until the 31st December and is open from 12-8pm every day except Sundays, Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve when the experience is open from 12-6pm.
Tickets are priced at £5; it’s free for children 12 and under but you’ll still need to book a ticket for them. You can book online with a limited number available on the day and the attraction is fully accessible for wheelchair users.