Recently we had a family trip to Drusilla’s Park, we took Monkey’s Nannie with us who happened to mention that she had taken me there as a little girl, some thirty (plus!) years ago. Its changed somewhat over the years but the ethos of the zoo park remains the same to create a family friendly environment with involvement round every corner. Did they manage to live up the statement of being the best small zoo in the country?
Monkey had an absolutely brilliant time, we arrived just at Kipper’s feeding time so headed straight round to the side of the park to have a coffee. They have a Starbucks on site so we sat outside making the most of the good weather and enjoying a chai latte planning our day. Our initial intention was to go round the zoo element first. However as soon as Monkey saw the Hello Kitty rides that wasn’t going to happen. The rides open at 11am, an hour after the park opens. We managed to get on everything several times before it got busy not queuing once. There are three rides in total, a car ride, a teacup ride and a reach for the sky hopper.
The car ride goes round a little circuit which is the ‘Secret Garden’. It was very prettily planted up with a little water feature and a tunnel. There is no height limit for the car or tea cup ride, the hopper has a minimum 90cm due to the harness. I went on the hopper ride with Monkey and it does make your tummy drop away! He loved it giggling right next to me the whole time, I only went on it once! Feeling brave he went on alone as well. Although it wasn’t open when we visited there is also a little Hello Kitty house where children can meet the character in real life. The house also offers face painting at certain school holidays. A must for all fans.
From the rides we steered Monkey back into the zoo to look at the animals. I really love this zoo as there are things to interact with the whole way round. Whether thats buttons to press to make a room light up in a dolls house, or flaps to lift, or a monster box to shake, draws to open the list really is endless. I find this helps with the younger children as it keeps them engaged and there are loads of photo opportunities.
Two of the involvement activities come with little booklets that you can pick up just past the entrance. The first is an animal spotter booklet which allows you to stamp a red tick on all the animals you have seen – it even includes Thomas! Monkey loved it looking for the stamping stations at each enclosure. The other is the zoo olympics. Monkey is a little young for some of the activities on this one but he loved taking part in some of them such as standing on one leg like a flamingo and hanging around like a monkey. There are eleven different ones spread throughout the park mainly with the zoo animals. Once you have completed the whole lot you can get a certificate from the entrance.
There is a wide range of animals, so many that I can not mention them all here but, you can find a full list of animals at Drusilla’s on their website. There are a number of walk through enclosures – lemurs, lorikeets and bats. I let Nannie and Monkey do the bat one on their own since they pong a bit! We brought some nectar for the rainbow lorikeets. Monkey was a little unsure so in the end I helped him to hold it so they landed on me rather than him, but that mean I couldn’t get any photos!
There is a farm yard area where you get a chance to try your hand at milking a cow, sit in large eggs (prefect for Easter cards) and pet the farm animals. There is also pet world where you can handle different types of small household pets ideal if you are considering buying a pet and want to try out some cuddles first. Although there are also some reptiles in the area including cockroaches which Monkey affectionally called beetles!
He was particularly taken with the Otters, especially the one which likes to juggle stones and the penguins which are fed at 11.30am and 4pm. Near the beginning is a large Meerkat exhibit which you can actually crawl into the middle of to give you a new angle on their habitat. There are also some bigger animals at the park including camels, llamas and alpacas. The best way to see them is a trip on Thomas The Tank Engine. Red pandas, racoons, binturongs and capybaras.
The zoo leads into a large play area, which he was itching to be let loose in but first we ate our picnic in the special designated area. There are plenty of places to grab a bite to eat if you don’t bring your own including the Explorers Cafe, Oasis Cafe and Station Buffet. During peak times there are additional pay for activities in the picnic area, on the day we visited these were not running but include a climbing wall, bouncy castle slide and panning for gold.
The play area is immense, and has had a recent addition of a new splash pad which looked amazing. Monkey was more interested in the slides and climbing frames, but we will definitely be back next Summer to enjoy ‘Get Wet’. The rest of the play area is split into different areas predominately by age, ideal if you have a toddler in tow. At four Monkey was was really a little young for ‘Go Wild’ area below:
However being a dare devil we couldn’t stop him and he was up climbing the highest tower he could find straight away. Enjoying the slides and swings.
The play area alone is enough to keep little ones entertained for most of the day even without the animals and rides.
There is a smaller play area called ‘Go Bananas’ for the younger visitors. Which also has a climbing and slide area, including a double slide so you can go down together. As well as swings, an elephant, a sunken trampoline, zebra ride ons and a round a bout with crates they sit in.
It was difficult to drag him away from the play areas but we wanted to have a ride on Thomas before leaving. The train goes around the park and takes about 10 minutes, there is a buggy park right next to it. On the journey you can spot various friends of Thomas including Cranky.
As we walked to the exit we passed the ‘Eden Eye Maze’ and couldn’t resist a look. Monkey throughly enjoyed looking for the treasure, as with the rest of the park it is very interactive. It runs along a fire, earth, air and water theme, needless to say at one point Monkey drenched me!
All in all a brilliant day out, and Nannie was quite surprised by just how much had changed in the years since she last visited. I think that they definitely lived up to their claim.
Things I love:
- All of it! Its a great zoo for younger visitors, all the activities really kept Monkey engaged, as although he likes animals he tends to flit from one exhibit to another. The additional bits slowed him down and helped him to take in more information.
- Each exhibit has lots of information about the animals and their habitats. They are also very involved in conservation work
- There are numerous keeper talks throughout the day
- Lots of tables with umbrellas in the picnic area including an undercover area meant there was plenty of shade for Kipper
- The play area is split into different age groups and has a large inside area as well which is great when the weather is bad.
- Drusilla’s has a packed calendar of events including a Halloween week over half term and a Winter Wonderland where children can visit Father Christmas in November and December. I would recommend looking at their Whats On pages if you are considering visiting.
Things you need to know:
- The park is open everyday apart from Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day
- Opening times are 10am-6pm during the Summertime and 10am-5pm during the Winter time.
- Ticket prices vary depending on peak and non peak times, if you buy tickets online then they work out to be cheaper. They also offer family tickets for example for a family of four at peak times (most expensive possible) costs £64.00 if brought in advance compared to £72.00 on the gate. Considering what is at the park that works out to be £16 each, there are no additional charges for any of the rides so that is great value. Under 2s are free. Full details of times and prices can be found on their website, including details of their annual passes.
- Address – Alfriston Rd, East Sussex BN26 5QS
We will be back to check out the new Go Safari Rides opening in April 2017, in the meantime I would definitely recommend a visit although make sure you have a whole day. As there is so much to do you will need it.
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We were given a family ticket in return for this post, however all words and opinions are my own.