Friday 23 August 2013

Review: Drusillas Park, East Sussex

It was my birthday last week and not just any birthday but a big one, one that ends in a zero and what does any self-respecting mummy do to celebrate her birthday in style? She goes to the zoo for the day of course! Well I did, maybe not what every mum might choose but the kids and I did have a blast at Drusillas Park, which is a good thing as I was not overly impressed with the rest of my birthday!

Hands on learning
Drusillas labels itself as ‘no ordinary zoo’ and it is right. It is a good balance of animals, education, play and fun. They pride themselves on being the best small zoo in the country and their aim seems to be to really get kids and adults alike to engage with the animals and the exhibits. My first comment when I came home and spoke to my husband was how great Drusillas would be for school trips. What was even better was that it was not the same educational stuff that you have seen at every other zoo, there was a whole assortment to keep you engaged. Just have a look –

Probably JJ’s favourite part of the day (aside from the food, that is always a highlight for him) was the zoolympics challenge. Every so often around the park there was a challenge to time or record yourself to see if you could match an animal in speed, noise etc. JJ excelled himself at the screaming one but Mummy still beat him, reaching a whopping 96 decibels. We were all super impressed with Miss M, who is just 6 and she can run at 36kmph – future Olympian in the making maybe?

Play areas
Miss E’s best part of the day was all the play areas. She loved climbing up the massive rope tower and then letting herself fall down it, following the lead of the bigger kids – scary but fun apparently! There is a large play area at Drusillas called Go Wild and this is full of wooden play equipment, towers, swings and slides of the kids and then there is also Go Bananas with more fun like banana boats and zip wires. If the weather is not so good you can go in and try out the Amazon adventure and whilst it is not the biggest soft play it was fun the kids told me.

There is also a small water play area which we did not realise before we visited or we would have taken our towels. Explorers Lagoon is not that big but the kids in it seemed to be having a blast. We also enjoyed the Edens Eye maze and the kids liked to lead me round in circles!

There are a few extra attractions that you have to pay for and at £3 for 6 slides on the inflatable I think they are very pricey and I hate it when attractions charge an entrance price and then put other things inside that you have to pay extra for like Panning for Gold, mini golf and wall climbing.

The animals
If I’m honest the kids were a bit disappointed there were not any big animals here. I think they have been spoilt because of where we used to live and they hear the word zoo and think elephants, lions, giraffes and zebras. At Drusillas you are more likely to find smaller creatures like lizards, monkeys, lemurs, penguins, beavers and a nice farmyard.

There are quite a few keeper talks and feeding times that visitors can observe and I always love watching the penguins get their fish. You can also walk through Lemurland (and watch them jump over your head) or go through Lory Landing aviary and see the rainbow lorikeet birds.

Food and drink
For a small venue there are a good number of places to eat and considering we went in August on a warm day, there was plenty of seats in the main explorers café. This was a nice café with a wide selection of hot and cold food. We opted me for kids meals (me included) and these cost just under £4 each, they were tasty and did the job! Later in the day we had fresh doughnuts which were 95p each or there were deals when you bought more. JJ had a design your own sundae for £2.50 and the girls had slush drinks at £1.99 each. There are four different food venues on site and the variety is good. I would say some things were a little overpriced though - £2.99 for a plain cheese or ham sandwich feels steep to me.

Enjoying my birthday doughnut!

Onsite facilities
Signage was good to get to Drusillas and there was plenty of parking available. There is a small gated play park in the car park so the kids can let off steam before or after going in. We did not arrive until late morning and there was not any queues at all, but from the looks of it they are organised and efficient if there is as the ground is all marked out for different lanes.

All the toilets we used were clean and orderly. There was children’s seats and low sinks in some and these were clearly marked. Baby change facilities appeared to be good as well, although of course we are beyond that point now.

There is free wi-fi in all food and drink and play areas in the park and it appeared to be efficient, any time I looked at my park, it prompted me to join up!


We were given complimentary tickets as part of this review but had I needed to pay for myself and my three children it would have cost us £53.99 buying a family of 4 ticket beforehand (for peak season). This is about £13.50 each and is hardly more than a cinema ticket, so I think that is very good value for a whole days entertainment to be honest.  I noticed you can also use Tesco Clubcard deals here too, which is a big bonus.

We all had a really nice day at Drusillas Park and would happily visit again. In truth we would probably take a picnic next time and then we could have exactly what we want to eat and we would certainly remember towels and swim costumes. My family would recommend Drusillas and we give it a 9/10 for all round family fun.

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