This weekend we ventured a bit further afield for our family day out and visited Paradise Wildlife Park in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire. It’s only about an hour from where we live so not too far for us. We were very fortunate to be given tickets for free in return for a review on the blog. I can tell you now we had a brilliant day – I took over 200 photos! I am only going to share a few in here though because I don’t want to spoil the excitement for you, especially the World of Dinosaurs.
We arrived at 9.30 when the park opened so it was easy to park. There was a huge car park and it was well signposted so obvious where you needed to go. It was pretty empty when we got there so we decided to visit the World of Dinosaurs first as we thought this would get a lot busier later in the day.
World of Dinosaurs
Wow. If I had to sum up the World of Dinosaurs in one word, it would be wow.
It really is a fantastic addition to the park and Craig and I absolutely loved it. I think it’s probably a testament to how good the dinosaurs looked by the fact that Alfie was unfortunately petrified of them! It took us a good 20 minutes to get round the park as he was so scared, we had to coax him past every dinosaur! So we didn’t spend as long appreciating the amazing figures as we would have liked, but from what we did see, I can tell you we were very impressed!
Alfie did then ask to go back in later in the day and seemed to enjoy it a bit more, and was in awe of the size of the animals – he did stay safely in the buggy though!
You really have to visit yourself to appreciate how brilliant it is!
There was a train that you could get on to travel round a different section of the dinosaur park, however we didn’t use this as there was queue when we got there and Alfie wasn’t in the mood to wait! I was a bit disappointed to see you had to pay extra for this – it would have been nice if this was included in the entrance price.
We loved visiting the animal park. It’s not as big as some zoos, but we thought that was perfect for Alfie’s age as it wasn’t overwhelming and he could enjoy looking at the animals. Everything was laid out easily in sections so you could find them. There was a rainforest section, an outback section, the big cats, Old McDonald’s Farm and the birds.
We loved the big cats and Alfie stood watching the white tiger for about 20 minutes! Unfortunately we just missed the big feed when we got there and the next one wasn’t until late in the day but I think that would have been cool to watch. I also made the mistake of not checking the map we were given so we missed out on seeing the lions! This was partly due to an issue with us finding somewhere for lunch which I’ll talk about further down.
The rainforest section was fab, we loved seeing the monkeys running around and the set up was amazing. Again it was quite small so great for Alfie’s age as it wasn’t overwhelming for him.
There was a small splash pool at one end of the park which was a fantastic way to cool off after walking round in the sun all day. The pool was a decent size with a little slide and Alfie had the best time splashing around in the water (although he was too scared to use the slide by himself and there was no way I was fitting down it!). The pool was clean and there were lots of benches surrounding it which meant Craig and I could sit with Henry in the buggy letting Alfie play, but we’re close enough to him if we needed to get him quickly.
There was also a picnic area just behind which was perfect for families who bought their own food.
If I’m being honest, I would recommend you bring your own food as we were a bit disappointed with what was on offer. We usually take a picnic on days out like this to keep the costs down, but I wanted to try out the food for the purpose of the review. Having had a look on the website before we came to the park, I decided we would eat at the Tiger Tree Tops Cafe as the views of the Tigers whilst we had our lunch sounded amazing! Once we found the cafe (and Craig had carried the double buggy up the steps as we couldn’t find a ramp) I started to settle the boys whilst Craig queued up for our food. There wasn’t a huge amount on offer – sandwiches, toasties and paninis as well as a few cakes. I knew from the online sample menu that it was mainly snacky bits, but we were happy with that. However, after I had sorted out the kids, put Henry in a highchair, got Alfie settled and my husband got the front of the queue, he was told there was only ONE toastie available. No baguettes, no paninis, just a single toastie or sandwiches to choose from.
I was really disappointed with this as it was only 11.30, so not even lunch time! I understand that food is subject to availability and had we been eating at 2pm, I could understand it, but I would expect a much wider availablity of food before lunch. The coffee machine was also out of order. We decided to go elsewhere as there wasn’t any sandwiches we wanted.
So we packed up the kids and took them to the soft play to eat. They had a similar menu but also had pasta, got dog and pizza available so again we sat down and sorted the kids, then I went to order. Unfortunately the food availability was similar – no pasta, only one type of toastie and one panini. As we had already moved from one dining place, we decided to make do and pick something from what was there. Alfie was also enjoying the soft play and we didnt want to drag him away. Craig had a hot dog, which he said was ok but small for the price. I had a panini which I had to go back and ask for because it had been left toasting and forgotten about. It was burnt and hard so not very nice. Alfie had a lunch bag which was actually really good – he got a sandwich, a drink, a pear, pom bears and a chocolate bar. I also bought a jelly pouch separately. He enjoyed it and it was quite good value for money.
Overall our eating experience wasn’t the best and did let down the trip a bit. We walked past the main diner after we’d eaten and to be honest we should have eaten in there as the menu was extensive. I think had I been able to view the menu online before our visit, it would have helped us choose somewhere better to eat beforehand. When you’re out and about, and the kids are moaning they’re hungry and the baby needs feeding so you just have to make a decision and find somewhere to sit, you do have to make a snap decision of where to eat and unfortunately we made the wrong decision this time! The main diner did look fab though so if the food tasted as good as it looked, I’m sure we would have had a much better experience!
The park was well equipped with adequate facilities for the day. The signposting was fab so we found everything quite easily. The toilets we used were fine – nothing fancy but clean enough. Unfortunately the baby change we used opposite the soft play was in the ladies toilet which meant that Craig wasn’t able to change the baby. There was a general baby change in the soft play he could have used though. I spotted a baby feeding facility in the first aid room, which is great to have on offer. I didn’t personally use it so I can’t comment on what they were like. I will say I found the park to be very breastfeeding friendly which is always a bonus for me. I felt comfortable walking round feeding Henry, there were lots of places to sit and feed and I saw so many mums feeding their babies, it was great!
The soft play and paradise Lagoon were fantastic extras that kept the kids entertained at no extra cost. There were also little rides and games around the park that could be enjoyed for a few pounds, including this digger that Alfie thought was great.
There was also a lot of play parks for the children to run around in and let off some steam (including the big kids!)
You could also purchase some animal food to feed certain animals which is always a bonus fun thing to do!
I loved that there was an exit that wasn’t via the gift shop so little hands don’t try and persuade their parents to buy them a gift on the way out!
Overall we had an absolutely fabulous day. It’s worth visiting for the dinosaurs alone, everything else is just a brilliant bonus! Aside from the food issue, we had no complaints and were really impressed with the park. It was a really lovely family day out and we can’t wait to return!