Monday 21 October 2013

A special day at Whipsnade Zoo. Review

Eh Up!

We were asked by the Superbreak Community to visit ZSL Whipsnade Zoo as part of the Superbreak Short Breaks promotions, offering great days and short stays at good prices. I'm so, SO glad we visited today.

We live about 3 miles away from ZSL Whipsnade Zoo and have grown up around the park, being filmed with my class at the zoo, on the Really Wild Road Show, growing up with my brother and step brother both working there, with the family up there as much as we could. It was always the local place to go and do things. A place forged into my memories.

I loved the feeling you get when visiting and I got that buzz again the moment we walked in. For the children this a magical feeling, I'm so happy it's not changed throughout the years, I'm glad it's retained it's fun and exciting atmosphere.
The staff were also happy and really bubbly, we found out 15 mins into our visit the celebrations were over the birth of a baby elephant at 5AM that morning.

We decided to take the Zoo Bus around the site and have a quick look around first, as we wanted the children's farm first it was a great chance to see the park without worrying as much about my partners disability. The Bus was a welcomed service to my partner who is registered disabled and mobility impaired. She found the stops to be decent and in the right areas for her. Also props to ArrivaBus for providing an easy access bus which can move up or down  and is wheelchair friendly bus, something the partnership between Arriva and ZSL should be proud of.

We visited the children's zoo first. As the kids said it best "Rabbits to Llama, Alpacas to Sheep, some just awaking while others want sleep." There is one thing children can find quicker than chocolate in a fruit bowl and that is playgrounds. They charged for the indoor playground, Hullabazoo, a purpose built playground mainly for the rainy days but was suited for both rain or sun, as there is a cafe inside we used it as an excuse for a quick coffee break.

Outside they have recently refreshed the playground, the old structures out and new ones in their places. I was impressed with both HullabaZoo and the outdoor play area,  mainly for the design and the signage to help children find their way to help points if they get lost or hurt and plenty of places to sit and chill while the monsters play.

The girls decided they wanted to go on the train, and got a tad upset that it was not running until a certain time, entirely our own fault for not checking the times when we were planning the day ahead. Luckily the Sea lions took their minds off it. We went into the underground observation windows to see Salt and her cohorts were rockin' the tank, despite Salt not doing any tricks any more. They certainly showed the kids how cheeky four playful Sea lions could be.

I received a message to let us know the Jumbo Express, The new name for the Great Whipsnade Railway was about to open. This railway is special, It's a narrow gauge line with specially cared for trains, with Excelsior, the oldest was in service today. I'll admit the engine looked spectacular, testament of the dedication and effort and darned hard work the railway society staff put into this special railway.  Both Vee and Lissy loved it. I'll be uploading video from our trip soon

Straight after our train ride we went to see the tigers and elephants, one of the tigers was very photogenic, despite being unimpressed by the lack of conkers he's found, well that's our story and we're keeping to it.

The elephants were exciting, despite not seeing the calf in the paddock, next time maybe.
After seeing plenty of amazing animals and the girls and my partner were beginning to grow tired. I wanted to quickly see the penguins, bears and monkeys which are situated in the same corner of the park, One girl came the other decided to stay with mum.

Suffice to say Vee loved the penguins and their cheeky behaviour, the Wolverines we saw were scary to her but she told me the brown bear "needed hugs". I agree with that comment, he really did look sad, like he was missing someone or something had upset him, on reporting it to the staff it's a ploy he uses to try and get food scraps. Cheeky little scallywag.

We finally took a trip to the Discovery Center to look at the creepy crawlies and some of the most beautiful butterflies I've seen in a while.

The food and drink prices for such a large venue were actually reasonable. I was expecting to be swearing in my head or begrudgingly paying for overpriced gak. Thankfully This was not the case. Drinks were priced ok and food prices were ok too. Still higher than some cafe's but better than expected from larger corporate parks.

From chubby Chameleons to a relaxed European bear, wolverines, mooses, rhino, monkeys and the penguins. we had a great time today at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo thanks to Superbreak!

Overall I'll give it a 9 out of ten and do recommend visiting the zoo on quieter times of the year as you'll enjoy it more.

If you end up visiting the Zoo with your family here are some easy tips to help it go with a breeze.

Overall I'll give it a 9 out of 10 and do recommend visiting the zoo on quieter times of the year as you'll enjoy it more. Especially if your children dislike hustle and bustle or busier environments.

If you end up visiting the Zoo with your family here are some easy tips to help it go with a breeze. 

Plan ahead, use the website to understand what you want to do first and work from there onwards. It'll help you get the best out of the day. Especially with all the activities, talks and demonstrations on around the day.

Use transport options like the free zoo bus to your advantage. Trust me it does come in useful if you don't drive. or take scooters for the kids so they can scoot to the enclosures and events with you. I'll be trying that the next time we go.

If you are disabled or need assistance discus this with the zoo directly. The staff are very keen to assist if they are able to do so. They can help plan your day with you to make sure you get the most out of your day.

If visiting via Rail and bus links from out of the area (this is doable.) remember to plusbus rail tickets. From Luton train you would have to walk to bus stop 10 at the new interchange, Take the A bus to Asda/Grove theatre and wait there for the x31 to Hemel Hempstead. check the times first though as the zoo bus diversion is limited to a few a day, not a good option but during summer this increases to hourly.

Do you like Zoos and have you visited Whipsnade Zoo? Tell us all!
P, J, and the kids! 

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