We live only about a 25 minutes drive from Paradise Wildlife Park but strangely in the six and a half year of being parents we’d never actually got round to visiting. Sounds a bit daft really, especially when you realise that Little Miss C has been there on a school trip two years ago and has been begging us to return every since.
This last weekend though we did finally make that trip over to Broxborne Woods and I’m so pleased we did. LMC had such a fantastic time there on her school trip that as soon as we told her where she was off to she very excitedly started telling he brother about all the things there she wanted to show him. And I was blown away by the length of the list!
Obviously, there’a a bit of a clue in the name, but Paradise Wildlife Park is more than just a wildlife park. This family run attraction does have over four hundred exotic wild animals (with everything from a white tiger to the UK’s largest anaconda) but I hadn’t realised how many other things you can do there too. I was also amazed at just how close you could get to some of the animals. We’ve visited several zoos and wildlife parks over the years but never before have we been quite so face to face with the animals.
In a way we only scratched the surface during our visit – despite spending a whole day there! Not only are there several fantastic playgrounds to keep the kids entertained, but you can also do things like play adventure golf and go for a trip on the Woodland Railway (Master C’s particular favourite).
There was another reason for our visit though. One incredibly important reason in the eyes of my children. Father Christmas!
Santa is in his grotto at Paradise Wildlife Park from now until Christmas Eve (open weekends, and everyday from 17 December) and Little Miss C and Master C loved meeting him and his elf. He is there from 11.30am – 12.30pm and 3pm – 4pm and you can prebook a slot (which is recommended ) via their website, but I would also recommend that you report for your slot early, as you seem to go in on a first come first served basis within the hour. So if, like us, you rock up at 11.3oam you might not actually get in to see him until 12.30pm. And an hour can be quite a long time to wait with two excited children…
The kids were so excited to be taken into Santa’s grotto and Master C in particular had a great time chatting to Santa’s Elf whilst waiting to go in to see the big man himself. Once we went in to see Santa LMC came over all shy, but her brother more than made up for her shyness by launching into a full and animated conversation with the man of the moment about exactly what was on his Christmas list and why. It was lovely to see him so confident when talking to people – it’s a change I’ve really noticed since he started at the school pre-school back in September.
Out they came clutching a present each, as pleased as punch!
We really did have a wonderful day out at Paradise Wildlife Park on Sunday. With it being winter and the usual frantic run up to Christmas, I don’t think we’ve had a proper family day out since the summer. It was so good to do so though, and it was lovely to see the kids having such a fantastic time – rather than just looking bored as they get dragged around the shops as often happens at the weekend. It was almost like recharging the family batteries in a weird kind of way.
I’m also keen to go back to Paradise Wildlife Park next year. Looking at the map there is so much more for us still to explore and I’d also like to go back and see some of the other animals. The penguins were away when we visited as they were getting a new enclosure and a peek through the fence gave me a glimpse of something really quite impressive, so I’m looking forward to seeing what it’s like when it is opened. Master C and LMC are also keen to go back and spend more time in the various playgrounds around the site. And of course a certain little boy is also talking about going back to ride on the train again. I just hope the kids realise that Santa isn’t there all year round!
Disclaimer: We were given free VIP entry to Paradise Wildlife Park, and got to visit Santa, in exchange for this review. All opinions remain my own.