Folly Farm – Best Day out in Wales 2015
While we were visiting Bluestones in Pembrokeshire we had the opportunity to spend a day at Folly Farm which is a 15 minute drive away. Now you would be forgiven of thinking that Folly Farm is just that – a farm, in fact it is so much more. We spent the whole day exploring and could have easily have spent a second day as well. When you arrive you are given a wrist band for your child which has a space for your phone number, this is a great idea and gives you a little more piece of mind when things are busy.
The park is divided up into four areas, Farm, Zoo, Funfair and Adventure Play.
Monkey was given the choice as to where to visit first and he opted for the barn, which is huge and so clean it was spotless which is a real achievement when its packed with animals. There are shop fronts all round the outside of the barn, it is these shops that are the animals enclosures. In the middle there are hen houses, an egg incubator and a huge play on tractor and combine harvester, which Monkey ran to first jumping up and down with excitement.
In the barn they hold a number of meet and greet sessions throughout the day. Animals include ferrets, guinea pigs, rabbits, goats, rats and miniature pigs. They also have opportunity to milk goats twice a day. We didn’t arrive at the right time for his, but Monkey did have a go at milking a cow at the back of the barn. There are black boards up in the barn and on the outside letting you know whats going on and when.
From the barn we headed to the land train which takes you around the farm to view many of their rare breeds in their fields. As we were visiting during the week and outside of the Summer period it was only running twice a day so its worth checking when you arrive. Monkey really enjoyed seeing the deer, sheep, miniature ponies, lamas and donkeys. There is also a nature trail which you can explore although we opted to head back to the rest of the farm and visit the piggery instead.
From the farm we headed over the the zoo area, planning to see as many of the animal as possible before Monkey ran out of steam. We saw some of our favourites such as the meerkats, camels, monkeys, penguins and lemurs. They were all in lovely big enclosures and many of the structures looked new. We wandered into the avery and caught feeding time, as the keepers feed locus to some of the birds. Monkey was fascinated by this, not having seen locus before or seen birds that ate them!
We headed round to see the pride of Lions and caught Hugo residing over his lionesses on his favourite lookout spot. He was really magnificent and there was lots of information available on him but also in the exhibit itself. There are two large chalk boards which break down the lions’s anatomy and movement, really educational for older children. Although they were all outside when we visited there is also the option to view them inside as well.
I think the animal experience which will stay with me and I hope Monkey for a long time is the feeding of the Giraffes. Throughout the day there are opportunities to see some of the animals being fed. You are given a list of when and where on the map supplied on entrance to the park. We walked up to the viewing platform not really expecting the keeper to join us there with bucket of food, but he did! Monkey was about 3ft away from three giraffes enjoying their lunch. It was fascinating to watch, after a short talk the keeper took questions, including some from Monkey! If you visit I would definitely make sure you arrive with the giraffes at 12.30 as many places charge for you to get this close!
We stopped for our own lunch in the Carasol Woods where they have both a cafe offering sandwiches and cakes and a burger bar offering various fast food options. Monkey opted for chicken nuggets and chips. We sat next to a huge play area, there is plenty of seating so even when the weathers bad I can imagine there is plenty of room. There are various play apparatus for the different ages including soft play for the under 6s and a large wooden structure which reached to the top of the barn. Monkey had itchy feet as soon as he sat down wanting to go and explore. He was too young to play on his own so Hubby went on the wooden structure with him. He was relieved to find unlike other experience there was plenty of room for him. Which meant he did not have to crawl, kneel or bend and was able to enjoy the experience much more. We had trouble convincing Monkey to leave it to look around further!
This was the area which I was most intrigued about. When I saw that there is an extra charge I did wonder if we would end up spending a fortune. But I need not have worried as ride tokens are 50p each and most of the rides Monkey was interested on were one token rides. It was great as it meant we didn’t need to limit him too much. They also have old arcade machines around the outside which take small change and some traditional funfair game stalls which also run on a token. However we stuck to the rides, all the rides are vintage and have been rescued in some shape or form and restored. They are truly beautiful, each has a sign which explains its heritage and for a number of them they have old pictures of the original ride in operation. The Carousel was originally built in 1922.
Monkey enjoyed several of the rides including his first trip on a ghost train! I was a little worried at this point since he has developed a fear of the dark but he was fine and really enjoyed it. He also played on the cars, a muffin the mule ride which he loved and went on twice, a little train and some of the other vehicle rides. They also have some more grown up options such as the waltzer, dodgems, speedway, caterpillar and swings. Some of the older rides require two tokens pre rider but thats still fantastic value when you think a ride on one of the travelling fairs can cost up to £3!
The best part is that it is all undercover which means you are not restricted to fair weather days. Overall I am very impressed with just how much is under cover. If were closer I would seriously consider buying an annual pass since it represents amazing value.
By the time we got to this area it was mid afternoon so we didn’t do it justice at all. One family was actually saying that they will be returning on a Boomerang ticket later in the week to make sure they see everything. Monkey did have a play on the pedal tractors, but we never made it to the big wheel in the background. I really like that there are plenty of ride ons in different sizes. Unlike other places we have visited I would imagine even when its busy children will still be able to get on the things they want to.
Monkey also had a play in the sand area, again there are lots of diggers to sit on and play with. Metal ones for the slightly older children and wooden versions for the younger children to drive. The sheer size of the area reminded me of Digger land itself. Especially as they had some small Backhoes which you can dig in hardcore with. There is a small additional charge for these and the big wheel.
There is also a number of play structures outside, Monkey chose the pirate ship to play on initially before having an ice cream. They are also at the moment building two further boats which are simply huge in size and sit within their pirate adventure area. You get the feeling that they have tried to cater for all age groups which is not an easy task but many of the activities have smaller options for the younger children. This is ideal if you have multiple kids spanning different age groups.
Things you need to know
- Entrance prices vary depending on the time of year you are visiting, adults are £12.95 during peak times and £10.95 at others. Their concession ticket which covers children 3-15, senior citizens and those with a disability is £10.95 during peak and £9.95 at other times.
- On their website there is a calendar which shows peak/non peak times as well as closed periods. They are closed during the week from November to the middle of February. Weekends they are open as usual apart form the Christmas weekend.
- Opening times vary depending on session, always opening at 10am and closing between 4pm and 5.30pm.
- More information is available on their website which you can find here
Overall we were very very impressed and would highly recommend a visit, they more than deserve their title of best day out in Wales. The sheer amount of things to do would mean that should we visit Pembrokeshire again we will definitely go back. The park is clean, there is good signage and amenities. I am so glad we made the decision to visit, Monkey still talks about the giraffes now.
We were given entrance tickets for Folly Farm for the purpose of this review, but all opinions and views are my own.