It's welcome to my fantasy land

For decades, mums and dads have enjoyed a festive treat with their seasonal visit to the famous Christmas Spectacular at Thursford, near Fakenham. But this year, for the first time, children will also have their turn to savour the magic of Christmas with their own new multi-million-pound fantasy attraction.

For decades, mums and dads have enjoyed a festive treat with their seasonal visit to the famous Christmas Spectacular at Thursford, near Fakenham.

But this year, for the first time, children will also have their turn to savour the magic of Christmas with their

own new multi-million-pound fantasy attraction.

And yesterday, the EDP was given exclusive access to the magical world created deep in the Norfolk countryside.

The attraction opens on November 17, will continue until December 23 and is every child's idea of a winter wonderland inhabited by cuddly polar bears and penguins, talking elves and teddies.

It has been brought colourfully to life in Norfolk's newest attraction, housed within a purpose-built,

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40,000 sq ft hall next to

the existing Christmas Spectacular auditorium.

What sets this new world apart from anything else the young visitors may have seen is that their journey to see Santa will also take them alongside some of the agricultural steam and road engines used and collected by the late George Cushing, who founded the Thursford Collection museum.

The attraction, which has already taken some 3,000 advance bookings, is the idea of George's son John, director of the internationally-renowned Thursford Christmas show.

Mr Cushing explained that children under eight had not been admitted into the spectaculars because, at three hours, it was considered too long for them.

But now they would have their own pre-Christmas treat.

It is a children's Christmas story book brought to life.

And the vista that has been created looks set to leave youngsters awestruck as they take their journey through a snow-covered land with snow-capped mountains and towering Christmas trees.

At every twist and turn along the journey to Santa's grotto there is something new for them to see.

And it is all cleverly animated: a family of adult and baby polar bears out on a

fishing expedition, dancing penguins and snowmen, a toy-making factory inhabited by a

host of hard-working elves...

Seasonal songs add to the atmosphere.

At the end of their journey the children will reach Santa's life-size house, which again has been designed especially to look like a child's idea of where he lives. They will meet Father Christmas and take away a gift.

Mr Cushing said he had been delighted with the way that an idea on paper had developed into reality.

He has paid meticulous attention to detail to ensure a standard to equal that of

his famous Christmas Spectacular.

“It has come out as we planned it, and we have had to source various companies and suppliers to ensure that we get everything exactly right,” he said.

“Our aim has been to design the 'journey' in such a way that the children do not have to queue to see Father Christmas.”

Entry to the attraction will cost £12 per child, including a gift from Santa, and £6 for adults.

Children who visit the fantasy land must be accompanied by an adult.

For more details about the attractions and to make bookings call the Thursford Collection on 01328 878477 or visit the website www.

thursford.com

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