A snowy winter wonderland leads you to inside Santa’s toy workshop for a truly immersive & interactive experience

Bevan Roper, Project Art Director for Fenwick Bentalls Store in Kingston and Propability have teamed up to deliverer a fully interactive, immersive and awe-inspiring environment which delivers beyond the traditional Christmas Grotto experience and encourages young minds to use their imagination in a host of ways.

The journey beings with a snowy winter scene, which takes you through to a ginger-bread house for biscuit decorating before you discover a secret door leading into Santa’s Workshop. Here children are provided with a scene that truly stimulates all the senses as a factory style conveyor belt tells the story of how Santa’s toys are constructed and the journey they go through until reaching the Control Tower.

Various props and interactive elements were conceptualised by Bevan Roper and bought to life by the Propability team. Props include a life size sleigh, an interactive Christmas Dynamo Machine – that allows kids to peddle power a Santa’s Workshop station – and various other photo opportunities and touchpoints all of which form part of a magical journey before the finale of reaching Santa!

The life size sleighs made by Propability (one for Kingston and one for Newcastle) feature upholstered leatherette seats with plenty of space at the back for presents. Finished to a very high standard with gold chrome rails and gold chrome embellished sides in a high gloss red laquer the sleighs were constructed of MDF skim ply bent to shape with a supporting mild steel structure to take the weight of people taking photos.

In the winter wonderland you are surrounded by Christmas trees which create the clever illusion of an endless winter woodland using mirrored walls to create the effect. The winter wonderland leads you to the first interactive area – a ginger-bread house with a sign ‘Santa’s Biscuit Factory’. The exterior of the house is covered in sweets and hundreds and thousands. On the inside a sweet factory, decorated with coloured lighting creates an entirely red and then pink surround.

The gingerbread house was constructed in MDF and paint finished with piping on the windows as well as off the shelf sweets and lollipops. Inside, kids decorate their own biscuits. At the back of the room a wall which is shelving and unit boxes conceals a secret door to the next part of the experience where you move to another room and find the sleigh and conveyor belt as well as the console section of Santas workshop. Various lights and interactive elements create a second experience in this room as four conveyor belts with mechanisms cleverly hidden show toys going on a journey through five stations with the signs: Raw Materials, Toy Tinkering, Quality Control, Wrapping and Distribution. A Control Tower in the centre is bought to life by a performance artist instructing all the other workers. Finally, you are greeted by Santa for a quick word and the traditional Grotto experience before the journey is complete.

All the way around performance artists AKA elves interact and create an even more immersive experience for a truly phenomenal environment.

Terry Clark
Author: Terry Clark