Reviewed by Trish Bramhall
Me, my daughter and 3 grandchildren (aged 5 years, 3 years and 4months) were excited to go along and review Blackpool Zoo on a lovely sunny Sunday morning.
We travelled from Sheffield and the zoo was very easy to find. There is a large car park and also an overspill carpark. You do have to pay £2.50 for parking which I do think is unnecessary. We arrived at 10am just as the zoo was opening.
You go inside to a spacious entrance way and up to the ticket desk which wasn’t too busy at all. Met the friendly staff who gave us a helpful zoo map which gives you a simple guide of most of the areas, and a list of times of the different animal displays/talks for you to try and plan your visit around.
From the back of the ticket office you enter the zoo and the first thing the children were excited to see were the Giant Aldabran Tortoises.
We then had a walk around the Jurassic Trail with its life size statues of dinosaurs.
Then we headed off to the Wild Bird Display in the outdoor seated arena. This was very interesting the kids loved the owl and parrots etc. flying around close to our heads! The display talks last around 10 minutes.
We slowly made our way around next to see the penguins. Unfortunately, the area to watch wasn’t quite big enough for the amount of people who wanted to watch including us so we had to stay at the bottom and watch the penguins swim as we looked through a glass window. We heard the staff talk about the penguins, but must say this was very loud coming from the speaker above our heads so we had to step away.
We then went to see the sea lion display at the Active Oceans arena. You can’t take prams into the seating area during displays and the signs says leave prams outside. But we didn’t want to do this so we found just around the edge a large glass window that gave us a good view of the sea lions – we even saw a couple of baby ones! It’s a shame though at this display, where we were standing, you couldn’t hear the staff doing the talk. But still we enjoyed watching the clever sea lions.
Off we go again this time to have a wander around the Children’s Farm – includes ponies, donkeys, sheep, goats, pigs, rabbits, guinea pigs and many more plus indoor and outdoor playframes.
And then went along to Giraffe Heights. This area is fab! You go up a slopped decking path and into the building with plenty of information on the walls including information on Blackpool Zoo Keeper Academy (for ages 15-17 years) etc. In this building, you are just the correct height for a fab view of the giraffes. The grandchildren really loved this. The decking path also continues to the outdoor area were the giraffe go, there are also a few seats up there undercover if you wish to sit and watch a bit.
We then went to the Big Cat House. Really fantastic how close you can get to lions and tigers – beautiful animals. My favourite.
Also, whilst in this area children can have their face painted. But there is a £4 per child charge. A bit steep I think, perhaps better if was something like £3 per child and £5 for 2 children!
There are plenty of toilets around the zoo, all with baby change facilities.
There are plenty of seating areas, or even take a picnic blanket and enjoy the spacious areas to enjoy a packed lunch. Which is exactly what we did. Or you can grab a bit to eat at the Lake View Café, we had a quick look in there – wasn’t too busy but plenty of seating inside and outside and looked reasonable priced for hot food /snacks /drinks/ice-creams. The only thing I would say about this area is there is a big problem with seagulls and as we were passing a customer had left the remainder of their food on the table instead of placing in the nearby bin. The seagulls were all over the table like vultures!
So (1) the customer should have moved it to the bin, (2) staff need to keep eye on customer’s leaving and make sure tables are cleared asap. Although the area was clean it doesn’t take much for the seagulls and other birds to pounce!
After our lunch, we had a walk to the Wallaby Walkabout. This was the only area where we found it a bit difficult to push the pram in as the entrance path to this was very sandy/gritty. But once we were in it was OK. The grandchildren then wanted to see the wolves, so up to the Wolf Ridge we went. There are some interesting wolf facts to read whilst going up the slope decking, not sure how many wolves there was as we only managed to see one enjoying laying in the sunshine.
There is plenty of outdoor space and the kids enjoyed the outdoor activity areas and could burn off some excess energy.
Off next to the small indoor primates. In here we found the King Colobus monkey, Emperor Tamarins, Ring tailed lemur etc. Really good how they place food on the windowsill and on large blocks so you can see these animals up close.
Then we went to Elephant and Reptile House. It was lovely to see the elephant who has been there 45 years although we felt sorry for her being in her own, but she did look healthy.
Off next to Amazonia were staff advised the children to put there drinks away as the Squirrel Monkeys like to explore. From there you exit into a small gift shop.
Inside the zoo everything is well signposted. There are plenty of areas to ‘wash hands’ when you have been near the animals.
It was a shame the small hut cafes where closed – obviously because September is a quieter season, but with it being such a lovely sunny day would have been ideal for it to be open to buy ice creams.
We saw many more animals like camels, gorillas, orangutans, guinea pigs, rabbits etc. Also, we were a little disappointed that the train wasn’t running, we didn’t see the sign on the ticket desk as we came in, only on the way out.
We finished with ice creams and cups of tea whilst walking back to the exit. Back inside we purchased couple things from gift shop. In the area as you leave you can collect plenty of leaflets for days out ideas. And just outside adjoining the zoo is a Playbarn – an indoor play area. Kids who have been to the zoo get half price admission.
Blackpool Zoo is a really fab zoo, we would definitely recommend a visit, and we will be going again so that we can see more of the display/talks we didn’t manage to see on this visit.
Recommend 5 Hours plus with children to really enjoy everything the zoo has to offer.
Tickets cost from £13.50 to £17.99, these are on the gate prices. Book online in advance and tickets cost from £10.99 to £13.99. Family tickets range from £43.99 to £68.50.
For more information or to book tickets online (and save money) visit www.blackpoolzoo.org.uk.
Blackpool Zoo, East Park Drive, Blackpool, Lancashire, FY3 8PP | 01253 830830