When Chester Zoo put out an appeal for bloggers to go and see their new Play Zone, there was great excitement in our house. Number Two is firmly at the obsessed with animals stage and as the rest of us already love the Zoo, we knew that visiting Chester Zoo was an opportunity the whole family would love.
Having returned this evening, happy, a little disheveled and more than a little tired (especially Grandma’s feet), I can honestly say that the Zoo and its new Play Zone not only lived up to but surpassed our expectations.
So What Did We Love About It?
My first mention has to go to the staff. Their professionalism, enthusiasm and dedication to ensuring every visitor had the best day possible, was evident throughout.
From the ladies in the Madagascar cafe (yes Sharon and Jenna, that is you) who much to me surprise produced dairy free, soya free deserts (chocolate brownies and macaroons no less – not a blob of sorbet in sight) when asked if they had anything, to the staff engaging with the children in the Play Zone, to the keepers themselves.
It was refreshing to see staff so happy, engaged and interested in everything they were doing.
And their attitude unquestionably added to our enjoyment of the day.
The Play Zone itself was nothing short of brilliant!
From the adventure playground and water play for the older children to the sandpit for the little ones.
There was space for children of all ages to run off a little steam.
But this was very much just the beginning, from giant snap to musical instruments, from catching butterflies (plastic ones) to storytelling; Chester Zoo really have thought of it all.
Their play kitchen gives children a chance to use their imagination, and both of my two loved that. In fact we ended up spending nearly an hour there. They each in their own way explored the space and enjoyed the chance to roam.
The animals of course were a joy to see.
The giraffes and elephants are both firm favourites in our house. The Bear fell in love with the monkeys. But sorry exotic animals of the Zoo, it was the humble Mallard that stole the Lion’s heart.
How About From An Autism Point Of View?
We went on a busy summer’s day but because it’s such a big Zoo there was plenty of space and we were easily able to avoid the worst of the crowds.
The queue for the train that goes round the Zoo was very busy though, so if riding it is important getting there early or choosing a quieter time of year might be advisable.
There was a large food selection and a lot of different eating areas to choose from, both indoor and outdoor. Sealed sandwiches were available as well as hot food.
What Would We Change?
Honestly, we wouldn’t change anything about the Zoo at all. After all, although some of the animals were a little hard to spot, it’s because the Zoo have gone to great lengths to make their enclosures as natural and possible. And no can argue that that is a good thing.
I would change our schedule though if we went back again and stay overnight nearby. We couldn’t possibly fit everything we wanted to do into one day. It would have been lovely to have had an extra day to explore the Zoo.
Will We Be Going Back Again?
Absolutely! With wonderful staff, fantastic animal areas and plenty of space for the children, we’ll definitely be back. I just wish they’d move it a little bit nearer to home!