Last summer we were lucky enough to be offered complimentary tickets to go to Chester Zoo to check out their new Play! area. It’s an area in the middle of the zoo where kids can go and play, climb, slide, dig, splash and hop to their heart’s content while parents take a well earned sit down.
The focal point of the play area is a 30ft baobab tree to climb up and then slide down. The kids were loving it (as were the adults!). There are lots of different areas within Play! which was great because the older kids could climb and swing on the ropes and climbing frame and the littles could have a dig around in the sandpit. Willow loved pretending to be a pirate sailing the big ship. We were there on a sunny day but when it rains the area fills up with puddles and the children are encouraged to splash about and measure how dep and wide the puddles are. If it looks like rain I would definitely recommend packing wellies so your children don’t miss out on this activity. They also run little Play! dates such as quizzes and crafting. Check the website before visiting for times etc.
We thought it was a great area. There was lots of seating and tables so we could sit and watch Willow play. There was also loads of room for prams and other baby/toddler paraphernalia. I hate it when you go places and the paths aren’t wide enough for a standard pram. There is a restaurant right next to the Play! area too which is handy for parents who need a coffee fuel stop!
We spent about an hour in Play! The rest of the day was spent watching the delight on Willow’s face when we showed her the animals. I don’t think she could quite believe that there were real elephants and giraffes walking about in front of her. She was thrilled to see the rhinos and giraffes and did her best, loudest monkey noises when we went to see the chimps. We also saw penguins, flamingos, butterflies, lizards, orangutans, cheetahs and a lion and many more – so many I can’t remember them all! We loved introducing Willow to the real life versions of the animals she reads about in her books. It was a really stimulating experience for her, nearly blowing her 20 month old little mind!
I have to say that before this visit I was a bit of a sceptic when it comes to zoos because they get so much negative press. I didn’t feel at all uncomfortable here though. The animals all seemed happy and content and reading the information points it was obvious how much the zoo invests in conservation ad protecting endangered species.
A long, busy day
The zoo itself is huge. We were weaving about all over the place. Willow was ok because she had a nap after lunch but by mid afternoon Anthony and I were exhausted. For this reason by the time we got to the Islands area we weren’t really taking anything in (except when a beautiful Sumatran tiger padded by right next to us) so decided to head for home after a quick stop to look at the Meerkats.
We are planning on visiting again so next time we will start with the Islands so we can give them and their animals our full attention. We’ll also plan our route around the zoo beforehand so that we don’t keep going back on ourselves. There’s just so much to see!
Chester Zoo and Play! are open all year except Christmas Day and Boxing Day. I would check the website before you go for information about opening times and animals that you will be able to see at different times of the year.
Do your children like going to the zoo? Have you got any recommendations for visits?
We received complimentary tickets to Chester Zoo in exchange for social media posts about Play! All views in this blog are my own and a true reflection of our experience.