Deal! We love going on family days out and with me reducing my hours this week I know that these will become few and far between due to the cost. Knowing I have a couple of busy weekends coming up we chose to go this weekend and we chose the closest attraction, Chester Zoo.
Most people think that when you have been to one zoo you have been to them all but every zoo does something slightly different. At Chester zoo I think they put a lot of thought into the visitor experience, they have a waterbus and a monorail plus lots of Animal talks running throughout the day (there was 7 today). The map is very artistic and very easy to find the animals you want. You can hire wheelchairs as well as buggies. These buggies are not boring bog standard pushchairs oh no these looked fun, Elizabeth pestered me every time she saw one because she wanted to have a go. There are a lot of bridges and hills and platforms but they are all pushchair/wheelchair friendly as far as we could see.
They also put a lot of effort into the look and feel of the zoo. Little things like waterfalls in the tropical realm to the gardens and play areas, everything is designed to make the whole experience nicer. All of the animal information signs are at a great height for kids with the information really easy to read. There was also a lot of questions and sensory signs which was really good for teaching them things and keeping them interested.
As my kids love picnic’s we packed our bags full of food to take with us. Finding somewhere to eat our picnic wasn’t a problem. There are picnic tables near all the main animals and a huge indoor one near the Spirit of the Jaguar enclosure (although this is not shown on the map, in fact, no picnic spots are). This was the view we had whilst eating our picnic.
We headed off towards the Lions and found the Waterbus. Elizabeth loves boats so we paid £2 per adult and £1.50 per child to go on the boat. We saw a lot of ducks and the back of some enclosures before getting a really good view of the giraffes, buffalo and the buffy-headed capuchin.
If you like Giraffes then go on the boat, if not I would opt for the Monorail instead. If you are going for the Monorail make sure you plan which station to get on it. I would recommend getting on at Jubilee Square as you get a great view of the Tigers, Penguins, Elephants and the Rhino.
One place I wasn’t sure of taking the girls was the Fruit Bat Forest. I explained to Elizabeth that it would be very dark because the bats don’t like the sun and that there would be lots of bats flying around our heads and she just got so excited. When we arrived I explained that we were not allowed to eat any food in there or take pictures and we had to be very quiet. Once inside we waiting until our eyes adjusted and then she had great fun pointing out all the bats and laughing as they flew close to us. She said she liked the big ones best and really enjoyed pointing out their silhouettes (she learnt a new word too) hanging in the trees.
There are a lot of things around the zoo which requires extra money, face painting £4, Waterbus and monorail £2 per adult and £1.50 per child and even miniature golf £2.50 per player or £8 for a family of four. These things obviously add to the overall cost and I can imagine if I had bought food here as well my pockets would be considerably lighter.
There was one thing that I was really impressed with though, when leaving places like this you usually have to go through the gift shop but here you had to go out of your way to get to it. Value for money wise I gave each of my girls £3 each to spend in the gift shop, there were so many things they could have bought. Snappy animals on sticks £3, a miniature zoo in a tube £2.75, Squeaky crocodile £2.75, tiger stripped skipping rope £2.50, animal or dinosaur cup £1.25 and you could pick up a decent sized lolly or stick of rock for only 50p. We came out of the shop with a skipping rope, a crocodile and 2 lollies and it only cost me £6.25 not bad really.
With 7000 animals in 110 acres, even if you were there from open until close I doubt you would get to see everything when you have kids. Make sure you plan your day to fit in the animals that you would like to see the most and if your kids like dinosaurs head over there before 8th October and see the amazing animatronic creatures, adults and children alike will be amazed.
If you live far enough away from Chester Zoo that you would need a hotel so why not go on a Chester Short break. It includes has this great feature where you can pay for your attraction tickets and your hotel at the same time.
I have to say I was glad that we did not have to queue to pay for tickets and that we were able to go through the fast pass gate as this saved us quite a bit of time.
Obviously, if you are staying overnight you might need to find something else to do whilst you are there, don’t worry Superbreak.com helps with that too with there handy travel guides including this great Chester guide
Not only did Superbreak.com give me a free family ticket for us to go, they have also been kind enough to donate another family ticket to the Tired Mummy of Two’s Christmas Tombola. So soon you could be enjoying the gorgeous gardens, the wonderful waterbus and the amazing animals (see what I did there, aren’t I clever).