We are feeling the holiday spirit after visiting the Family FunFest and Holiday events at the Westin Kierland Resort. The FunFest includes visits with Santa, cookie decorating, holiday crafts, games, face painting, train rides and magic shows. These holiday activities are included in hotel guests resort fee but open to the public for a fee. The SnoPro ski simulator and S’more bar are at the same location but require an additional fee. And the spectacular light show is free for everyone. The activities and entertainment were perfect for my children ages 9, 6, 4, and 2 to enjoy.
KIERLAND SNOPRO SKI SIMULATOR
My 9-year-old daughter was able to experience snowboarding lessons without driving to the mountains or dressing for the snow. The instructors were so friendly and gave instructions that were easy for her to follow and understand. She was the only of my children who wanted to try it but I was told that they had kids as little as 4 up there and it looks like it would even be enjoyable for adults who are new to skiing or snowboarding. It cost $25 for a 30 minute ski/snowboard lesson on the simulator, but you can add up to 3 more people for only $5 each. It’s cheaper than a lift ticket and much warmer. You do need to make reservations so I would call ahead just to make sure they aren’t full for the evening. My daughter said it was her favorite part of the evening.
3-D PAINTSCAPING LIGHT SHOW
We didn’t really know what to expect here but WOW! All 5 of my children (including the 5-month-old), my husband and I were in awe. The resort was transformed by projected lights that made my 9-year-old believe real elves were scaling the building. My 6-year-old loved when the bricks on the building seemed to dance in time to the music. My husband was amazed by the precision that must have been involved to outline each window and make it look as if elves were dancing inside. The light show is free and open to the public. There was plenty of seating but I suggest sitting far back from the building so you can get the full effect of the show. It does get a little chilly at night, even in Arizona, so it was fun to order hot chocolate to drink while we were sitting outside. The show only lasted about 6 minutes but that’s just about perfect for the attention span of little kids.
WESTIN HOLIDAY FAMILY FUNFEST
The Westin Kierland and its elves know how to party, kid style. Upon arrival we were instantly entertained by a hilarious magician who continued performances with new shows every half-hour through the night. My 4-year-old was cracking up at silly tricks. His shows only lasted 15 minutes, so again the perfect time frame for my children’s attention span. Between shows, energetic elves lead the kids in games. My 6-year-old loved trying his skills at hula-hooping. Cookie decorating, a gingerbread house craft, “selfies with Santa,” face painting, and a train ride over to the light show were ongoing. My 2-year-old loved the train ride over the beautiful resort grounds. The face-painting was fancy and beautiful, but it did take a while for the artist to paint each child’s face. My husband and I took turns waiting in line (for over an hour) while the kids ran around and enjoyed the other activities. The employees, dressed as elves, took great care of my kids. My 6 and 4-year-old boys worked on their gingerbread house craft for a long time and had a devoted elf employee helping them with glue and design ideas the whole time. Admission to the FunFest is $10 per person ages 3 and older OR if you are a resort guest, admission is included in your resort fee.
The resort offers a gourmet chili bar for $16 per adult/$10 per child. The choices of chili were unique and there was a wide variety of toppings, but the kids did not enjoy it. I would suggest saving your money and buying them a pizza. There is a bar with holiday themed cocktails and hot chocolate, too.
The All-You-Can-Eat S’mores bar should not be overlooked. These aren’t just regular marshmallow, chocolate, graham cracker s’mores. You are given a choice of different flavor marshmallows, a variety of chocolates, and Arizona chips or ginger snaps in addition to graham crackers. Of course, my children went traditional on their s’mores but more adventurous families will love the variety. And roasting marshmallows over a fire is always something my kids love, no matter what flavor they are. Cost for the S’mores bar is $5 per person.
Bottom-line: This resort has wonderful activities for families with kids and I would suggest it for those wanting to experience a little holiday magic.
Disclosure: This review is based on a complimentary visit to Westin Kierland’s Family FunFest. I received no other compensation and these opinions are entirely my own.