Closed season can be a sad time for theme park enthusiasts, but luckily there's still some rollercoasters to ride and attractions to explore in London.
Over the last few years, Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park has grown massively, and it has become a Yuletide tradition to pay it a visit.
With Merlin Annual passes in hand, there's also the whole set of London midway attractions to blitz and take us out of the chilly London air.
With a cry of "Tally Ho!" we set off from Hyde Park Corner on an advent adventure
The fair features a large number of stalls with Christmassy treats and gifts for sale
Together, of course, with a massive selection of rides including some of the best from mainland Europe
The ride itself was running nicely with an English-dubbed soundtrack, but the preshow didn't seem to be working and the spinning tunnel at the end was broken
Daemonium is a massive four-level ghost train which begins with a spiral lift hill
Time for a late breakfast ... German fair food is ideal!
I love currywurst
Lots of merch for sale in the Winter Wonderland shop: I chose this fetching reusable cup for my work coffee
Oh Hai Santa!
Well yes, I guess I was quite cold
For the last few years, Winter Wonderland has been blessed with an annual visit from München Looping, the largest portable rollercoaster in the world
On the continent the ride is known as Olympia Looping, but due to licensing issues associated with the London 2012 Olympics, it is renamed München Looping at Hyde Park
The rollercoaster is one of Winter Wonderland's headline acts and a King of the Christmas fair
With just 6 tokens left from our original £30-worth, we decided to spend the remainder on a trip around Haunted Mansion
The ride is a suspended ghost train, nicely presented and with some great jump scares supplied by live actors
Getting into the Christmas Spirit
We were making our way out of the fair when we happened upon "It's a Small World"
We couldn't pass up this opportunity!
The ride promised a tour around the world, from the inside of ride vehicles which would be less out of place on a big wheel
Paul and I couldn't wait to see what amazing sights lay waiting for us inside
Venturing deep into the jungle
Is that Uncle Sam, or Santa?
Oh no, here he is!
It was the briefest of world tours, and after seeing Father Christmas it all got rather psychedelic. Maybe that's what travel will be like once we've left the EU? At least there weren't a million cursed singing dolls!
We'd had a great morning at Hyde Park, but there was still much to do
We were hungry, so it only seemed right to stop off at Selfridges for a spot of lunch
Christmas Dinner counts as a light snack, right?
We met up with Santa again ... looks like he was doing some last minute Christmas shopping
After lunch we hopped on the tube to Westminster
Merlin midway attractions were calling!
But first we had to pop into Westminster's tiny Tesco
A single aisle, filled with snacks that are a lot cheaper than Merlin prices!
2:30 already ... we'd better get a move on
Crossing Westminster Bridge gives good views of County Hall and the London Eye
The South Bank is home to most of Merlin's London attractions
First up was Shrek's Adventure
The attraction takes visitors on an adventure into the Kingdom of Far Far Away through a series of interactive shows
Christmas had come to Shrek's Adventure, with the whole attraction decked out with special decorations and snow on the ground
Something a little darker next, as we took a tour through the London Dungeon
It's been a couple of years since I last went through the Dungeon, and there are some new shows including a smoky take on the Great Fire of London
The acting was top notch as usual, and the new shows have done a lot to solve the "long empty corridor" problems suffered when the Dungeon first opened in its new County Hall location
Merlin Premium Annual Pass holders get to use the Fastrack line at the London Eye, meaning we skipped the majority of the queue and were on the wheel within 10 minutes of arriving
Our capsule provided some welcome protection from the bitter cold wind, together with some wonderful views over night time London
Night had fallen on Westminster, just two days after the first December General Election since 1923
The day had flown by - it was already almost 6:30pm
We could see the lights of Winter Wonderland in the distance (top left)
München Looping, the star flyer and the big wheel
It had been a superb day, and a fantastic way to beat the closed season blues!
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