Sunday, 27 January 2013

Paradise Wildlife Park - is it in #BritainsBestDaysOut ?

It was a little bit cold. It was a little bit damp. It didn't stop us from having some quality family time together.

We visited Paradise Wildlife Park - Apparently it is 'the leading animal experience attraction in Europe'.

We were lucky enough to receive a family ticket to visit the park, on the condition that we review and linked back to the MoneySupermarket vouchers site.
Missed a chance to get Daddy's head in here...
Both girls love a map, and Paradise Park's map is lovely and colourful!

Paradise Park is a place I've wanted to visit for a while, but haven't got around to yet. We do have a fab family farm park right on our doorstep, and Paradise Park is around 25 minutes drive away along the dreaded M25 for us, so due to a poor car-sickly traveller I've put it off until now.

However we finally decided to give it a go, having heard some good things about it from friends who have been before. The sky was blue when we left home today, and we were all in good spirits - Sasha was particularly excited at the thought of a mini zoo. I'm sure most people tend to go in summer time, and it's fair to say everything probably seems much rosier then....

I wanted to love this place, I really did, but I'm afraid I have to be honest and just give it a 'like'. It's a small zoo, and they do have a huge variety of animals there - lions, tigers, snow leopards, penguins, camels, wolves, tapirs... and the list goes on. In fact, for such a small area, they do have an amazing amount of animals.

I loved the reptile house, which was full of HUGE snakes, an alligator, chameleon and the fattest toad I have ever seen. The meerkats were great fun to watch, and the zebras very impressive. We were lucky enough to catch a talk by the penguins at feeding time, and the staff member was very informative, clear to hear and kept it short and sweet which is important for young children - but with the opportunity to ask questions, which is great for older children. I was amazed to be able to walk into the bat house, and to find hundreds of bats hanging above my head; I was just glad they were all asleep!

The girls loved the giant bunny rabbits, and the penguins. We were particularly lucky that the school topic right now is big cats, so it was brilliant to be able to see some of those in action and read the fact boards about them. There are treetop walks around most of the enclosures, so you are pretty much always guaranteed a good view, which is a definite plus point.

The girls wanted to whizz through the animal park as they had spotted the playground as we drove up. This covers quite a large area, and has plenty of unusual slides (the Old Lady's Shoe, for example!) and a few swings. There is also an area with 3 swings for disabled visitors, but this is closed off to everyone else (although in full view) which I'm not sure is the best way to go about it. The two old fire engines which children can climb on and pretend to drive were a big hit, and the pirate ship was enjoyed too. There's also an adventure type trail and a woodland walk, although it was too muddy for us to check them out.

We took a ride on the miniature railway there, which lasts for about 10 minutes through a wood with various models of dinosaurs (and a very funny, obviously sponsored, Kung Fu Panda!). The girls loved that, but I did think the extra £4 to pay (£1 per person) was a bit steep. Still, Mr C insisted.... must get him over that train addiction....

Enjoying the mini train - whose smile is biggest?!
Finally, as it started to spit with rain, we headed indoors to the indoor soft play area. This was not as big as I was expecting, but in a way compact is nicer as you feel less worried about 'losing' the children. They enjoyed it for around 20 minutes which is quite good for them - I think the novelty factor helped though and I'm not sure they'd be asking to go back another time.

The park was easy to get to (well signposted from the M25), lots of animals to see, an impressive amount of slides and very friendly staff. Plenty to do for younger children but at £13 per adult (if you buy online in advance) and £8 per child (2-15yrs) at this time of year (low season), I'm sorry to say that I'm not sure it was the best value day out.

Disclaimer: we were sent a family ticket for the purposes of this review, thanks to @tots100 and


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