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 buggys. These buggys are not boring bog standard pushchairs oh no these looked fun, Elizabeth pestered me everytime 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.
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 at. 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 wasnt sure of taking the girls was the Fruit Bat Forest. I explained to Elizabeth that it would be very dark because the bats dont 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 quite. 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 there 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 miniture 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 was so many things they could have bought. Snappy animals on sticks £3, miniture zoo in a tube £2.75, Squeeky 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.