ADVENTURE Island will be transformed into a winter wonderland complete with Santa’s grotto and polar express train as it stays open until Christmas for the first time.

The Southend seafront theme park, which normally closes after the October half-term as the summer season finishes, will stay open until December 24 this year.

Owner Philip Miller said: “Over the past few years I’ve noticed - and many people have said to me – there is a total lack of great quality, reasonably priced Christmas experiences here in Essex.

“So we did our research, saw there was a gap in the market and then set out to create not just an opportunity for children to meet Father Christmas, but for them to have a wonderful multi-sensory seasonal experience.

“We really believe we have come up with something totally unique and very different for Essex and we hope families will enjoy it.”

The Adventure Wonderland Grotto will replace £500,000 Halloween horror house The Curse of the Black Scream, only opened last Saturday, under rollercoaster Rage from Saturday, November 24.

The park’s Choo Choo Express train will be converted into a Christmas-themed ride and families will listen to the Feelgood Carol Singers as they ride through the park to the grotto.

One of Santa’s elf helpers will welcome visitors from the train and guide them on an enchanted tour through the grotto, seeing Father Christmas’s toy factory, Big Bear’s ice cavern and Frosty the Dancing Snowman.

Mr Miller said: “Families visiting Adventure Wonderland will enjoy an exciting train ride to a magical place with carol singers, snow and enchanted animals.

“They’ll meet the man himself and then receive a good quality present to take home.”

Children will be able to give Santa their Christmas list and receive a gift to take home.

Prices for Adventure Wonderland start from just £10 per child, which includes entry to Sea-Life Adventure and a Feelgoods Game Card.

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