We were recently invited to review the Cinderella Train and Tea Party at Rathwood, just outside Tullow in County Carlow.
The event is aimed at the under 9s and a fortunate clashing party invitation meant that my eight-going-on-twelve year old stayed home with Dad while I brought my six year old son and three year old daughter and my friend brought her girls aged 5 and 3. My son was skeptical from the outset, declaring the place “too flowery” but he agreed that it was worth being quiet if he got the tea party at the end of it.
When we checked in in the beautifully decorated reception we were shown through to a waiting area which gave plenty of room for the incredibly excited kids to jump around which was a relief. Prince Charming soon announced himself and told us that he was looking for Cinderella, he brought us to the craft room where the kids all painted the shoe moneyboxes that they were given when we checked in. This activity was parent supervised and for smaller kids the tables may have been a little too high (it was standing only) but for our kids who were three upwards it was perfect. Be careful that the little ones aren’t wearing their best party clothes, or bring a painting apron to save them
From there Prince Charming led us to the train to go on a Cinderella hunt, finding clues and enlisting the help of the Fairy Godmother (who we all had to get off the train to wake up in a barn) to eventually find Cinderella. The script was funny, the kids were engaged and the cast were incredibly friendly and patient with the children.
In the spills of rain we ran from the train back to the tea party room to dine with Cinderella, the Fairy Godmother and of course Prince Charming.
The tea party had a plate of food for each child, which included one ham and one cheese sandwich, a piece of rocky road, a cookie and 2 chocolates. Prince Charming served hot chocolate from teapots (genius idea, why has that never occurred to me to do that!) and was sure not to skimp on the marshmallows. There was juice available for those who didn’t want hot chocolate.
The cast were very obliging in posing for photos and stayed in character. The kids had a great time, even my six year old son. There were mostly girls on the trip, so if you choose a princess themed train that’s a risk that you will run, so if your boys are on the older end of the recommended age they will require bribery.
Tickets cost €12 for children (kids under 1 are free, but your 13 month old needs a full price ticket) which includes the tea party and the take home moneybox that you paint while you’re there. Adults are €4 which means that there was no food included for us, so my friend and I adjourned to the adjoining cafe for some delicious quiche and salads while the kids coloured.
The experience itself lasts an hour (or more like 50 minutes really), and the small girls got so much out of it. Looking back on the ad it mentions feeding the Fairy Godmother’s geese but we didn’t do that, possibly due to the torrential rain, and I didn’t know that it was missing until I looked back over the details.
The cast really make it with their friendliness and approachability, sometimes at events like this they’re very scripted but kudos to Rathwood’s Cinderella, Fairy Godmother (who took at selfie on my phone with Laoise when she was acting too shy to go over to the throne for a photo).
I’d really recommend for kids in the 2.5-6 age bracket. Yes, it’s expensive but it was a great treat for the small girls, and our small girl spends a lot of her time at GAA matches she doesn’t want to be at or waiting outside swimming lessons so it was lovely to do something for just her.
Rathwood run a variety of trains during the year. The next one is the Easter Train and there’s also a Teddy Bear’s Picnic on – more details here.
Disclosure: We were guests of Rathwood and received free tickets for the train in exchange for this review. All opinions are my own and are honest.