Regular readers will know that Emmy turned 7 last weekend, a special day for her. Just where the years have gone I do not know but she is now a beautiful and happy 7 year old!
In previous years she has asked to go away on holiday for her birthday so we’ve spent it in Butlin’s – she was given the choice and not just demanding a holiday, this is something I much prefer to a party as it is enjoyed for longer and quite honestly I find hosting a child’s birthday party rather stressful, she has had a party at home with her Uncle doing the party entertainment – he is a children’s party entertainer but during that one he turned the foam machine on for far too long and yes it was hilarious for the kids, cleaning up however wasn’t so much fun. Last year she had a big party in a hall with all her friends attending.
This year she wasn’t too fussed about what she wanted for her birthday or what to do for it.
I decided that instead of spending a fortune on a party we would have a fun family day out in London with the kids instead so set plans in motion to make it as fun packed and as cheap as possible. Cheap however doesn’t always mean boring, and as we already have our Merlin Annual Passes I knew we could cram in lots of fun.
Ever since last Summer, Emmy has been desperate to head back to Shrek’s Adventure, and seeing as Paul missed out on coming with us for our last trip I decided to pre-book our slots. Merlin pass holders get in for free but need to pay a booking fee of £1 each to ensure your time slot. Last time we went I took the children around 4.30pm then headed onto the London Eye at night with them (also free with our Merlin passes) so this would be great as Paul hasn’t been on at night time yet.
Last year while attending Britmums Live I won a competition for £100 voucher for Eventim so used this to book the 4 of us onto the Original London Bus Tour for the day. This is a bus tour of London which you can jump on and off of all day long. You can read The Willow Tree’s full review of this here.
To make the day even longer and special we decided to drive to The O2 to park and then jumped onto the Thames Clipper to head down to The Tower of London where we would pick up the red route of the bus tour.
Having done so many long days out with the children in London before it is our preferred choice to park at The O2, it is only a 45 minute drive for us and then gives us the freedom of staying out for longer. If we are heading back on the train we need to do so at a decent time otherwise the children are too tired to navigate the tubes and we have to then steer them half asleep or carry them which is rather difficult now they are 4 and 7 – depending on where we are in London there are at the very least 4-5 tubes/trains which we need to get onto before we are home (well near to home) so having the option of just jumping on the boat to The O2 and getting into the car is so much easier for us, we usually then grab some food at one of the many restaurants and then get back into the car – the children always fall asleep on the way home and it doesn’t matter at all.
Emmy was so excited to open her presents on her birthday that we decided to let her play with them for a while and then head into London later, we left the house a tad later than planned and didn’t arrive in London until just before 1pm – we’d had a late breakfast/early lunch so were all set up for a fun day out. We didn’t have to wait very long for the clipper and touch and pay made it even faster to just jump on (we did need a ticket for Emmy though but Harry was free), before we knew it we were jumping onto the bus for our tour. These tours can last for up to 3 hours if you stay on and there are 3 different routes/tours – you have access to all of them, so you can do all of choose depending on which parts of London you want to see (it’s cheapest to book online with a family ticket – 2 adults and 2 children costing £66.50 online or £90 on the day). You are given earphones to plug into the back of the seat in-front of you and the tour is given via audio in a choice of 11 languages.
We sat at the top of the bus at the back for a great view of London, Emmy absolutely loved listening to the tour through the headphones and was excited to retell us facts she had heard and ask questions of the things she didn’t understand. Harry wasn’t as keen, being only 4 the commentary was too old for him and he got a little bored and was cold. Thankfully both children were wrapped up warmly – why do we think of the kids and ensure they are warm but then forget about ourselves? Half way through however enough was enough so Harry and I moved to the front of the bus which was undercover, followed a while after by Emmy and Paul.
Time ticked on a little too quickly, not helped by a protest march that day against Trump which of course caused added traffic problems. Having booked Shrek’s Adventure for 4.30pm we ended up jumping off the bus earlier than planned and walking the rest of the way – navigating the kids through crowds of then drunk protesters really wasn’t fun but they didn’t seem to notice thankfully. We arrived just in time but the queues inside Shrek’s Adventure are very slow moving (no change from last year it seems) so we weren’t actually inside until well after 5pm.
The 4D bus was working this time and both children enjoyed this, Harry sadly remembered how scared he was last time and kept intermittently bursting into tears – it isn’t scary however the rooms are darkened with low lighting in many and they are set out to be like scenes from Shrek so you visit the swamp, the Inn ect. with live theatre in each room. In each room you meet different characters from the movie – Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Rumpelstiltskin, The muffin man and many more – they interact with you (the audience) and be warned in some of the rooms audience interaction is key – the kids found it highly amusing when Paul was pick upon by Cinderella to be her next Prince Charming and then had to go into Shrek’s toilet to look for the treasure – Paul was less amused by it obviously.
When we did get out sadly the London Eye was closing for the evening – cue more tears from Harry, but we have promised to go back soon. I honestly thought that a 4.15pm slot for Shrek’s Adventure would leave us enough time to get on the London Eye before closing as you are only inside for around 45 minutes but the queues beforehand mean you are waiting around for longer than you would hope.
We then jumped back onto the Thames Clipper as it was now 6.45pm and both children were tired and hungry, I’d packed glowstick necklaces for them both as knew t would be dark, they were very happy with these. Harry had a nap on the boat while Emmy retold every single detail of our day. We got back to the O2 around 7.30/7.40pm and thankfully the Drake concert must have been starting around that time are the restaurant’s were beginning to empty – Emmy chose to go to Frankie and Benny’s for her birthday treat which was a great end to the evening.
Of course by the time we go the children back into the car around 9.15pm they were both asleep before we’d left the car park and I wasn’t far behind them…..Paul was driving and had a very quiet drive home!
Emmy had a fantastic 7th birthday and we are now planning another trip to London to get onto the London Eye and will also visit Madam Tussards as we haven’t yet been.