Checking the Northpolebc.ca web site, we saw some vacancies for that afternoon at 4:30 pm. We decided to jump on it, because we're just such spur of the moment people here. *Having 4 kids means that is complete sarcasm*
We sent in our payment through Paypal (which I LOVE) and were on our way by 3:00 pm.
Arriving at our destination (White Pine Beach in upper POCO), the kids practically jumped out of the car. We were sitting in a small, unpaved parking lot right across the street from where we've taken the kids swimming in the summer. It wasn't quite 4:30 yet, so they went across the street to see the lake while I sat in the heated car with baby. It was chilly! Not Saskatchewan/Alberta chilly, but more than my frail, acclimatized body was used to. We had winter jackets and boots on, and we were still cold.
4:30 rolled around and no bus showed up. We waited, then waited some more. There was one other family waiting as well, and we were all starting to get a bit antsy. It was getting darker and darker, and although I could see some beautiful stars that normally I can't see when we're in the city, I was getting a little irritated that we were standing in the cold with our kids (who were bouncing around freaking out about the north pole).
After a phone call asking WTH the bus was, it finally showed up. Apparently their new web site allowed us to squeak in under the cut off time, and we were able to book same day which we shouldn't have. No worries, we were on the bus in no time and on our way.
We arrived at the North Pole in less than 10 minutes. I have a few suggestions for the bus trip there, because the flood of questions I had to answer about space and proximity on our way home gave me a headache:
- Put a set of flashing lights/switches/buttons on your bus: It was a school bus, so obviously a school bus is not going to be kitted out with enough switches to turn it into the Magical School bus. A fake control panel above the elf's head would go miles to eliminating the questions like "How do we get to the North Pole so fast?" Make it pretty, with lit up buttons and then make a huge show of it when you are on your way.
- Create a script or have someone create on for you:
- Such as "Welcome to the North Pole special transport system. I am your host, Cracky the Elf, and I am here to take you through the space time continum so we can get to the North Pole in the blink of an eye. Watch for shooting stars out your window, because then you will know when we are approaching the portal to the dimension known as the North Pole."
- As they approach the hill leading down to the North Pole itself, slam on the brakes a few times, jostling your passengers, and make a big show of switching on buttons. Hit the turbo button and slam on the gas pedal, then slow down. "You have no passed through time to the North Pole. That trip would have taken 23 hours by plane, but we did it in under 10 minutes."
- After you exit the vehicle at the North Pole and the other elves take over: "Thank you for flying North Pole Air." See, simple scripting that will eliminate the need for endless questions after said experience.
A beautiful Christmas tree is the centerpiece, you can sit by the fire or go outside on the deck and roast marshmallows, or grab a hot chocolate and watch your kids color at the tables. It's very cozy, and if it was snowing it would have been absolutely perfect.
The first stop on our tour was the craft cabin. The kids were led in creating a gingerbread craft that they really enjoyed. The elves told stories of their education, which was funny.
Second stop down the dark path: The toy factory. Much to my shock, the kids were allowed to stuff a toy and keep it. Most places only allow you to make paper crafts, etc. This got a huge thumbs up in my book, as they all left with a souvenir of the north pole that they can cuddle.
After a walk down a very dark path, past the lake with a huge iceburg and polar bears (not kidding, very nice) we ended up at the Post Office. Here the kids were to deliver their letters to Santa (which we didn't have with us) and Santa would write back. I'm sure they will be waiting at the mailbox for his reply.
Each of the little huts is decorated for Christmas, and there are twinkly lights everywhere. It's very pretty.
Down the path a bit farther and we get to Mrs.Claus' house. This part of my story requires video and photos, because it's just not to be believed. I will be back to post more soon.